Why not take nutritional advice from fitness experts

NNutrition and exercise are deeply connected, yet completely different, areas of expertise. Scroll through any fitness pro’s Instagram, though, and you’re likely to see some nutrition tips—I mean trainers must know what they’re talking about, right? It comes to fitness and exercise, sure. But think twice when it comes to nutrition.

Adopting diet protocols from your favorite fitness professionals can seem harmless enough. After all, without proper nutrition, your exercise goals and performance can go south, and if you only focus on nutrition but fail to exercise, you’re missing out on a key fundamental of overall health. So why not get advice from the person guiding you through your workout to help boost your performance and ensure you’re fueling properly to meet your fitness goals?

The problem with nutrition advice from fitness experts

“It makes sense that trainers—whose goal is to help their clients—would also want to help them address the nutritional side,” says Sarah Amelia Wenig, sports nutritionist and founder of New York Nutrition. Wenig worked as a Pilates instructor for years before becoming a dietitian and says when she was just an instructor, her clients often came to her for advice. “But it’s problematic for a number of reasons,” she says.

The first problem? Many trainers, although they may be personally knowledgeable about nutrition and what works for them, are not trained or properly certified to provide nutritional advice to clients. In fact, popular trainer certification programs such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) offer only a general overview of nutrition and make it clear that this is not enough to offer trainers. Nutritional advice.

“To fully help someone with nutrition, an understanding of nutrition science is essential—there’s a reason that rigorous academic coursework and qualifications are required to become a dietitian,” Wenig adds.

Part of registered dietitians’ comprehensive undergraduate training includes several semesters of food science, explains Julie Stefanski, RDN, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Without a deep understanding of how the nutritional makeup of foods differs, some trainers and nutrition coaches choose to steer clients toward very limited trendy foods based on opinion,” she says.

And this doesn’t just go for trainers at the gym or studio, BTW. These rules also apply on social media where countless trainers and self-proclaimed fitness influencers or wellness experts are offering nutritional advice without the conviction to deliver it.

So if you’re talking to a fitness trainer or seeing nutrition advice being circulated on social media, how do you know which advice is valid or which guidelines you should avoid? Look for these key red flags, according to experts.

1. Lack of nutritional certification

This may seem obvious, but don’t accept if the person offering the advice lacks a personal training certificate or nutrition credentials beyond an online course. “First, find someone who is a registered dietitian nutritionist, RD/RDN, or on track to become an RD, especially someone who has a master’s degree in nutrition, which soon-to-be RDs will need,” says Wenig. “If someone isn’t an RD, but has a master’s degree or PhD in nutrition science, that means they’ve studied nutrition for years—not a weekend crash course, for example—and are qualified to give sound nutritional advice, as well as call themselves a nutritionist. ,” Wenig said.

It’s important to know that many different people call themselves nutritionists in the U.S., since the term isn’t very well regulated, Wenig explains. “In many states, qualified nutrition professionals are licensed by the state, and you can check which certifications and trainings are recognized as meeting the educational standards as a nutritionist,” Stefanski noted.

Bottom line: Don’t take nutritional advice from fitness experts or influencers who aren’t registered dietitians or doctors. But even if they have the proper credentials to offer dietary advice, you’ll need to do a little more digging to determine if it’s legitimate.

2. Endorsing or promoting certain product brands

To be clear – there is nothing wrong with nutritionists charging for their time or services. But the lines can become blurred when someone makes nutritional recommendations while selling a particular product line or brand (whether through direct sponsorship and endorsement or indirectly through affiliate links).

“People also need to remember that when someone promotes a product like protein powder, they’re probably being paid by that company,” Wenig said. Unless, of course, they say otherwise.

Additionally, when it comes to supplements and protein powders, remember that these are largely unregulated products in the US, so it’s best to have a professional like an RD help you evaluate whether your investment is worth it.

“The diet industry is a billion-dollar business in the United States, and it’s kept alive by people’s hope that unproven products will make a difference in their weight or health,” Stefanski said. “If someone makes money off of a product they’re recommending, that’s often a conflict of interest,” he adds.

3. Lack of sourcing or research to back up claims

Must have proper credentials always Telltale signs of whether you should seek nutritional advice from a specialist. But another good indicator that the accredited person is giving strong advice is if they are able to present sources to back up their claims. How many times have you seen or heard someone say Science shows x claim” without pointing you to specific sources?

“This could look like sharing article titles/authors, posting PMID numbers, or sharing links to actual research,” says Wenig. Remember, though, that you still need to do your homework because research can be flawed, biased, or misinterpreted. How big is the study? Has this nutritional advice been proven true in several studies? Or does more research need to be done? Was the study done on people who are similar to you in terms of gender, age and other factors? All this is indicative of how much you can trust science and extrapolate it into your life.

4. Extreme statements and high promises

If something sounds weird, extreme, or too good to be true – listen to your gut. “Rarely does anyone need to give up everything they’re eating and follow a set meal plan that’s not individualized,” Stefanski says. “Medical conditions, habits, food preparation abilities and budget all affect our long-term success and must be taken into account. Strict nutritional recommendations never lead to long-term success.”

Other things to look for? “False nutritional advice often includes specific ‘super foods,’ promises of quick weight loss, strange amounts of foods or food combos, strict menus or eating windows that don’t compliment real life,” says Stefanski.

And Wenig adds that “a big red flag is when someone makes a very black-and-white statement or categorizes foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad.'” He says he saw a recent example of this when someone shared a social media post claiming that oat milk caused anxiety and depression in everyone. “It was caused by people in the group [text] “Starting to panic because they believed for a moment that this might be true and that they had to cut oat milk out of their lives,” Wenig recalls. She says there’s no need to toss it.

at the end of the day

Trust trainers and fitness experts to give you exercise advice. Unless someone has “RD/RDN” or an advanced degree in nutrition next to their name, think twice before taking their recommendations about how you should eat and don’t assume that if something worked for one person, it will work for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.