Clearing the Nutritional Confusion: A Guide for Personal Trainers


In today's world, the sheer amount of information available can be both a blessing and a curse. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition. With countless resources - from television and magazines to social media and websites - people are continually bombarded with a deluge of nutritional advice, often leading to confusion. This is where personal trainers can step in and serve as credible sources of nutrition information.

However, it's important to note that personal trainers should remain within their scope of practice when discussing nutrition. General advice on physical performance, disease prevention, weight loss, and weight gain is permissible. But when clients present with medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or eating disorders that are affected by nutrition, referral to a registered dietitian or nutritionist becomes crucial.

The Role of Carbohydrates in Nutrition

A key component in the realm of nutritional advice for physical performance is carbohydrates. As the primary fuel for athletic performance, carbohydrates are crucial for replacing muscle and liver glycogen used during high-intensity physical activity.

Yet, it's important to remember that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to carbohydrates. The appropriate carbohydrate intake can significantly vary depending on a client's goals, training regimen, personal preference, and fitness level.

For instance, an aerobic endurance athlete training for 90 minutes or more daily needs to consume approximately 7 to 10 g/kg body weight per day to replenish glycogen levels. This intake is crucial for restoring skeletal glycogen within 24 hours, especially for athletes engaging in multistage aerobic endurance events or training more than once per day.

However, most physically active individuals do not train aerobically for more than an hour daily. For these individuals, a moderately low carbohydrate intake seems to suffice, with an intake of 5 to 6 g/kg body weight per day appearing to support training and performance of strength, sprint, and skill exercises.

Navigating the Ketogenic Diet Trend

Ketogenic diets, which severely restrict carbohydrates, have been a recent trend in the fitness industry. Such diets may be safe and equally effective for fat loss and retention of maximal strength compared to higher-carbohydrate diets. However, it's worth noting that these diets are not necessary for fat loss and may even be suboptimal for muscle gain.

Besides, following a ketogenic diet can result in avoiding almost all carbohydrate sources, which can be challenging for dietary adherence. In addition, the restrictive nature of such diets may contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food, attenuated weight loss, and weight regain.

In conclusion, personal trainers play a vital role in communicating credible nutrition information and debunking misinformation. By understanding the unique dietary needs of their clients and referring to licensed nutrition professionals when necessary, personal trainers can help clear nutritional confusion and guide their clients on the path to healthy living.