Earning an additional nutrition credential can further enhance a certified personal trainer’s knowledge, skills and abilities concerning nutrition-related topics, such as macronutrient distribution, dispelling common diet myths and fads, and providing scientifically-proven weight loss strategies. Earning such a credential can prove beneficial and is something all certified personal trainers should explore.
Nutrition certifications vary tremendously in the depth and breadth of information provided. A comprehensive nutrition certification should address several different topics such as, but are not limited to, scope of practice, overview of macronutrients and micronutrients, healthy food choices, nutrition guidelines and assessment, digestion and absorption, metabolism, energy balance, weight management and hydration strategies.
It is important to note, even with a nutrition certification, personal trainers must operate within his or her scope of practice. Providing individual meal plans or recommendations for nutritional therapy are best left to a registered dietitian or other qualified licensed professionals. The skills and abilities required to “treat,” “diagnose,” or “prescribe” an individualized nutrition plan exceeds the training and expertise of the personal trainer. This becomes especially important if the client has health and medical concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, food allergies, or celiac disease. Rather, a personal trainer should provide nutrition education and strategies (e.g., disseminating research into practice, suggesting types and timing of foods) that support clients’ needs without overstepping legal boundaries.
Over half of health club members are exercising to lose or manage their weight. In addition, a personal trainer is most likely the first individual health club members seek out for nutritional guidance. Having the confidence and expertise to discuss nutrition can help personal trainers increase client prospecting opportunities, enhance success of a weight loss program, and lead to increased client retention and referrals.
Insights provided by Brian Sutton, the Director of Content Development for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 800.460.6276.