Tired of so-called “experts” telling you how to eat better and improve your fitness? If so, this article is your antidote. In it we share 35 tips, ideas, and strategies that actual clients—folks like you—have used to get into the best shape of their lives.

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Imagine a life where you…

…feel physically and mentally strong, capable of taking on any challenge without worrying that your energy levels or bodyweight will get in the way.

…can run around with your kids, or grandkids, without feeling pain, winded, or tired; and you can do it again the next day.

…excitedly book a beach vacation without wondering how you’ll look (or feel) in a swimsuit, walking along the beach.

…look forward to having your picture taken without wondering “who’s that person, and when did they start looking like that?”

It’s not a pipe dream.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we’ve worked with thousands of clients and heard their deepest reasons for wanting to change their bodies and their lives.

(You’ll read about some of them below, you’ll even see some of their photos).

Strange as it’ll seem, most of them didn’t believe change was really possible. Not within the context of their uniquely busy, often stressful lives.

When they started working with us, their goals seemed more like fantasies. Even the simple ones—like wanting to get up off the floor without having to say “umphhhh”—felt out of reach.

But notice what happened next.

They lost body weight and fat. They built strength. The reclaimed their health. And they took control of their fitness, some for the first time in their lives.

Nowadays they’re the women you see projecting confidence and walking tall. The men with flat stomachs and a totally clean bill of health.

So we decided to ask them:

How’d you do it?

Their real-world answers were so good we decided to share them today.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • The common obstacles many of our clients face.
  • The fears many of them felt when starting out.
  • How they overcame their fears, got past their obstacles.
  • And how you can do the same.

Before getting into it, though, I wanted to let you know that we’re soon opening spots in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program.

You see, twice a year we work with small groups of men and women interested in looking and feeling better. Over the course of 12 months we help them get into the best shape of their lives… and stay that way for good.

Just so you know, we’ve tested Precision Nutrition Coaching with close to over 100,000 clients over the past 15 years. Plus, several peer-reviewed research papers have documented the safety and effectiveness of our approach.

For a sneak peek at the amazing things we’ve helped them accomplish, check out this short video:

Meet some of the people whose bodies—and lives—have been changed by Precision Nutrition Coaching.

 

 

Wondering how you can experience these kinds of results for yourself?

Let’s turn it over to our Precision Nutrition Coaching graduates.

Having trouble getting started?

Don’t think, just do.

“If it’s your time, and you’re sitting on the fence—you want to do it, you’re thinking of doing it, you’re not sure if you should do it—jump off that fence,” says Patrick, 35, who lost 152 pounds with Precision Nutrition.

“Give it everything you’ve got; why sit out when you can be part of life?”

Patrick’s Transformation

Lost 152 lbs and 20% body fat!

Age: 35 years
Weight Lost: 152 lbs (from 417 lbs to 265 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 20% (from 39.1% to 19.1%)
Total Inches Lost: 73 inches (from 337 inches to 264 inches)

Turned off by every weight-loss program and tip you see?

Ignore mainstream advice.

Unrealistic (and, frankly, insulting) click bait like “Flatten Your Tummy in 5 Minutes a Day” and “Sculpt Your Butt While Sitting Still” are meant to drive ad sales, not get you in shape.

Most of our clients, once they see Precision Nutrition’s positive, practice-based approach, realize that the negative tone of health and fitness media was holding them back for years.

Find trustworthy friends or acquaintances who lost weight, and do what they did.

Why reinvent the wheel? When you see a true success story unfold before your eyes, copycat away. That’s how 46-year-old Sharon D’Arcy found Precision Nutrition, and she ended up losing more than 30 pounds.

(Click here for her story, which includes a bit of surprising inspiration.)

Sharon’s Transformation

Lost 33 lbs and 13% body fat!

Age: 46 years
Weight Lost: 33 lbs (from 151 lbs to 118 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 13% (from 28% to 15%)
Total Inches Lost: 18.5 inches (from 209.1 inches to 190.6 inches)

Make it about your journey.

Don’t assume you have to be “perfect” or “special” in order to be fit and healthy. 48-year-old Alicia had been on the diet-mobile for so long she started to think change just wasn’t possible for her.

Then one day, her mindset shifted. “Why not me?” she asked herself. She stuck that mantra to her mirror.

Every day, in a mindful, conscious way, she visualized her success. Forty-nine pounds later, Alicia went from a size 16 to a size 6 and became our $25,000 grand prize winner.

Alicia’s Transformation

Lost 49 lbs and 46 total inches!

Age: 48 years
Weight Lost: 49 lbs (from 181 lbs to 132 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 46 inches (from 219 inches to 173 inches)

Struggling to get motivated and inspired?

Stop living in “coulda, woulda, shoulda”.

To make true progress, allow yourself to focus exclusively on what you can do now. Not in some hypothetical future where everything is perfect.

Just do the best you can with what you’ve got right now. It’s what allowed Sharon (above) to lose weight and fight cancer—all in the same year.

Have your reason.

Keep your specific motivation in mind, whether it’s getting fit enough to play sports with your kids or looking great on your wedding day. That last one is what helped 32-year-old Melissa lose 55 pounds.

“The whole time, I had this image of myself on my wedding day in my head,” Melissa says. “Walking tall, feeling amazing—feeling statuesque instead of soft around the edges.”

Melissa’s Transformation

Lost 55 lbs and 16% body fat!

Age: 32 years
Weight Lost: 55 lbs (from 231 lbs to 176 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 16% (from 34% to 18%)
Total Inches Lost: 38 inches (from 242 inches to 204 inches)

Feel more than you see.

Sure, wanting to look better is what motivates most clients to sign up for Precision Nutrition Coaching. But it’s not what gets them to oh-my-god-you-look-amazing transformations.

Healthy eating habits end up improving how they feel—how they move, think and generally enjoy life—which leads to continued healthy eating and dozens of pounds lost over time.

Focus on the joy of movement.

“Enjoy your body,” Sharon (above) says. “Take pleasure in movement. Take pride in what you can do.”

This deep appreciation for physical health is what allows many clients to maintain fitness regimens and weight loss over time.

Recognize true enjoyment.

Most Precision Nutrition clients come to realize that they’ve been eating mindlessly—packing in calories without really tasting the food—for a long time.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with dessert,” explains Yano, 35, who lost 76 pounds with Precision Nutrition.

He still enjoys dessert occasionally, of course, and finds that having it only once in awhile is the key to really appreciating it.

Yano’s Transformation

Lost 76 lbs and 20.9% body fat!

Age: 35 years
Weight Lost: 76 lbs (from 256 lbs to 180 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 20.9% (from 34.1% to 13.2%)
Waist Inches Lost: 10 inches (from 43 inches to 33 inches)

Feel like the ‘real you’ has gotten lost somewhere along the way?

Pay attention to your environment.

Recognizing how their surroundings might have caused unhealthy habits to develop—like 29-year-old Sarah’s years of work in fast food restaurants—allows many Precision Nutrition clients to discover the why of who they are and start zeroing in on the power of how to change it.

Sarah’s Transformation

Lost 52 lbs and 14.2% body fat!

Age: 29 years
Weight Lost: 52 lbs (from 191 lbs to 139 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 14.2% (from 26.3% to 12.1%)
Total Inches Lost: 50 inches (from 239 inches to 189 inches)

Don’t fall to pack mentality.

“It turns out that a lot of people have health and weight issues, just like I used to have,” Yano (above) says.

“And often they don’t want to eat poorly; they just do it because everyone else—friends, family, the people around them—is doing it. That was my problem for a long time.”

Dive below the surface.

We can skim the top of our diet issues and see some small, fleeting changes on the scale… or we can really dig into our relationship with food, and make it better for the long run.

For Sarah (above), letting herself get vulnerable as she went through Precision Nutrition’s program turned into her greatest strength, opening her up to the process of self-questioning:

“How have trying times brought me to where I am now, and how have I coped?” Sarah asked herself. “What do I really care about? What gives me joy? How can I get more of that?”

Along the way, Sarah lost 52 pounds.

Say goodbye to the old you.

This isn’t some meaningless cliché. We’ve found that many people harbor an invisible fear of losing themselves if they lose a bunch of weight.

Consciously mourn your old self as you greet the healthier you. Lots of Precision Nutrition clients were able to recognize and minimize certain anxieties this way.

Stay connected to what you love about yourself.

“Just remember, you deserve all of the amazing insights, strength gains, friendships, learning—whatever you take from this program as you find and discover a new and best version of yourself,” Sarah (above) says.

“You are worthy.”

Exhausted just thinking about how much work you’ll have to do?

Know that everyone—everyone—has to work at it.

Fit, healthy people who look like they’ve got it all figured out have to put effort into eating right, too.

We know because Precision Nutrition coaches themselves talk about it a lot.

Clients say getting to know them is comforting, because you can see how they’re so focused on learning, growing, and becoming the best versions of themselves.

De-emphasize the “work” in “working out”.

So many Precision Nutrition clients say that one outcome of our program—and something that helps them maintain an optimal exercise schedule—is coming to see movement as play, as fun, as release.

Find the activities you love, and moving your body will become something you seek out, not dread.

Let it be easy.

Like many Precision Nutrition clients, 34-year-old Chrystalene used to beat herself up when she failed, and thought she should be able to get fit without a speck of help.

Luckily, through Precision Nutrition Coaching, she learned, “it doesn’t have to be hard all the time. And it’s okay to seek support. There’s probably a way to make your heavy thing lighter, and finding out how to do that is worth it.”

Her results—86 pounds lost and a $25,000 Grand Prize from Precision Nutrition—show what’s possible when you relax a little, and lean on the people around you.

Chrystalene’s Transformation

Lost 86 lbs and 55 total inches!

Age: 34 years
Weight Lost: 86 lbs (from 259 lbs to 173 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 55 inches (from 269 inches to 214 inches)

Swap “comparison” for inspiration.

Forget envy and intimidation. Precision Nutrition clients notice that the program allows them to stop saying, “That could never be me” and start thinking of others’ success stories as inspiration.

Lots of Precision Nutrition clients come to the program with significant health issues to solve. Talk to them and let their energy fuel you.

Just take small steps every day

It’s easy to think you have to make all of the changes, all at once. But small steps really do add up.

That’s what 51-year-old Mark—who lost 42 pounds and won a $25,000 Grand Prize—learned from Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Says Mark, “Be patient. Just show up every day and focus on making small changes consistently”.

Mark’s Transformation

Lost 42 lbs and 32 total inches!

Age: 51 years
Weight Lost: 42 lbs (from 192 lbs to 150 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 32 inches (from 237 inches to 205 inches)

Know a lot about health and nutrition, but can’t seem to change?

Redefine “knowing”.

“It’s about realizing that no matter how smart I am and how much I know about exercise, if I’m not living it, I don’t really know it,” says Kevin, 40, who lost 37 pounds on the Precision Nutrition program.

Kevin’s Transformation

Lost 37 lbs and 12.8% body fat!

Age: 40 years
Weight Lost: 37 lbs (from 177 lbs to 140 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 12.8% (from 20.1% to 7.3%)
Waist Inches Lost: 21 inches (from 226 inches to 205 inches)

Let others take the helm.

Many Precision Nutrition clients know a whole lot about health and nutrition coming into our program. In fact, a lot of them are fitness instructors and health professionals themselves. Why’s the weight still sticking to them?

Their lightbulb moment: Relinquishing control to coaches, who offer the practical lifestyle advice, daily habits, and—this is key—accountability that’s needed to create real change.

Find your route at the grocery store.

“Knowing” is not always the same as “doing”. So many people trying to “eat clean” get derailed by the mere sight of processed food.

Precision Nutrition clients learn how to navigate the supermarket (or restaurants or their workplaces) to avoid temptation.

The secret: Stay on the perimeter. Calorie-packed chips, cookies, pasta, sauces, and dressings are in the middle. The good stuff like vegetables, meats, eggs, and fruits are stocked on the outside, away from the aisles.

That’s what 46-year-old John learned, and he lost 106 pounds.

John’s Transformation

Lost 106 lbs and 13% body fat!

Age: 46 years
Weight Lost: 106 lbs (from 332 lbs to 226 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 13% (from 39% to 26%)
Waist Inches Lost: 12 inches (from 50 inches to 38 inches)

Find accountability.

“The truth is, I probably knew three-quarters of Precision Nutrition Coaching’s dietary recommendations before I started,” says Peter, 52, who dropped 33 pounds with Precision Nutrition.

“But the secret to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is consistency,” he says. Get someone to breathe down your neck, and you’ll make healthy choices your habit.

Peter’s Transformation

Lost 33 lbs and 11% body fat!

Age: 52 years
Weight Lost: 33 lbs (from 180 lbs to 147 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 11% (from 18% to 7%)
Waist Inches Lost: 5 inches (from 35 inches to 30 inches)

Can’t figure out how to work it into your busy life?

Realize there’s no such thing as “too busy”.

Precision Nutrition’s program is practically custom-designed for people who think they just “don’t have the time”. Oftentimes they’re our most successful clients.

Lisanne, 39, lost 38 pounds on the Precision Nutrition program while taking care of three small kids—including a nursing infant—and getting certified as a yoga instructor and doula.

Other clients work multiple jobs or have to travel five days a week and never know where they’ll be staying next. They tell us that Precision Nutrition coaching actually ends up easing their schedule by lending structure to their lives.

Lisanne’s Transformation

Lost 38 lbs and 14% body fat!

Age: 39 years
Weight Lost: 38 lbs (from 160 lbs to 122 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 14% (from 36% to 22%)
Total Inches Lost: 41 inches (from 229 inches to 188 inches)

Focus on what you can do right now.

Forget what you can’t do. Figure out what you’re capable of in this moment, and build from there.

“I had to find it within me to accept that it was okay to do things a bit differently, says Richard, 49, who dropped 103 pounds in our yearlong program.

“I had to accept that it was okay to do what I was capable of.”

Eventually, Precision Nutrition clients internalize this mantra: Start wherever you are. Use whatever you have. Do whatever you can.

Richard’s Transformation

Lost 103 lbs and 20% body fat!

Age: 49 years
Weight Lost: 103 lbs (from 318 lbs to 215 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 20% (from 40.9% to 20.9%)
Total Inches Lost: 30 inches (from 285 inches to 255 inches)

Picture the health role model you want for your kids.

Now be that.

“I want my kids to be healthy and happy and proud of the way they’re living their lives,” Lisanne (above) says. “It’s not enough for me to pay lip service to that idea—I have to be an example.”

Don’t confuse selfishness with self-love.

A lot of Precision Nutrition clients worry that prioritizing themselves will take them away from the people who need them, potentially damaging professional or personal relationships.

Then they discover that the opposite is true: Caring for themselves by addressing their diet and lifestyle makes them look and feel better—and that actually makes them more accessible and present for other people.

Stop thinking you have to dedicate your whole life to losing weight.

Sure, some of the changes you have to make to get healthy will be fundamental. But the truth is that you only need a few hours per week to build a great body.

By getting the right kind of help and following simple yet powerful daily practices, anyone can lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.

That’s what 34-year-old Kia realized, and she lost 61 pounds.

Kia’s Transformation

Lost 61 lbs and 19% body fat!

Age: 34 years
Weight Lost: 61 lbs (from 199 lbs to 138 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 19% (from 37% to 18%)
Total Inches Lost: 50 inches (from 252 inches to 202 inches)

Sometimes get frustrated and then quit?

Recognize that progress isn’t usually a straight line.

If you’re gauging success based on how much you weigh each morning, you’re bound to give up before you can establish healthy habits or see real change.

Almost as a rule, our clients’ progress graphs look like a crazy, twisted line of progress, regress, more progress, and lessons learned along the way (we know, because our software tracks it for them so they can follow along the whole time).

A year later, dozens of pounds lost—for good. Worth the roller coaster ride, for sure.

Stop blaming external factors.

“What I learned was that I had to take responsibility for my own decisions,” says Heather, 37, who lost 47 pounds on the Precision Nutrition program.

“I had to get real with myself. I learned the difference between thinking, ‘I have to do x,’ and ‘I choose to do x,’ and ‘I’m doing x.’”

Heather’s Transformation

Lost 47 lbs and 10% body fat!

Age: 37 years
Weight Lost: 47 lbs (from 219 lbs to 172 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 10% (from 38% to 28%)
Total Inches Lost: 43 inches (from 253 inches to 210 inches)

Make health programs bend to your needs.

Too often, people trying to get fit become discouraged because exercise and nutrition programs seem inflexible, not designed for their lives.

That’s what Precision Nutrition coaches help with. We help you build an “Owner’s Manual” of operating instructions for your life.

49-year-old Cheryl lost 68 pounds—despite the fact that she was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease partway through the Precision Nutrition program. No heavy lifting? No problem. We helped her modify the workouts.

“In some ways, the diagnosis was a relief,” Cheryl says. “At least it was okay for me to admit that I hadn’t been doing what others were doing in the gym.”

Cheryl’s Transformation

Lost 68 lbs and 20% body fat!

Age: 49 years
Weight Lost: 68 lbs (from 245 lbs to 177 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 20% (from 44% to 24%)
Total Inches Lost: 65 inches (from 280 inches to 215 inches)

Rewrite the basics.

“When I was in the middle of it, losing weight was at the forefront of my mind; now, everything is a habit,” says 36-year-old Katey, who despite having virtually no compliance with the Precision Nutrition program for the first 90 days went on to lose an impressive 116 pounds.

The key? Allowing herself to make truly fundamental lifestyle changes. “It feels a lot more like living,” she says.

Katey’s Transformation

Lost 116 lbs and 21% body fat!

Age: 36 years
Weight Lost: 116 lbs (from 255 lbs to 139 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 21% (from 39% to 18%)
Total Inches Lost: 65 inches (from 260 inches to 195 inches)

Don’t let one cookie derail you.

“I realized I could have a clean slate every time I ‘messed up’ because this was about my healthy lifestyle, and not just a diet,” says Patricia, 46, who lost 69 pounds with Precision Nutrition.

“Precision Nutrition Coaching taught me habits and changed the way I view my body and the food I put in it. It’s a life plan, and it’s something I know I can manage forever.”

Patricia’s Transformation

Lost 69 lbs and 25% body fat!

Age: 46 years
Weight Lost: 69 lbs (from 250 lbs to 181 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 25% (from 50% to 25%)
Total Inches Lost: 35 inches (from 250 inches to 215 inches)

Don’t expect unbroken enthusiasm.

Look, at times it’s a slog—and that’s true for everyone.

“I learned that sometimes you have to drag your ass to the gym, even if you don’t feel like going, and it was a huge burden that got lifted off me,” says Kim, 25, who lost 24 pounds with Precision Nutrition.

“And while the workout may be slow moving and uninspired at first, once you’re there it’s super easy to finish.”

Kim’s Transformation

Lost 24 lbs and 16.3% body fat!

Age: 25 years
Weight Lost: 24 lbs (from 160 lbs to 136 lbs)
% Body Fat Lost: 16.3% (from 29.5% to 13.2%)

Remember that change can catch you by surprise.

42-year-old Javier lost 60 pounds and took home a $25,000 grand prize at the end of his Precision Nutrition Coaching program.

Yet, until he saw his final photos, he did not fully recognize the change he had undergone.

In fact, just a few weeks before the photoshoot he was threatening to quit, and it was only the encouragement of his coach that kept him going.

Javier’s lesson: “remember that the road to success is paved with failures.”

Javier’s Transformation

Lost 60 lbs and 32 total inches!

Age: 42 years
Weight Lost: 60 lbs (from 245 lbs to 185 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 32 inches (from 269 inches to 237 inches)

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve used the Precision Nutrition Coaching method to help over 100,000 clients lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… for the long-term… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health, fitness, and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

The post Coaching: 35 lessons from Precision Nutrition’s most successful clients. Advice on how to get in your best shape from people who’ve done it. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

You already have the key to transforming your body.

Seriously. It’s actually on your person.

We’re talking about your hand.

In case you don’t know… here at Precision Nutrition, we developed a system for food tracking called hand portions.

The basics: Your hand acts as a personalized, portable portioning tool to help you eat appropriately-sized meals.

  • Your palm is a portion of protein
  • Your fist is a portion of vegetables
  • Your cupped hand is a portion of carbohydrates
  • Your thumb is a portion of fat

Depending on your sex, age, weight, activity level, and goals, you eat a certain amount of each portion daily. Ideally from whole, nutrient-dense foods.

That’s it.

It seems so easy that at first people often don’t believe it’ll work. “Where’s all the calorie math?!” they wonder.

And yet, the biggest problems often have the simplest solutions.

This uncomplicated method has transformed countless physiques. 

Strict calorie counting and measuring works well for some people and some goals. But in our experience coaching over 100,000 clients, most people are able to use hand portions to “watch what they eat” reliably and consistently.

And when it comes to getting the results you want, what you do consistently matters the most. 

That’s why we’re sharing these six incredible transformation stories.

Each person we’ve profiled—from an already-fit trainer to a desk worker facing a health scare—used this simple system to achieve their mind-blowing results, with absolutely no calorie counting, food scale, or tracking app required.

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#1: The office worker facing a health scare.

Tony Yavasile’s blood pressure was out of control.

On top of that, he was seriously concerned about his family history of diabetes and obesity.

But with a fast-paced job that involved a ton of travel, it was difficult for Tony to stick to a healthy eating plan.

The turning point: One of his foreign colleagues mentioned he was looking a little, well, bigger.

So, Tony reached out to Precision Nutrition ProCoach Arthur Hernandez and started a yearlong coaching program to improve his health.

At first, Tony was skeptical of hand portions. “My first impression was that this was a fad; something like counting points,” he says.

But turns out, the system soon resonated. “What I found helpful, and different from other ways of tracking food, was that it was effortless,” he says.

He also loved that he didn’t have to take out his phone and enter numbers into an app. Or use a food scale. “It’s a simple and easy method that can be used in any setting, at any time, with any meal.”

This was especially true of restaurant meals. “When you apply the hand method to the plate of food that’s delivered to your table, you can’t help but recognize how poorly-balanced restaurant meals are, in general. For me, this was the biggest game-changer.”

By the end of the year, Tony lost 44 pounds and 44 total inches. His blood pressure returned to the “green” zone, too. Now he uses what he’s learned to maintain his progress.

“Like every other life journey, I have the occasional setback,” Tony says. “But unlike in the past, I have the tools to move past it and get back on track.”

Case study #2: The woman who went from overeating to trusting the process.

When 24-year-old Sarah Terry’s husband joined the military, the pair moved to Camp Humphreys in South Korea. While it was exciting to live in a new country, it was also emotionally challenging.

“I relied on comfort foods because I was overwhelmed,” says Sarah. Think: cooking (and eating) an entire pound of pasta at a time.

But the first time she visited a temple in her new home, Sarah found she only had one dress that fit. “I cried and cried because I hadn’t realized how much weight I actually had gained,” she says.

That’s when Sarah decided to make a change, and joined the Precision Nutrition Coaching program.

Like many others, Sarah doubted hand portions would be effective. “It seemed too good to be true,” she says. After years of feeling bombarded with messages about food scales, calories, macros, and measuring tools, Sarah was convinced it couldn’t be this easy. “I always felt there was a more complicated answer to food and weight loss.”

As a former calorie counter, Sarah had apprehension about giving the practice up completely. At first, she still tried to figure out the calorie count of her hand-portioned meals.

“Eventually I learned to trust the process,” Sarah says.

After losing 45 pounds in a year, Sarah says she’s proud of how far she’s come.

“I didn’t need to cut food groups. I didn’t need fancy tools or special tummy tea or supplements or meal replacement shakes. Learning that I just needed myself—my hand—and the ability to form new habits was life-altering.”

Case study #3: The coach who needed a coach. (It paid off big-time.)

Even coaches need coaching. That’s why Jesse Vang, a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified coach, hired a colleague to help him look and feel better. “I got that, plus way more than I expected,” says Jesse, now 31.

At the start of his program, the 5’7” coach weighed in at 157 pounds and was 17 percent body fat. Over the next year, Jesse followed a detailed strength training routine four days a week, incorporating a HIIT workout or two each week.

But the big changemaker, according to Jesse: hand portions. (Surprise!)

“For years, I was a dedicated calorie counter. But it just wasn’t sustainable for me,” he says. “I didn’t really focus on the quality of the food I was eating. Instead, I had a goal of reaching a certain number, and there were days I’d eat anything just to get there.”

Jesse was actually relieved when his coach gave him the option of using hand portions instead.

Already accustomed to tracking, Jesse came up with a system for ensuring he was meeting his hand portion goals for the day—without the stress of detailed logging. “I made it as simple as possible by using the Notes app on my iPhone,” he explains. Once he had eaten a portion, he would simply add it to his list for the day.

This helped Jesse keep track of his portions without feeling like he was stuck on a rigid meal plan. “The beauty of the hand method is the flexibility. If I ate a bit more carbs at lunch, then I’d simply drop my carbs on the next meal. Following this method saved me so much time and energy.”

By the end of the year, Jesse was 147 pounds and 8.6 percent body fat. (That means he lost 14 pounds of fat and gained four pounds of muscle.) But even better, he’s used his personal experience to help clients: “My clients follow this same approach, and all are having similar success.”

Case study #4: The woman who stopped chasing perfection and regained her health.

When Laurie Campbell, 54, started the Precision Nutrition Coaching program, she was the heaviest she’d ever been. “My largest clothes were too tight, and I found it easier to stay home in stretchy yoga pants and my husband’s baggy T-shirts, eating countless bags of chips that I always kept handy,” she says.

Weight loss was certainly a goal, but Laurie wanted more than that.

Looking back, one moment sticks out: playing with one of her granddaughters on the floor. The little girl jumped up and ran away, and Laurie wasn’t able to get up quickly to follow her.

“It was humbling for me to realize I had lost so much mobility and strength when I was once an avid runner involved in many sports and physical activities,” says Laurie.

In the past, Laurie meticulously counted calories. “I obsessively weighed and measured everything. I don’t think that encouraged a very healthy relationship with food.”

By setting impossible standards for herself, Laurie set herself up for the extreme highs and lows that come with chasing the “perfect diet.”

But when she switched to hand portions? “I found it to be a relief,” she says. (We hear that a lot.)

Hand portions also helped Laurie understand how she may have gained weight in the first place. “I realized I was serving myself the same portions as my husband, who is considerably larger than me,” she says.

By the end of the program, Laurie lost 38 pounds and 24 inches. Since then, she’s lost five more pounds, just by keeping up with what she learned.

“I feel fantastic now! I’m no longer ruled by food, diets, and obsessive monitoring,” Laurie says. “I’m not afraid to have dessert, but at the same time, I’ve learned to keep those chips out of the pantry.”

And best of all? “I can easily keep up with my granddaughters now. Well, most of the time!”

Case study #5: The trainer who got shredded as an experiment.

Extreme body composition goals may require more precise nutrition strategies. Usually, that means utilizing calorie and/or macronutrient counting.

But 34-year-old Luke Robinson, a Precision Nutrition Level 2 coach and owner of WolfPack Fitness, wondered if it had to be that way.

After clients asked him a bunch of questions about hand portions, Luke decided to conduct an experiment to see if hand portions could get him competition-level lean—but without spending all day in the gym. He knew the average person faced several nutrition challenges like:

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I don’t want to give up drinking.”
  • “I don’t want to give up my favorite junk food.”

Unless he adjusted his habits during his experiment, Luke figured many people wouldn’t find his results relatable or convincing. So he set the following guidelines for himself:

  • He could only work out 3 times a week.
  • Workouts had to be 30 minutes or less.
  • Workouts had to be done using only cinder blocks (which cost him $2 USD each), bricks (50 cents/each), and a metal bar from the junkyard. No expensive gym equipment allowed.
  • Workouts could only include the basics of strength training: deadlifts, pushups, squats, rows, pullups, split squats, farmer’s walk, side planks, and plank variations.
  • He had to drink to “drunkenness” at least once a week (for him, that was 3 to 4 vodka and soda cocktails).
  • He had to eat “junk food” at least once a week (such as candy bars, sugary breakfast cereal, greasy fast food, cookies, and so on).

Like Jesse, he kept track of how many portions of protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fat he ate. This made it easy to adjust as needed.

If he wasn’t losing weight, he’d reduce his carbohydrate or fat portions by one or two portions per day. If he was losing weight too fast, he’d add one or two carbohydrate or fat portions per day.

This made it unnecessary for Luke to count calories or macros—even though he was achieving high-level results. “You don’t need to know the exact macros or calories in anything,” he says. “You just need to know that it’s more or less relative to what you did the week before.”

In just two months, Luke went from 212 pounds to 200, accomplishing his goal to go from lean to super lean. As you can see from his photos, the results speak for themselves.

Case study #6: The mom who got in the best shape of her life.

After baby number two, 37-year-old Kelley Derner spent nine months working with her longtime trainer, Arthur Hernandez (clearly, a hand portions expert!), to get back to her pre-pregnancy baseline.

But she wanted more. “I promised myself that this time, I would do something just for me. After all that I went through postpartum, including depression and anxiety, I needed that,” says Kelley.

When her progress stalled, however, Hernandez suggested trying something new: hand portions.

Kelley wasn’t sold on the idea right away. It didn’t seem like enough food to her. “At first, I thought I was probably never going to feel full again,” Kelley laughs.

She was also worried she wouldn’t be able to gauge portions correctly.

Despite her reservations, Kelley gave it a try. Over time, she began to learn what portions looked like for her body. “When I realized what portion sizes I should actually be eating, I was shocked,” Kelley says.

What’s more, she discovered it was possible to overeat whole, nutrient-dense foods. And that even if she was eating “clean,” overeating was getting in the way of her goals.

For instance, by using her palm as a reference point, Kelley saw she didn’t need an entire chicken breast to make up one serving of lean protein. “I thought ‘well, it’s just chicken, and that’s healthy,’ but it was actually way more than I needed. Now, I cut them in half.”

Her takeaway? “Hand portions aren’t about restrictions. They’re about showing you what’s appropriate.”

As for her results, Kelley says she feels amazing. “I’ll be 38 in one month, and I look the best I’ve ever looked in my life—even after two kids.”

What to do next…

Challenge yourself to try something different.

When we’re comfortable with a certain way of doing things, it can be difficult to change things up.

As you read in these stories, many of the people were former calorie counters. And many of them had a difficult time giving that up.

So if you’re reluctant to give up calorie counting, macro counting, or any other method of portion control, ask yourself:

“How’s that working for me?”

Are you seeing the results you want with the methods you’re currently using? If not, it could be worth experimenting with something new—even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.

Use our Nutrition Calculator to figure out your customized hand portions.

If you want to try hand portions but you’re not sure where to start, check out our Nutrition Calculator.

All you have to do is enter your personal details like age, current weight, and height, along with your goals and when you’d like to achieve them. You can also indicate your food preferences, such as plant-based, Paleo, Mediterranean, keto, and more.

Then, the calculator puts together a personalized eating guide that includes your individualized hand portions (as well as your macros in grams, if you’re curious!). Plus, it’ll give you everything you need to know about putting hand portions into practice.

Stay flexible… but consistent.

One of the reasons people are so successful with hand portions is that the system is highly flexible.

Need more energy for your athletic performance? Add a portion of carbs.

Not losing weight? Remove a portion of fats.

No calculations required.

At the same time, consistency matters. What you do on a consistent basis is what really drives your results.

And luckily, flexibility allows you to set up your diet in a way that enables you to do just that: be consistent.

So as you begin to experiment with hand portions, keep an open mind. Adjust as needed so that you can get where you want to go.

And anytime you hit a snag, remember: The biggest problems often have the simplest solutions.

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve used the Precision Nutrition Coaching method to help over 100,000 clients lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… for the long-term… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health, fitness, and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

The post 6 ‘hand portion’ body transformations you have to see to believe appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“What should I charge?”

At some point, every nutrition coach asks that question.

You could be just starting out and have no idea what’s fair. Maybe you have years of experience but wonder if your rates should be higher. Or perhaps you’ve heard what competitors charge and think, “Why not me?”

Trouble is, it’s hard to get a satisfying answer.

Even if you ask a coaching group on social media, the rates will often vary wildly among coaches, leaving you forever waffling between guilt (“Am I overcharging?”) and resentment (“I’m not getting paid enough!”).

How can you ever know the right amount for your services?

Through the power of data, thank you very much.

We asked more than 1,000 nutrition coaches: What do you charge? 

But we didn’t stop there: We also inquired about their coaching practice, experience, client base, certifications, and more—because, when you’re determining what to charge, it all matters.

Then we ran a statistical analysis to see how each of these factors related to one another. End result: a report that showcases real income data from real coaches, along with the most relevant, practical takeaways for maximizing what you make.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • What most nutrition coaches typically charge per hour
  • How to increase your hourly rate—with confidence
  • The secret sauce behind the top-tier rates of “super earners”
  • Your roadmap to price setting: What to charge today, and how to set yourself up to charge more in the future

Let’s dive in.

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What do most nutrition coaches charge?

According to our survey, the median hourly rate for nutrition coaching is $65 per hour. Just in case it’s been a while since you took a math class, here’s a quick refresher on the word median. It represents the midpoint. In other words, half the coaches we surveyed make less than $65 per hour. Half make more. (Note: All rates are in US dollars.)

Of the coaches who make more, we noticed two distinct groups.

  • High earners who charge $10 to $15 an hour more than the median rate
  • Super earners who are absolutely crushing it—charging double the median rate

If you’re currently charging below the median rate, don’t worry. We’re going to tell you how to go from a lower rate to a higher one.

It doesn’t take much of an hourly jump to make a big difference. For example, a $15 per hour raise can really add up fast. If you work 20 hours per week, that’s $300 more a week—and $15,600 more per year.

That’s a pretty sweet income bump.

But making good money isn’t just about how much you charge—it can also be about how many clients you have. (You already knew that, didn’t you?)

Turns out, people who charge more tend to have more clients. The super earners in our survey were more likely to have 20+ clients than people who charged less than the median rate.

Why? We can’t say for sure, but we do know this: The secrets to higher rates (more experience and more education, for example) are also the secrets to netting more clients.

So keep reading to find out how to go from a regular earner to a high earner—and then from a high earner to a super earner.

It Pays to Diversify

When we broke down rates by coaching type, we learned that in-person coaches who work with people face-to-face (say, at a gym, in an office, or in the client’s home) make roughly the same as online coaches who work digitally, through a website and email ($65/hour vs. $64.50/hour). People who do hybrid coaching (a mix of in-person and online), however, are charging significantly more: $75/hour.

Five Secrets of High Earners

According to our research, high earners share several traits in common: experience, number of certifications, coaching hours, specialization, and confidence. Below, we explore each.

Secret #1: Set rates based on your experience.

Not surprisingly, more experienced coaches charge higher rates than less experienced coaches. They also have another income advantage: Coaches with more experience tend to have more clients.

In our survey, most coaches with just one to four clients had two or fewer years of experience. Coaches with 20 or more clients, on the other hand, were much more likely to have more than three years experience, and more than a quarter of these booked-solid coaches had six or more years experience.

This makes sense because with more experience comes word-of-mouth marketing, says Mike Doehla, a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified coach.

Doehla started coaching a few years ago with just a few clients, charging $120 for 12 weeks of his services. It didn’t cover the bills, which is why he kept his day job as a human resources manager.

As they reached their goals, however, those initial clients gushed about Doehla to just about anyone who would listen. More and more clients came Doehla’s way, so he inched up the rate for his 12-week package: $165, $175, $185…

Eventually, he founded Stronger U, a coaching company that charges $399 for 12-week programs, employs 69 coaches, and rakes in millions a year.

“The value comes from clients having a good experience and then telling everyone they know about us,” Doehla says. “99 percent of our customers come from word of mouth.”

Secret #2: Keep learning.

Education and certifications can give you confidence in your abilities, so you feel like your services are worth more (see secret #5). They also give clients the assurance they need to feel you’re worth your rate. 

In our survey data, we found that coaches with one nutrition certification earned slightly more per hour than those with no certifications. (That’s no surprise, of course.)

We also found that coaches with a nutrition degree, two or more nutrition certifications, or one Precision Nutrition certification earned $12 more per hour than those with a single, non-Precision Nutrition certification.

In other words, the more certifications and education coaches have, the more coaches tend to earn.

But the programs you choose, and what you put into them, matter. Here’s why: The best certification and educational programs require you to invest more time and effort into mastering your craft.

If you’re just going through the motions and getting a certification for the piece of paper, you aren’t as likely to end up with that same level of confidence, which may prevent you from charging more. (Think of it as a mental barrier.) So, choose your certifications wisely, and embrace the learning process. It literally pays off.

In addition to a higher hourly rate, more certifications are also associated with more clients. In our survey, we saw that coaches with 20+ clients are also more likely to have two or more certifications.

To be clear: Clients don’t start lining up for your services on the day you earn a new certification. It’s more complex than that. Certifications help by giving you skills, knowledge, and confidence, which makes clients more likely to put their trust in you over someone else. Qualifications matter to clients. And what matters to clients needs to matter to you.

Secret #3: Make coaching your main hustle.

Sometimes it makes perfect sense to tack nutrition coaching onto an existing job, especially if you’re just starting out or thinking about a career change.

But if you really want to be a top-earner in this profession, consider dedicating yourself to nutrition coaching full-time. (Learn more: The real key to career success that almost no one is talking about.)

According to our survey, people who coach nutrition as a sole profession charge more than those who don’t, which begs the question: How do you know when it’s time to go all in?

For that answer, we sought Doehla’s advice once again. That’s because he spent 13 months working full-time in HR as he built his coaching business on the side. “Near the end, I was making more in a month from coaching than I was from my full-time job per year.”

To determine whether you’re ready to go all in, he says, “Figure out how much money you need to pay the bills and then double it.”

If you’re pulling that much, you’re definitely ready to coach full-time.

Secret #4: Consider specializing.

If you’re qualified to work with a special population, you might be able to charge more. For example, nutrition coaches who work with people with special health considerations told us they charge a median rate of $73 per hour. Coaches who work with seniors said they charge $70 per hour. That’s $5 to $7 above the median rate.

Now, your choice to specialize should come mainly from your passion to serve that specific population rather than your desire to pay your bills. Work with a niche group because you want to and are qualified to help them, and not just because you think it’s a ticket to higher rates.

And remember: Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Coaches who work with these populations may be able to charge more because of other factors (like years of experience, perhaps).

Finally, keep in mind that certain populations may also require you to charge less depending on what that population can afford. (For example, the median rate for coaches working with youth was just $60 per hour.)

Secret #5: Believe in your worth.

Coaches who feel “completely confident” in their coaching skills say they charge $75 per hour, while coaches who are only “somewhat confident,” or “a little confident or less” charge just $60 per hour.

That’s a significant difference: $15 more per hour based on confidence.

So, how exactly do you build it?

The answer: Practice secrets #1 and #2.

With experience (secret #1), each successful encounter helps you to feel ready for the next. And certifications (secret #2) help you feel secure in your knowledge and skills.

But you need both.

Some people make the mistake of leaning too heavily into their education at the expense of gaining experience. They go to workshop after workshop and gain certification after certification as they wait and wait for the “okay, now I’m ready to coach” feeling to materialize, says Precision Nutrition Coach Kate Solovieva, who frequently fields questions from coaches about what to charge.

“New coaches want to feel 100% confident before they coach a single person. They want to feel like they know ‘enough.’ In other words, they want to wait until they aren’t scared anymore. Unfortunately, that moment never arrives. The best advice I can give to coaches starting out is to just start coaching,” Solovieva says.

You may wonder, “Can I really deliver? Am I good enough?” Waiting won’t answer that question, though. At a certain point, you need to do one and only one thing: Start coaching.

To reduce your anxiety, consider: Would you refuse treatment from a resident doctor? Would you ask to have your child moved from a classroom with a first-year teacher? If not, is it possible that potential clients have more confidence in you than you currently have in yourself?

Secrets of Super Earners

We just told you the secrets used by high earners. Now suppose you want to go even bigger and achieve a top-tier price point. How do you get there? Our data revealed some interesting insights.

In our survey, the top 10% of earners are charging more than $120 per hour. That’s nearly double the typical (median) rate.

What makes them special? Here’s what we noticed.

Super earners were more likely to…

  • Have a nutrition degree or advanced certification such as Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Class.
  • Have more than two certifications.
  • Have at least 3-5 years of experience.
  • Work in a more specialized environment, such as a medical practice or in corporate wellness.
  • Work with special populations.
  • Offer a mix of in-person and online coaching as well as nutrition seminars.
  • Work in nutrition coaching full-time.

Remember: super earners were statistically more likely to have those seven traits, but not every super earner had all seven. Just because you lack a nutrition degree, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t reach the super earner level. Rather than fixate on what you can’t do, focus on what you can.

If you can’t go back to school, for example, maybe you can set aside money and time each year to take new seminars or gather additional certifications. That’s what the most successful fit pros do. Take Alwyn Cosgrove, MS, co-founder of Results Fitness in California, and Michael Piercy, MS, owner of The LAB in New Jersey. They’ve taken courses from just about every health and fitness organization you can name.

Piercy, in fact, has earned a stunning 32 certifications (including Precision Nutrition Level 2). And you have to figure: It’s probably no coincidence he was also named the 2017 IDEA Global Personal Trainer of the Year, a TRX Master Instructor, and an ACE Master Trainer.

Okay, so what do I charge today?

Use the following chart, based on our data, to assess how much to charge based on where you’re at right now. And, if you want to increase your rate, this chart can also help you determine what you might need to do to get there.

(For all you fellow data nerds who want to know how we arrived at this: The following examples are based on what coaches are statistically more likely to have in common, according to our survey data.)

Once again, there are no hard and fast rules. Consider this a potential roadmap, not a rule book.

The above is based on what we’ve seen among our 1000+ survey respondents, so it provides a reasonable method to help you assess yourself and get started.

But please don’t let the categories constrain you. It’s up to you to define success for yourself.

For example, do you strive to be an expensive coach at the top of their game who always over delivers? Great! Go for it.

Or is your goal to simply go from “free” coach to “paid coach?” Awesome.

Perhaps your focus is on helping lower-income folks get healthier and you’re willing to work on a “pay what you can” model. Fantastic. More power to you.

Regardless of your goals, if you’re not where you want to be yet, that’s okay. Strive for progress, not perfection. Even the highest-earning coaches had to start somewhere.

Nutrition coaching is a highly customizable profession. You get to create it for yourself. Where you go from here is up to you.

What to do next…

Step 1: Practice your craft.

Get all the practice you can. Putting in the time is essential to gaining confidence, credibility, and ultimately a higher rate.

It’s also the secret to staying in the business long term. At Precision Nutrition, we’ve found that the people who get three to five clients right away are more likely to still be coaching a year later.

Go ahead and offer your services to family and friends, even if you don’t charge them initially. (You might think of it as your unpaid internship.) Be that person who generously gives incredibly helpful advice on social media. Eventually, as you help more and more people, you’ll grow into a more confident, more skilled coach—and the people you help will tell others about you.

Step 2: Give yourself a deadline.

Lots of coaches, especially those just starting out, don’t charge money for their services at first. They got into this line of work because they love nutrition, they love working out, and they just want to help people.

But eventually, you need to pay the electricity bill and feed the dog.

If you’re not charging for your services, ask yourself: “At what point will I start charging, and how will I know when I’m there?”

For example, perhaps you’ll start charging after a certain date or after coaching a certain number of people.

But whatever you choose, make sure you clearly define it. Otherwise, “the danger is that the bar is always moving,” says Solovieva.

“Many coaches believe they must be at a certain level before asking for money. They tell themselves, ‘I can’t charge people until I graduate from my cert, until I know enough, until I feel like I can answer any question, until I’ve arrived’, and so on,” she says.

It’s way too easy for “until” to populate your thought process continually.

At a certain point, in order to transition to a bonafide coach who gets paid for your services, you must set a price.

Sure, that leap can feel intimidating, or even scary, but waiting a little longer probably won’t help. “The truth is, you’ll always be afraid,” says Solovieva.

So pick a date and stick to it.

Step 3: Set your rate and feel confident about it.

When new coaches tell Kate Solovieva that they have “absolutely no idea” what to charge, she challenges that belief by taking them through an experiment.

Kate Solovieva: Okay, so how do you feel about charging $1/hour?

New Coach: Giggles.

Kate Solovieva: You’re giggling. Why?

New Coach: Because that’s way too low.

Kate Solovieva: Okay, well, how about $1,000/hour?

New Coach: Woah. That’s way too high.

Kate Solovieva: Hmm. So, already you have some idea in terms of what is too low and what is too high. Awesome. Let’s keep going. How do you feel about $500/hour?

New Coach: Still too high.

Kate Solovieva: $20 an hour?

New Coach: Too low.

And the conversation goes on until they arrive at a range that feels right.

Try it. You’ll come away with a baseline minimum rate for your services, along with your ceiling (even if that top rate is aspirational at the moment). From that range, go with the lowest number, based on your experience and education, you feel you could comfortably charge, Solovieva recommends.

Step 4: Consider whether you want to charge by the hour or by the package (or both).

For beginner coaches, hourly rates offer a great starting point. But as you gain experience—and especially if you coach online—monthly or package rates work better. Here’s why: Coaching involves a lot of work that doesn’t fit neatly into an hourly structure.

For example, let’s say a client texts you a picture of a brand of protein powder and asks for your opinion. You text back and forth for a few minutes. If you only charge by the hour, how do you invoice for those few minutes? And is it even worth your time to send an invoice for a few dollars?

Monthly or package rates can bake in those short interactions. They also simplify billing.

So how do you translate the median hourly rates mentioned earlier into package and monthly rates?

Do the following:

Define your package length.
Many coaches choose 12 weeks because it provides just enough time for clients to see meaningful results.

Consider what you’ll offer.
How many consultations will you include? Will you provide added services such as nutritional evaluations, menu development, or written resources? Once you decide on the scope of your package, consider the number of hours involved. How long will it take to develop materials? Meet with each client? Keep track of client data?

Create a pricing range that seems fair for the work involved.
Use Solovieva’s thought experiment from step 3. Does $1 for 12 weeks sound right? (Of course not!) How about $1000 a month?

Okay, let’s try $25 for 12 weeks? $750?

Keep upping the low number and reducing the high number until you have a range that feels fair, both to you and to potential clients.

And keep in mind that your package rate may not, at first, break down into an hourly rate that truly pays the bills. As you gather more clients and lean on existing resources, your hourly rate will climb, Solovieva promises.

In the meantime, consider reducing how much you offer (perhaps two monthly consultations rather than four) rather than boosting your rate, especially if you’re just starting out, says Solovieva. That way, you’ll keep your monthly rate low enough to attract new clients as you gain experience.

Step 5: As you gain education and experience, raise your rates.

It can be awkward to raise your rates when you have existing clients who are used to paying a certain amount. Some coaches even worry it’s a betrayal.

But coaching is a business like any other, and it’s perfectly reasonable to increase your profits over time.

A good rule of thumb: Bump up your prices by 3 percent once a year to cover inflation, plus additional increases to reflect new training or services.

And don’t worry. “When you have social proof that what you do works, you can raise prices,” says Doehla. “You’ll earn the confidence to keep going higher by seeing that people still purchase what you’re selling each time you increase your rate.”

Overall, most coaches find that their clients actually applaud small fee adjustments. If you’re doing a good job for them, then they’re in your corner as much as you’re in theirs. Just give them plenty of notice (four to six weeks is enough), and let them know in writing through your newsletter or a handout when price increases are coming.

Make sure to tell them about any courses you’ve taken, testimonials and proven results you’ve gathered, or new tools or equipment you’ve added, so they feel they’re getting better service than ever.

What’s next—for you?

So now you know how your rates compare to others—and, even more important, what to do to confidently nudge your rate upwards. Exactly how you put our results into practice will depend on where you are right now.

But our final piece of advice applies no matter whether you’re a super earner or you’ve yet to earn a dollar from coaching. It’s this: Never stop practicing, never stop learning, and never stop growing into the absolute best coach you can be. Keep doing those three things and higher rates will always follow.

(Download a PDF of this exclusive report.)

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition, especially in a way that leads to deep health and lasting change.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Level 1: Nutrition coaching: How much should you charge? This exclusive report shows what it really takes to earn top-tier rates. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

There are some things just about everyone knows. Take this one: To lose fat, you need to watch what you eat.

No one has to hire a coach for that advice.

But knowing how to monitor food intake? That’s something clients really need. Only it can be hard to know the best approach.

Some experts tell you to count calories or meticulously measure every macro. Others encourage you to estimate portions. Still others want you to “listen to your body.”

Sometimes it seems like the entire health and fitness industry is divided.

But guess what? Calorie counting works.

Measuring macros? Also works.

Tracking hand portions? Same.

Mindful eating? Intuitive eating? Yep, those work too.

You get the picture: Every method works. (If implemented well.)

The real question: What’ll work best for you (or your clients)right now?

In this article, we’ll help you to determine the most effective way to manage food intake, based on personal preferences, lifestyle, and goals. You’ll discover the answers to these common food-monitoring questions:

  • Do you really need to count calories and macros? And if so, for how long?
  • Is tracking hand portions anywhere near as accurate as weighing and measuring your food?
  • Can strategies like mindful and intuitive eating really help you lose fat? Or are they overrated?

These answers can help you (or your clients) finally get the results you want. And along the way, gain even more: a healthy relationship with food and the skills that make nutritious eating seem effortless.  

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Most people don’t realize how much they’re eating.

Case in point: Research shows folks often under-estimate their food intake, sometimes by as much as 30 to 50 percent.1

Two likely reasons:

1. They don’t realize how calorically-dense many foods can be. Yes, they might know an overflowing plate is a sure way to pack on the pounds. But two slices of meat lover’s pizza before bed? How bad could that be? (Try 1,000 calories.) 

2. They often misjudge portions (around two-thirds of the time, in fact). Without a handy reference point, it’s easy to accidentally consume a lot more calories than intended.

As a result, many people struggle to recognize how many calories their meals have and fail to eat foods in appropriately-sized portions.

(You’re probably not shocked by this.)

There’s a well-known fix, of course: food tracking. Namely:

  • Calorie counting
  • Macro counting
  • Hand portion tracking

These methods act as “external guides” that can help you eat the right amounts of food for your body at the right intervals. Do that long enough and you’ll begin to retrain your body to better regulate the hormones that tell you when you’re hungry and full.

You’ll also be able to more easily adjust your calorie and macronutrient intake, which is key for changing your body weight and composition (or even keeping them the same).

Think of these food tracking methods as nutritional training wheels.

They give you the guidance and calibration you (or your clients) need to achieve balance on your own.

Some people need these training wheels for longer or shorter periods of time or require a combination of tracking strategies to find their balance.

But ultimately, the goal is to shed your training wheels—or external guides—and move towards knowing what, how much, and when to eat without militant tracking or monitoring.

Because let’s face it: Counting calories and grams is a lot of work. And though it can be very beneficial for short periods of time, most people don’t want to do it long term.

This is where “internal guides” come in. Specifically, mindful eating and intuitive eating.

These methods are critical for helping you tune into your body’s appetite signals. They help you better sense when you’re truly hungry and to stop eating once you’re satisfied. This is a skill known as self-regulation

Babies self-regulate naturally, stopping when they’re full, no matter how much milk or formula is left in a bottle. Most adults, however, have forgotten how to tap into this ability. 

Mindful and intuitive eating can help you regain this skill. These methods also enhance the results you get from food tracking. (And vice versa.)

All of which helps you more easily manage your food intake, based on a combination of:

  • hunger and fullness cues
  • nutritional knowledge
  • understanding what works for you individually

This is where most of us want to be. But no one accomplishes this overnight. It’s a skill that takes practice.

Our guide will show you (and your clients) how to get there. 

Choose the right method.

Determining the most appropriate method comes down to picking the right tool for the right job.

You can do this by asking:

“What problem does food monitoring help me solve?”

Think about why you want to manage your food intake. Maybe you want to…

  • Lose weight and get healthier
  • Better understand your eating habits
  • See how your diet affects athletic performance
  • Look better
  • Achieve a specific body fat percentage
  • Improve your relationship with food
  • Work on your eating behavior and food awareness

Depending on what you hope to accomplish, one approach may be more appropriate than another.

But it’s unlikely any single method will keep working long term.

In fact, you’ll get better results by combining approaches over time. Use the guide that follows to determine which method:

  • makes the most sense for your current goals
  • feels doable
  • fits your day-to-day routine

Method #1: Calorie and macro counting

With calorie counting, you have a set number of calories to eat each day based on your height, weight, age, activity level, and goals.

With macro counting, calories are divided between three main macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. (Alcohol is also a macronutrient and could be tracked, if desired.) Rather than counting calories specifically, you keep track of how many grams of each macronutrient you’re eating. (This indirectly tracks calories too, since macronutrients make up the calories in food and drinks.)

Though calorie and macro counting are slightly different, they’re similar in the sense that they’re both pretty labor-intensive. With either method, you’d ideally use a food scale and/or measuring tools (cups, spoons) to weigh and measure your food at virtually every meal.

You’d also be searching a calorie database (such as MyFitness Pal or Cronometer) to find and log the nutritional value of what you’re eating. Or you might use nutrition labels to manually calculate your intake.

Why use calorie and macro counting?

Research shows it works. Tracking calories and macronutrients—even without any other dietary counseling—helps people lose up to five percent of their body weight, finds research.2 For someone who weighs 200 pounds, that’s a 10-pound weight loss.

It provides maximal precision. Calorie and macro tracking aren’t 100 percent accurate, but they’re the most precise methods available outside of a lab. Important note: If you decide to estimate serving sizes—instead of weighing and measuring your food—this method becomes less accurate.

You learn calorie counts. By tracking macros or calories, you become more aware of how many calories are in everything you eat and drink. Like that a typical 8-ounce margarita has 450 calories or that your favorite restaurant salad packs more calories than two Big Macs.

Calorie and macro counting work well for…

Short-term use. Tracking your calories or macros for a couple of weeks can help you learn more about your current eating habits. It also gives you a better understanding of appropriate portions. Once you have the hang of it, you can transition to hand portions and, eventually, self-regulation.

People with advanced needs. More precision is needed for more precise goals. For example, let’s say someone needs to weigh exactly 125 pounds to make their weight class, or be exactly 8% body fat for their profession. Tracking calories and/or macros is generally the most effective way to get there.

Numbers-oriented folks. Some people truly enjoy the process of collecting calorie and macronutrient data, and then monitoring changes in weight, body size, and health markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol. They’re also usually emotionally detached from the numbers—seeing them as information rather than assigning them “good” or “bad” values. For these people, tracking calories or macros can feel empowering.

Calorie and macro counting are less ideal for…

Most people. In our experience coaching over 100,000 clients, the average person just won’t stick to it for long. That goes for everyone from elite athletes to 60-year old grandparents. They don’t want to bother with calorie math or meticulously tracking everything they eat.

And research shows that even people who like this method tend to stop using it over time.3,4 One likely reason: It can take the joy out of eating. For example, you might be so worried about hitting your macros you struggle to find pleasure in the social aspects of eating. (Like sharing a good meal with family and friends.)

What’s more, for some people, this type of food tracking may actually be unhealthy. Preliminary evidence suggests associations between calorie and macro tracking apps and three types of disordered eating.5,6,7

  • Binge eating: the overwhelming urge to consume as much food as possible, as fast as possible
  • Cognitive dietary restraint: feeling like you’re constantly making an effort to limit what you eat
  • Moralizing food: labeling what you eat as “good” and “bad” and attaching your self-worth to your food choices

Those at highest risk: People who tend to be overly self-critical, are prone to disordered eating, or have had an eating disorder in the past.

This isn’t just a research finding; it corresponds to what many coaches, dietitians, and counselors observe in their practices. (Which is the reason it was studied in the first place.)

That’s why we usually recommend you count calories and macros for only short periods of time. Or to people who need to achieve very specific body composition goals for their profession.

Remember: A tool is only as good as the job it does. So, if:

  • macro counting truly works for you;
  • you genuinely enjoy it;
  • you find it empowering and interesting; and
  • you’re meeting your goals with it easily and productively…

…then, by all means, keep doing it.

If, on the other hand:

  • macro counting makes you feel confused, anxious, distracted, distressed, or any other negative emotion;
  • you find it onerous, time-consuming, and effortful;
  • you’re putting a lot of attention towards it, creating an imbalanced life;
  • you’re spending more time on it than actually doing the things that help you reach your goal… 

… then consider other options and tactics (like the ones that follow). 

Method #2: Hand portions

In this system—developed by Precision Nutrition—you use your hand as a personalized, portable portioning tool. You’re not actually measuring your food, but rather using your hand to gauge portion size. And because each hand portion correlates to a certain number of protein, carbs, or fat, this method counts calories and macros for you. 

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your vegetable portions.
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

The way it works is simple: Just enter your sex, body weight, goals, activity level, and eating preferences into the Precision Nutrition Calculator. The calculator then reveals the recommended calories and macros for reaching your goal.

Then it converts those numbers to the equivalent hand portions. So all you have to do is use your hands to get the recommended number of daily portions. (The Precision Nutrition Calculator also gives you a free personalized report and eating guide to help you get started.)

Why use hand portion tracking?

It’s convenient and easy to understand. Your hands are with you everywhere you go. They’re proportional to your body and always the same size. So they serve as a reliable reference point—without the need for measuring cups or a food scale.

Customization is simple. If you’re not seeing the results you want, all you have to do is adjust the number of portions you’re eating. For instance, you could remove one cupped hand of carbs and one thumb of fats from your daily intake, and see what happens.

It’s also easy to make adjustments based on your preferences. You can swap a handful of carbs for an extra thumb-sized serving of fats, or vice versa.

Plus, you can use this approach to follow any preferred eating style, whether it’s Paleo, keto, Mediterranean, or plant-based.

It’s precise enough. For most people—even those seeking body transformation—it’s not necessary to meticulously measure or weigh food.

Our internal research shows hand portions are 95 percent as accurate as carefully weighing, measuring, and tracking, but with substantially less effort and time involved. 

And since calorie databases—the tool most people use to track calories and macros—can be off by as much as 20 percent, the five percent difference here is negligible for most.8

Make no mistake: Hand portions aren’t as accurate as macro tracking. But they are accurate enough to help you consistently track your food intake, and reach your goals. And that’s what really matters.

Hand portion tracking works well for…

People with busy, messy, complex lives. So basically everyone. Compared to scales and tracking apps, hand portions make it far easier to consistently gauge how much you’re eating.

Most body composition goals. Unless you’re chasing extreme results against a non-negotiable deadline—for instance, you get paid for how your body looks or performs—hand portions can get you where you want to go.

Hand portions are less ideal for…

People with the most aggressive goals. Professional physique athletes and models may need a more precise strategy. It’s the same with athletes who need to cut weight or reach a specific body fat percentage—such as in preparation for a UFC fight. Keep in mind: These people are essentially being paid to eat this way. It’s part of their job. And that comes with tradeoffs.

Method #3: Mindful and intuitive eating

Mindful eating means paying attention to the experience, feelings, and sensations you have around eating. Practices like eating slowly and eating until 80 percent full are a part of mindful eating. Instead of focusing on eating certain types or amounts of food, mindful eating teaches you how to regulate your food intake by noticing how your body and mind feel when you eat.

Intuitive eating is a similar system, but it rejects “diet” messaging and culture. Intuitive eating wasn’t originally intended to achieve a specific body composition goal, but rather to improve your overall relationship with food.

Both approaches involve learning how to tell whether you’re hungry or not, know when you’ve had enough, and be at ease with food.

Why use mindful and intuitive eating?

These approaches foster a healthy relationship with food. By practicing mindful and intuitive eating, you can improve your ability to self-regulate. Over time, you’ll remove the training wheels of external guides—calorie counting, macro counting, and tracking hand portions—and enjoy more flexibility and freedom, while staying on track.

Mastering these self-regulatory skills has also been shown to strengthen self-efficacy—the belief you can reach your goals.9 This can work wonders for your confidence, motivation, and self-assuredness in pursuing your health goals. (It’s pretty valuable for everyday life, too.)

The principles can be applied anytime, anywhere. No matter what food options are available, you can always eat slowly and mindfully. Understanding what it feels like to be hungry, satiated, full, and/or overstuffed is a lifelong skill. These methods give you practice.

You learn that hunger isn’t an emergency. When you feel hungry, it’s common to panic and want to eat whatever you see. But when you start paying attention to your hunger cues, you learn that you’re absolutely going to feel hungry sometimes. And you discover that’s okay.

Nothing bad will happen if you don’t eat immediately. You might even find the feeling passes. Or that you actually aren’t all that hungry. It could be you were craving food to help you cope with pain, shame, guilt, or stress. (Sixty-three percent of our clients say emotional eating is their #1 nutritional challenge.)

You might also realize you are, in fact, really hungry. But by understanding that hunger isn’t an emergency, you’ll have the time and space to make more thoughtful food choices.

Our clients consistently report this is one of the most powerful things they learn in our coaching program. Want to learn more? Check out Conquer your cravings: Break the sinister cycle that makes you overeat.

Mindful and intuitive eating work well for…

Anyone whose main goal is to improve their relationship with food. These are folks who don’t have weight or body composition-related goals (at least not right now). Instead, they just want to feel more at peace with their food choices.

People using other food monitoring methods. (Or are ready to transition away from them.) Mindful and intuitive eating by themselves have a mixed track record for weight loss results.10,11,12,13 But since they help people build fundamental eating skills they can use forever, we highly recommend them.

When mindful or intuitive eating are combined with a method such as tracking hand portions, calories, or macros, it’s the best of both worlds: You get external guidelines to help you become more aware and make better choices. And you learn to better self-regulate your intake by paying attention to how food makes you feel.

What to do next…

Step 1: Start where you are

Determine the approach that best matches your (or your client’s) lifestyle, goals, and preferences. For most people, this means a combination of methods.

Use the nutritional training wheel approach—calorie counting, macro counting, hand portion tracking—to learn how to:

  • Better gauge portion sizes
  • Build quality meals
  • Optimize your progress

To track your food intake, you’ll need to determine your starting point.

You can do this by entering your details into the Precision Nutrition Calculator. This will provide the calories, macros, and hand portions to eat to achieve your desired goal—whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or simply eat for better health.

Then use the targets that correspond to your chosen tracking method. This is your baseline. Follow this approach as consistently as possible for two weeks.

Ideally, combine your food tracking efforts with intuitive/mindful strategies: paying attention to your internal cues, eating slowly, and stopping when you’re about 80 percent full. (We recommend that, remember?)

Step 2: Monitor and adjust

When it comes to tracking your food, accuracy is an illusion.

All tracking options—even the most careful calorie counting—are inaccurate to some degree. (See why here.)

Fortunately, when it comes to food tracking, pinpoint accuracy isn’t what really drives results.

Consistency is what’s most important. 

Here’s why: When you track what you eat, regardless of which one you choose, you’re getting a consistent measurement of your food intake. So even though the calorie counts aren’t 100 percent accurate, you’ve still established a solid and repeatable baseline.

Then you monitor your progress:

Are you (or your client) losing weight, gaining weight, or maintaining? 

From here, you simply use your preferred tracking method to adjust your food intake, if needed, to achieve your desired outcome.

This process happens no matter how accurate your food tracking method. Because guess what?

There’s no way to precisely predict how many calories your body needs each day. Even the best calculators only provide an estimate to start from.

Think of it as an experiment. If you don’t get the results you want, make small tweaks until you see progress.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and the Precision Nutrition Calculator advises you eat:

  • 2,500 calories per day (if you’re counting calories)
  • 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs, and 100 grams of fat per day (if you’re counting macros)
  • 7 palms of protein, 6 fists of vegetables, 6 handfuls of carbs, and 7 thumbs of fats per day (if you’re tracking hand portions)

But after two weeks, the scale hasn’t budged.

Your next move? You could reduce your intake by:

  • 250 calories per day (if you’re counting calories)
  • 30 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fat (if you’re counting macros)
  • 1 handful of carbs and 2 thumbs of fat (if you’re tracking hand portions)

(Or, if you’re trying to gain weight instead, you could increase your intake by those amounts.)

Monitor for another two to four weeks, and if needed, adjust again using the same process.

Now you’re making modifications using feedback from your progress, not on your initial calculations. This is how you optimize your food intake for your individual needs.

Step 3: Find your sweet spot

As you reach your goals, you can fully transition to self-regulation.

This doesn’t mean you have to forget about calories or macros or hand portions. In fact, you’ll continue to use the skills you’ve built to get to this point.

For example, you now:

  • Have a better sense of how many calories and macros you’re eating
  • Understand appropriate portion sizes
  • Have an increased awareness of food quality

You may still reference your palm when determining how much protein to put on your plate, but you won’t need to track it. In essence, you’ve now internalized these external guides.

So you’re now using what you know to mindfully build out meals (without moralizing food). But you’re only doing so when you’re physically hungry. (Unless you’re making a conscious choice to eat something when not hungry.) And then you’re eating these meals slowly, until satisfied.

But also know this: Whenever you want to make significant body changes, you may find it helpful—even necessary—to use external guides again. The methods are there for you, if the need arises.

And remember: Think beyond the food

Food is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. That’s true even if weight loss is your goal. A well-rounded program will focus on not just nutrition, but also on:

  • getting more quality sleep
  • moving regularly
  • stress management
  • improving your outlook and mindset

So that you (or your clients) are thriving in all domains of health.

Because ultimately, isn’t that the kind of deep health you’re really after?

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that matches their lifestyle, goals, and preferences—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Trabulsi, J., Schoeller, D. (2001). Evaluation of dietary assessment instruments against double labeled water, a biomarker of habitual intake. American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 281(5): E891-E899.
  1. Patel, M.L., Hopkins, C.M., Brooks, T.L., Bennett, G. G. (2019). Comparing self-monitoring strategies for weight loss in a smartphone app: randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 7(2).
  1. Turner-McGrievy, G.M., Dunn, C.G., Wilcox, S., Boutte, A.K., Hutto, B., Hoover, A., Muth, E. (2019). Defining adherence to mobile dietary self-monitoring and assessing tracking over time: Tracking at least two eating occasions per day is best marke of adherence within two different mobile health randomized weight loss interventions. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 119(9): 1516-1524.
  1. Carter, M.C., Burley, V.J., Nykjaer, C., Cade, J.E. (2013). Adherence to a smartphone application for weight compared to website and paper diary: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(4): e32.
  1. Levinson, C.A., Fewell, L., Brosof, L.C. (2017) My Fitness Pal tracker usage in the eating disorders. Eating Behavior, 27: 14-16.
  1. Linardon, J., Messer, M. (2019). My fitness pal usage in men: Associations with eating disorder symptoms and psychosocial impairment. Eating Behavior, 33: 13-17.
  1. Simpson, C.C., Mazzeo, S.E. (2017). Calorie counting and fitness tracking technology: Associations with eating disorder symptomatology. Eating Behavior, 25: 89-92.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (Current as of 9/20/2018). Guidance for Industry: Guide for Developing and Using Data Bases for Nutrition Labeling.
  1. Sairanen, E., Tolvanen, A., karhunen, L., Kolehmainen, M., Jarvela-Reijonen, E., Lindroos, S., Peuhkuri, K., Korpela, R., Ermes, M., Mattila, E., Lappalainen, R. (2017). Psychological flexibility mediates change in intuitive eating regulation in acceptance and commitment therapy interventions. Public Health Nutrition, 20(9): 1681-1691.
  1. Olson, K.L., Emery, C.F. (2015). Mindfulness and weight loss: a systematic review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77(1): 59-67.
  1. Ruffault, A., ,Czernichow, S., Hagger, M.S., Ferrand, M., Erichot, N., Carette, C., Boujut, E., Flahault, C. (2017). The effects of mindfulness training on weight-loss and health-related behaviours in adults with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 11(5 Suppl 1): 90-111.
  1. Warren, J.M., Smith, N., Ashwell, M. (2017). A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(2): 272-283.
  1. Dunn, C., Haubenreiser, M., Johnson, M., Nordby, K., Aggarwal, S., Myer, S., Thomas, C. (2018). Mindfulness approaches and weight loss, weight maintenance, and weight regain. Current Obesity Reports, 7(1): 37-49.

The post Level 1: Macros vs calories vs portions vs intuitive eating: What’s the best way to ‘watch what you eat?’ appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Improve health? Boost performance? This free calorie, portion, and macro calculator from Precision Nutrition can help you achieve the results you want… more easily than ever before.

Designed, developed, and tested in the Precision Nutrition research lab—and proven effective with thousands of clients—it’s the most comprehensive calorie, portion, and macro calculator available.

Here’s why: The Precision Nutrition Calculator first determines the appropriate daily calories for your body, based on the NIH Body Weight Planner (and adapted from research collected at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease).

This estimate takes into account:

  • Your personal details (height, age, weight, sex)
  • Physical activity levels (both daily movement and purposeful exercise)
  • The date you want to reach your goal by (within reason!)
  • The changing and adaptive nature of human metabolism (a major benefit of this calculator)

It then calculates your daily macros, combining the above data with additional factors, including your:

  • Nutrition and fitness goals (weight loss, muscle gain, body recomposition, better health, peak performance)
  • Dietary preference (Paleo, keto, vegetarian, fully plant-based, Mediterranean, and of course, “anything”)
  • Macronutrient preference (balanced, low-fat, low-carb, or virtually any other macronutrient ratio you want)

But here’s the reason this calculator is truly revolutionary: Once it estimates your calorie and macronutrient needs, it automatically converts those numbers into food portions that are equivalent to parts of your hand. (Specifically, your palm, fist, cupped hand, and thumb.)

The result: If you choose, you can skip weighing and measuring your food—as well as logging the details of every meal into calorie and macro tracking apps. Instead, you can use our hand portion tracking system to achieve your calorie and macro targets.

This unique approach takes the hassle out of calorie and macro tracking, making it easier for you to lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthier, and improve your performance.

(Once we calculate your macros, we’ll send you a free, personalized guide to using our hand portion system for hitting your calorie and macro targets.)

The Precision Nutrition Calculator

Instantly calculate your calories, portions, and macros (for the results you want)

Nutrition Calculator

How much should you eat? Let’s find out.

The benefits of this calorie, portion, and macro calculator

Some people naturally eat the appropriate amount of food and calories for their individual needs. They’re able to maintain a stable body weight for years—even decades— without counting calories, or tracking macros, or ever measuring their portions.

Unfortunately, these “intuitive eaters” represent only a small segment of the human population. The rest of us typically need help with our eating, in the form of external structure and guidance, at least temporarily. This can help you:

  • Eat the right amount of calories and macros for your goals
  • Understand appropriate portion sizes
  • Improve your food choices and eating habits

That’s why we created this calorie, portion, and macro calculator. It gives you a nutrition blueprint for achieving your goals and, at the same time, helps you develop the skills you need to eat well for life.

(For optimal results, it’s best to combine this nutrition plan with intuitive eating and self-regulation skills.)

The problem with only tracking calories

Most people know calories matter. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than your body needs, you lose weight.

(Yes, this certainly sounds simple, but as you’ve likely experienced, there are many factors that make managing your calorie intake… not so simple. Learn more here.)

By tracking your calories, you can better know if you’re eating the right amount of food for your goals. There are, however, disadvantages to only tracking the total number of calories you eat daily.

Most notably: This method doesn’t ensure you’re getting an appropriate amount of macronutrients for your body, goals, and preferences. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, this can negatively affect your appetite, hormones, energy levels, and nutrient consumption.

And that can make it harder to lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthier, and improve athletic performance.

Why tracking your macros gives you an advantage

Just in case you’re not sure, let’s start by defining what macros, or macronutrients, actually are.

There are three major macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat. (The fourth macronutrient is alcohol.)

Your body breaks down the macronutrients you eat into compounds used to help create energy, build body structures, create chemical reactions, and stimulate the release of hormones. Which means they can impact how you feel, perform, and even behave.

When you track macros, you don’t need to count calories directly. Instead, you log how many grams of each macronutrient you eat every day.

That’s because each macronutrient provides a certain number of calories:

  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
  • (1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories)

As a result, tracking macros means you’re automatically tracking calories. It’s just that you’re ensuring a certain number of those calories come from protein, carbohydrates, and fat, respectively. This is known as your macronutrient ratio.

For example, let’s say you eat:

  • 30% of your calories from protein
  • 40% of your calories from carbohydrate
  • 30% of your calories from fat

Your macronutrient ratio would then be: 30:40:30.

By adjusting your macronutrient ratio based on your age, sex, activity levels, goals, and preferences, you can optimize your eating plan.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you might eat a higher proportion of protein, since it can help you feel satisfied longer after meals. Or if you’re a very active athlete, you might want a higher ratio of carbohydrates to meet your greater energy demands.

The good news: Our calorie, portion, and macro calculator will figure all of this out for you.

Just enter your information and, within milliseconds, you’ll get a macro ratio that’s customized exactly for your body, goals, and preferences. (Plus, the Precision Nutrition Calculator gives you the option to further adjust these numbers, in case you want to try a different macronutrient ratio.)

Like calorie counting, though, conventional macro tracking has its downsides. Perhaps the biggest challenge: Because it requires careful food measuring and weighing, most people won’t stick to it for long.

Many say it feels cumbersome and even takes the joy out of eating. Which can limit its effectiveness to very short periods of time. That’s where the Precision Nutrition hand portion tracking system comes in.

Hand portions: The easiest way to track calories and macros

When we created this calorie, macro, and portion calculator, we asked:

How can we help people eat the right amount of food, but without the burden of having to weigh and measure every morsel?

Our solution: to give personalized targets not just for daily calories and macros, but also hand portions. That way, you can use whichever method you prefer.

This hand portion system—developed by Precision Nutrition—allows you to use your own hand as a personalized, portable portioning tool. You’re not actually measuring your food, but rather using your hand to gauge portion size. It’s highly effective for food tracking because your hand is proportionate to your body, its size never changes, and it’s always with you.

Here’s a snapshot of how it works:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your vegetable portions.
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

Based on the calorie, portion, and macro calculator’s output, all you have to do is eat the recommended number of each hand portion daily. (Again, we’ll show you how to put this method fully into practice once you’ve put your information into the Precision Nutrition Calculator and received your free report and eating guide.)

How effective are hand portions for tracking macros?

Our research shows hand portions are 95 percent as accurate (or better) as carefully weighing, measuring, and tracking. With substantially less effort and time involved.

Plus, our hand portion tracking system allows you to easily adjust your intake to further optimize your results.

Ready to get started? Go ahead and enter your information into the calorie, portion, and macro calculator above, and we’ll do the rest, providing you with a free nutrition plan customized just for you.

If you have more questions right now, or want to understand the nutrition rules we used to design this calorie, portion, and macro calculator, see the Resources section for a full breakdown.

Resources

The calorie and macro math

Here, we outline the numbers used to determine the calories and macros delivered by the calculator.

Calorie math

This calculator uses the same baseline algorithm as the Precision Nutrition Weight Loss Calculator to calculate maintenance, weight loss, and weight gain calorie needs. It factors in the dynamic and adaptive nature of your metabolism to predict how long it’ll take you to reach your bodyweight goal.

This algorithm is a mathematically validated model based on the NIH Body Weight Planner and adapted from research collected at the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.

Q: How do goals change the equation?
A:

For people looking to improve health, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the weight maintenance calories determined by the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm.

For people looking to lose body fat, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm. This takes into account a whole host of anthropometric data, time desired to reach goal, and the adaptive nature of human metabolism.

For people looking to gain muscle, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm. This takes into account a whole host of anthropometric data, time desired to reach goal, and the adaptive nature of human metabolism.

For people looking to improve athletic performance, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator adds an additional 10% more calories to the weight maintenance requirements calculated by the NIH algorithm. This supports the increased demands of athletic performance.

For people looking to change their body composition with minimal weight change, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator lowers calorie needs by 10% from the weight maintenance requirements calculated by the NIH algorithm. This’ll help facilitate simultaneous fat loss and muscle growth. It should be noted that this approach is most appropriate for individuals who don’t wish to change their body weight by more than 10 to 15 pounds, yet want to improve their body composition.

Macro math

The macronutrients are calculated by many rules.

  1. Protein is set on a grams per pound of bodyweight basis, at a range of 0.65-1.35 g/lb, depending upon sex, weight, goal, and activity level. (For very low-fat and very low-carb options, protein is set at 20% of calories, not on a bodyweight basis.)
  2. Protein needs are also set on a sliding scale since, on average, even within the same goal and activity level, heavier folks would generally have a greater body fat percentage than lighter folks. Therefore, they require a smaller amount of protein on a grams per pound basis (though still higher on an absolute basis).
  3. Then, dependent upon the Macronutrient Preference chosen, either fat or carbohydrates are set at a particular percent of calories (e.g. “Low-fat” is set at 20% calories from fat, and “Low-carb” is at 20% calories from carbs) to determine the allocation of the remaining non-protein calories.
  4. Finally, the rest of the calories are filled out by the remaining macronutrient (either fat or carbs). Note, if “Balanced” was chosen, the non-protein calories are split evenly between fats and carbs.

Custom macronutrient percentages

When custom macronutrient percentages are entered, those ratios are used to determine all macronutrient and hand-portion calculations. Overriding the macronutrient math outlined above. (Calories will not be changed.)

Calorie and macro FAQ

How do I make meals out of macros?

You can’t. At least not easily.

Instead, you often have to make your meals first, weigh and measure foods, and input those measurements into an app to find out the macronutrient and calorie amounts. Then see what “allotment” you have left as the day progresses.

However, the hand-portion system does make this much easier, which you can read about in your free personalized guide (as well as below).

Hand portion math

The hand portion amounts were determined based on the calorie and macronutrient calculations as outlined above.

Approximate portion sizes

Using the average hand size for the average-sized man and woman, and combining it with common portion sizes of foods, we approximate the hand-size portions as follows.

For Men
1 palm (protein) ~4 oz (115 g) cooked meat / tofu, 1 cup Greek yogurt / cottage cheese, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 whole eggs
1 fist (veggies) ~1 cup non-starchy vegetables (e.g. spinach, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, etc.)
1 cupped hand (carbs) ~⅔ cup (130 g) cooked grains / legumes (e.g. rice, lentils, oats), 1 medium fruit (e.g. banana), 1 medium tuber (e.g. potatoes)
1 thumb (fats) ~1 tablespoon (14 g) oils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, cheese, dark chocolate, etc.
For Women
1 palm (protein) ~3 oz (85 g) cooked meat / tofu, 1 cup Greek yogurt / cottage cheese, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 whole eggs
1 fist (veggies) ~1 cup non-starchy vegetables (e.g. spinach, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, etc.)
1 cupped hand (carbs) ~½ cup (100 g) cooked grains / legumes (e.g. rice, lentils, oats), 1 medium fruit (e.g. banana), 1 medium tuber (e.g. potatoes)
1 thumb (fat) ~1 tablespoon (14 g) oils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, cheese, dark chocolate, etc.

You’ll note we used one cup of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as comparable to a palm. And we used a medium-sized tuber and medium-sized fruit as a cupped handful. These sizes were used as they represent common consumption patterns or pre-portioned amounts of these foods, which allows accounting for them to be as consistent and simple as possible.

Now remember, these are just approximates. Not exact measures. Actual portion sizes ultimately depend on the size of the individual hand, which is usually proportional to the size and needs of the individual. (That’s part of the beauty of the hand-portion approach.)

Approximate portion math

With the above approximate portions, we can create various meal scenarios and simulations, and calculate the approximate macros these portions provide. This helps number-oriented users see how weighing and measuring their food compares to using our hand-portion system.

Men’s portion macros
1 palm protein ~ 24 g protein, 2 g carbs, 4.5 g fat, 145 kcal
1 fist veggies ~ 1.5 g protein, 5 g carbs, 0 g fat, 25 kcal
1 cupped hand of carbs ~ 3 g protein, 25 g carbs, 1 g fat, 120 kcal
1 thumb fats ~ 2 g protein, 2 g carbs, 9 g fat, 100 kcal
Women’s portion macros
1 palm protein ~ 22 g protein, 2 g carbs, 4 g fat, 130 kcal
1 fist veggies ~ 1.5 g protein, 5 g carbs, 0 g fat, 25 kcal
1 cupped hand of carbs ~ 3 g protein, 22 g carbs, 1 g fat, 110 kcal
1 thumb fats ~ 2 g protein, 2 g carbs, 8 g fat, 90 kcal

It can’t be emphasized enough—these are approximations. Nothing will be exact, because all aspects of calorie and macronutrient calculations are based on averages with known error rates. (Yes, even the USDA nutrient database reports out averages. Actual foods always vary.) Regardless, this information can be helpful to know for the more mathematically inclined and/or individuals with highly specific and targeted goals.

Assumed variety of food choices

And as you can see, the hand-portion system assumes a mixed intake of protein, veggies, carbs, and fats. As of course, these food sources will have varying amounts of each macronutrient.

For example, let’s look at protein.

Perhaps you start the day with eggs (a high-fat protein source), have a mid-morning Super Shake (very lean protein powder), have a chicken breast for lunch (very lean protein source), and have salmon for dinner (moderately lean protein source).

The hand-portion recommendations are based on the assumption that, on average, you’ll get a moderate amount of fat and even a small amount of carbs from your protein sources.

Now, if you’re consistently eating lots of fat-rich protein sources, or lots of very lean protein sources, you may need to make adjustments. Based on your progress, use outcome-based decision-making to determine if you, or a client, should simultaneously increase or decrease your daily number of thumb-sized portions of fats.

These same assumptions are built in for carbohydrates and fats as well. The hand-portion recommendations assume you’ll have a mix of fruit, starchy tubers, beans, and whole grains for carb sources.

And it assumes you’ll have a mix of whole food fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado), blended whole foods (e.g. nut and seed butters, guacamole, pesto), and pressed oils (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) for fat sources.

If your intake is skewed towards oils, you may have to decrease the number of thumb-sized portions of fat you eat—since they contain more fat than the other sources. Or if you only eat berries for carbs, you may have to increase the number of cupped hands of carbs you eat—since they contain fewer carbs than the other sources. However, you should only decide that using outcome-based decision-making.

In essence, this means asking, “How’s that working for you?” If you (or your client) are achieving the desired results and are pleased with the overall outcome, there’s no reason to change what you’re doing. But if you’re not progressing the way you’d like, you could adjust your intake.

Testing the hand portion math

Let’s see how this system works in practice and in comparison to manually tracking macros and calories.

Example 1: High-level female athlete, 135 pounds with 18% body fat, who trains twice per day

  • Pre-Workout @ 6am: 16 oz black coffee, 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup chopped pineapple, 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1 glass of water
  • Workout @ 7:15-8:30am: Sips on 16 oz water during training session
  • Post-Workout Shake @ 9:00am: 12 oz water, 2 scoops protein powder, 1 medium apple, 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 2 cups of spinach, 1 tbsp ground flax seed, 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Lunch @ 12pm: 3 oz salmon, 1 cup steamed mixed veggies, 1 medium sweet potato, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 glasses of water
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack @ 4pm: 1 banana, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1-2 glasses of water
  • Workout @ 5:30-6pm: Sips on 16 oz water during training session
  • Post-Workout Dinner @ 7pm: 3 oz chopped chicken breast, 2 cups cooked whole grain pasta, plus 2 cups sautéed veggies with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic and white cooking wine, 2 glasses of water

If you calculate the calories and macronutrients of this person’s intake using the USDA nutrient database, you’ll get:

  • 2672 kcal
  • 170 g protein
  • 264 g carbs
  • 104 g fat

And if you put this person’s intake into hand-size portion terms, you’ll get:

  • Protein = 5 palms (Greek yogurt, protein powder x 2, salmon, chicken)
  • Veggies = 5 fists (spinach x 2, mixed veggies, sauteed veggies x 2)
  • Carbs = 10 cupped hands (pineapple x 2, apple, oats, sweet potato, banana, pasta x 4)
  • Fats = 9 thumbs (walnuts x 2, flax seed, almond butter, coconut oil, peanut butter x 2, olive oil x 2)

When you multiply those portion numbers using approximate hand-portion math for women (see above table), it would provide an estimated intake of:

  • 2672 kcal (exactly the same as calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 166 g protein (4 g fewer than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 273 g carbs (9 g more than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 102 g fat (2 g fewer than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)

Example 2: Moderately active male, 210 pounds with 17% body fat

  • Wake @ 5:30am: 12 oz black coffee
  • Breakfast @ 7:00am: 4 whole eggs with a large bunch of peppers, scallions, and mushrooms cooked in a large pat of butter, placed on whole wheat wrap, with ~1 oz cheese, 1 cupped hand of black beans, and some pico de gallo, large glass of water, 12 oz black coffee
  • Super Shake @ 10:30am: ~10 oz water, 2 scoops chocolate protein powder, 2 cups of spinach, 2 cups frozen cherries, ~1 tablespoon cacao nibs, ~1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Lunch @ 2pm: 4 oz turkey breast, ~⅔ cup quinoa, 1 fist of mixed veggies, 1 apple, 2 thumbs of roasted almonds, 1-2 large glasses of water
  • 1-2 cups green tea @ 3-4pm
  • Dinner @ 6pm: 8 oz sirloin (lean), 2 cupped hands of roasted red potatoes with onions, 2 cups roasted rainbow carrots, 2 tbsp olive oil for roasting, 1 glass wine, 1-2 large glasses of water

If you calculate the calories and macronutrients of this person’s intake using the USDA nutrient database, you’ll get:

  • 3130 kcal
  • 212 g protein
  • 283 g carbs
  • 111 g fat

And if you put this person’s intake into hand-size portion terms, you’ll get:

  • Protein = 7 palms (eggs x 2, protein powder x 2, turkey, sirloin x 2)
  • Veggies = 6 fists (scallions / peppers / mushrooms / pico, spinach x 2, mixed veggies, rainbow carrots x 2)
  • Carbs = 9 cupped hands (wrap, beans, cherries x 3, quinoa, apple, potato x 2)
  • Fats = 8 thumbs (butter, guacamole, cacao nibs, chia seeds, almonds x 2, olive oil x 2)
  • Alcohol = 1 (wine)

When you multiply those portion numbers using approximate hand-portion math for men, it’d provide an estimated intake of:

  • 3183 kcal (53 kcal more than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 220g protein (8 g more than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 285g carbs (2 g more than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)
  • 113g fat (2 g more than calculating it with apps and spreadsheets)

When looking at both examples, simply using your hands would be 96-100% as accurate as weighing, measuring, and logging all foods on apps or spreadsheets. Plus, with the known error rates of calories and macronutrients present on labels and in nutrient databases, this level of accuracy will likely suffice for all but the most advanced individuals (i.e. people being paid to look a certain way).

Hand portion FAQ

Do I gauge my portions before or after cooking?

One of the most common questions asked about using your hands to measure portions is whether the hand portions are for cooked or uncooked foods.

The answer is most certainly cooked. Hand portions are for plating your food, not cooking it. That way, they can be used at home, restaurants, buffets, conferences, Mom’s house, and the office.

Other helpful notes:

  • Dry carbs tend to double in size when cooked. For example:
    • 1/4 cup of dry oats (25g) = 1/2 cup cooked
    • 1/4 cup of dry rice (50g) = 1/2 cup cooked
    • 1/2 cup of dry whole wheat fusilli pasta (40g) = 1 cup cooked

This is helpful to know when it’s difficult to use your hand to measure a cooked food.

What to do with foods that don’t fit?

Some items don’t fit well into the hand-size portion system. It’s not perfect. No single system is. It’s meant to provide practical and actionable guidelines.

Most notably problematic are liquids.

Dairy

Cow’s milk and non-Greek yogurt are tricky as they’re a pretty even mix of all 3 macros or can vary depending on the fat level someone chooses (e.g. whole, low fat, skim, etc.).

Ultimately, we suggest making that decision based on the fat or carbohydrate content of the milk or yogurt you’re consuming.

Generally, consider 1 cup (8 oz) of whole milk products a “thumb” of fat. (Even though it’s larger than a thumb and also provides protein and carbs).

Anything lower in fat (e.g. 0-2%) is generally considered a cupped hand of carbs (while also providing fats and protein).

A cup of anything highly sweetened (e.g. chocolate milk, strawberry yogurt) is generally considered a cupped hand of carbs (while also providing fats and protein).

So what happens in this situation: You have a full-fat Greek yogurt or whole milk that’s highly sweetened? Is it a fat or carb? Think of it this way: If it’s already full-fat, you know it’s a thumb of fat. But if a lot of sugar is also added to it, then it’s also a cupped hand of carbs.

The key is to pick an approach, and apply it consistently. This is probably more important than the actual classification itself. (Remember, the system already has built-in buffers: It assumes your protein, fat, and carb sources contain smaller amounts of the other macros.)

Cookies, ice cream, chips (and other compound foods)

With naturally occurring or minimally processed foods, it’s usually best to assign only one hand portion to a food. But with these highly-processed “compound” foods, you’ll want to assign two (or more) hand portions. Because just like dairy products that are full-fat and highly sweetened, they count as both fat and carbs. An easy way to account for them: one handful is equal to one thumb of fat and one cupped hand of carbs.

Soda

Again, a serving of soda doesn’t really fit into a cupped hand. Instead, consider a 12-ounce can of soda as a cupped hand of carbs. Certainly, 8 ounces would be preferable from the standpoint of physical size (and carbohydrate total), but 12 ounces really simplifies the size and math, as these beverages come pre-packaged this way. (This is similar to how we account for bananas, apples, oranges, pears, and other fruits, since they’re “pre-packaged” by nature.)

Nut Milks

Nut milks are much like cow’s milk above. They tend to provide a mix of macros, depending on the source, and classification would also depend on whether or not they’re sweetened.

Generally, unsweetened versions (like almond milk) don’t count as anything, as they typically only have about 30 to 40 calories in a whole cup (8 ounces), and are often consumed in relatively small amounts. A sweetened version, however, would be considered a cupped hand of carbs.

Again, the key is to pick an approach and follow it consistently.

Alcohol

Alcohol generally should be its own category, as the majority of its calories are derived from its alcohol content (7 kcal / g), not its carb content. This applies to pretty much all alcohol, be it light beer, microbrew / craft beer, wine, and spirits (although some microbrews / craft beer and dessert wines can contain quite a few carbs).

However, many folks like to put alcohol in the carb category, which can work, too. Again, whatever method you prefer can work; just follow it consistently.

Note that most alcohol is about 100-150 calories per serving. If it has a sweetened additive (think margarita, or alcohol + tonic), then it’s adding a whole lot more sugar. So count that as a serving (or more) of alcohol and one (or more) cupped hands of carbs too.

How do I account for mixed-food meals?

It gets tricky with mixed-food meals, like soups and chilis. You simply have to eyeball it, and make your best guess, especially if you didn’t make it yourself.

Ultimately, the general goal is to get a protein, veggie, quality carb, and/or healthy fat in each portion. This is relatively easy to do when making it yourself. When made by others, simply guesstimate as well as you can. Most importantly, if the goal is anything other than weight gain, eat slowly and mindfully, until satisfied.

Often, meals like this are a mix of protein, carbs, and fats, but are a bit lower in veggies. Adding a vegetable on the side can be very helpful. And adding additional protein can also be helpful if the meal seems to have a greater proportion of carbs and fats.

Legumes and lentils: protein or carb?

Legumes and lentils both contain protein and carbs, so where should they be counted?

Answer: It depends on the meal itself and/or the eating style of the individual. If someone is fully plant-based/vegan, then it’s likely the legumes or lentils will count as their protein source, since those are probably the most protein-dense foods they’re consuming. But they can also count as both… under certain conditions.

Our suggestion: Choose the most protein-rich food (assuming there is one) as your protein source, and slot the other items from there.

Examples:

  1. Chicken with beans, broccoli and olive oil.
  2. Beans with rice, broccoli and olive oil.
  3. Beans x 2 with broccoli and olive oil.
  4. Rice with broccoli and olive oil
  5. Beans with broccoli and olive oil

In example 1, chicken is the protein (the most protein-rich part of the dish), beans are the carbs, broccoli is the vegetable, and olive oil is the fat.

In example 2, beans are the protein (the most protein-rich part of the dish), rice is the carbs, broccoli is the vegetable, and olive oil is the fat.

In example 3, one serving of beans would count as protein, and the other serving would count as carbs. In this scenario, it gets more difficult because it’s less clear-cut than the first two examples.

In example 4, there isn’t a protein-rich food, just a carb, vegetable, and fat.

In example 5, it would depend on the eater. Omnivore? Then we’d count the beans as a carb. Plant-based? Then we’d count the beans as a protein.

How do I quantify my exercise?

In using the calorie, portion, and macro calculator above, you’ll see the terms gentle, moderate, and strenuous. These describe the intensity of your activity.

Use the guide below to gauge your activity levels. When in doubt, it’s better to underestimate your activity rather than overestimate it.

Moderate to Strenuous Activity

  • Resistance training
  • Interval or Circuit training
  • Crossfit
  • Running or jogging
  • Rowing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Team sports (e.g. basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, etc.)
  • Hiking
  • Jump Rope
  • Group classes (spin, dance, etc.) and bootcamps
  • Yoga (power, bikram)

Gentle Activity

  • Walking
  • Yoga (hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, etc.)
  • Pilates
  • Golfing
  • Biking, swimming or cycling at a leisurely pace or for pleasure

Example 1: Let’s say your week includes:

  • Walking for 20 minutes, 2 times
  • Vinyasa yoga for 30 minutes, 2 times
  • Resistance training for 45 minutes, 2 times
  • Running for 30 minutes, 3 times

That’d count as:

  • 4 gentle activities (vinyasa yoga x 2; walking x 2) for a total of 100 minutes (1.66 hours)
  • 5 moderate to strenuous activities (resistance training x 2, running x 3) for a total of 180 minutes (3 hours)

Which means you’d select your activity level as “Moderate” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as moderate to strenuous activity 3 to 4 hours per week.) The gentle activities are fantastic, but don’t bump up your calorie needs like higher-intensity activity does. So that is what you would be counting.

Example 2: Suppose your week includes…

    • Swimming leisurely for 30 minutes, 3 times
    • Resistance training for 30 minutes, 2 times
    • Group exercise class for 60 minutes, 1 time

That’d count as:

  • 3 gentle activities (leisurely swimming x 3) for a total of 90 minutes (1.5 hours)
  • 3 moderate-strenuous activities (resistance training x 2, group exercise x 1) for a total of 120 minutes (2 hours)

Which means you’d select your activity level as “Light” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as gentle to moderate activity 1 to 3 hours per week.)

Example 3: Suppose your week includes…

  • Golfing for 2 hours, 1 time
  • Resistance training for 60 minutes, 2 times
  • Mountain biking for 90 minutes, 4 times

That’d count as:

  • 1 gentle activity (golfing) for a total of 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • 6 moderate-strenuous activities (resistance training x 2, mountain biking x 4) for a total of 480 minutes (8 hours)

Which means you’d select your activity level as “Very Intense” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as moderate to strenuous activity 7+ hours per week.)

Calculator development notes and FAQs

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for their unique body, goals, and preferences—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro Calculator appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Great information is valuable.

But knowing exactly what to do with it? That can be priceless.

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To access this FREE report, click here to download.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—and helping them achieve the lasting results they really want—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Special report: The top nutrition, fitness, and health trends and insights for 2020. Key findings and proven solutions for better client results. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“Diet soda can’t be good for you.”

Maybe you’ve heard this before. (Or said it yourself.)

After all, diet soda offers no vitamins or antioxidants, and it’s usually artificially sweetened. So what, exactly, is “good” about it?

While that argument sounds logical, it doesn’t answer the real question on everyone’s mind:

Is diet soda actually bad for you? 

And of related interest: Should you (or your clients) stop drinking diet soda?

To find out, we examined the body of research and talked to leading scientists and nutrition experts. Along the way, we asked lots of questions, including:

    • Does diet soda lead to weight gain?
    • Can it make you crave sugar?
    • Does it affect your hormones?
    • Can it mess with your microbiome?
    • Does it cause cancer?

Plus: Why are some people so “addicted” to it? 

The answers, found below, can help you decide if diet soda is right for you. (Spoiler alert: You’ll even learn what’s “good” about it.)

Does diet soda lead to weight gain?

Over the last two decades, several large observational studies have suggested a link between diet soda consumption and being overweight or obese.1, 2 (Other studies have shown benefits for weight control.)

“Is this because people are drinking these beverages to try to lose weight, or because the diet sodas are causing the weight gain?” asks Gail Rees, Ph.D., deputy head of the school of biomedical sciences at Plymouth University in England.3 “That’s what we don’t know.”

Granted, this type of research doesn’t show cause and effect. So it’s not meant to be conclusive. But if there were a smoking gun, “high-intensity sweeteners” would be at the top of the suspect list.

If you’re not familiar with the term “high-intensity sweeteners,” it’s the trendy way food scientists categorize zero- and very-low-calorie sugar substitutes. These substitutes include artificial sweeteners—like aspartame—and all-natural sweeteners, such as stevia.

There are eight high-intensity sweeteners approved for use in food by the United States’ Federal Drug Administration (FDA)4:

  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame Potassium
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Steviol Glycosides (stevia)
  • Monk Fruit Extract (luo han guo)

While high-intensity sweeteners are used in thousands of food products, they’ve become notorious as a key ingredient in diet soda.

But observational studies on diet soda have an inherent challenge, beyond simply having to control for lifestyle factors (such as calorie intake, activity level, and smoking habits). Namely: They rely on food-frequency questionnaires, which means participants report their own intake.

So, for example, a research survey might initially ask a large group of study volunteers: How many diet sodas do you drink each week? From there, the scientists would run a statistical analysis to find correlations between diet soda intake and body weight (and other disease risk factors).

In nutrition research, this self-reporting is notoriously sketchy. Will the participants accurately remember what they ate or drank? Will they be honest? Will their answers provide a clear picture of their typical behavior?

All these variables can cloud the findings. But with high-intensity sweeteners, the takeaways are even murkier.

The reason: It’s rare that someone knows what high-intensity sweetener they’ve been consuming.

What’s more, sweeteners are combined to create a flavor more similar to sugar. Diet Mountain Dew, for instance, contains three sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose.5

As a result, high-intensity sweeteners are typically treated as one class of chemical in observational research. Yet each of these sweeteners may have very different effects on the body.

(To review the research yourself, check out this 2019 meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal or this 2017 review in Nutrition Journal. )

What if we studied high-intensity sweeteners individually?

Two years ago, at a conference on sweeteners, Richard Mattes, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the director of The Ingestive Behavior Research Center,6 became frustrated by what he heard.

The researchers who took the podium were presenting wildly inconsistent results. Some linked high-intensity sweeteners to better health and weight loss, while others hedged toward disease and obesity.

“The findings contrasted so much,” says Dr. Mattes. “And it struck me: Why do we think that these sweeteners would all behave the same way?”

After the Purdue conference, Dr. Mattes launched a trial that compared table sugar (sucrose) to saccharin, aspartame, stevia, and sucralose, individually.

For three months, he had 123 people consume 1.25 to 1.75 liters per day of a beverage sweetened with just one of the five sugar substitutes. (That’s 42 to 60 ounces—or 3.5 to 5 cans of diet soda daily.) When the results came in, he found significant differences in how each sweetener affected body weight.7

Study participants consuming aspartame, stevia, and sucralose gained such little weight that the results were statistically equal to zero. 

But those consuming saccharin, the artificial sweetener found in Sweet ‘N Low, gained 2.6 pounds—about 60 percent as much as those consuming sucrose.

“That was a really surprising finding,” says Dr. Mattes. “We expected people to gain weight with sucrose, but not with the low-cal sweeteners.” (Note: These results haven’t been replicated yet.)

Why the type of high-intensity sweetener might matter

Like many researchers, Dr. Mattes believes the difference lies in how sweeteners travel through our bodies.

Aspartame, for instance, the sole sweetener in Diet Coke8 and Dr. Pepper,9 is digested quickly in the upper third of the intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream as individual amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine).6

The aspartame itself? “It’s never going to get into the bloodstream, and it’s not going to reach the colon,” says Dr. Mattes. That limits its ability to wreak havoc, he says.

Neotame, which isn’t widely used, is also thought to be rapidly digested,10 while other sweeteners continue through the digestive tract to be broken down in varying degrees by enzymes.6

Stevia and sucralose—the high-intensity sweetener we consume the most—appear in large quantities in the colon, while saccharin (along with acesulfame potassium, which wasn’t included in Dr. Mattes’ study) shows up more readily in the bloodstream.6

“The idea that we can view them all as a single class of substances is likely wrong,” says Dr. Mattes. “To study their health effects, we’re going to have to look at them individually.” (And ultimately, in different combinations with one another, too.)

And that, says Dr. Mattes, is where the research is headed. In the coming years, we’ll see more studies that put the focus on specific sweeteners, rather than the class as a whole.

All of which isn’t to dismiss findings from observational research. To prove, however, that high-intensity sweeteners, and thus diet soda, can cause weight gain, researchers need to find the mechanism through which it happens. And while there are theories, none have yet to emerge as fact. Here’s what the research looks like right now.

Theory 1: Diet soda makes you addicted to sugar

The idea: Sweet foods and beverages alter your taste preference, so you crave more sweet foods. That, in turn, could make it more difficult to turn down dessert or break-room doughnuts.

“It’s well-established that consuming sugar-sweetened foods can increase your desire for sweets,” says Brian St. Pierre, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at Precision Nutrition. “You tend to crave whatever you eat habitually, and this seems to be true for both sugary and non-sugary foods.”

But does consuming high-intensity sweeteners, specifically, make you want sweets? The research isn’t clear.

Most studies that suggest high-intensity sweeteners increase the desire for sweet foods have been done on rats. In fact, in a 2019 meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal,1 researchers found just two randomized controlled trials that tackled the question of sweet preference head-on in humans. And they did it by adding aspartame to the diets of overweight and obese subjects.

The conclusion of those studies: Among those who consumed the high-intensity sweetener, the desire to eat sweet foods was slightly lower.

“There’s some evidence that consuming a diet version of a sweet food can actually help satisfy your desire for sweets,” says St. Pierre. “Especially if you’re used to consuming a sugary soda and replace it with a diet drink.”

There’s also this possibility: The effect could be highly individual. Perhaps this is a problem for some but not for others.

Theory 2: Diet soda affects your hormones

The proposed mechanism here: High-intensity sweeteners “trick” your body into thinking you’re eating sugar. This triggers your pancreas to release the hormone insulin, which signals your body to slow the breakdown of fat. As a result, it could be harder to lose weight.

A small insulin bump has been observed in studies on sucralose11 and saccharin, but one study of 15 young men failed to find the response for aspartame.12 Overall, human studies show these insulin spikes are so small they’re hard to detect and very short-lived. Which makes it unlikely they impact weight loss at all, given what we know now.

Plus, even if there were a significant insulin release, your ability to lose weight is most dependent on your overall energy balance, not insulin, says St. Pierre. (For more background, read: Calories in versus calories out? Or hormones? The debate is finally over.)

Theory 3: Diet soda disrupts your microbiome

What if high-intensity sweeteners alter your microbiome? “That could have implications for energy balance, appetite, immune function—all kinds of things,” says Dr. Mattes.

As with other issues, Dr. Mattes believes any impact could be dependent on the type of sweetener used. Those that make their way to your colon, for instance—such as stevia, sucralose, and to some extent, saccharin—might be more likely to present problems, he says.

While this is an intriguing area of research, it’s still in its infancy. “There are some interesting animal studies, but not a whole lot on humans,” says Mark Pereira, Ph.D., a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.13 And of the human studies that do exist, he says, “They just aren’t very good.”

Now, all of this might seem like a whole lot of nothing. But it’s useful to know where these theories stand for one reason: It gives you a better sense of the existing scientific evidence. (Especially useful when reading Facebook comments on the topic.)

Of course, these aren’t the only ways a no-calorie diet soda could lead to weight gain. Some studies have suggested that consuming high-intensity sweeteners may increase hunger, by perhaps interfering with appetite hormones and how your brain regulates food intake (or by some other mechanism).2 But even more studies have shown no effect at all.

“The idea that high-intensity sweeteners increase hunger seems to only be true if they’re consumed alone, in the absence of other nutrients,” says St. Pierre. “This doesn’t, however, seem to be the case when they’re consumed with meals, although the data is very limited and far from conclusive.”

But in considering all this research, it’s important to remember: “If you currently drink a lot of regular soda, or have in the past, diet soda is a better option based on what we know today, even if it’s not perfect,” says St. Pierre. “There’s far more data on weight and health problems associated with sugar-sweetened beverages than there is with high-intensity sweeteners.”

What about cancer and other serious health problems?

In the 1970s, saccharin was linked to bladder tumors in rats.14 For a while, the sweetener was even banned from foods and beverages in the U.S.

But the cancer link never emerged in humans, and as a paper from Current Oncology notes, you’d have to drink 800 cans of diet soda per day to reach the dose used to induce cancer in rats.15

Still, the cancer scare means that every high-intensity sweetener since saccharin has faced increased scrutiny. 

“There are still people out there who claim that [high-intensity sweeteners] are associated with cancers,” says Dr. Mattes. “But every governmental body that has reviewed them—they’ve done it extensively in the United States, Australia, Europe, Japan, and Canada—concludes that when used in reasonable amounts, they’re not harmful.”

If that sounds less than comforting, that’s understandable. Especially given how much there is to learn about the way individual high-intensity sweeteners are processed by the body.

But currently: There’s no good evidence to suggest any of the FDA approved sweeteners pose serious health risks.

In fact, the chart below shows the daily intake of these sweeteners that the FDA has deemed acceptable for a 150-pound (68 kg) person.4

Sweetener Number of times sweeter than table sugar Acceptable daily limit for a 150-pound (68 kg) person
Acesulfame Potassium
(Sweet One®, Sunnett®)
200x 1,020 mg
Advantame 20,000x 2,230 mg
Aspartame
Nutrasweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin®
200x 3,400 mg
Neotame
(Newtame®)
10,000x 20.4 mg
Saccharin
(Sweet and Low®, Sweet’NLow®)
400x 1,020 mg
Sucralose
(Splenda®)
600x 340 mg

Adapted from United States FDA chart on Acceptable Daily Limit of High-Intensity Sweeteners

For perspective, here are the amounts of high-intensity sweeteners you’ll reportedly find in several popular 12-ounce cans of diet soda16:

Diet Coke 187.5 mg aspartame
Diet Coke with Splenda 45 mg acesulfame potassium + 60 mg sucralose
Coke Zero 87 mg aspartame + 46.5 mg acesulfame potassium
Diet Pepsi 177 mg aspartame
Pepsi One 45 mg acesulfame potassium + 60 mg sucralose
Diet Dr. Pepper 184.5 mg aspartame
Diet Mountain Dew 85.5 mg aspartame + 27 mg acesulfame potassium + 27 mg sucralose
Sprite Zero 75 mg aspartame + 51 mg acesulfame potassium

Adapted from Diabetes Self-Management, “Diet Soft Drinks” by Mary Franz, MS, RD, LD

Of course, few people will guzzle 19 cans of Diet Coke a day. (We’ll stop short of saying “no one,” because… people.) That’s the amount that’d put you over the acceptable daily limit from diet soda alone.

But keep in mind: High-intensity sweeteners are used in far more than diet soda. You’ll find them low-calorie yogurts, energy drinks, baked goods, diet desserts, and protein powders and bars.

And just because you’re under that limit for diet soda doesn’t mean you’re drinking what most health experts would consider “reasonable amounts.”

Here at Precision Nutrition, our coaches say it’s not unusual for new clients to report they’re drinking six or more 20-ounce diet sodas a day. That’s a lot, by any measure. These folks often claim they’re hooked on it. Which leads us to this question…

Why can’t you stop drinking diet soda?

If you’re a diet soda diehard, maybe you’ve wondered why you can’t get enough. Plenty of people even say it’s downright “addictive.” (To learn more, read: Eating too much? Blame your brain.)

You can be sure: That’s no accident.

“Food and beverage manufacturers scientifically engineer products, including diet soda, to appeal to the pleasure centers in your brain, belly, and mouth,” says Brian St. Pierre, M.S., R.D., Precision Nutrition’s Director of Nutrition. “That drives you to consume more of it than you might otherwise.”

The sweetness is no doubt part of diet soda’s allure. But the other big factors? Carbonation, caffeine, and flavor enhancers.

“All combined, this is known as stimuli stacking,” says St. Pierre. “It’s how companies engineer foods and drinks to make them nearly irresistible.”

The weird reason you love carbonation

Ironically, the appeal of carbonation is that it hurts: The CO2 burns your tongue. Like the Tabasco on your eggs, the pain is mild and enjoyable. It also occurs through an entirely different pathway.

“Enzymes in your mouth convert CO2 into carbonic acid,” says Paul Breslin, Ph.D., a member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center and a professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University.10 “That can actually acidify the tissue, so it will hurt a little bit.”

The pain increases as the bubbles sit on your tongue, and that creates a built-in customization mechanism. Someone who likes more of this pain can simply savor each sip longer.

In addition to the mouth thrill of a minor burn, carbonation amplifies the signal coming from the liquid, so it quenches your thirst better than flat water.10

The likely reason: It provides more sensory data for your brain to latch onto. “When you start playing with the sensory properties of the beverage, you can sort of make it hyper-stimulatory,” says Dr. Breslin. This can make a diet soda seem more refreshing than water, even before you factor in sweetness.

Caffeine: Diet soda’s little helper

Caffeine is next in line to explain diet soda’s popularity. Although it’s known as a productivity booster, it also adds a slight bitterness to cola.

“People who make sodas have a tendency to say caffeine is there to affect the flavor,” says Dr. Breslin. “But there’s another camp that says the caffeine is at a level you can feel systemically, like a caffeine buzz that you would get from tea or coffee.”

To be fair, diet soda’s dosing is relatively small compared to coffee. A 12-ounce can of Diet Coke contains 46 milligrams (mg) of caffeine8, and Diet Pepsi has slightly less.17 That’s about half of what you’d find in an eight-ounce cup of joe,18 and less than 20 percent of a tall Starbuck’s Pike Place Roast.19

But again, it’s common for coaches to report their clients are drinking a two-liter bottle of diet soda daily. And all that caffeine adds up.

Plus, the smaller caffeine dosage could lure people into thinking soda is okay to drink with dinner or before bedtime, which could interfere with sleep and even lead to weight gain.

A study from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine found that reducing people’s natural sleep times by a third (roughly 2.5 hours) caused them to consume 559 extra calories per day.20 And no, the sleep-deprived subjects didn’t use their extra waking hours to work out: Despite eating more, their caloric output remained flat.

Flavor enhancers: The X-factor

Why is Coke more popular than Pepsi?

Not because it’s sweeter or more carbonated or has more caffeine. It’s all the ingredients together, including the patented flavor enhancers that make Coke… taste like Coke.

“These ingredient combos stimulate the reward and hedonic centers of your brain,” says St. Pierre. “They also tap into the nature of human behavior.”

Let’s say you try diet soda and enjoy it. So, like any normal human, you start drinking it regularly. “After a lot of consistent consumption, your brain comes to rely upon and expect the pleasure hit it gets from the drink’s ingredients,” says St. Pierre. “And that drives you to drink even more.”

So, should you drink diet soda… or not?

There’s no clear-cut answer that applies to everyone.

As is often the case, the “right” choice isn’t dictated by the science alone. Instead, it’s dependent on what makes the most sense for you, the individual—with respect to both the evidence and your personal preferences, lifestyle, goals, and current intake.

Experts who recommend cutting out diet soda are essentially following the precautionary principle: Until something is proven without-a-doubt safe, it’s better to assume it isn’t. (Read: Phrases like “generally recognized as safe” and “acceptable daily intake” don’t cut it.)

That might seem overly cautious to you, or it might make complete sense. Neither approach is wrong.

But that brings us to the diet soda drinker’s dilemma, and the real reason you’re still reading this article: What if you love diet soda, but you’re still concerned with how it might affect your health?

Step 1: Worry about what really matters first.

Based on the scientific evidence, there’s no compelling reason to stop drinking diet soda entirely.

“The risks of having excess body fat, on the other hand, are well-known and significant,” says St. Pierre. “If you’re replacing regular soda, or another highly caloric beverage, with diet soda, and it’s helping you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, the benefits outweigh any potential downside.”

Besides helping with weight control, there are other ways diet soda can support your health and fitness goals.

Maybe you’ve decided to drink less alcohol, and diet soda feels like a compromise you can live with in social situations. Or you want to have some caffeine in the morning or before your workouts, and you just don’t like unsweetened coffee or tea. (See, diet soda is good for something!)

Think of the effort you spend on your health as a jar, says St. Pierre. If you have a choice between big rocks, pebbles, and sand, you’ll be able to fill up your jar fastest with big rocks. Afterward, you can fill in the cracks with smaller stuff, like pebbles and sand.

In the grand scheme of things, whether you choose to drink diet soda is a small rock. It might even be sand, says St. Pierre.

So, before you worry about changing your diet soda habits, focus on “big rocks” that make the most impact on your health, such as:

  • eating mostly minimally-processed whole foods
  • eating enough lean protein and vegetables
  • eating slowly, until satisfied, and only when hungry
  • getting adequate sleep
  • managing stress
  • moving regularly
  • reducing excessive smoking/alcohol consumption

Unlike eliminating diet soda, there’s a wealth of evidence showing the above habits have a lasting effect on your overall health. Tackle the big stuff first. (Coaches: This advice applies when helping your clients, too.)

Three additional notes on health: 

1. People with phenylketonuria, a rare genetic disease that makes metabolizing phenylalanine difficult, should avoid products with aspartame altogether. (Aspartame is composed of phenylalanine.)

2. Diet sodas tend to be highly acidic, which can erode tooth enamel. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of American Dental Association found most diet sodas to be “erosive” or “highly erosive.”21 For context, though, many flavored waters, bottled teas, and juice, sports, and energy drinks also met these designations.

3. Carbonation, caffeine, and high acidity can all cause acid reflux individually, says St. Pierre. And since many diet sodas contain all three, they’re among the worst triggers. Which is worth considering, in case you regularly suffer from reflux or heartburn.

Step 2: Lose the all-or-nothing mindset.

If you decide you want to drink less diet soda, you don’t have to go cold turkey.

In fact, there’s a wide range of choices available between drinking nothing but water and drinking a two-liter of Diet Pepsi a day.

For example:

  • If you drink four diet sodas a day, could you substitute green tea for the morning one?
  • If you normally have a diet soda every night with dinner, could you do that just three times a week instead?
  • If you constantly crave the bubbly mouthfeel of diet soda, could you swap one or two a day for carbonated water (such as seltzer or sparkling)?

St. Pierre uses this chart to help clients see how they can make slightly better choices, one drink at a time. The goal isn’t to completely eliminate drinks you love, but rather, shift your habits toward the “drink more” category. (See our “What to drink” guide for complete recommendations and strategies.)

At first, these tweaks might not seem like much. But small, consistent changes made over time add up to lasting change.

As a rule of thumb, St. Pierre does recommend a “reasonable amount” target of 8 to 16 ounces a day. Why? Because this amount:

  • Ensures you’re well within the “acceptable daily limit,” as determined by the FDA or your country’s governing agency
  • Allows for the inclusion of other items that contain high-intensity sweeteners (such as protein powders and no-calorie sweeteners for coffee and tea)
  • Keeps intake low enough to protect your teeth from erosion
  • Leaves plenty of room for beverages known to be health-promoting, such as plain water, tea, and coffee

Step 3: Remember: There’s no “best” way to eat… or drink.

As much as a universal, one-size-fits-all, “best diet ever” might make our lives simpler… it doesn’t exist.

Instead, it’s about finding a way of eating (and drinking) that works best for you as an individual.

Good nutrition is the goal, and it’s possible to accomplish that in a way you actually like. Even if it includes drinking diet soda daily.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s evidenced-based and personalized for their unique body, goals, and preferences—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

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References

Click here to view the information sources referenced in this article.

  1. Toews, I., Lohner, S., Kullenburg de Gaudry, D., Sommer, H., Meerphohl, J, (2019). Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners and health outcomes: Systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised and non-randomised controlled trials and observational studies. British Medical Journal.
  1. Lohner, S., Toes, I., Meerpohl, J.J. (2017). Health outcomes of non-nutritive sweeteners: analysis of the research landscape. Nutrition Journal, 16(55).
  1. Gail Reese, Ph.D., deputy head of the school of biomedical sciences at Plymouth University in England.
  1. Additional information about high-intensity sweeteners permitted for use in food in the United States. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration.)
  1. Nutrition facts for Mountain Dew.
  1. Richard Mattes, Ph.D., professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the director of The Ingestive Behavior Research Center.
  1. Higgins, K.A., Mattes, R.D. (2019). A randomized controlled trial contrasting the effects of 4 low-calorie sweeteners and sucrose on body weight in adults with overweight or obesity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109(5): 1288-1301.
  1. Nutrition facts for Diet Coke.
  1. Nutrition facts for Dr. Pepper.
  1. Paul Breslin, Ph.D. Member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center and professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University. 
  1. Dhillon, J., Lee, J.Y., Mattes, R.D. (2017). The cephalic phase insulin response to nutritive and low-calorie sweeteners in solid and beverage form. Physiology and Behavior, 181: 100-109.
  1. Duskova, M., Macourek, M., Sramkova, M., Hill, M., Starka, L. (2013). The role of taste in cephalic phase of insulin secretion. Prague Medical Report, 114(4): 222-30.
  1. Mark Pereira, Ph.D., a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  1. Reuber, M.D. (1978). Carcinogenicity of saccharin. Environmental Health Perspectives, 25: 173-200.
  1. Touyz, L. Z. G., (2011). Saccharin deemed “not hazardous” in United States and abroad. Current Oncology, 18(5): 213-214.
  1. Franz, M. (2010). Diet soft drinks. Diabetes Self-Management. 
  1. Caffeine content of Diet Pepsi.
  1. Food Data Central. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  1. Nutrition information for Starbucks Pike Place Roast.
  1. Calvin, A.D., Carter, R.E., Adachi, T., ,Macedo, P.G., Albuquerque, F.N., van der Walt, C., Bukartyk, J., Davison, D.E., Levine, J., Somers, V.K. (2013). Effects of experimental sleep restriction on caloric intake and activity energy expenditure. Chest, 144(1): 79-86.
  1. Reddy, A., Norris, D.F., Momeni, S.S., Waldo, B., Ruby, J. (2016). The pH of beverages available to the American consumer. Journal of the American Dental Association, 147(4): 255-263.

The post Should you stop drinking diet soda? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Consider this graphic the uncomplicated answer to every question you’ve ever had about what to drink. And here’s a surprise: You don’t have to swear off the drinks you love in the name of better health and nutrition. Instead, use this guide to make beverage choices that match your lifestyle, taste preferences, and goals, no matter what your starting point. 

+++

“I’m not allowed to drink anything!”

Ever feel that way?

When it comes to improving our nutrition, many of us have been told, quite matter-of-factly: Cut out liquid calories.

No soda. No juice. No alcohol. (Oh, and no fun!)

This well-meaning advice is at least partially justified.

Most drinks don’t make us feel full, yet they compose about 20 percent of the average person’s daily calorie intake.

Yanking them out of your diet makes for a simple solution. The problem: It’s often not a welcome one.

That’s because it instantly limits your choices to water, unsweetened tea and coffee, and zero-calorie diet drinks. For some, this can lead to serious feelings of dietary deprivation and make it harder to practice healthy nutrition habits.

Thankfully, there’s another option.

Instead of making certain drinks entirely off-limits, think of all beverages on a continuum, from “drink more” to “drink some” to “drink less.” 

Need a visual? We’ve created just that with this easy-to-use infographic. (And if you want to make better food choices, check out ‘What should I eat?!’ infographic.)

Here’s what to do:

Look at our continuum, and ask yourself: ‘How might I do just a little better?’ 

For example, if you’re drinking four regular sodas a day (“drink less”), maybe you swap one of those for a diet soda (“drink some”). Then gradually, you continue to make adjustments, exchanging some of your regular and diet sodas for carbonated water (“drink more”).

This is how you make lasting change.

But it’s just the start of what this infographic has to offer. You can use it to:

  • Strategically improve your drink choices (without a rapid overhaul)
  • Customize your beverage intake for your lifestyle and preferences
  • Create your own personal continuum and expand your drink list

All so you can work towards better nutrition, while still enjoying the drinks you really love. (Including milkshakes and jalapeño margaritas.)

Download this infographic for your tablet or printer and use the continuum to decide which drinks are right for you (or your clients).

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—such as helping them make healthier beverage choices—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post ‘What should I drink?!’ Your complete guide to liquid nutrition. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Worried you’re eating too much sugar? Wondering how much is safe to eat? Or whether it’s bad for you… no matter what? It’s time we took a clear-headed look at this topic. It’s time you heard the truth about sugar.

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Is sugar “good”?

Is sugar “bad”?

It’s hard to know for sure these days.

Which is interesting because…

Sugar is a fundamental molecule in biology.

Human bodies need sugar.

Sugar makes up the backbone of our DNA. Helps power our cells. Helps store energy for later. Plants convert sunlight into sugar. We convert sugar into fuel.

Molecules like glucose and fructose (just two of the many types of sugar) are so basic to our biological needs, even bacteria love them.

Indeed, sugar’s the breakfast of champions, chemically speaking.

Yet, somewhere along the way, sugar became the bad guy.

Why did we start hating on sugar?

When did we start wanting to purge it from our bodies?

Why do some of us fear it so much?

At this point… do we just need a little relationship counseling?

Or is it a toxic relationship?

Is it time to part ways?

The truth is, this is a difficult conversation to have because…

Almost all of us are emotionally invested in our position on sugar.

Talking about it brings up a lot of controversy and intense debate, even among scientists who are supposed to be “objective”.

So why not step back and take a fresh look?

In this article, we’ll explore five key questions about sugar:

  • Does sugar cause obesity?
  • Does sugar cause us to gain weight / fat?
  • Does sugar cause diabetes?
  • Does sugar cause cardiovascular disease?
  • How much sugar is OK to eat?

Yes, we’re biased too.

At Precision Nutrition, we generally consider ourselves ‘nutritional agnostics’. (Case in point: our view on the absolute best diet.)

We help people become their healthiest, fittest, strongest selves—in a way that works for their unique lives and bodies.

In our work with over 100,000 clients clients, we’ve learned a few things…

… that one size doesn’t fit all,

… that an all-or-nothing approach doesn’t work for most people,

… that fitness and health habits should be doable on your worst day, not just your best.

So here’s our bias in this article.

We follow the complexities of nutrition evidence as best we can, always interpreting them through the lens of:

  • How does practice X or Y work for us, for the clients we coach, and for the fitness professionals we certify?
  • Does said practice help us make our food choices wiser, saner, and simpler?
  • Does it address individual differences between people?
  • (And if not, how can we help adapt each person’s diet to match their unique needs?)

You can ask yourself these same questions as you go through the article. And, of course, feel free to come to your own conclusions.

But first, let’s get to know our sugars.

What is sugar?

Most of us think of “sugar” as the white stuff we put in coffee, or maybe what makes up 90% of those colored marshmallow cereals.

However, “sugar” is actually a group of molecules that share a similar structure. So we might actually call them “sugars”, plural.

This group includes lots of members such as:

  • glucose
  • fructose
  • sucrose, aka table sugar (which is glucose + fructose)
  • maltose (which is glucose + glucose)
  • galactose
  • lactose (galactose + glucose, found in dairy)

And so on.

Sugars naturally occur in biology and in most foods (even if just in trace amounts). For example, here’s what the breakdown of sugars looks like in a banana:

This is what the breakdown of sugars looks like in a banana.

There is, of course, much more sugar in processed and refined foods than in less-processed and unrefined foods.

(We’ll come back to this important point in a moment.)

Sugars live under the larger umbrella of “carbohydrates”.

Along with the sweet stuff, this macronutrient group also includes:

  • starches (like in potatoes or rice),
  • fiber (like the husks of whole grains), and
  • structural building blocks like chitin (which makes up the shells of crustaceans) or cellulose (which makes up things like the trunks of trees).

The more complex the molecule, the slower it digests.

  • Sugars, which are simpler, digest more quickly.
  • Starches and fiber, which are bigger, more complicated molecules, digest more slowly, if at all. (This is why eating more fiber can help us feel fuller, longer.)

Most carbohydrates are actually broken down into simpler sugars once they’re digested.

Other carbohydrates (such as insoluble fiber) don’t really get broken down nor absorbed fully, although our intestinal bacteria often love munching on them.

So: Sugars are a type of carbohydrate, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. And some carbohydrates break down quickly/easily into sugars. Others don’t.

This point is important to understand, because it tells us that not all carbohydrates do exactly the same things in our bodies.

Evolution has helpfully given us the ability to “taste” sugar.

Sugar-type molecules react with receptors on our tongue, which then tell our brain “OM NOM NOM DELICIOUS!”

Sugar tastes good to us, because in nature, sweet foods like fruits are often full of good stuff like vitamins, minerals, and energy.

But we differ in our physiology and behavior.

In all things, humans are diverse and variable.

Some of us like and seek out sugar more than others. This may be genetic. Or we may have learned it as we grew up. Or both.

For example, some of us like sugar in small doses; we can only eat a little before pushing the dessert plate away. While others like it a lot; the more we eat the more we want. The idea of “too much sugar” doesn’t compute.

Likewise, some of our bodies seem better suited to sugar than others.

For example, some of us can eat sugar all day long and feel fine. While others can only tolerate a little bit before our pancreas (which secretes insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get into the cells) tells us to knock it off.

In general, most of us like at least some sweetness.

When we’re young, we tend to like sweetness more and avoid bitter foods more. Yet each person’s response to sugar and sweet taste is unique.

With that said, let’s get back to the questions at hand. Starting with…

Question #1:
Does sugar cause obesity?

The term “obese” (or “overweight”) is, like sugar, a contentious thing. In this article we’ll use it just for the purpose of discussion, so bear with us.

The World Health Organization defines “obese” as having a Body Mass Index higher than 30. Of course, some fit athletes (like heavyweight boxers or rugby players) might have a higher BMI but still have a low body fat percentage.

However, for most folks, having a BMI higher than 30 signifies that they have a higher-than-average level of body fat. 

(Indeed, some studies that correlate BMI with body fat testing suggest that BMI may even under-estimate how much body fat a person has.)

When it comes to obesity, there have always been people who are heavier, and/or who have more body fat, than most other folks like them.

However, over the last several decades, “average people” in industrialized countries have gotten heavier, bigger, and gained more body fat fairly rapidly.

It’s now statistically “normal”.

Although this shift is happening worldwide, and there are differences by ethnic group and socioeconomic class, it’s particularly noticeable as a general trend in the United States.

Obesity rates in the United States

Along with body weights, we can look at changes in body fat percentage and overall fitness levels. Here, we also see that over time, body fat percentage has gone up, and fitness levels have gone down.

Currently in the United States, the average body fat percentage for men is around 28%, and the average for women is around 40%.

For comparison:

  • In general, 11-22% for men, and between 22-33% body fat for women, is considered a “healthy” range.
  • Lower than that is still “healthy” (to a point), but generally considered “athletic” or “lean”.

The percentage of body fats in U.S. adults

Does increased sugar consumption explain body weight trends?

Could sugar be responsible for changing body weights and body compositions in industrialized countries?

By reviewing data from the USDA Economic Research Service, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), as well as Food Frequency Questionnaires from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, we can track food intake from multiple angles. These varying streams of data all show fairly consistent trends.

They tell us that, since 1980, Americans:

  • Continued to eat the same total amount of fat.
    (Though they generally ate less naturally-occurring fats, like in whole fat dairy, and ate more added fats, like oils.)
  • Ate more carbohydrates.
    (Especially refined ones that included added sugars.)

So, as a percent of total calories consumed, fat dropped. But we didn’t end up eating less fat. We just added more sugar and other carbs on top of the fat we were already eating.

This added up to approximately 200-400 extra calories per day.

In terms of calories, that’s like eating an extra McDonald’s hamburger or a double cheeseburger, on top of your existing meals, every day.

Whether those calories came from sugar is probably irrelevant.

This increased energy intake alone, combined with decreasing rates of daily physical activity, is probably enough to explain people getting heavier.

Yes, but how might sugar play a role?

We can’t say that sugar specifically was the culprit behind the obesity surge for everyone. (Remember, humans vary.)

But our increased sugar consumption does seem to correlate with continued obesity levels… up until recently.

For about four hundred years, human beings have been enjoying more and more sugar.

Once Europeans discovered tropical trading routes and set up cheap slave labor economies to raise sugar cane, sugar became more and more available to the average person.

Indeed, sugar quickly became the food of the poor.

(It was said that the entire working class of the British Isles lived on jam and sugared tea during the Industrial Revolution.)

As a prime colonial power, the British once claimed the title of biggest sugar consumers. Per year, the average Brit consumed:

  • 4 lbs (1.8 kg) in 1704.
  • 18 lbs (8.2 kg) in 1800.
  • 90 lbs (40.8 kg) in 1901.

However, once they got rolling as a country, Americans weren’t far behind. Per year, the average American consumed:

  • 6 lbs (2.7 kg) of sugar in 1822.
  • 40 lbs (18.1 kg) in 1900.
  • 90 lbs (40.8 kg) by the 1920s.
  • There was a subsequent drop due to the Great Depression & World War II.
  • 90 lbs per person again by the 1980s.

Then they really took off: By 1999, the US reached peak sugar consumption of nearly 108 lbs (49 kg) of sugar per person per year.

Between 1980-1999 Americans ate more sugar. And obesity rates got higher.

But then something changed: Our sugar consumption actually started to decrease.

Interestingly, since 1999 through 2013 (most recent data available) intake of added sugar has actually declined by 18% (or as much as 22%, depending on the data).

This drop has brought Americans’ current added sugar intake back down to 1987 levels.

And during this time, total carbohydrate intake has dropped as well. (Makes sense, as this was the dawn of the low-carb phenomenon.)

Nevertheless, though sugar and carb intake have declined over those 14 years, adult obesity has continued to climb—from 31% of the American population in 1999 to 38% as of 2013.

(Diabetes diagnoses have continued to climb as well, which we’ll address in a moment.)

US Sugar Intake vs Obesity Prevalence - 1980-2013

So, despite lowering sugar intake by nearly 20% over a 14 year period, obesity (and diabetes) rates have continued to climb.

Along with sex, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences in obesity rates, this suggests that changing body sizes and compositions is probably a complex, multi-factored phenomenon.

Bottom line here: No single thing—including sugar—causes obesity.

Many factors work together to contribute to a consistent energy (calorie) surplus, which ultimately leads to fat gain. One of those things is often sugar, but not always, and not alone.

Question #2:
Does sugar cause us to gain weight / fat?

So, we can’t unequivocally blame sugar for increased obesity rates.

But many of us are still wondering whether sugar is a gateway to fat gain.

It seems logical. Carb and sugar consumption are the main drivers of insulin release. Insulin’s job is to help store nutrients, including fat.

Therefore, it seems obvious. Carbs and sugar cause fat gain, right?

Once again, our scientist friends reveal that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Let’s take a look at a couple of studies that explore this question.

Study 1: How do carbs, sugar, and/or insulin release affect body fat?

In 2015, a small pilot study was conducted by Dr. Kevin Hall to investigate the carb/sugar/insulin model of obesity.

What happens if we keep calories and protein the same, but play with dietary sugar and fat levels?

Here’s how the study worked.

  • 19 participants had to live in a metabolic ward, where the researchers controlled virtually everything about how they lived, what they ate, etc.
  • The participants tried both lower carbohydrate (LC) and lower fat (LF) diets.
  • They followed each diet for two weeks, separated by a 2-4 week period during which they returned to normal eating.
  • All participants spent the first five days of either the low-carb or low-fat diets following a baseline plan of 50% carbs, 35% fat, and 15% protein. This was done so that all participants started on an even playing field with an intake that virtually matches what the average American eats.
  • Each participant had to exercise on a treadmill for one hour every day for the full two weeks, to make sure physical activity levels were consistent and equal.
  • After the first five days, both groups had their calories reduced by 30% from the baseline diet (1918 calories vs 2740 calories). They then ate the lower calorie diet for six days.
  • With both diets, energy intake (i.e. calories) and protein were kept the same. Only carbs and fat went up or down.

Lower carbohydrate:

  • 101 g protein (21% of cals).
  • 108 g fat (50% of cals).
  • 140 g carbohydrate (29% of cals).

Lower fat:

  • 105 g protein (21% of calories).
  • 17 g of fat (8% of calories).
  • 352 g carbohydrate (71% of calories).

Lower carbohydrate and lower fat diets - comparison

Let’s take a closer look at how much the study participants actually ate.

On the lower carbohydrate diet:

  • Of their carbohydrates, 37 g was sugar. This means that 8% of all calories were coming from sugar.
  • This is much less than the average American eats.

On the lower fat diet:

  • Of their carbohydrates, 170 g was sugar. This means that 35% of all their calories were coming from sugar. That is a lot of sugar.

Chart showing the sugar intake compared to typical American consumption (based on a study)

So what happened?

Insulin production:

  • On the Lower Carbohydrate diet, people produced 22% less insulin throughout the day.
  • The Lower Fat diet didn’t change insulin output at all, since it had the same total carbs, and even slightly more sugar than the baseline diet.

Body weight:

  • People on the Lower Carbohydrate diet lost 4 lbs (1.81 kg) of body weight, and 1.16 lbs (0.53 kg) of body fat.
  • People on the Lower Fat diet lost 3 lbs (1.36 kg) of body weight, which included 1.29 lbs (0.59 kg) of body fat.

Note that body weight loss doesn’t necessarily equal body fat loss.

We can also lose body weight from losing glycogen, water, and/or body protein—and that’s exactly what happened to the people on the Lower Carb diet.

They lost more overall body weight, but actually lost less fat. (Though a difference of 0.13 lbs is irrelevant in the big picture. Who would notice that?)

Meanwhile, the folks on the Lower Fat diet lost more body fat but less total weight because their body was busy burning fat (rather than glycogen or lean body mass) to meet its calorie needs.

After these results were in, the researchers then ran validated mathematical models that showed over longer periods of time (say, longer than 6 months), the fat loss between the two groups would be roughly equal.

In other words, there was no particular physiological advantage to either diet in terms of body weight, nor body fat loss, over the longer term.

Study 2: Fine, let’s go lower.

For this second study, the game got hardcore: Drop the carbs and sugar much lower for the Lower Carbohydrate group, just to make sure the minimal differences found in the first study hadn’t been because the carbs and sugar weren’t low enough.

Here’s how this second study worked:

  • 17 overweight or obese people participated.
  • First, they followed a high-carb but calorically-restricted baseline diet for 4 weeks (with 25% of calories from sugar).
  • Then, they spent 4 weeks on a very-low-carb ketogenic diet (with 2% of calories from sugar), with equal calories to the baseline diet.

So what happened?

The researchers found that everyone lost weight and fat throughout the study.

However, when subjects switched from the high-carb, 25%-sugar baseline diet to the ketogenic, 2%-sugar diet, fat loss actually slowed down for the first few weeks.

Much like the previous study, this happened because as people’s bodies adapted to the ketogenic diet, they were more likely to break down fat-free mass and protein stores (e.g. muscle).

Thus:

  • Weight loss went faster during the ketogenic phase, thanks to losing glycogen and water.
  • But body fat loss was actually less during this phase (though not tremendously so, and it likely wouldn’t make any significant difference over time).

Overall, the researchers stated that based on the current evidence, as well as their validated mathematical models, long-term body fat loss would likely be very similar between the high sugar (high-carb) diet and the low sugar (low-carb) diet.

In other words, the amount of sugar didn’t seem to influence the results.

In the end, these, plus other studies, seem to support the idea that:

Sugar, carbohydrate intake, and/or insulin alone probably aren’t the main drivers of weight gain.

Other research comparing low-carb diets to low-fat diets has found similar results. The same results have also been found with:

  • Meta-analyses: Big reviews of other studies. These types of data are considered among the most robust as they explore a lot of experiments from a much broader perspective, pulling in evidence from dozens or even hundreds of studies to try to draw conclusions.
  • Systematic reviews: Methodologically rigorous comparisons and critical analyses of other studies. These type of reviews are also considered useful, because they take a skeptical perspective, looking for errors.

There have been at least 20 controlled in-patient feeding studies where protein and calories are kept equal, but carbs are varied from 20% to 75% of total calories (and sugar intakes ranged significantly as well).

Of all these studies, none of them found any truly significant differences in body fat levels when people were eating either high carb (and high sugar) or low carb (and low sugar) diets.

In other words, as long as protein and calories were equal, the amount of sugar people ate didn’t make a difference.

There have been at least 12 other systematic reviews and meta-analyses published over the past 10+ years on long-term low-carb diets (which are invariably also low-sugar diets).

Of these 12 reviews:

  • 3 were in favor of low-carb
  • 3 were in favor of non-low-carb comparisons (e.g. low fat, Mediterranean, vegan, low glycemic index, etc.)
  • 6 were neutral, meaning they concluded that various approaches can be equally valid and effective.

Yes, but how might sugar play a role?

Sweet foods may increase energy intake.

In 2013, a review commissioned by the World Health Organization investigated how sugar affected fat gain.

It found that increasing sugar intake can increase body weight, and lowering sugar intake can decrease body weight… but only by changing energy balance, not by any physiological or metabolic effect of sugar itself.

In other words, if we eat more sugary foods, we might be eating more energy (i.e. calories) overall.

Sweet foods are often processed and highly palatable.

This is especially true because most high-sugar foods are refined, tasty, and hard to stop eating. We digest and absorb the energy they contain quickly and easily, they overstimulate the reward/pleasure centers in our brain, and we tend to overeat them.

Plus, hidden sugars in processed foods (like yogurt, granola, juice) or even so-called “health foods” / “fitness foods” can add up fast without us even realizing.

These foods and our brain’s response to them, not the sugar by itself, can often lead to overconsumption.

So the sugar itself may be less of a culprit than the fact that many of us just can’t quit at just one gummi bear or sip of soda.

What else is going on, besides sugar consumption?

Most of our clients who struggle with their weight, body fat, eating habits, and health tell us: It’s not just about the food. There are many factors involved: stress, sleep, metabolic health, lifestyle, social environment, and so forth.

Sugar alone does not explain the complexity of our bodies’ health, function, fat percentage, nor weight. Metabolism is complicated.

And, as always, remember that people vary in response to particular diets.

Some people do better with higher carbohydrates and lower fats. Some do better the other way round.

This is likely due to genetic differences, individual satiety differences from fats vs carbs, personal preferences, and possibly even differences in the bacterial populations in our GI tracts.

The above studies don’t provide hard and fast rules that will always apply to everyone.

This is especially true given that many study populations were small and probably similar in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, and other important factors that can affect our physiological response to a given diet.

But they do indicate that sugar is not some kind of unusually evil substance that causes weight gain or prevents fat loss.

Question #3:
Does sugar cause diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where we can’t properly regulate the sugar in our blood.

It seems logical, then, that eating more sugar might increase our risk for diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which typically starts in childhood and is considered an autoimmune disease (in which our own bodies attack healthy cells of our pancreas, which normally produces insulin), Type 2 diabetes typically starts later in life and (among other factors) is linked to long-term food and exercise behaviors.

Type 2 diabetes generally starts with insulin resistance, or impaired glucose control.

This means that over time, insulin is less and less able to do its job of moving glucose into our cells for safe storage. Your doctor might test this with various blood tests, such as an A1c test, which measures how much sugar is being carried around on hemoglobin, a blood protein.

Type 2 diabetes (as well as other metabolic diseases) are also related to how much fat we have in our livers and in or around other organs (such as our hearts and kidneys).

There does seem to be a link between how much refined sugar we eat and insulin resistance. Eating too much sugar can also increase fat accumulation in the liver.

For example, a recent study found that for every 150 calorie increase in daily sugar intake (essentially a 12 oz soda, or ~37 g) corresponded with a 1.1% increased risk for diabetes.

Other factors shape our disease risk, too.

That risk above might sound scary, but it’s important to keep it in perspective.

Other research has shown that losing 7% body weight and doing about 20 minutes of daily physical activity decreased diabetes risk by 58%.

And many other studies have corroborated those findings, telling us that losing a little weight / fat and doing a little more exercise, consistently, will significantly lower our diabetes risk.

In fact, a recent meta-analysis provided some compelling information on diabetes risk:

  • ~60-90% of Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity or weight gain, not sugar intake.
  • Having a significant amount of excess body fat / weight can increase diabetes risk by 90 times.
  • If people who are in the obese category lose about 10% of their initial body weight, they dramatically improve their blood glucose control.
  • Weight management (not sugar reduction) appears to be the most important therapeutic target for most individuals with Type 2 diabetes.

This makes sense if we understand how adipose (fat) tissue works: It’s a biologically active tissue that secretes hormones and other cell signals.

If we have too much of it, adipose tissue can disrupt metabolic health, including how we regulate and store blood sugar.

Does fructose contribute?

Some researchers have suggested that fructose, a particular type of simple sugar (aka monosaccharide) found in fruit as well as many processed foods, might play a special role in diabetes.

We know that fructose is digested, absorbed, and used in specific ways in our bodies.

Does that mean that fructose might have unique properties that could increase our diabetes risk?

Let’s take a look.

One meta-analysis looked at 64 substitution trials (in which fructose replaced another carbohydrate with no change in total calories), and 16 addition trials (where fructose was added to normal intake).

  • In the trials where fructose was substituted for another carbohydrate, the average fructose intake was 102 g per day.
  • In the trials where fructose was added on top of the participants’ normal intake, the average fructose intake was 187 g per day.

Compared to the average American fructose consumption of ~49 g per day, these are extraordinary intakes. To achieve those kinds of intakes would require up to 13 cups of ice cream, or consumption of 10 cans of soda.

Possible? Yes.

Daily norm? Sure hope not.

Diagram showing the comparison of experimental fructose intake in grams per day

A recent review paper summed up the state of the evidence on fructose nicely, essentially stating:

The best-quality evidence to date does not support the theory that fructose intake directly causes cardiometabolic diseases.

The review added that fructose-containing sugars can lead to weight gain, along with increases in cardiometabolic risk factors and disease, but only if those fructose-laden foods provide excess calories.

Overall, research does suggest that a high intake of all sugar (including fructose) might slightly increase the risk of diabetes development by itself.

However, this research also indicates that most of this risk is due to the high sugar intake leading to excess calorie intake, and therefore increased body fat (which leads to inflammation, and ultimately insulin resistance).

An absolutely immense amount of research consistently and strongly indicates that the main causes of diabetes are:

  • excess body fat,
  • inadequate physical activity, and
  • genetic predisposition.

On that last point, we know that diabetes risk, as well as risk of metabolic diseases and propensity to gain body fat, differs significantly by ethnic group or genetic subgroup. For instance, many groups of indigenous people are vastly more likely to struggle with these issues, as are people of African ancestry living in North America, or people of South Asian ancestry.

So your personal risk of these diseases also depends on where your ancestors came from, what genetic makeup they gave you, and/or how that genetic makeup interacts with your environment.

The bottom line here: Managing your sugar intake is just one small tool in your diabetes-fightin’ toolbox. However, far and away, the most useful tool is weight (and body fat) management, however you manage to accomplish it.

Question #4:
Does sugar cause cardiovascular disease?

The term “cardiometabolic disease” refers to a broad group of related diseases, like the Type 2 diabetes we mention above, along with other diseases related to the complex phenomenon of:

  • metabolic disruption,
  • changes in hormonal and cell signaling,
  • inflammation, and
  • an inability to regulate normal physiological processes (like DNA repair).

These diseases can appear in many organs or organ systems. When they hit the heart and/or circulatory system of blood vessels, we call them “cardiovascular disease”. They show up as things like heart attacks, strokes, clogged arteries, and so forth.

A heart attack, or heart disease, used to be a death sentence. With better treatment and new medications, people are surviving longer and living better with cardiovascular disease.

Over the past 50 years or so, deaths from heart disease have declined by over 60% despite sugar intake increasing by about 20 lbs per person per year over that time (and by more than 30 lbs per person per year at the 1999 peak intake).

Researchers estimate that about half of that 60% decrease might be from better medical care. The other half likely comes from reducing the risk factors, such as:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • smoking less
  • lowering blood cholesterol levels

Of course, as we’ve seen, consuming more energy in the form of sugar can increase body fat. And, because of its chemically active nature, more body fat definitely increases cardiovascular disease risk.

So eating a lot of sugar can certainly play a role.

But cardiovascular disease, as with other metabolic diseases, is complex.

It’s not just one thing.

It’s all the things.

It’s how we live, how we work, how active we are, how stressed we are, what’s in our environment, and the various other factors that influence our health.

There are other factors besides sugar in metabolic disease.

Indeed, if we look at factors that we know for sure are related to the risk of metabolic disease, only about 3% of Americans uphold four essential healthy lifestyle behaviors consistently:

  • Not smoking.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Being physically active at least 30 minutes a day 5 times a week at a moderate intensity.

On top of that, let’s consider two other known preventative methods for metabolic disease…

  • Keeping stress levels moderate.
  • Sleeping well, 7-9 hours per night, consistently.

…now we’re probably at 1% of Americans.

Once again, sugar intake is probably one piece of the puzzle. But it’s just one piece—and probably a very small one.

Question #5:
How much sugar is OK to eat?

Let’s get real here.

Sugar is not a health food.

It doesn’t nourish us.

It doesn’t add a lot of nutrient value: It doesn’t give us any vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, or water.

Eating a lot of sugar doesn’t make our bodies better, stronger, healthier, or more functional.

Sugar doesn’t add value, certainly not when compared to other foods or macronutrients like protein or omega-3 fatty acids.

But biology is complex.

Diseases are complex too.

We can’t blame one chemical for all the health problems we have.

Good health is neither created nor destroyed by a single food.

Again, human beings are diverse.

We vary widely in all kinds of ways, including:

  • How much carbohydrates we need to thrive or perform well.
  • How well we digest, absorb, and use sugars, as well as how effectively and safely we store or dispose of the excess.
  • How sugar affects our appetite, hunger, fullness, ability to stop eating it.
  • How we feel about and behave around sugar.
  • How sugar “spins our brain dials” and gives us a sense of reward.

So we can’t say that “X amount of sugar is always best for everyone, all the time” or that “People should never eat any sugar.” It just doesn’t work that way.

  • Some people might choose to cut out sugar completely.
  • Some people might try to micromanage their intake down to the gram.
  • Some people can just roll with a general “eat less-processed foods” guideline, and be fine.
  • Some people do find that a low-sugar, low-carb or even a ketogenic diet works for them. While others thrive on high-carb diets.

That said, being aware of your sugar intake is probably a good idea.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sugar to 10% of your intake. So, for example, if you’re consuming 2000 calories per day, that would be approximately 200 calories from sugar, or 50 grams.

What does this all mean?

Let’s sum up what the science suggests:

  • Sugars are basic biological molecules that our bodies use in many ways.
  • Each person’s response to sugar (whether physiological or behavioral) will be a little different. This goes for carbohydrates in general too.
  • Sugar is not a health food. But sugar alone doesn’t necessarily cause most chronic health problems like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, which are multifactorial.
  • Sugar is energy dense. If eaten in excess (like most foods), sugar can contribute to weight / fat gain.
  • This weight / fat gain is probably mostly from the extra calories, not some special properties of sugars (or carbohydrates in general, or insulin).
  • Some people find it hard to stop eating sugar / sweet foods. This may also contribute to weight / fat gain—again, because of the extra energy intake.
  • We likely eat more sugar than we realize, since it’s hidden in so many food products.

Yet, after working with thousands of clients:

For most people, cutting out sugar completely, trying to abide by rigid rules, or basing dietary decisions on fear, probably isn’t sustainable or realistic.

That’s why, at Precision Nutrition, we prefer a more balanced approach.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition.

1. Recognize that health concerns are more complex than a single smoking gun.

The fitness and nutrition industry loves to say that one factor is responsible for everything (or that one magical food / workout / mantra will cure everything). It also loves to over-simplify and moralize (e.g. this is “bad”, this is “good”).

You don’t have to understand physiology to grasp the idea that things are complex.

There are many factors that go into good health, athletic performance, physical function, and wellbeing.

This means you should…

2. Begin with fundamental behaviors.

Sugar is one part in a much bigger puzzle.

Review this checklist and see how many of these fundamental behaviors you do well and consistently. That means every day, or most days:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your alcohol intake moderate.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully.
  • Eat enough lean protein.
  • Eat 5+ servings of fruit and/or veggies per day, ideally colorful ones.
  • Eat some healthy fats.
  • Get some movement for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
  • Get 7-9 hours of good-quality sleep every night.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Spend time with people you love, and/or who support you.
  • Do things that are meaningful and purposeful to you.

These are all behaviors that we know for sure are health-promoting and disease-preventing.

3. Become aware of your overall energy balance.

Take a clear-headed look at how much food you’re eating for your body’s needs, and how much activity you’re doing.

Are you eating the right amount for your physiological requirements?

If you’re heavier or carrying more body fat than you’d prefer, you may need to adjust how much you are eating and/or exercising.

This may mean lowering your sugar intake, and/or it may mean eating a little less of other foods overall.

4. Become aware of what’s in your food.

Read labels. Sugar lives in processed foods, even foods you wouldn’t expect (like salad dressings or frozen dinners).

Better than reading labels, ask how you can eat more foods without labels. (Like fruits and veggies, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, meats and seafood, etc.)

Transitioning to less-processed and less-sweetened versions of various foods is a simple way to lower your sugar intake and get the benefits of a better nutrient intake. Double win!

5. Maintain a healthy weight.

There is no single “healthy” weight. Your weight may be higher than average, or it may be within a “normal” range.

What is most important is that this weight is healthy for you (which you’ll know because all your indicators like blood work or athletic performance and recovery look good).

If you think you need to lose a little weight/fat to look, feel, and/or perform better, the good news is that you often don’t need to lose very much to see metabolic benefits.

You don’t have to be super-lean… and in fact, many people won’t benefit from trying to do that anyway.

6. Be mindful of your overall eating patterns, habits, and perspectives.

Consider…

  • Are you eating slowly and mindfully? Can you stop when you’re satisfied?
  • Are you using sugar-rich foods as a “treat”? How often?
  • Do you feel “deprived” if you don’t “get” to have sugar?
  • If you have a sugary food, can you stop eating it when you’ve had “enough”? Is there an “enough” with some foods?
  • How does sugar fit into your life and overall habits? Is that working for you?

7. Keep it in perspective. Add “treats” in moderation.

Around here, we keep it real.

We like “treats”, “junk food” and tasty stuff just as much as anyone else, whether that’s a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, or a hot dog at the ball game.

We just keep the portions moderate and don’t have “treats” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

For most people, a little bit of sugar fits just fine into an overall healthy diet pattern.

If you’re looking for numbers, we suggest you shoot for including “treats” or other discretionary indulgences at 10-20% of your meals. If you eat 3 meals a day for a week, that means about 2-4 of those 21 meals might include something fun or “less nutritious”.

8. Ask yourself what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you struggle with sugar (for instance, if it makes you feel ill, or you feel like you can’t eat sweet foods in appropriate amounts), then it’s probably not a good food for YOU.

Try experimenting with lowering your sugar intake gradually (for instance, by making simple substitutions like drinking water or seltzer instead of soda), and see what happens.

Look for foods that you love, and that love you back—that make you feel good and perform well, that give you sustained and long-lasting energy, that keep your moods level, and that keep you feeling “normal” as an eater.

9. If you’re a coach, keep it real and positive.

Don’t scare your clients. Don’t lecture them. Don’t moralize.

Help them. Learn about them. Understand them.

Although research may say that on average low-carb is no more effective than other dietary strategies long-term, or that sugar by itself is not addictive, or any other innumerable statistics, your clients are real people. They are not averages.

Each individual’s preferred approach, unique circumstances, and personal experiences have to be carefully considered and taken into account when working together.

Go slowly, step by step. Make sure your client can actually do what needs to be done.

Fit the dietary strategy to the client, not the client to the dietary strategy.

10. Use data.

Track your health and physical performance indicators.

Schedule regular medical checkups.

Look at stuff like how you feel, how your mood is, how you sleep, how your bloodwork looks, how well you recover from workouts (and life in general), etc.

Follow the evidence. If everything looks stellar, keep doing whatever you’re doing.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s evidence-based, practical, and individualized for each person’s lifestyle, preferences, and goals—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

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The post Level 1: The surprising truth about sugar. Here’s everything you need to know about what it does to your body. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Recent clients explain how they transformed their eating habits, their bodies, their health, and their lives with help from a Precision Nutrition Certified coach.

The post Here’s what’s possible with the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“Get rock hard abs in 30 days!” “Drop a dress size in three weeks!” “Detox your body with juice!” As a coach, you know these promises often fall short. So what do you do when a client wants a quick fix? In this article, we’ll show you five strategies to turn your client’s short-term diet into lasting results. 

++++

“A friend of mine just lost 25 pounds on a 30-day diet challenge. I’m going to try it!”

Sharon was by no means my first client to gleefully skip into a training session and announce she’d found a quick-fix solution.

I understood her excitement. After all, who wouldn’t want such fast results?

But I felt concerned for Sharon. I’ve seen lots of these “overnight” diet challenges and any changes are usually short-lived.

It’s painful to watch clients go through this predictable cycle (see below).

They often wind up right where they started, if not worse off. So as coaches, isn’t our job to put an end to 7-day detoxes, 14-day juice cleanses, and 21-day metabolism makeovers?

Maybe not.

Though every instinct might tell you to coach that “quick fix” mentality right out of your client, there’s a better way.

The best coaches can turn even the worst diet ideas into long-term success.

How? By being open, creative, and strategic.

In this article, we’ll show you five ways to transform your clients’ enthusiasm for diet and fitness “challenges” into rocket fuel for sustainable change.

Strategy #1: Celebrate their effort.

“I see a lot of people wanting to do the Whole30 or a juice cleanse or go sugar- or alcohol-free for a month,” says Jennifer Broxterman, R.D., a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach in London, Ontario.

And while these types of challenges have high failure rates, says Broxterman, don’t discourage them: “That’s a judgmental approach, and it creates a ‘me versus you’ mentality, which isn’t very good for building rapport.”

Instead, focus on the positives… even if it requires you to take a nice, deep breath first.

For example: “A challenge can be really useful if it gets your client excited about eating healthy and feeling good about the food choices in their cupboard,” says Broxterman.

It also shows they’re willing to make changes.

And with your help, clients can gain valuable insights that’ll help them achieve better results moving forward.

By supporting their efforts—instead of shutting them down—you’ll foster trust with your client and strengthen your coaching relationship. 

For a three-step process to help you reframe your coaching perspective and respect your clients’ goals, check out this PN coaching worksheet: Meet your clients where they’re at.

Strategy #2: Learn what drives them.

Your client’s challenge offers you a great opportunity: To better understand their health and fitness goals, their frustrations, and what really makes them tick, says Broxterman.

With non-judgemental curiosity, ask:

“How have diet challenges worked for you in the past?” 

This not only gives you background, it can also better set your client’s expectations (without you having to do so).

“Sometimes, they start telling you how they lost some weight, but not as much as they hoped, and that they gained it back right after,” says Broxterman.

Next, you might ask (in order):

  • “Why do you want to do this challenge?”
  • “What do you hope to get out of it?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”
  • “And why is that important to you?”

The goal is to understand your client’s pain points and true motivation.

That way, you’ll be better equipped to help them—not just during the challenge, but after it’s over, too.

What’s more, these questions might help your client discover a deeper purpose for change. One they weren’t even aware of. This can lead to much greater success, in the short-term… and the long-term.

To help your clients dig deep and find their real reasons for wanting to change, use our “5 whys” worksheet.

Strategy #3: Create a plan.

With any short-term challenge, your client is likely to make a lot of changes—all at once.

And in most cases, those changes aren’t meant to last. After all, people don’t go into a “cleanse” expecting to drink only juice for the rest of their lives.

This is where you, the coach, can really shine.

Help your client identify healthy habits that complement and intersect with the challenge they’re doing. 

That way, you can bridge the gap between the “challenge” and the rest of their life. The idea: to not only improve their likelihood of success during the challenge—but also in days, weeks, and months to follow.

Keep these habits small, simple, and behavior-focused. (Read: “Lose 10 pounds” is an outcome, not a behavior.)

Let’s say your client is committed to only eating whole foods for 30 days. A good habit to practice might be packing their lunch and afternoon snack every morning, to help ensure they stay on track.

Or perhaps they’re attempting a “no dessert” challenge. In this case, you might suggest they practice eating slowly and mindfully, and/or eat lean protein at each meal, both of which can help them feel more satisfied after eating.

And what about a 14-day juice cleanse? That’s a tougher one, to be sure. So get creative. You might suggest they:

  • Plan a social activity once or twice a week that isn’t centered around food and drink. (This is a highly underrated strategy for helping people adjust to a healthy eating lifestyle.)
  • Take 15 minutes each day to walk, foam roll, or stretch. A juice cleanse is not the time to start exercising intensely, but it can be used to establish a baseline daily movement habit.
  • Consciously recognize the feelings that come up when they’re hungry. It can even help to write them down. (Are they sad? Bored? Tired? See more ideas here.) Plus, they can learn to “sit with it,” too. Hunger is inevitable on a juice cleanse, which means it’s the perfect time to learn that “hunger is not an emergency.”

Ideally, by the end of the challenge, these habits are so ingrained it feels natural to continue them.

Bonus: If you and your client brainstorm more practices than can fit into the challenge timeframe, you have a built-in roadmap for what to work on once the challenge is over.

Use our “Outcome goals into behavior goals” worksheet to collaborate with your client on habits that will help get them closer to their targets. 

Strategy #4: Turn “failures” into feedback.

Imagine your client signs up for a Dunkin Do-Not Challenge (a.k.a. thirty days without donuts).

But just four days in, they come to you, shamefully admitting they had a Boston cream breakdown in the office breakroom.

Broxterman recommends using a three-pronged coaching approach: curiosity, compassion, and radical honesty.

Curiosity: Talk to your client about what led to their decision to eat the donut. For example, maybe they worked late the night before and skipped breakfast or didn’t prepare their lunch.

Compassion: Emphasize that they shouldn’t beat themselves up. Encourage them to treat themselves the same way they’d treat a friend or loved one in a similar situation.

Radical honesty: Give your client a chance to be completely upfront about what was going on when the “failure” happened. Maybe they were feeling:

  • a little stressed at the time
  • deprived of the foods they love
  • a bit like they “deserved” a treat

Now show them the upside: Perhaps the donut “failure” provides feedback about the importance of meal prepping lunches. That way, they don’t end up making less-than-optimal food choices.

It may also hint that completely eliminating food—especially ones they love—isn’t the best approach.

By reframing your client’s “failure” into a learning experience, you’ll prep them for future success (and minimize their guilt). 

Here’s another example: Suppose your client is trying to avoid sugar for 30 days, but they’re really struggling. Help them identify their roadblocks.

For instance, perhaps their partner keeps stocking the kitchen with cookies and ice cream. This crystallizes two frequent problems: Their environment is full of tempting foods, and their partner is showing a lack of support.

Together, brainstorm what might they do to improve their environment and/or strengthen their support system. This is how you coach them through obstacles, and keep the momentum going long after the challenge ends.

For a hands-on way to teach clients what it means to be resilient, sit down together and fill out this worksheet on “turning failure into feedback.

Strategy #5: Explore their results

When a client completes a challenge, it’s likely they’ll have some positive outcomes. Maybe they lose a few pounds, stop craving sweets so much, or are sleeping better.

Naturally, they’ll want to maintain these results. But that rarely happens.

People tend to gravitate toward short-term diets is because it’s hard to fathom changing their eating and lifestyle habits for good. For a few weeks, though? That sounds doable

Here’s the problem: This line of thinking encourages all-or-nothing-ism. You’re either doing the most you possibly can to be healthy (an extreme diet challenge), or you’re doing nothing at all (back to your old ways).

But based on working with over 100,000 clients, we can confidently say this: The middle ground is usually where the magic happens.

Your client doesn’t have to keep all the habits they practiced during the challenge—just the ones that worked for them. 

Find out what those are, and discuss how they might continue them. Even if it’s not all the time.

For example, maybe they’ve discovered they really do feel better when they don’t drink alcohol every night but miss having drinks with their partner.

The middle ground might be limiting their alcohol intake to just one or two nights a week.

Or perhaps they love getting to the gym more frequently, but they don’t find cooking all their own meals practical.

The middle ground: They keep their gym habit, but only prepare dinner three or four days a week, which they feel confident they can do.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we call this “always something”—and use it to effectively combat all-or-nothing-ism. 

If practicing a habit at every daily meal is too much, how about at two meals? Or even one? Find out what feels doable for your client, and start there.

Instead of following through 100 percent of the time, what about 80 percent? Or 60 percent? We’ve even found that people can make real progress by being consistent just 50 percent of the time (or less).

Bottom line: Just because your client went all-in on the challenge, doesn’t mean they have to shut down entirely afterwards. Instead, show them how to “adjust the dial,” and keep benefiting from their positive actions.

Help your clients carry over their challenge changes in a way that’s sustainable, with our worksheet on “finding the middle ground.”

Leave your assumptions at the door.

The desire to embark on short-term diets, challenges, or cleanses isn’t going away anytime soon. Are they the best way to improve health and fitness? Probably not. But that won’t stop your clients from wanting to do them.

Truth is, short-term challenges aren’t useless. They don’t doom folks to failure. But most of the time, people start them with the wrong mindset—and without the right support network in place.

Meet your challenge-curious clients with compassion instead of judgement, and you might just be able to use their “summer body slim down” as a launchpad for meaningful change.

Not just for a month… but for a lifetime.

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition, especially in a way that helps clients develop highly-effective and sustainable habits.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Detoxes, Cleanses, and 30-Day Challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Precision Nutrition’s work coaching elite and professional athletes contributes to every innovation we bring to nutrition and fitness. Here are our 11 favorite learnings; ones you can use with any client, with any goal.

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At Precision Nutrition, it’s our mission to improve the lives of, and get results for, every single type of client, including our most elite ones (like NFL, NHL, NBA teams, individual pros and Olympians, top-ranked junior prospects, and more).

Interestingly, coaching elite and pro athletes has taught us a lot.

I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty cool to work with some of the most respected athletes in the world. But here’s what’s surprising: In a lot of ways, elite athletes are just like us “regular” folks.

For example: I’ve learned that certain coaching principles apply across the board, no matter who you are and what you do.

(Yep, middle-aged clients just trying to lose belly fat do have something in common with UFC legend Georges St. Pierre).

So, in this article, I’d like to share 11 of our favorite coaching lessons and stories, taken directly from our work with some of the top athletes in the world.

If you’re a health and fitness pro, these can be applied to your coaching clients, whether they’re athletes or they’re just getting started with fitness.

And, hey, if you’re just here as a sports fan — enjoy the inside scoop.

1. Shape the environment and you can get great results, even without intensive one-on-one coaching.

Coaching one-on-one is great. But sometimes it’s not possible. Like when you’re trying to improve the nutritional habits of an entire basketball team in a short period of time.

Precision Nutrition coach Brian St. Pierre has been a nutrition consultant for the San Antonio Spurs since 2014. And he’s seen the team thrive (in fact, they won the NBA championship the year he started working with them).

But when Brian started working with the Spurs, he was a bit concerned about whether he’d be able to help.

With the team’s crazy schedule, he’d have next to zero one-on-one time with each player. Would he still be able to get results?

After careful consideration, Brian realized that he could have the biggest impact by focusing his efforts, not on each individual, but on the environment they all shared.

Brian’s tactics included:

  • Start with a template. After meeting with the players and coaching staff, he developed a meal plan template — focussing on meat, seafood, cooked starch, cooked vegetables, salad, fruit, and nuts — for the chefs/caterers at the training facility, where players eat breakfast and lunch.
  • Make it tasty. He ensured that players’ favorite foods were included in the provided meals. (Brian advised the team’s coaches not to take away Tim Duncan’s beloved Cajun chicken and mashed sweet potatoes.) After all, if the players don’t like the food they’re being offered, regardless of how good it is for them, they’ll just sneak out to Chick fil A.
  • Keep it convenient. He gave the strength and conditioning interns some Super Shake recipes so they could whip up personalized shakes (specific to each player’s needs and personal preferences) and hand them out after training and practice. 
  • Make arrangements for travel. He provided healthy meal ideas for plane rides. (Sometimes coaches insisted on soda and cookies for the ride — for themselves — so Brian gave suggestions on where to hide their personal stash so the players wouldn’t be tempted.)
  • Have a plan for non-practice hours. He recommended meal delivery services as options for dinner. For married players with a spouse who cooks for them, he provided recipes and meal ideas to take home.

These kinds of tactics are pretty simple, and none of them require in-depth, involved one-on-one coaching. Nor do they require any player to engage in some heroic, individual project of personal change.

Whether it’s at a training camp, at home, or in the office, our environment has a huge influence on what we eat.

Shape the environment, and you shape the path toward change.

2. Skill in the gym (or on the field) does not equal skill in the kitchen.

Elite athletes put everything they’ve got into their physical performance. You might assume they bring the same passion for detail, refinement, and mastery to the food they eat.

Some do. But most don’t.

I first learned this in the early 2000s when I went to work with the U.S. National Bobsled team as nutrition consultant. The team asked me to kick off their training camp with a seminar.

Back then I had the notion that, as top-level athletes, these guys must give the same attention to their nutrition as they do to their sport. As a result, I built a full day of seminars on advanced nutrition topics and high-level supplement strategies.

I was all ready to go.

Then the group filed in late, holding bags of McDonalds.

I knew immediately I would have to change my presentation on the fly.

As I asked questions and listened, I realized these athletes still needed to learn the basics. They may have been advanced in their sport, but they were still, for the most part, nutrition beginners.

This is a good lesson for anyone doing nutrition coaching.

Imagine you’re coaching a middle-aged man who’s 50 lbs overweight and has never given nutrition a second thought. Then imagine a 25-year-old who’s 225 lb and 8% body fat training for the Olympics.

Yes, they might be very different physically. But they might also have the exact same nutritional skill level.

(In the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification we classify clients as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 eaters and have different recommendations for each level. In this case, both individuals would get recommendations for Level 1 eaters.)

So don’t make too many assumptions about your clients. Talk to them, test them, and find out where they’re actually at.

3. If you can’t make it better, make it less-worse.

Recently tasked with helping NBA team the Brooklyn Nets improve their nutrition, Precision Nutrition coaches Adam Feit and Brian St. Pierre worked together to create an optimal nutritional environment at the team’s practice facility.

Seriously, they’re making that dining room a work of art. Beautiful infographics demonstrating hand-size portions and Super Shake infographics; healthy, perfectly balanced menus. Great stuff.

But after training, it’s time to compete. And that’s when the team hits the road. They travel constantly.

Adam and Brian realized the biggest obstacle to maintaining the team’s nutrition was dealing with hotel food. Especially late-night room service menus offering pizza, wings, burgers, and so on.

Adam and Brian couldn’t exactly customize the menus of hundreds of hotels. But they could change the menus the players saw.

So they got ahold of the hotel menus in advance and created pared down versions of each menu — a customized version with some of the best available options.

This smaller, more selective version of the menu is what the guys would see in their rooms or get when the team sat down for dinner.

Sure, it might not be perfect, but it was still a huge improvement. And it made it easier for the players to choose a healthier option without even thinking about it.

One of our coaching mantras at Precision Nutrition is “a little bit better”. We encourage clients to abandon all-or-nothing thinking and look for ways to make even slight improvements to each meal or each workout.

Of course, you don’t have to be an NBA champion to realize that small improvements really do add up.

4. The best meal plan is worthless if your client doesn’t like the food.

A pro tennis standout contacted PN for some help with energy levels, performance, and general nutrition. Of course, we were happy to help.

Brian St. Pierre met with the athlete, discussed goals, taste preferences and other details, and then put together some guidelines including a meal plan template complete with recipe ideas.

The problem: The athlete didn’t like any of it.

Even in the pro sports world, there are self-professed picky eaters.

That’s when we realized that all of Brian’s nutritional expertise wasn’t enough. It was time to bring in the big guns. So we sent our full-time super-chef, Jen Nickle, to help.

Jen and Brian put together a taste-test session with the tennis star. They tried out all kinds of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They explored food combinations, preparation options, flavors, and so on.

Turns out, the taste-test day was fun. Jen and Brian were able to build rapport with the client and demonstrate our commitment to helping her. Best of all, Chef Jen could make food her client would really enjoy — and actually eat.

(Jen now travels with this athlete to big-time events like the U.S. Open to ensure the best nutrition during competition.)

While not everyone can afford a personal chef, customizing nutritional guidance (and meal plans, if you use them) to a client’s tastes is essential.

If your client is picky, don’t try to insist that they develop a taste for quinoa or sweet potatoes; find out what they do like and work with that.

5. You have to work the way your client works.

Health and fitness coaches: Think about online coaching for a moment. How do you get started?

Chances are you compose a nice email, and you attach an assessment form, maybe a food log for them to fill out, and maybe link to an article for them to read.

What if your client doesn’t have a computer?

In 2014, Brian St. Pierre started working with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Some of the guys on the team didn’t own computers. And if they did, they never used email.

And why should they? Their lives are spent on the field, in the gym, in film sessions, or enjoying some precious recovery time.

Since, nowadays, people can do almost anything on their phone that they can do on on a computer, they were usually only reachable via text.

At first, Brian admits he felt resistant. He’d been coaching using email for years. Now he had to relearn a new style of communicating and coaching.

But, using his client-centered coaching skills, Brian adapted his methods to his clients. He got over his personal bias, stopped emailing, and started texting.

Interestingly, the texting experience made Brian think more critically about what he was asking clients in the first place. He became more focused, narrowing down his assessments to the bare essentials.

Most importantly, his clients got what they needed.

How to be client-centered is one of the best lessons any coach can ever learn. As coaches, we always have to remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter what works for us.

What matters is what works for our clients.

6. Perfection is not required.

Since 2009, I’ve been helping MMA star / UFC legend Georges St-Pierre with his nutrition. Before I began putting together Georges’ eating strategy, I knew two things.

One, that he had a soft spot for McDonald’s and Subway.

Two, if you tell a client they can’t have their favorite foods, they might end up ignoring you completely.

Think about it. How well could putting my foot down and bossing around a professional fighter (and Welterweight champion of the world) possibly go?

So I gave Georges some suggested meals. These included a few main meals and a few Super Shakes each day. These would cover his nutritional bases.

Beyond that, I told him he could eat whatever he wanted if he was still hungry. I even suggested eating McDonald’s or Subway every few days. Daily, if he liked.

Georges was shocked. And delighted. He couldn’t believe his nutrition coach was basically inviting him to eat at McDonald’s.

Let’s face it: With Georges’ energy expenditure, one meal a day off-script isn’t going to tank his results. It also fit his goals: gaining muscle mass to fight competitors who were getting bigger all the time.

Of course, Georges is not your typical client, and this was not your typical eating strategy. But there is an important lesson here.

Perfection isn’t required for elite athletes — or for “regular” people.

For most people, aiming to get 80% of your meals on-point is an effective goal.

7. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

Dietary trends tend to go in cycles. Ketogenic diets are among them, resurfacing now and then to grab media headlines. These can get the attention of top athletes who are looking for an edge — with varying results.

Here’s an example. For a while, there was a trainer who made a big splash putting NFL linemen on a strict ketogenic diet paired with high doses of certain supplements. Players/clients would come to his “camp” for about four weeks to learn how to eat this way.

One of these players was an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons.

He heard about other NFL guys getting great results on the program, so he decided to give it a try himself. Within those four weeks, he saw immediate improvement: He got bigger, faster, stronger, leaner — all the things a lineman would want to see.

By the end of the four weeks, though, he started to feel a lot less awesome.

He was experiencing some major symptoms: everything from glucose control issues to hypoglycemia to brain fog to vertigo to anxiety and depressive moods. He even confessed to having suicidal thoughts.

But he had been so impressed by the initial results of the diet, he wanted to keep trying. He tried tinkering with it, cycling his keto days, but nothing worked.

So he called us.

We reintroduced carbs into his diet, recommending he eat 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbs at each meal (five times a day). At the same time, we decreased his fat intake a bit, which helped counter-balance the increase in carbs, calorie-wise.

Within 2-3 weeks, his blood glucose evened out, his anxiety went away, and his performance improved. Plus, the body composition changes he liked about the keto diet stayed the same: He maintained his leanness and his mass.

We found that he needs to be really consistent with his carbs in order to perform and feel his best.

That’s the thing about diets, protocols, and specific methods. Just because it works for one client doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another — even if they share the same goals, athletic ability and body type.

Plus, just because a particular approach can “work” (according to very specific metrics like body weight, for some period of time) doesn’t mean it’s going to work for every goal, indefinitely.

Individual needs should come before trends every time.

And outcome-based decision making should trump “this worked for some other guy” or “this should theoretically work for me”.

8. Bring important influencers (like family members) into the process.

For several years I provided nutrition consultation to Junior A hockey players.

(Here in Canada, Junior A is essentially one level below the NHL. These are the guys already drafted, or looking to get drafted, and become the next great NHL stars.)

While these players are already amazing athletes, they’re also young, usually teenagers. They still live with families, either their own or those they are staying with while playing for a team outside their home town.

When working with these future NHLers, I did some basic education, giving seminars and offering kitchen demos showing how to prepare basic healthy foods.

But I knew that wasn’t enough.

It didn’t matter much what I told the athletes. Because they weren’t the ones making the meals, or doing the shopping, or buying the food.

I had to get the family involved. So I would find out who prepared the meals at the homes where they were staying, then concentrate my efforts on them.

I gave them everything they needed, including:

  • Education about the needs of a young teenage hockey player
  • Cooking demos
  • Recipes and meal ideas
  • Grocery shopping guides
  • And more.

The more I could equip the family to cook well, the better the nutritional results would be for the athlete.

This relates to all kinds of clients, of all ages. Clients often tell us their biggest obstacle to eating better is other people: colleagues, friends, and most of all, family members such as spouses and kids.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Acknowledge the other influences in your clients’ lives. Help them work with loved ones and address any roadblocks together.

9. Intense training and strict eating will mess with your body. (But that’s OK for a little while.)

Precision Nutrition offers an elite athlete testing and coaching program which includes a battery of research-based physiological tests and assessments. These are designed to help athletes optimize their nutrition.

The tests include genetic, blood chemistry, food sensitivity, and microbiome analyses. To gather these data, we send a nurse to the athlete’s house or training facility, collect samples, and analyze them.

Then an interdisciplinary team (including our sports nutrition experts, our molecular genetics experts, and our physician) review and interpret the results.

We give the athletes a really comprehensive report of the findings. And then we use the findings to personally coach the athletes for the next six months.

A few months back, we tested a dozen track and field stars — some of whom just competed at the Rio Olympic Games — from the world-renowned Altis facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

In their lead-up to the games, we found something interesting.

Every one of the athletes had suboptimal sex hormone (testosterone, estrogen) levels and white blood cell counts. We discovered a host of other, more individual, things too. But this one was most interesting for two reasons.

First, it applied to both men and women.

Second, a few years back, when doing a pre-season training camp with NFL athletes at Nike HQ, we discovered some of the same things.

Of course, the results aren’t completely surprising. High intensity training has predictable consequences. It’s hard to get adequate calories, sleep, and stress management when you’re in an intense training block.

People who are training for the Olympics or for an NFL season are OK to make that trade-off. They know it’s temporary. And for most people, this kind of physical disruption isn’t dangerous if it’s for a short time.

However, it can become dangerous if you keep going at that level.

Most elite athletes take breaks after a training season, which provides a chance to rest, recover, and normalize. Its no surprise that many NHL athletes spend most of their off-season doing little more than lifting a fishing rod.

But many “regular” exercisers don’t respect the seasonality of sport. Which means, ironically, many of them are as much at risk of damaging their bodies through undereating and under recovery as Olympians.

So keep the long game in mind.

If a client is overtraining, bring the risks to their attention. If they’re making a sacrifice for an important goal, be clear about the tradeoffs.

And always be asking: What’s the goal? How do we get you there as safely as possible? When’s it time to back off and rest?

10. Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.

One client from our elite athlete program is Mikel Thomas, a hurdler from Trinidad and Tobago. Mikel was preparing for the Rio Olympics but was having some issues with recovery.

We conducted our usual battery of tests. In reviewing the data, we noticed he had a high iron saturation, and his UIBC (Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity) was low. Both factors pointed to an excessive iron intake.

Pretty unusual for a vegetarian.

We also did a food sensitivities test, and noticed an intolerance to chickpeas.

(Note: While food sensitivities tests aren’t 100% reliable on their own, when used in the context of a full spectrum of tests and assessments, they can help give us extra clues about what’s going on.)

When we looked at Mikel’s food log we noticed that most of his meals were based around chickpeas. Giving thought to the data as a whole, we hypothesized that this dietary staple (typical for someone from Trinidad and Tobago, especially for a vegetarian) was actually causing a negative reaction in his body.

Fortunately, when we had Mikel replace chickpeas with alternative protein and carbohydrate sources such as quinoa, his recovery got better.

The moral of this story is not that chickpeas are bad. They offer carbohydrates, some protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They are a nutritious food.

But just because a food is considered “healthy” — or even a “superfood” — doesn’t mean it’s optimal for your client. Especially if it’s over-consumed.

11. Physiological markers don’t tell the whole story.

In 2011 and 2012, as mentioned above, I participated in Nike’s NFL Football Training Camp Pro. This camp brings together 10-15 high-level NFL athletes for a week-long camp of testing, training, eating, and learning experience on Nike’s campus.

The camp included athletes like Ndamukong Suh, Kam Chancellor, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Stewart, Steven Jackson, Greg Jennings, and more. And, at the camp, I delivered nutritional seminars and education to the athletes. I also ran some physiological testing for them.

Interestingly, I tested better than all the guys there on a host of standard markers of health such as sex hormone levels (testosterone, DHEA, etc), vitamin D levels, Omega 3 levels, and more.

Yep, when it came to these health markers, I dominated the NFL stars.

But you know what I wasn’t better at?

Playing football.

This was a great reminder that while physiological markers can be useful, they don’t give us the whole picture. And that putting too much focus on any particular non-sport performance indicator can lead you down a dangerous path.

At Precision Nutrition, we’re proud to be data-driven. We like numbers and tests and metrics of all kinds. But we also know it’s not the complete picture.

You have to look at the whole person to a real sense of what’s going on.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. Don’t make assumptions.

Appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone is a star in their sport or looks the part doesn’t mean they have advanced nutrition skills.

Instead of making assumptions or guesses about where your client is at, ask questions. Listen. Observe.

Seek to understand rather than to prove yourself right.

2. Remember that in many ways, we’re all the same.

Elite athletes — they’re just like us!

Our lives may be very different but, in the end, we’re all human. We all want to enjoy our food and have some fun. We all have our favorite indulgences and the foods that make us curl up our lips in disgust.

Whether you’re working with celebrities, top athletes, busy executives or just neighborhood folks in your local gym, remember that at the end of the day, you’re coaching people.

3. Remember that in other ways, we’re all completely different.

What works for one client might not work for another. No matter how “super” the food or how “killer” the diet, there is no one-size-fits-all.

And what works for you might not work for your clients, either.

You may have spent years perfecting your intake forms, for example, but what happens when a client doesn’t have a computer? Or is constantly on the go and never has time to look at it?

Your job as a coach is to focus on understanding and supporting the needs of each client. This takes work and practice and, believe me, it is humbling sometimes.

But that’s what it takes to be a client-centered coach.

4. Screw perfection. Help your clients get a tiny bit better.

An all-or-nothing mentality won’t help your clients get anywhere, even if they’re top athletes who are used to aiming for perfection.

Looking for small ways to improve is the best way to keep moving consistently toward change.

That might mean letting a client keep her weekly supersweet Frappucino monstrosity. Or helping her choose the best option on a hotel menu. Or packing her own snacks for the plane.

You don’t need to get rid of everything a client is doing and every indulgence they have. Nor should you.

Find ways of helping them move forward, one tiny little bit at a time.

5. Seek out and celebrate your clients’ superpowers.

Whether they’re a gold medalist or they’ve never set foot in a gym, every single client possesses their own special superpowers.

One of your jobs as a coach is to help them figure out what they’re already good at and put those abilities to use.

Maybe they’re a data junkie and they can use their spreadsheet nerdiness to track their food like a pro. Or maybe they appreciate nature and will enjoy discovering local farms and farmers markets.

Maybe they lack information at the moment but have a great ability to learn. Maybe they routinely fall off the wagon — but they always, always get back on.

Help your clients recognize their own superpowers, and then put them to use.

Celebrate the good stuff. Call out progress every chance you get.

They might never be an NFL star, but you can be their cheerleader.

You can help them become their own superstar.

Want strategies to level up your coaching?

It’s no secret that master coaches develop over time, through education and consistent practice, usually under the guidance of a mentor or coach.

Precision Nutrition is the only company in the world that both works with thousands of our own nutrition coaching clients and teaches health, fitness, and wellness professionals our real-world methods for getting results.

And here’s some great news: Our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class kicks off on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019.

Want to achieve total confidence in your coaching skills? Get (and keep) more clients? Grow and strengthen your practice? If so, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is definitely for you.

It’s designed specifically for Level 1 students and grads who realize that knowing about the science of nutrition isn’t enough.

Part master class, part grad program, part mentorship, it’s the only course in the world designed to help you master the art of coaching, meaning better results for your clients and a better practice for you.

Since we only take a limited number of professionals, and since the program sells out every time, I strongly recommend you add your name to our VIP List below. When you do, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you get a huge discount off the general price of the program.

[Note: The Level 2 Master Class is only for students and grads of our Level 1 Certification. So if you haven’t yet enrolled in that program, please begin there.]

Interested? Add your name to the VIP list. You’ll save up to 37% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following VIP list which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to get started and ready to gain mastery in their coaching practice. So we’re offering a discount of up to 37% off the general price when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the PN Master Class twice per year. Due to high demand and a very limited number of spots, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a world-class coach, we’re ready to share our knowledge and help you master the art of coaching.

The post 11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

We live in a world of ‘quick-starts’, ‘how-to-guides’, ‘career hacks’. This article is none of those. It’s a different kind of success story. And a powerful lesson on how to get ahead in health, fitness, and wellness, or any other field.

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Success secrets.

Productivity hacks.

Tips, tricks, and quick formulas.

I’m often asked to share these as advice; the requests come when I’m being interviewed on podcasts, speaking at conferences, talking to journalists.

People who want to get ahead in health and fitness — or just about any other field — want to know:

How did you go from starting a health and fitness website with your buddy…

… to running a 200-million dollar company with about 100 team members and over 100,000 clients across 120 countries.

… to advising companies like Apple, Equinox, Nike, and Titleist.

… to being selected as one of the smartest/most influential people in the field?

And they really want to know:

What tip, method, shortcut do you recommend to help others do the same?

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of these kinds of questions.

Can’t blame people for asking, though.

After all, I also want to learn from the people who’ve gone before me, the people who’ve succeeded in the way I hope to succeed.

But here’s the problem:

I could rhyme off a bunch of tips about my morning routine that allow me to run a business while being a father of four. But I don’t think they’ll matter much unless you’re also a father of four and already running a successful business.

Likewise, I don’t believe it was magical morning routines, or growth hacks, or tricks and tips that put me on the road to success in the first place.

In fact, I think it was something completely different.

Something that isn’t often talked about.

I call it “going down the rabbit hole”.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was a fresh Autumn day.

I was 21 years old, it was my first semester away at University, and I had an appointment with my first-ever guidance counselor.

I was ambitious, I had big goals, and I was excited to get some advice on how to plan my future.

I assumed the meeting would go something like this: He’d listen to me talk about my passions, about my goals, and he’d help me create an academic plan. Maybe even make suggestions for volunteer or internship opportunities.

As I gushed about my love for all things exercise and nutrition, about how it was my goal to have a successful career working with pro sports teams, athletes, and exercisers looking to eat, move, and live better, his face was stolid.

I was completely unprepared for what he said next:

“That’s nice… but there’s not much of a career in that for you. We have to be realistic here. There are too few jobs and the chances you’ll get one of them is almost zero. You’re a smart guy. Why don’t we sign you up for Pre-Med? Med school will be a great path for you.”

I walked out, head down, backpack dragging the ground behind me.

Days went by and, yes, the fog eventually lifted.

I figured… maybe he was wrong. Maybe I needed a second opinion. So, over the next few weeks, I asked around. Looking for a glimmer of hope.

Almost everyone gave the same advice.

Be sensible. Become a doctor. Forget this weird exercise obsession.

I was a 21-year-old from a blue-collar immigrant family. Who was I to not take advice from all these educated people? So I did the responsible, sensible thing. I signed up for Pre-Med, and I plotted my course to medical school.

At the same time, a part of me was mad. Really mad.

Who were they to tell me what my potential was? To squash my dream?

So, partly out of spite, but mostly out of this magnetic draw I felt towards health and fitness, sport and performance, I began living a double life.

I scraped together every dollar I had. During evenings and weekends I attended seminars covering fitness, nutrition, and sport related topics. I read everything. I wrote articles for free; I volunteered with gyms and sports teams.

Throughout, I still fully expected to attend med school.

But, eventually, some strange and interesting paths opened up.

I found a peer group that was passionate about the things I was interested in. (Surprise: I didn’t find them in my 4th year Chemistry and Physics classes.) And I stumbled upon formal and informal mentors.

Almost magically, more opportunities appeared, including offers to attend grad school in Exercise Science and Nutritional Biochemistry. Invitations to coach high-level athletes. Contracts to write for influential publications.

Still, after graduating with my Pre-Med degree (and minors in Philosophy and Psychology), it was no small feat to turn down the Med School offers. The voices were still in my head. But I did.

And instead of going to Med School…

I fell down the health, fitness, and nutrition rabbit hole.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize:

Before Doctor Berardi, before Precision Nutrition, before I could have ever seen where it all would take me, I did something that many people felt unwise: I followed my passion.

Not because it was part of some master plan. But because everything I learned about health, fitness and nutrition made me want to learn more.

So, although I didn’t quit my day job, I didn’t quit dreaming either.

Instead of fighting my own intrinsic motivation, I went with it.

Instead of paddling upstream, I went with the current.

I rode the horses in the direction they were going.

I went down the rabbit hole.

And here I am today.

The hidden costs of having “A Master Plan”.

When it comes to our careers, our relationships, even our health and fitness, we’re often taught to plot very strategically.

Whether it’s from guidance counselors, business advisors, teachers, courses, e-books, blogs, podcasts, well-intentioned parents, or (seemingly) the whole Internet, we’re taught that we need to plan our path down to every step.

(“Life hackers” and proponents of “accelerated learning” teach us that we can even leapfrog a few of these steps. Bonus!)

So, that’s what we do.

We make checklists, knock off each item, rush to completion, and pray that our calculated maneuvering will lead to success or accomplishment or connection (or whatever we think we’ll need to feel happy).

Unfortunately, this particular approach may have a cost.

It might prevent us from experiencing some of the best, brightest, and most unexpectedly rewarding moments in life.

Even worse, it might prevent us from deep learning and mastery, which has been proven to give us satisfaction, meaning, and, if you’re a competitive person, a “leg up on the competition”.

Here’s an approach I like much better.

I’ve found that there’s tremendous joy — and surprising, unexpected rewards — that come from “going down the rabbit hole”.

From looking deeply, intensely at something you’re really passionate about.

From learning everything you can about it.

And from going “all in”.

If there is a formula for the kind of success most people want, even if they don’t know what that looks like yet, it might be something like this:

Strong personal mission
          +
High competency
          +
System for execution
          =
Personal and career satisfaction

Have a look around.

You’ll find there’s almost nothing more powerful than someone with a deeply held motivation to do their work plus high level of skill plus a blueprint or system for executing every day.

Most people (in any field) have only one or two of those.

In some cases, that might be enough.

However, if you have all three, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

It doesn’t even matter where you’re starting from, or in what career you begin.

It’s interesting to note that most of the people on the Precision Nutrition team started in totally different fields:

  • Precision Nutrition co-founder Phil Caravaggio:
    Started as a software engineer.
  • Curriculum developer Krista Scott-Dixon:
    Started as a college professor in a different field.
  • Coach and exercise director Craig Weller:
    Started in the Navy special operations forces.
  • Coach and client care specialist Krista Schaus:
    Started as a police officer.
  • Coach Brian St. Pierre:
    Started at his dad’s paint store.
  • Client care specialist Sarah Masi:
    Started in a house cleaning business.

Then there are the thousands of Precision Nutrition Certification graduates.

In the last 6 months I’ve met:

  • mothers coaching online while on maternity leave,
  • graduates fresh out of school ready to do something meaningful,
  • boomers coming out of retirement to give something back,
  • surgeons dropping their scalpels and turning to preventative care,
  • investment bankers leaving the financial world, and helping others lead healthier lives.

None of these folks would have guessed their future would include working in health and fitness, coaching clients, and changing lives.

But here they are today.

And let’s not forget the reason they’re here…

Each did something that most people don’t.

They went “all in” on learning about their passion.

Even before they quit their day jobs.

Even before deciding:

“Yes, this is going to be my next career!”

They learned everything there is to know for the sheer joy of it. They talked to the best experts. They did courses and certifications.

They went down the rabbit hole.

And they had a blast doing it.

Then came the unintended, unexpected rewards.

The inevitable paths and opportunities that seem to magically appear; the stuff you can’t possibly know about when you’re just starting out.

Stuff like:

  • The satisfaction of learning everything there is to know about something meaningful to you.
  • The deep personal pride that comes from putting in countless hours and finally mastering that thing.
  • The surprising career paths that spring up, almost magically, opportunities you never knew existed or never considered right for you, and
  • The unexpected joy you never thought you could get from work.

However, that’s all stuff for later.

For now, you just have to start, from wherever you are.

Take whatever your passion is, whatever you’re excited about, whatever you’re hesitating on, whatever your inner voice tells you to explore and…

…go explore THAT thing.

Go down the rabbit hole.

You won’t be worse off.

Chances are, it’ll change your life.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. ‘Fess up to yourself.

You probably already know what that ‘thing’ is; the one that lights you up and makes you tick.

It’s the thing you can’t stop reading about and researching, just for fun, even when it’s late at night and you know it’s really time to go to bed.

It’s the thing you can’t stop talking about… maybe the thing you’re driving your family members nuts about because you just can’t shut up about it.

It’s the thing you’re totally hooked on. You can’t get enough. You might even say you’re a little bit obsessed.

That thing? Embrace it.

You don’t necessarily have to plan a career change or do anything drastic. Just give yourself permission to ‘go down the rabbit hole’ of learning, exploration and experimentation.

2. Look for role models.

Who’s already doing what you would like to be doing? Who is inspiring or fascinating to you?

Watch for the people who are involved in the field or a subject that interests you.

Is there a way to learn from them, watch them, talk with them, or ask questions?

Don’t just expect them to give you the magic formula. But take advantage of every opportunity to observe and learn.

And don’t discount people who aren’t on Instagram or getting all the attention, either. Ask yourself: Who else is working in this industry? Who else can I learn from?

Cast a wide net. Aim to observe and learn all you can.

3. Put your hand up.

Look for opportunities to ask questions, get feedback, and learn all you can.

Attend a lecture and participate in the Q&A.

Write letters to your role models.

Volunteer.

Do stuff: Write articles, join projects, conduct experiments. Do it for free, in your spare time. Do it in the name of learning, and for the joy of it.

Don’t worry too much about the payoff now. Just plant the seeds.

4. Continue your education.

Education doesn’t just have to come from traditional schooling (not that there’s anything wrong with that). These days, plenty of options are available, for just about any industry.

If you ask me, there’s never been a better time to learn anything. Courses, books, certifications, master classes… the world is your educational oyster.

The trick: choose educational opportunities from places that are proven, who you trust and respect. Take your time and do your research.

And then, after you’ve signed up, make sure to show up.

And go all in.

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutritionand the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Forget “career hacks”… Here’s the real key to career success that almost no one is talking about. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

If you believe the buzz, ketosis—whether via the almost-zero-carb ketogenic diet or via ketone supplements—can curb appetite, enhance performance, and cure nearly any health problem that ails you. Sound too good to be true? It probably is.

++++

Wouldn’t it be awesome if butter and bacon were “health foods”?

Maybe with a side of guacamole and some shredded cheese on top?

“I’m doing this for my health,” you could purr virtuously, as you topped your delectably marbled, medium-rare steak with a fried egg.

Well, many advocates of the ketogenic diet argue exactly that: By eating a lot of fat and close to zero carbohydrates you too can enjoy enhanced health, quality of life, performance, brain function, and abs you can grate that cheese on.

So, in this article, we’ll explore:

  • What are ketones, and what is ketosis?
  • What, exactly, is a ketogenic diet?
  • What evidence and scientific research supports the ketogenic diet?
  • Do ketone supplements work?
  • Is the ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation right for me?

How to read this article

If you’re just curious about ketogenic diets:

  • Feel free to skim and learn whatever you like.

If you want to change your body and/or health:

  • You don’t need to know every detail. Just get the general idea.
  • Check out our advice at the end.

If you’re an athlete interested in performance:

  • Pay special attention to the section on athletic performance.
  • Check out our advice for athletes at the end.

If you’re a fitness pro, or interested in geeking out with nutritional science:

  • We’ve given you some “extra credit” material in sidebars throughout.
  • Check out our advice for fitness pros at the end.

It all started with the brain.

If you’ve called Client Care at Precision Nutrition, you might have spoken to Lindsay.

Aside from being an incredibly helpful and friendly voice on the other end of the phone, Lindsay is also a tireless advocate for a health condition that has shaped her life in many ways: epilepsy.

Epilepsy is an ancient brain phenomenon, known to medicine thousands of years ago. To manage it, our Neolithic ancestors drilled holes in one another’s skulls, perhaps trying to let the bad stuff out—a practice known as trepanation.

Around 400 BCE, the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates observed a man who had seizures for five days. On the sixth day, he noted, as the patient “abstained from everything, both gruel and drink, there were no further seizures.”

About 1,400 years later, in 1000 CE, the famous Persian physician Avicenna—who coined the term “epilepsy”, from the ancient Greek verb epilambanein (to seize or attack, as the neurological condition caused seizures), speculated that “overfeeding” might be a risk factor for epilepsy.

By 1911, a pair of Parisian doctors were trying fasting as a treatment for children with epilepsy, and in the United States, physical culturist Bernarr McFadden was claiming that fasting for three days to three weeks could cure anything.

Despite not having the tools and insight of modern neuroscience, these and other people who explored fasting and dietary prescriptions for neurological disorders were on to something.

We now know that there may be a dietary connection
—not just between epilepsy and what we eat (or don’t), but also with many other brain disorders.

Unfortunately, fasting isn’t fun. We evolved with a pretty strong aversion to starvation, and our brains and GI tracts have lots of ways to make sure we eat enough.

Which raises the question:

Could we get the health benefits of fasting another way?

In other words:

Could there be “fasting without fasting”?

In 1921, two things happened.

One: Endocrinology researcher Rollin Woodyatt noted that the same chemical environment happened with both starvation and a diet that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in fat.

Two: Dr. Russell Wilder wondered:

Could a person get the health benefits of fasting without actually fasting?

He and other doctors at the Mayo Clinic experimented with what Wilder called the “ketogenic diet” during the early 1920s. Not only did children with epilepsy seem to improve overall with this type of diet, they seemed to think and behave better as well.

Proven by several notable medical authorities, a ketogenic diet as a treatment for childhood epilepsy found its way into medical textbooks by around 1940, and stayed there throughout the 20th century.

Nowadays, aging, contact sports, and modern warfare present us with new populations of people whose brains might benefit from a ketogenic diet:

  • people with neurodegenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s); and
  • people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) from events such as explosions or concussions.

First the brain, then the body.

There was another group of people who became curious about ketogenic diets some time in the 1980s and 1990s: bodybuilders and physique athletes.

These folks weren’t too concerned about brain health or longevity. They wanted to be ripped.

The ketogenic diet seemed like a magic bullet: a way to eat butter, bacon and cream, and still get abs.

Today, what’s old is new again.

Physique- and performance-conscious people, as well as people looking to maximize lifespan and life quality, have rediscovered this old-school dietary paradigm and are wondering:

  • Could a ketogenic diet help me perform better?
  • Could a ketogenic diet help me live longer?
  • Could a ketogenic diet help me look great on the beach?

The answer?

It depends. (Don’t you hate that? But it’s true.)

To understand why, we’ll look at:

  • the science of ketosis;
  • what a ketogenic diet looks like in “real life”;
  • who it might work for (and might not work for); and
  • what this means for you.

Let’s start by clarifying just what a ketogenic diet is.

What does a ketogenic diet look like?

It might be hard to translate “low carb, high fat” into everyday foods.

To give you a better idea of the ketogenic diet in real life, here’s a comparison:

Protein Carb Fat
PN Mixed Meal  ~30% ~40% ~30%
Paleo Meal ~40% ~20% ~40%
Low-Carb Meal ~40% ~10% ~50%
Ketogenic Meal ~20% ~5% ~75%

And here’s what that might look like translated into meals.

2016.08-Composition-of-the-ketogenic-diet-1.3

Notice a few things.

Protein

For the first three meals, protein is more or less the same, with a little variation.

Ketogenic diets, on the other hand, include less protein—usually closer to 10 or 20 percent of total daily intake.

Extremely low in carbohydrates

The Precision Nutrition plate suggests high-fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, and starchy vegetables.

The Paleo plate may contain slightly fewer carbohydrates (early human diets often had plenty of them), but eliminates the grains and beans / legumes.

The “low carb” plate will have fewer carbohydrates than the first two, but still have a small amount, likely from vegetables.

The ketogenic meal shoots for near-zero carbs. Most estimates suggest around 10-15 grams of carbs a day. To give you an idea of what this looks like, that’s about one fist-sized portion of cooked carrots, or about 10-15 grapes. For the whole day.

Very high in fat

The Precision Nutrition plate suggests about 1-2 thumb-sized portions of fat-dense foods (like nuts, cheese, avocado, olive oil, etc.) per meal, depending on body size, activity level, and goals.

The Paleo and low-carb plates may be roughly similar, with a little variation.

We might call all three of these “moderate fat”. Indeed, some indigenous diets (aka variations on the “Paleo” concept) are often quite low in fat, especially saturated fat.

The ketogenic meal, on the other hand, is high fat—even up to 90 percent of total energy intake. That means if you’re eating a 500-calorie spinach and mushroom salad, you get about 2 thumb-sized pieces of chicken breast on top, and then pour about 3-4 glugs of olive oil on top… Yum yum!

Highly restrictive

A ketogenic diet is the most restrictive and limited of all four of these styles of eating. Here’s what you can eat on a ketogenic diet:

A small amount of protein, such as:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • seafood
  • eggs

A large amount of high-fat foods, such as:

  • avocado
  • coconut and coconut milk or oil
  • olive oil and any other oil
  • nuts and nut butters
  • bacon
  • egg yolks
  • butter
  • cheese

A very small amount of very-low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as:

  • leafy greens
  • brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
  • asparagus
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini

Here’s what you can’t eat on a ketogenic diet:

  • Most dairy (except high-fat items like butter and certain cheeses)
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes)
  • Slightly-sweet vegetables such as winter squash, beets, or carrots
  • Most processed foods (with the notable exception of pork rinds)

So, let’s recap:

Ketogenic menus:

  • Vary in the proportion of protein but are generally low.
  • Stay as close to no-carb as possible.
  • Are very high in fat.
  • Are very limited in food choices.

So why go to all this effort?

Well, for particular groups of people, ketosis may indeed be helpful.

(For other people, of course, it may not be helpful… and it may be actively harmful. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.)

To understand why this is true, let’s look at how ketosis actually works.

What is ketosis?

The role of ketones

Ketones are a group of organic compounds with a specific structure.

The term “ketone” was actually coined around 1850 by German chemist Leopold Gmelin, along with the term “ester”. (See? Not as new as you’d think!)

We can use two types of ketones as energy sources, acetoacetate and D-β-hydroxybutyrate. (The β sign means “beta”.)

Our body can make ketones through a complex biochemical pathway.

The pathway to ketosis

Put very simply, when the conditions are right (for instance, during starvation or fasting, or when our carb intake is very low):

  • Our body releases fatty acids from our stored body fat.
  • These fatty acids enter other cells.
  • Fatty acids are combined with co-enzyme A to form acetyl-CoA chains.
  • These chains move into the mitochondria (our cells’ energy factories).
  • The chains are broken down into acetyl-CoA units by a sequence of reactions known as β-oxidation.
  • Chemical magic happens.
  • Acetyl-CoA forms your friends the ketones: acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate, along with acetone (the same smelly stuff in your nail polish remover).
  • Ketones are released by the liver into the blood.
  • Almost any cell that needs energy can grab it from these circulating ketones. Again, our brain will be the greediest for these nummy little molecules.
Let’s take an even deeper look

The shape and orientation of molecules is important.

Stereoisomers are molecules with the same chemical makeup, but different shapes and configurations. You can imagine your right hand as a “stereoisomer” of your left: they both share the same components, just arranged differently.

Shape and orientation matter to molecules and their actions, just like having right-handed and left-handed gloves or shoes matters.

The ketone D-β-hydroxybutyrate is not the same as its stereoisomer L-β-hydroxybutyrate.

This difference in molecular configuration matters for several parts of the conversion process.

For instance, when D-β-hydroxybutyrate is converted back to acetyl-CoA, its intermediate form D-β-hydroxybutyrate-CoA isn’t the same thing as L-β-hydroxybutyrate-CoA (an intermediate of β- oxidation).

Each stereoisomer uses different enzymes for conversion, much like each lock has its own unique key.

This difference also matters for ketone supplementation (see below).

You want to supplement the right stereoisomer, rather than a random pile of ketone types. Usually in test tube chemistry, you get a mix of stereoisomers (often around half one type, and half another type), unlike our body, which only uses and makes one version. 

Ketosis happens when blood ketones are higher than normal either through dietary changes (which lead to very low blood glucose) or through supplementation (independent of blood glucose concentrations).

Some people like to think of ketone bodies as the fourth energy source for humans (in addition to carbohydrates, fats and proteins).

That’s technically true, but the alcohol in booze (aka ethanol) can also be used for energy. Just because we can metabolize something doesn’t always mean we should.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Ketosis, which just means having more ketone bodies than normal, should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a potentially dangerous metabolic situation of uncontrolled ketosis.

Normally, our body is very good at self-regulating.

If it senses acid levels rising (as happens in ketosis), it responds by buffering with more alkaline molecules (such as bicarbonate), changing blood levels of CO2, absorbing hydrogen ions, or telling the kidneys to excrete more dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.

However, if for some reason our body can’t compensate, and blood pH drops below about 7.35 (in other words, becoming more acidic), we’re in trouble.

This usually happens in diabetics and alcoholics, since their normal metabolic mechanisms may not work properly.

For the average healthy person, dietary ketosis or even brief fasting is generally safe

How do we get into ketosis?

Method 1: Ketogenesis

We can make our own ketone bodies naturally, through the process of ketogenesis.

Our ancestors kicked off ketogenesis the good old fashioned way: by starving. About 72 hours into starvation, ketogenesis is happening and you’re in ketosis. Congratulations!

Ketosis is essentially an effect of fasting. This means that many of the health effects of fasting may be due to ketosis itself, rather than something like energy restriction.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Interestingly, how quickly ketosis happens varies by age and species.

Other mammals don’t seem to go into ketosis nearly as quickly as humans (your friendly neighborhood hibernating bear or squirrel who doesn’t eat for weeks to months at a time? No ketosis.)

Babies, on the other hand, go into ketosis within a few hours of not eating.

This may have to do with our energy-hungry human brains. About 20 percent of our overall energy intake is devoted to feeding our brains. Although bears and squirrels are clever enough to get into the garbage, they don’t have brains as large as we do.

It seems that ketogenesis is a human backup system that provides enough energy (via ketone bodies) to the ol’ noggin in times of starvation.

And it may be this particular evolutionary adaptation—which perhaps began as a way to keep the thinking factory upstairs working when food was scarce—that also enables the brain-benefiting effects of the ketogenic diet. 

Stored glucose (our sugar-based fuel) is actually rather heavy. We don’t carry around much of it. Our body prefers to store most of our excess energy as body fat.

When we eat normally, our brain gets enough energy from glucose that can easily pass the blood-brain barrier.

When we stop eating, we run out of stored glucose (as glycogen) within 2-3 days (faster if we’re active), and have to find some other fuel source.

By the way, the relative heaviness of stored glycogen is why many people report fast weight loss on a ketogenic or low-carb diet: their body has dumped a little extra weight in the form of glycogen and water (which tags along with glycogen in a 3 parts water to 1 part glycogen ratio). Unfortunately, this water and glycogen comes right back once we start eating normally again.

Method 2: A ketogenic diet

Most people frown on starving children with epilepsy, so a ketogenic diet is the next best thing.

By cutting off the body’s carbohydrate (aka glucose) supply, but providing energy and nutrients in the form of fat (plus a little protein), we can get the same effects as straight-up starvation: ketosis.

As with starvation, it usually takes some time to get into ketosis once we stop eating carbs.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Many people like to measure their ketosis with Ketostix, which test for ketones in the urine. This is not always a reliable indicator, since all it tells you is whether you’re excreting excess ketones, not whether you’re actually in ketosis per se.

In addition, Ketostix only measure the presence of excreted acetoacetate, not the presence of D-β-hydroxybutyrate.

Over time, our body’s excretion of ketones can change, even if we’re still in ketosis. Therefore, you may see different readings on the Ketostix, regardless of what is actually happening in your body. 

Method 3: Supplement with ketones

If ketones are what we want, why not just take them instead of making our own by fasting or cutting out carbohydrates?

Great idea, and totally new… except it isn’t.

As early as 1953, there were studies looking into whether we could “artificially” produce ketosis by supplementation.

Today, we know that by supplementing with ketone bodies (usually D-β-hydroxybutyrate or certain esters) you can raise the level of ketone bodies in the blood without being in ketogenesis.

This has a lot of cool possibilities. If ketone supplementation can give us the health benefits of ketosis without us having to fast / starve or follow a very restrictive diet, that could be a win-win.

Unfortunately, we still don’t have conclusive human studies on this that would give us clear direction. Check back in 10 years.

Is ketone supplementation effective?

The buzz is that ketone supplements can make you thin and cure whatever ails you. But what you read about in the media or on the interwebs isn’t always what scientists actually found in the lab.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think ketone supplementation just started. Actually, research on this topic goes back to the 1950s. All of it has been conducted using rats. Here are the findings.

Weight loss

D-β-hydroxybutyrate supplementation made some types of rats eat less and lose weight, but not other types of rats.

Some evidence kinda sorta indicates that D-β-hydroxybutyrate supplementation might activate brown fat (a metabolically active fat that is, in part, responsible for thermogenic adaptations) via the sympathetic nervous system, but there was no follow-up.

Blood glucose regulation

Another showed that ketone supplementation with either 1, 3-butanediol acetoacetate diester or sodium/potassium β-hydroxybutyrate decreased blood glucose with no changes in cholesterol or blood triglycerides (the not-so-great side effects of the ketogenic diet).

Traumatic brain injury

In one study, infusing D-β-hydroxybutryate into adult rats after traumatic brain injuries showed improved energy (ATP) levels.

In another study, D-β-hydroxybutryate didn’t improve things and actually caused damage to the blood-brain barrier, even in healthy rats.

Epilepsy

New evidence suggests that it may not be D-β-hydroxybutryate or acetoacetate preventing seizures; rather, it might be the relatively short-chain fatty acids (nanoeic and decanoic acids) in the diets when on a ketogenic diet crossing the blood-brain barrier, inhibiting seizures.

But in another study that exposed rats to high-pressure oxygen containing ketone esters such as R,S-1,3-butanediol acetoacetate diester, the rodents saw increased blood β-hydroxybutryate and decreased seizures.

Cancer

A recent study found that ketone supplementation extended survival in mice with metastatic cancer. But while it’s true that most cancers have a highly anaerobic metabolism, this in not universal. If proven to be effective, it’s likely that ketone supplementation would be an additional treatment rather than a stand alone treatment for cancer, because of its robust nature.

For now, almost no studies on ketone supplementation have used human clinical trials. So if anyone tells you that ketone supplementation is a miracle cure, ask if you can get some for your pet rat… if it’s the right kind of rat. 

Will ketosis help me?

Ketogenesis and ketosis are easy to study.

All you have to do is starve people, or feed them a high-fat/low-carb diet, and wait. Then you see if it changes whatever you’re interested in fixing.

Since we’ve known about fasting and ketosis for quite a long time, and it’s relatively easy to research, there are probably good reasons why it’s not yet considered a miracle cure.

And it’s not because Big Pharma or Carbohydrate Corporation or The Cancer Conspiracy have vested interests. (Trust me, we scientists can barely keep the grad students from contaminating the super-purified water by leaving the lid off the jug, never mind organize an evil cabal of ketosis deniers.)

To be fair, the introduction of anti-epileptic drugs in the late 1930s onward did lead to less interest in dietary ketosis as a treatment for epileptic children.

But we don’t yet use ketosis (or ketone supplementation) to fix everything from muffin tops to hangnails because:

  • For many populations, ketosis has little or no effect.
  • It may only work for particular types of people, with particular needs and health conditions.
  • It may take too long to see a measurable effect.
  • For many people, a ketogenic diet is too hard to consistently follow.

That being said, here are some interesting and promising new avenues for ketosis… as well as some “don’t bother” examples.

Probable benefit: Metabolic diseases

We know that fasting is often an effective short-term treatment for metabolic dysfunction such as poor glucose control / early Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, or hypertension.

We don’t know for sure yet whether this is because of ketosis or some other mechanism (such as programmed cell death, aka apoptosis).

However, research suggests that in some cases, such as type 2 diabetes, ketosis may be useful as a short-term treatment or a “boost” that helps return metabolic processes back to a more normal and well-regulated state.

In these specific situations, a ketogenic diet or a structured intermittent fasting program done under close medical supervision for a specific objective, may be a useful as part of a multi-pronged treatment program that probably should include other therapeutic tools such as medication or other well-established health procedures.

Notice all our italics here. What we mean is:

  • Don’t use ketosis or fasting alone to try to cure stuff.
  • Don’t use ketosis or fasting just to randomly “get healthy”.
  • “Medical supervision” does not mean Dr. Google.

Verdict: Could help in some cases, but should be done with a clear purpose and carefully monitored. Not a long-term “cure-all” for most people.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Why does ketosis seem to help some types of metabolic dysfunction?

Ketones may help, in part, because they decrease oxidative stress, boost antioxidants and scavenge free radicals.

Oxidation is a natural part of cellular metabolism, but too much oxidation, too fast, without the balance of antioxidants, contributes to many metabolic and other diseases.

Many metabolic disorders are related to this process of oxidation, in which our cells essentially “rust” from the inside. If we can slow and regulate oxidation, it may improve our health and longevity. 

Probable benefit: Neurodegeneration and brain injuries

We know ketosis for epilepsy is a win—can ketosis help other types of brain illnesses and injuries?

Recent research suggests that many brain disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among other neurodegenerative diseases) are related to other metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

These metabolic and neourodegenerative diseases show common features, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. In fact, Alzheimer’s is now often described as “diabetes of the brain”, or “Type 3 diabetes”.

The presence of ketones also seems to improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, right now, most of these studies have been done on rats.

Still, based on what we’ve seen with epilepsy and rat studies, chances are good that ketones may be a low-risk treatment—and perhaps even a preventive strategy—to improve brain health. See above about getting medical supervision from someone other than Dr. Google.

Verdict: Probably can’t hurt, might help people with neurodegeneration and/or mild to moderate brain injury.

Unclear benefit: Longevity

We know that caloric restriction (CR) improves longevity in most organisms studied. We know that intermittent fasting seems to have some of the same benefits, sometimes.

But right now, we don’t know if ketosis works the same way.

The real question here is: Who’s willing to find out?

Would you stick to a ketogenic diet in the name of advancing knowledge, achieving scientific glory as a “ketonaut”? Most of us wouldn’t.

Plus, without a control group (say, your identical twin who lives exactly the same lifestyle as you, in the exact same environment, with only your diets being different), it’s hard to know for sure whether your 100th birthday was due to ketosis or something else.

For now, any longevity benefits would be mostly speculative. And your 100th birthday cake would have to be a block of butter.

Verdict: You could try this one and get your next of kin to report back… but most people wouldn’t want to.

Interesting, but probably no advantage for most people: Athletic performance

Athletes need fuel to perform.

Could we possibly enable people to tap into their stored body fat more effectively, and require less re-fueling from stuff like sugary energy gels?

Ketosis lets you avoid glycogen depletion (aka bonking, hitting the wall), because you aren’t using glycogen as your energy source, so you don’t need to take in carbs as you compete. Instead you’re using fat and ketone bodies. You increase fat oxidation, spare glycogen, produce less lactate and use less oxygen at submaximal rates.

All this sounds great, but the exercise physiologists’ consensus is that while all these adaptations are true, the problem is that with fat and ketone bodies as fuel, you’re not going to go as fast as you can when using with glucose and carbohydrates.

The bottom line for athletes is performance, and so far there is only one very new study showing a small improvement in cyclist’s performance with ketone supplementation combined with carbohydrate supplementation (compared to just carbohydrate supplementation alone).

It seems that combining ketones with carbs, rather than exclusively using one or the other, might offer some benefit.

Cutting Edge Research: Carb + Ketone Supplementation Improve Aerobic Performance

A recent study compared the effect of drinking just carbs to drinking carbs + ketones in male and female elite cyclists.

After not eating overnight (about 16 hours) the cyclists came to the lab and drank either a carb drink or a carb + ketone (c + k) drink.

Carb drink:

  • 40% dextrose
  • 40% fructose
  • 20% maltodextrin

C + k drink

  • 60% dextrose
  • 40% ketone ((R)-hydroxybutyl (R) -3-hydroxybutyrate ketone ester).

Total amount of substrate in both drinks were 573 mg/kg body weight.

The cyclists drank half of their drink, rode for 1 hour at 75% of their max power output. Then they drank the other half of their drink and biked as far as they could in 30 minutes.

After a week, the cyclist repeated the experiment with the opposite drink.

Results

When drinking the c + k drink the cyclists biked, on average, 2 percent (400 meters) farther longer over the 30 minutes.

There were some metabolic differences to note in with the c+k drink:

  • less lactate
  • more fatty acids in the blood
  • more D- β- hydroxybutyrate

Bottom line: Supplementing with a combination of carbohydrates and ketones may improve performance in aerobic competitions. 

Verdict: Some intriguing possibilities, particularly for aerobic performance, but to date there very little evidence to improve overall athletic performance.

No real advantage: Losing fat

Oh, insulin, you naughty monkey! You have been getting yourself in so much trouble lately!

Low-carb advocates in the late 1990s and early 2000s thought maybe they had stumbled on the key to fighting flab: insulin. Insulin is mainly a storage hormone: Its job is basically to help nutrients get into cells.

The low-carb / insulin hypothesis, dramatically oversimplified, went like this:

  • Insulin makes stuff go into cells.
  • Stuff that goes into fat cells makes us fat.
  • If we don’t help stuff go into cells, then we won’t get fat. We might even lose fat.
  • Carbs (in their digested form of glucose) stimulate insulin release.
  • Therefore eating fewer carbs = less body fat.

Now, this theory did have some merits.

For one thing, it got some of us unhooked from processed sugary and starchy treats, and thinking more about fiber content and healthy fats.

Unfortunately, insulin is not the only player. There’s never only one player in the team sport and complex system that is your body.

Nor does insulin act alone. Energy storage is governed largely by our brain, not a single hormone.

The other upside to the low-carb approach was that people often ate more protein and more fat. When we eat protein and fat, we release satiety hormones, particularly CCK, which is one of the main hormones that tells us we’re full.

More protein and fat means we’re often less hungry. Which means we eat less. Which means we lose fat. It’s the “eating less” part (not the insulin part) that actually matters.

On top of this, if you’ll recall, carbohydrates are relatively heavy to store. Lower the carb intake, and our body will eventually release some water and glycogen.

Result: Weight loss. Magic!

Yet being in ketosis doesn’t seem to have any special advantage for losing body fat (rather than just weight), especially if we consider the lifestyle and behavior aspect to this.

You may find it easy to eat less when all you can eat is protein and fat. But after a while, you may grow tired of bringing your own whole salmon to parties, and wonder what the other 95% of the grocery store is up to. You may start to have fantasies about a threesome: you, Oreos, and chocolate sauce. Not only that, you may be getting some serious scurvy and other nutrient deficiencies.

For women in particular, lowering carbohydrate intake seems to have negative effects.

Women’s bodies go on high alert faster when they sense less energy and fewer nutrients coming in. Many women have found that the low-carb diet that worked great for their husband not only didn’t work for them, but it knocked out their menstrual cycle on the way out the door.

Verdict: We don’t recommend the ketogenic diet for sustainable fat loss.

Let’s take an even deeper look

As part of the carb-insulin hypothesis, people thought that maybe metabolism would also increase during ketosis.

A recent study looked at whether or not there was a significant increase in metabolic rate when going from a high-carbohydrate diet (48% carbohydrate) to a ketogenic diet (6% carbohydrate), with protein being the same (around 16-17%).

With this dietary change, insulin went down while fatty acids and ketone bodies went up. Basal metabolism (energy expenditure) went up by about 100 kcal per day.

Seems obviously good—but not so fast.

Figuring out what this actually means is complicated.

Researchers had to correct metabolism based on body weight, which as you’ve read, tends to drop when water is lost on low-carb diets.

The authors concluded that while there was a small increase in metabolism initially, that disappeared over the four weeks while insulin levels were still low.

So their study didn’t support the insulin-carb hypothesis.

Is protein actually the key factor?

The authors of the study think that differences found in other studies comparing high and low-carb diets are because of differences in protein intake rather than carbohydrate intake in those studies.

Protein promotes satiety and takes the most energy to digest and absorb, so differences in weight loss may be net calories absorbed, rather than decreases in insulin or increases in metabolism.

Definitely no advantage: Gaining lean mass

As you may have read above, insulin is mainly a storage hormone. It’s also considered an anabolic hormone. As in building things. As in getting swole.

For the most part, we need insulin—along with other hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone—to create an anabolic, muscle-building environment. Trying to build muscle while in ketosis is like stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time.

However, as with athletic performance, we may discover that there is some benefit to supplementary ketones while building muscle. We don’t know yet.

Verdict: Build muscle with a more appropriately anabolic diet that includes carbohydrates (particularly around training), and supplement with ketones if you want to experiment.

What this means for you

If you’re a “regular person” who just wants to be healthy and fit:

  • Enjoy reading about ketosis if you like. Try it, if you’re curious. But you can be perfectly fit, lean, and healthy without it.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. (Except this article, of course.) Remember that the plural of “personal anecdote” is not “scientific data”. Be a critical reader and consumer.

If you’re an athlete:

  • Know your body and the demands of your sport. Unless you’re an ultra-endurance athlete, becoming fat-adapted or adopting a ketogenic diet probably won’t improve your performance.
  • Don’t add stress. Training is a good stress, but still a stressor. Fasting and restricting energy (i.e. calories) or a particular nutrient are also stressors. Stress adds up. Don’t add nutritional stress from a stringent diet to the mix, particularly if you’re female.
  • Make meeting your nutritional needs your priority. If you’re active, you need more fuel and nutrients than the average person. Rather than taking stuff out of your diet, look for where you can add good stuff in: protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, phytonutrients, water, etc. from whole, minimally processed foods.

If you’re a fitness professional / nutrition coach:

  • Understand the basics of ketosis, ketogenic diets, and ketone supplementation. Know when, how, and for whom ketosis might be appropriate. If in doubt, learn more from trusted medical and research sources—which, again, does not include random people of the Internets.
  • Help people understand as much as they need to understand in order to make an informed choice, with your guidance. Your clients will likely have questions. Prepare your answers in advance.
  • Refer out: If you think a client might benefit from a ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation for a health condition, work with their doctor to support things like meal planning and keeping a food journal that looks for correlations between diet and how they feel.

If you have a specific health problem that a ketogenic diet (or ketone supplementation) may help with:

  • Consult your doctor first. Discuss any research findings or potential dietary modifications with someone who actually went to med school. If you’re on any medications, make sure nothing you do will interfere with their effect.
  • Carefully monitor and track any dietary modifications. First, you want to stay safe; second, you want to know if what you’re doing is having any effect. So decide how you’ll know if your dietary changes are “working”, and track those indicators closely.

More to this than you realized?

After reading this article, you might feel like nutrition is more complex than you thought. We get it. In the age of 24/7 health news and fitness-celeb podcasts, it’s tough to get the real story.

If you’d like to learn more about nutrition, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. Our next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

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Arnott, Robert, Stanley Finger, and Chris Smith. Trepanation: History, Discovery, Theory. The Netherlands: Swets and Zeitlinger, 2003.

Asadi-Pooya AA, Nikseresht AR, Yaghoubi E. Old Remedies for Epilepsy: Avicenna’s Medicine. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. 2012;14(3):174-177.

Bailey EE, Pfeifer HH, Thiele EA. The use of diet in the treatment of epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2005 Feb;6(1):4-8.

Chang P, Augustin K, Boddum K, Williams S, Sun M, Terschak JA, Hardege JD, Chen PE, Walker MC, Williams RS. Seizure control by decanoic acid through direct  AMPA receptor inhibition. Brain. 2016 Feb;139(Pt 2):431-43.

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D’Agostino DP, Pilla R, Held HE, Landon CS, Puchowicz M, Brunengraber H, Ari
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Hall KD, Chen KY, Guo J, Lam YY, Leibel RL, Mayer LE, Reitman ML, Rosenbaum M, Smith SR, Walsh BT, Ravussin E. Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016.

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The post The Ketogenic Diet: Does it live up to the hype? The pros, the cons, and the facts about this not-so-new diet craze. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Losing 10 pounds. Running a half marathon. Getting six-pack abs. How do you turn short-term client goals into something meaningful, sustainable, and inspiring? Enter: deep health coaching, the revolutionary method that gets your clients the results they want, plus the results they need.

++++

Are you truly transforming your clients’ health?

Are you helping them thrive, in all aspects of life?

Sure, you may be helping them boost their bench press, feel confident on their beach vacation, or get sidewalk-cracking swole.

But what if we told you food and fitness—the domains of physical health—are only 16 percent of what determines your clients’ success? 

What if you could move beyond “12 week beach bod programs,” or “pre-wedding weight loss,” to something truly meaningful and sustainable, and even more inspiring?

After all… what happens to the beach bod at week 13?

Or by the 10th wedding anniversary?

Can your clients stay at or even grow beyond their goals without feeling deprived, hungry, and miserable?

Without turning food and fitness into a full-time job?

And without backsliding from short-lived pride and mirror selfies into enduring shame and baggy sweatshirts?

Is there a way that YOU can build a sustainable coaching business where you continually help people learn, grow, and improve… without having to constantly hustle new clients or start from scratch over and over?

Where your clients aren’t just okay with the quick-fix results they get… but transformed inside and out, to the point where they rave about you to their friends and family?

What if you could be a coaching alchemist… someone who turns superficial physical goals into substantive life gold?

After working with over 100,000 clients, we believe you can get more ambitious—and be more effective and fulfilled—with an approach that goes far beyond the superficial.

It’s called coaching for deep health.

This is when all domains of health are in sync, instead of just the physical.

It’s not only about how your clients look or perform.

It’s also about how they think, respond, solve problems, and deal with the world around them.

“Wait,” you might say. “I’m all for deep health, but my 4pm is here and they want to lose 20 pounds.”

Perfect.

Coaching for deep health will help you get them there faster and more easily than ever before—in a way that fits their life and is sustainable.

(That’s good for your clients.)

Their results will translate into glowing reviews, lots of referral business, and an invaluable sense of career fulfillment. 

(That’s good for you.)

++++

The six domains of deep health

Deep health doesn’t come from a pill or an operation.

Deep health comes from a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods. It comes from sufficient exercise combined with genuine rest. It comes from clean air and clean water.

And it comes from living with purpose and joy, and using your life as an expression of these things.

When you coach for deep health, you consider the multi-dimensional thriving of a whole person in their whole life

Not just body fat percentage and blood work, but also factors like how people think, feel, live, and connect to others.

Don’t worry: We’re not suggesting you master psychotherapy, or tackle the human condition.

We are suggesting you understand how healthy eating and lifestyle practices affect every aspect of your client’s well-being. And vice versa.

Here are the six domains of deep health.

These areas of health are deeply entwined and strongly connected.

You probably know how we feel can affect how we eat. (This is, after all, most people’s #1 nutrition challenge.)

You might have also noticed that people with supportive families, strong connections at their gyms, or welcoming fitness communities (such as running or cycling groups) are more likely to show up for their workouts.

Or that people with a clear purpose, self-stories that foster healthy activities, or the willingness to change suffering into action are more likely to stay motivated and succeed.

Every domain of deep health influences eating and exercise behaviors.

That’s what coaching for deep health is all about.

Let’s see how this might look in real life.

Example 1: Your client is a dedicated runner with an injury. 

They can’t run properly, which means they can’t train, and they’re getting deconditioned. That’s the current state of their physical health.

But because of this situation, they’re also:

  • feeling depressed and frustrated (emotional health)
  • lonely and disconnected, missing their weekend run clubs and races (relational health)
  • starting to wonder what the point of anything is (existential health)

Example 2: Your client works long hours at a high-stress job.

They sit at a desk (which affects their physical health via inactivity and back / neck pain), and they don’t get their proper sleep (physical health impact again)

Because of this situation, they’re also:

  • anxious and stressed, answering emails late at night (emotional health)
  • arguing with their partner about working too much (relational health)
  • spending most of their time in a windowless cubicle with takeout food a phone call away (environmental health)
  • on the cusp of a midlife crisis (existential health)

Now… here’s the really cool part:

The problems are connected… but so are the solutions.

Struggling in one domain of deep health usually means struggling in others.

But there’s a flip side here, too.

Improving one domain can also improve others.

This is the power of deep health coaching.

Maybe you help your injured client find alternative activities and mentally manage their pain.

For instance, you might introduce them to water sports or swimming. You help them normalize injury and work on rehab.

They get back to movement. They feel happier. They meet new friends at dragon boating or the local pool.

Or, maybe you give your stressed-out client some relaxation techniques, a bit of mobility work to do at their desk, and the number of a healthy meal delivery service. Plus, you empathize with their challenges.

They calm down a little, move more in their day, concentrate better, and (as a result of better focus and hence productivity) even find time to come home half an hour earlier, which makes their spouse happier.

Winning.

Pull a lever in one domain of deep health, and gears in other domains will also move.

Use the connections between deep health domains to your advantage. If one area is off-limits or temporarily broken, try another one.

Deep health looks different to everyone.

For a young stay-at-home parent, it could be balancing a certain pants size with weekly ice cream night with their kids.

For an elite powerlifter, it might be pushing their bench press without screwing up their shoulders or social life.

For a retiree in their 70s, it may be “mobility over medication”—staying off the blood pressure pills and enjoying long walks with their spouse.

That’s why your clients need coaching that’s individualized and thoughtful.

Deep health isn’t about rules or ideals.

It’s about exploration and invitation.

Explore your clients’ worlds to find areas for growth, improvement, and learning. Then, invite them to do that growth and learning along with you.

This offers you unlimited coaching possibilities… and a long-term, lucrative and fulfilling coaching relationship for both client and coach.

Coach for deep health… and better results

Where do you start?

Easy… just ask your clients. 

They can tell you where they need the most help, or where they want to flourish more.

Don’t think of this process as a diagnosis or an interrogation.

Instead, think of it more like opening a conversation, building a story, and deepening a coaching connection.

You can casually ask one of these questions, or all of them, if you want.

You can ask and intuit in various ways, gathering data from a range of client cues (for instance, their body language).

You can even make these questions part of your progress check-ins, if you like, using the questionnaire below.

(Download a printable copy to use for yourself or your clients.)

As you explore with your client, you’ll both gain valuable awareness.

Your client may start to notice where they’re living out of alignment with their deeper values and goals. Or where one domain is connected to another, in ways they’d never realized. (Example: “Gosh, on days I don’t get exercise, I’m really cranky”.)

Often, this simple awareness is enough to spark a conversation about change.

Or, you can guide clients more deliberately towards noticing what might need their attention. (Example: “I find that clients who have trouble sleeping also have trouble managing their appetite… Does that feel true for you?”)

Of course, as you probably know, telling clients what to do doesn’t work. So instead of evaluating your client’s questionnaire and giving them an “assignment,” ask them:

“What’s on your garbage list?”

These are behaviors you know are total “garbage” for your health, sanity, and well-being—but you do them anyway. Everyone’s got a few.

Weekend overeating, skipping recovery days, and not getting enough sleep are some of the most common garbage list items. But they could also be anything from engaging in negative self-talk to stocking the freezer with ice cream every Friday.

Asking about a client’s garbage list is a quick-and-dirty way to figure out where to prioritize your efforts, and get them on the path to deep health.

But it’s only just the beginning.

If you want to start to truly master this coaching philosophy, read on.

Ask the right questions… to find mind-blowing solutions.

After the initial assessment, you’ll probably have a good working hypothesis about your client’s deep health.

So as a coach, you have two roles to play at this point:

Deep health detective: Investigate. 

  • In which area(s) does it seem like there may be more to uncover?
  • Where is your client struggling most?

Deep health sherpa: Guide. 

  • Don’t “fix,” but enhance your client’s awareness.
  • Collaborate to explore where they can seek help—or come up with their own solutions (with some supportive coaching).

In short: Let your client tell you what they need in order to see results. 

Below is a handy quick-start conversation guide to help you accomplish that. There are a couple ways to use it.

Option 1: Work your way through each question, searching for places where you want to dig deeper. In those areas, use the followup questions to find out more.

Option 2: Skip right to the question that pertains to the area where your client needs the most help. Use the initial question to start a conversation, then dive into the followup questions to get more detailed.

In both cases, you can use the “action-focused thinking” questions to help your client start brainstorming solutions.

They don’t have to make any decisions about how to change things right away, but these questions will help get the process started. 

Deep Health Domain #1

Physical health: “How do you feel physically?”

Sometimes people can tell you clearly and specifically about their food, exercise, health, mobility/pain, and overall recovery.

For instance, maybe they’ll say “I’m freaking exhausted because I work 12-hour shifts. My knees hurt from lots of standing on the job. I have no energy to cook, and so I eat convenience-store crap.”

Great! Now you have a solid direction.

Sometimes they can’t tell you what’s up. Or they’ll say “Meh, okay, I guess.”

If that happens, no problem. Try some of the followup questions below and see what your client says. If you’re not making progress, you can always focus on a different area.

Potential followup questions

  • Learn more about nutrition struggles: “What’s your biggest nutrition challenge right now?
  • Find obstacles to movement: “How do you feel when you exercise?”
  • Action-focused thinking: “What’s keeping you from getting the body you really want?”

Deep Health Domain #2

Emotional health: “How are you doing emotionally?”

This can be difficult to talk about, but it matters. How your client feels emotionally on a day-to-day basis can impact everything from their nutrition habits to their relationships with others.

A quick pro tip: For many of these questions, what your client doesn’t say is almost as important as what they do say.

Look for body language cues, especially if they’re telling an emotionally laden story. Like, if they smile rigidly while saying “I want to kill my boss,” or seem to collapse like a pile of unwashed laundry while saying “I’m so discouraged with my performance.”

If they give you a one-word answer, consider pressing further. Maybe there’s nothing there, but you won’t find out unless you ask.

Potential followup questions

  • Understand their ability to deal with emotions: “Sounds like you had a pretty bad day yesterday. How did you deal with that?”
  • Evaluate general mood: “If you had to describe your overall mood in three words, what would they be?”
  • Action-focused thinking: “What do those three words [above] tell you? Is there anything you’d like to change about your emotional health?”

Deep Health Domain #3

Mental health: “What happened last time you were presented with a big logistical challenge?”

This area is mostly about how well their mind is working. And this question helps clients evaluate their ability to problem-solve, focus, prioritize, and put things in perspective.

You’ll also get a chance to see what their capacity for insight is like. Do they offer any additional reflections about how they handled the situation? Or how they could have handled the situation differently?

A client who’s not doing so hot in this area could be having a hard time focusing at work or constantly forgetting important items on their to-do list. So keep an eye out for signs they could benefit from upping their mental game.

Potential followup questions

  • Search for gaps in organization and mental clarity: “How do you keep track of all the things you have to get done in any given day?”
  • Assess creativity: “Where and when do you have the best ideas?”
  • Action-focused thinking: “What do you think you need in order to have a clearer head?”

Deep Health Domain #4

Existential health: “Why do you want to make changes to your health?”

Existential health refers to having a deeper “why,” or feeling like our actions have meaning.

When we have a strong sense of ourselves and what we’re here to do, we feel worthwhile. Valuing ourselves then affects how we treat our minds, our bodies, and the people around us.

People find meaning in roles as varied as being the best parent they can be to making the world a better place through their work. The important thing is that your client finds meaning in something.

Clearly understanding motivations, or what’s driving the desire to change, is also important. We can change without knowing exactly why we’re doing it, but it helps  to feel like there’s a deeper purpose to the discomfort we’re facing.

And just a heads up, the more times you offer a curious “why?”, the more likely you are to get to the real reason they want to make a change in their life. Practice starting sentences with “I’m wondering about…” and “Why…?”

Potential followup questions

  • Look for overall purpose: “What’s driving you, here? What’s lighting a fire under your butt to do this, or live life in general?”
  • Ask about the “not-why”: “What’s not driving you? What do you not care about doing or having?” (Sometimes it’s easier for people to name what they don’t want, then you can explore the opposite to uncover what they really value.)
  • Gauge their sense of belonging: How do you see yourself fitting into the “big picture?”
  • Action-focused thinking: “What do you think would give your life more meaning? Is there anything you already do that you find meaningful?”

Deep Health Domain #5

Relational health: “Who in your life is supporting you in this health journey?”

Social support is incredibly important to success in a health and fitness journey, so finding out if your client has it can help you better assess their needs.

If your client has someone in mind they know they can rely on for support, it’s a good exercise for them to “notice and name” that person. This question may also help your client realize they need to ask for support from someone close to them, like a partner or spouse.

Relationships may affect your client’s habits without them even realizing it. For example, if their partner prefers to watch TV while eating dinner, it may be more difficult for them to eat slowly and concentrate on their food.

Potential followup questions

  • Probe for meaningful relationships: “It sounds like Person X really matters to you! Can you tell me more about how they support you?”
  • Gauge their sense of belonging: “Where and with who do you feel like you ‘belong?’”
  • Action-focused thinking: “What do you need from the people you’re close to in order to succeed?”

Deep Health Domain #6

Environmental health: “How do your surroundings affect your health?”

Everything from the food in your house to the weather in your city to the political atmosphere in your country is part of your environment.

Being and feeling safe, secure, and supported by your environment enables you to make better choices for your health.

Having access to resources such as healthcare or healthy food is also part of environmental health.

We can’t control some elements of our environment. They’re more structural and systemic, woven into the fabric of our societies. These are called social determinants of health, and include poverty, racism, homophobia, lack of accommodation for disabilities, and displacement (as in the case of refugees).

In any of these situations, it may be very difficult to take steps to change someone’s environment. What can help is to focus on the things you can control wherever possible.

Potential followup questions

  • Determine access to resources: “Is there anything you feel you need in order to reach your goals that you don’t currently have access to?”
  • Evaluate their safety and security: “Where do you feel most comfortable and safe?”
  • Action-focused thinking: “If you could change your environment to help you better meet your goals, how would you do so?”

What to do next…

Look at the big picture.

By now you understand how seemingly unrelated factors, like someone’s relationships and work life, might affect their ability to lose fat, gain muscle, and/or improve their overall health.

So for the best results, assess every client for deep health—even if they have a super-specific aesthetic goal.

Dig for connections.

The social bone is connected to the mental bone, is connected to the physical bone, and so on. Pull a thread of your client’s life with curiosity, assuming that things are related, and see what it unravels.

This also means that small specific things are a microcosm. If a client comes to you with big problems, ask for particular, concrete examples of how those problems manifested. For instance:

Client: I eat terribly.

Coach: Can you tell me a specific situation in the last day or two where you ate terribly? Like one meal, maybe? What was happening then?

And so on.

Collaborate with your client.

Don’t tell, direct, lecture, or immediately jump in with “helpful” suggestions.

Instead: Investigate, together. Ask, learn, listen.

Every client needs a unique approach, and they need to buy in, first. That happens when they feel autonomous and self-determined, and when they get to tell their story without judgement from the coach.

All you have to do to create an individualized plan is to ask the right questions, and listen to the answers.

Remember that coaching is a science, but it’s also an art.

The science of nutrition can get your clients abs. Artful coaching can make their lives better. Combine the two, and you’re setting yourself (and your clients) up for success.

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition, especially in a way that leads to deep health and lasting change.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Level 1: The ‘deep health’ coaching secret that transforms short-term fitness goals into life-changing results. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Ever feel like the body you want is always just out of reach? Like you’ll never quite be lean, strong, fit, or healthy enough? Or that there’s always somebody “better” than you? Here’s how to stop hating on your body, and free yourself from the frustration of constant comparison.

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Caron Adderley lost 55 pounds over the course of 11 months.

And for a short period, she felt happy with those results.

 


 

While her family and friends (and the rest of the world) saw her as perfectly fit, she soon became dissatisfied. “Even though I was leaner than ever, I now wanted six-pack abs,” says Caron.

After all, truly fit people have washboards, right?

But no matter how lean or strong she became, or what new goals she achieved, there was always someone “better” to compare herself to.

Instead of appreciating her own progress, she kept wanting more. 

Sound familiar?

In 10 years of coaching, I’ve come across countless stories like Caron’s. Both men and women.

Regardless of where you (or your clients) are in your health and fitness journey, it’s common to feel like:

  • You’re never quite where you want to be.
  • Everyone else is doing better than you.
  • Even your best effort just isn’t good enough.

I call this the comparison game.

And if you’re stuck in it, you know how soul-sucking it feels.

But you don’t have to keep playing. (Nor do your clients.)

In this article, we’ll explain why you can’t stop constantly comparing yourself to others—and why it always feels like you’re not measuring up. (Spoiler alert: It’s completely normal, according to science).

More importantly, we’ll give you five strategies that’ll help you conquer your comparison complex for good—because a healthy lifestyle should lift you up, not bring you down.

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A secret about comparison: Everybody’s doing it.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others.

Back in the 1950s, famed psychologist Leon Festinger, Ph.D. coined the term social comparison theory.

The idea: In order to gauge our “success” in any given area of life—career success, intelligence, and yes, appearance—we look to one another for points of reference.

But we don’t look to just anyone

We compare ourselves to our “relevant peer group,” says Karen North, Ph.D., clinical professor of communications at the University of Southern California.

This group, explains Dr. North, is made up of people we perceive to be around our same level in any given attribute.

For example, if you’re a high school basketball star, you’ll likely compare yourself to the top players in your district, rather than NBA all-stars.

Now, it’s probably no surprise that your friends, neighbors, and colleagues typically fall into your comparison bucket.

But you can also be influenced by people you have no clear connection to, like a movie star, CrossFit champion, or Instagram influencer.

“Celebrities can become part of our peer group to the point we feel we actually know them,” says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D., Director of Curriculum here at Precision Nutrition and an expert in counselling psychology.

“Think about how you might binge-watch a Netflix series and become attached to the characters,” she says. “This works in a similar way: If you spend time watching or reading about certain people, it can feel like they’re part of your peer group, even if you’ve never met.”

Regardless of who we consider our peers, we tend to feel good about ourselves when we think we’re in the top third of the group. 

The big problem? The moment we believe we’re “better” than two-thirds of our peers, we switch groups. And the cycle starts all over.

This is what happened to Caron when it came to her body composition.

She didn’t start out wanting six-pack abs. But once she saw herself as a “fit person,” she started identifying with a new group of people who were even leaner, fitter, and stronger than she was.

And surprise: Those folks all seemed to have visible abs.

If comparing ourselves to others is human nature, how can we ever feel good about our bodies?

The five strategies that follow can help, wherever you’re at right now. And sure, they might require you to try some new approaches and make tough decisions.

But aren’t you worth it? 

5 ways to stop comparing yourself to others physically.

Strategy #1: Focus on actions, not outcomes.

Maybe you’d like to be a size 4. Or bench 300 pounds. Or run a 6-minute mile.

These kinds of benchmarks often seem meaningful. Perhaps because they offer an objective way to compare ourselves to others. (Red flag alert!) You don’t have to wonder how you stack up; the numbers will tell you.

For some people, these goals are achievable. But for others? They can be totally demoralizing.

After all, we can’t fully control how our bodies will respond to a nutrition or training program. And by setting goals that require a certain outcome, anything that falls short can feel like a failure.

Especially when we see others succeed.

Our solution: Rather than focusing on the end result, concentrate on completing daily actions that’ll help you lose fat or get stronger or run faster. We call these habits-based goals.

For example, if you’d like to lose fat, you might set goals such as:

  • Eating lean protein at every meal
  • Having five servings of produce per day
  • Exercising for 30 minutes, three days a week

These actions, done consistently, are examples of how you lose fat. And they’re under your control.

As goals, they shift your mindset away from comparison, and provide more opportunities for you to celebrate your successful efforts—instead of thinking about everything you’ve yet to accomplish.

To be sure, focusing on actions over outcomes may require a mental adjustment on your part. But with practice, it’ll feel start to feel natural and right.

You can get started today by adopting the same goal-setting strategies we use at Precision Nutrition.

Strategy #2: Put things in perspective (every single day).

It’s easy to obsess over what we don’t like about our bodies.

  • Cellulite on the backs of our legs
  • How our belly looks when we don’t hold it in
  • Body parts we think are too skinny- or flabby-looking

No matter who you are, you can probably name at least a couple. And too often, these thoughts take up way more headspace than they should.

But by reminding ourselves what really matters in life, we can dilute these negative feelings, and make them less powerful.

How? By the simple act of daily journaling.

Don’t think of this as another item on your to-do list. Consider it a quick-and-easy way to get a daily dose of perspective.

Every day, simply write:

  • Three things you’re grateful for
  • One thing you’re excited about
  • One thing you’re proud of (from that day or the day before)

Making this list can give you a major mental boost. Do it routinely, and you’ll transform your mindset from a place of comparison to a more appreciative state. As an added bonus, you can look back on previous entries and see how far you’ve come.

Strategy #3: Eliminate your comparison triggers.

Think of a behavior, activity, or place aimed at helping you get healthier. Are there any that cause you to feel less than adequate?

It could be your favorite meal-prep blogger’s website… because she seems to have endless amounts of time to experiment with new and delicious macro-friendly recipes.

And your life just isn’t like that. 

Or it could be:

  • That advanced spin class where you struggle to keep up
  • A diet that leaves you feeling guilty because you’re always “cheating”
  • The weight loss challenge group you joined at work

When my client Kim started training, for instance, her goals were to get fit, feel good, and to be comfortable in her own skin. She got leaner and stronger quickly and joined the gym’s competitors program, where she started training with incredibly fit athletes.

Suddenly, Kim felt like she wasn’t doing enough. “I kind of felt like a fraud because I wasn’t willing to live the life of a really disciplined athlete,” she says.

For Kim, the competitors program had become a comparison trigger. Yet being a disciplined athlete was never part of her original goal.

Ask yourself:

Is there a specific place, person, or practice that always makes you feel “not good enough?” 

If you can put your “trigger” for self-comparison on hold, you can get the space you need to reassess your situation and decide what you really want. Then, if you’d like to continue, you can return to that situation with a clear head and realistic expectations.

Strategy #4: Transform your social networks.

Go ahead, Marie Kondo your newsfeed.

Look through your friends and “following” lists, and ask yourself whether each person or account brings joy to your life. If not, unfriend or unfollow. (We told you there’d be tough decisions.)

Start following people who inspire you, educate you, or just make you laugh. 

These can be people you know, or celebrities and influencers who give you positive feels. Your goal is to custom-build a peer group that fosters love for you and your body.

When I’ve given clients this task, they often report that social media, for the first time ever, is a happy place for them—a place that’s now contributing to their growth, instead of hindering it.

Strategy #5: Seek meaningful connections.

At the beginning of this year, Caron—who’s now a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified coach herself—wrote a social media post revealing she still weighs herself every single day.

This isn’t a habit that makes her feel good or in control. Instead, she feels like the scale is controlling her, thanks to her constant pursuit of measuring up.

The act of publicly admitting she’s “addicted to the bathroom scale” was empowering for Caron.

But most impactful? The overwhelming support she received from others who could relate. 

Their messages and reactions helped her understand she isn’t alone in feeling the pressure to keep pushing for more, more, more. And I’d bet her post helped them, too.

Whether it’s online or in real life, sharing our struggles and stories with other people can be a way to build genuine connection, community, and support—and a lot more uplifting than scrolling through #fitspo on Instagram.

Share that post or picture that reveals the real you. Have that coffee with a friend. Open up to your coach or partner. Be vulnerable.

Genuine conversations beat silent comparison. Every time.

There will always be someone leaner, fitter, and stronger out there.

We all know this.

But instead of focusing on things that take away from your joy, build your support system. Seek out role models, and surround yourself with people who lift you up.

Turn your attention to those who love you for who you are… and who help you love yourself.

If you pay close attention, you might finally realize what they see in you.

And that’s when you’ve beaten the comparison game for good.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that helps them fully value their own body, effort, and progress—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post “Why can’t I look like them?” How the comparison complex makes you hate on your body—and 5 ways to beat it for good. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

You’re tracking your eating and exercise meticulously but not seeing results. Has your metabolism slowed to a crawl? Are your hormones off? Is it really possible to GAIN weight from eating too LITTLE? Here’s what’s really going on—and how to solve it.

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“How can I be eating so little, and still gaining weight?”

Have you ever felt this way? (Or had a client who has?)

In my years as a coach, it’s a question that’s come up time and time again—from both clients and fellow coaches.

They’re confused. Frustrated. Maybe even angry. (Or certainly “hangry.”)

Despite doing everything they can, including eating less—maybe a lot less—they’re still not losing weight. In fact, they might even be gaining.

Do a quick Internet search and you’re bound to find lots of explanations.

Some folks say that the laws of energy balance apply, and that people aren’t counting calories properly. Others call it “starvation mode”, or some weird metabolic or hormonal problem.

So what’s the deal? Is there something wrong with them? Are their bodies broken? Is it all in their heads?

Or can you actually gain weight from eating too little?

Let’s find out.

Truth: Thermodynamics don’t lie.

You’ve probably heard the phrase—the laws of thermodynamics—before. Or maybe you’ve heard it as energy balance. Or “calories in, calories out.”

Let’s break down what it actually means.

Thermodynamics is a way to express how energy is used and changed. Put simply, we take in energy in the form of food, and we expend energy through activities like:

  • basic metabolic functions (breathing, circulating blood, etc.)
  • movement (daily-life activity, purposeful exercise, etc.)
  • producing heat (also called thermogenesis)
  • digestion and excretion

And, the truth is…

Energy balance (calories in, calories out) does determine bodyweight.

  • If we absorb more energy than we expend, we gain weight.
  • If we absorb less energy than we expend, we lose weight.

This has been tested over and over again by researchers, in many settings.

It’s as close as we can get to scientific fact.

Sure, there are many factors that influence either side of this seemingly simple equation, which can make things feel a little confusing:

However, humans do not defy the laws of thermodynamics.

But what about unexplained weight changes? That time you ate a big dinner and woke up lighter? When you feel like you’re “doing everything right” but you’re not losing weight?

Nope, even if we think we’re defying energy in vs. energy out, we’re not.

And what about that low carb doctor who implies that insulin resistance (or some other hormone) mucks up the equation?

While hormones may influence the proportions of lean mass and fat mass you gain or lose, they still don’t invalidate the energy balance equation.

Yet, as the title of the article suggests, it is easy to understand why folks—even internet-famous gurus and doctors—get confused about this.

One reason why…

Measuring metabolism is tricky.

The fact is, your exact metabolic demands and responses aren’t that easy to measure.

It is possible to approximate your basal metabolic rate—in other words, the energy cost of keeping you alive. But measurements are only as good as the tools we use.

When it comes to metabolic measurement, the best tools are hermetically sealed metabolic chambers, but not many of us hang out in those on the regular.

Which means, while we may have our “metabolism” estimated at the gym, or by our fitness trackers, as with calorie counts on labels, these estimates can be off by 20-30 percent in normal, young, healthy people. They’re probably off by even more in other populations.

Of course, if we could accurately measure how much energy you’re expending every day, and then accurately measure exactly how much energy you’re taking in and absorbing, we could decide whether you were truly “eating too little” for your body’s requirements.

But even if we could know this outside the lab, which we can’t, it wouldn’t be useful. Because energy output is dynamic, meaning that every variable changes whenever any other variable changes (see below).

In other words, unless we can exactly measure energy inputs and outputs from minute to minute, we can’t know for sure what your metabolism is doing and how it matches the food you’re eating.

So, most of the time, we have to guess. And our guesses aren’t very good.

Not only that, but the idea of “eating too little” is subjective.

Think about it. By “eating too little”, do you mean…

  • Eating less than normal?
  • Eating less than you’ve been told to eat?
  • Eating less than feels right?
  • Eating less than you need to be healthy?
  • Eating less than your estimated metabolic rate?
  • Eating less than your actual metabolic rate?

And how often does that apply? Are you…

  • Eating too little at one meal?
  • Eating too little on one day?
  • Eating too little every day?
  • Eating too little almost every day but too much on some days?

Without clarity on some of these questions, you can see how easy it is to assume you’re “eating too little” but still not eating less than your actual energy expenditure, even if you did some test to estimate your metabolic rate and it seems like you’re eating less than that number.

Most times, the problem is perception.

As human beings, we’re bad at correctly judging how much we’re eating and expending. We tend to think we eat less and burn more than we do—sometimes by as much as 50 percent.

(Interestingly, lighter folks trying to gain weight often have the opposite problem: They overestimate their food intake and underestimate their expenditure.)

It’s not that we’re lying (though we can sometimes deceive ourselves, and others, about our intake). More than anything, it’s that we struggle to estimate portion sizes and calorie counts.

This is especially difficult today, when plates and portions are bigger than ever. And energy-dense, incredible tasting, and highly brain-rewarding “foods” are ubiquitous, cheap, and socially encouraged.

When folks start paying close attention to their portion sizes using their hands or food scales and measuring cups, they are frequently shocked to discover they are eating significantly more than they imagined.

(I once had a client discover he was using ten tablespoons of olive oil—1200 calories—rather than the two tablespoons—240 calories—he thought he was using in his stir-fry. Oops.)

At other times, we can be doing everything right at most meals, but energy can sneak when we don’t realize it.

Here’s a perfect story to illustrate this.

A few years ago Dr. Berardi (JB, as he’s known around here) went out to eat with some friends at a well-known restaurant chain. He ordered one of their “healthier” meals that emphasized protein, veggies, and “clean” carbs. Then he finished off dinner with cheesecake.

Curious about how much energy he’d consumed, he looked it up.

Five. Thousand. Calories.

Incredibly, he hadn’t even felt that full afterwards.

If the calorie content of that one meal surprised someone with the expertise and experience of JB, how would most “normal” eaters fare? Good luck trying to “eyeball” things.

Also imagine a scenario where you were under-eating almost every meal during the week and maintaining an estimated negative energy balance of about -3,500 calories. Then, during one single meal, a “healthy” menu option plus dessert, you accumulated 5,000 calories.

That one meal would put you in a theoretically positive energy balance for the week (+1,500 calories), leading to weight gain!

Seriously, how would you feel if, after eating 20 “perfect” meals in a row and 1 “not so bad” meal, you gained weight? You’d probably feel like your metabolism was broken.

You’d probably feel like it’s possible to gain weight from eating too little.

But, again, the laws of thermodynamics aren’t broken. Rather, a whole bunch of calories snuck in without you realizing it.

Even more, the dynamic nature of metabolism can be confusing.

Another reason it can be easy to believe you gained weight eating too little (or at least didn’t lose weight when eating less) is because your metabolism isn’t like a computer.

For instance, you might have heard that one pound of fat is worth 3,500 calories, so if you cut 500 calories per day, you’ll lose one pound per week (7 x 500 = 3,500).

(Unless, of course, you downed 5,000 calories in a single meal at the end of the week, in which case you’d be on track to gain weight).

Except this isn’t how human metabolism works. The human body is a complex and dynamic system that responds quickly to changes in its environment.

When you undereat, especially over a longer period (that part is important), this complex system adapts.

Here’s an example of how this might play out:

  • You expend less energy in digestion because you’re eating less.
  • Resting metabolic rate goes down because you weigh less.
  • Calories burned through physical activity go down since you weigh less.
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (daily-life fidgeting, movement) goes down and you expend less energy through the day.
  • Your digestion slows down, and you absorb more energy from your food.


Your body will also adjust hormonal feedback and signaling loops. For instance:

  • Appetite and hunger hormones go up (i.e. we want to eat more, are more stimulated by food cues, may have more cravings).
  • Satiety hormones go down (which means it’s harder for us to feel full or satisfied).
  • Thyroid hormones and sex hormones (both of which are involved in metabolic rate) go down.

Your planned 500 calorie daily deficit can quickly become 400, 300, or even 200 calories (or fewer), even if you intentionally exercise as much as you had before.

And, speaking of exercise, the body has similar mechanisms when we try to out-exercise an excessive intake.

For example, research suggests that increasing physical activity above a certain threshold (by exercising more) can trigger:

  • More appetite and more actual calories eaten
  • Increased energy absorption
  • Lowered resting or basal metabolism
  • Less fidgeting and spontaneous movement (aka NEAT)

In this case, here’s what the equation would look like:

These are just two of the many examples we could share.

There are other factors, such as the health of our gastrointestinal microbiota, our thoughts and feelings about eating less (i.e. whether we view eating less as stressful), and so on.

The point is that metabolism is much more complicated (and interdependent) than most people realize.

All of this means that when you eat less, you may lose less weight than you expect. Depending how much less you eat, and for how long, you may even re-gain weight in the long run thanks to these physiological and behavioral factors.

Plus, humans are incredibly diverse.

Our metabolisms are too.

While the “average” responses outlined above are true, our own unique responses, genetics, physiology, and more means that our calorie needs will differ from the needs of others, or the needs predicted by laboratory tools (and the equations they rely on).

Let’s imagine two people of the same sex, age, height, weight, and lean body mass. According to calculations, they should have the exact same energy expenditure, and therefore energy needs.

However, we know this is not the case.

For instance:

  • Your basal metabolic rate—remember, that’s the energy you need just to fuel your organs and biological functions to stay alive—can vary by 15 percent. For your average woman or man, that’s roughly 200-270 calories.
  • Genetic differences matter too. A single change in one FTO gene can be an additional 160 calorie difference.
  • Sleep deprivation can cause a 5-20 percent change in metabolism, so there’s another 200-500 calories.
  • For women, the phase of their menstrual cycle can affect metabolism by another 150 calories or so.

Even in the same individual, metabolism can easily fluctuate by 100 calories from day to day, or even over the course of a day (for instance, depending on circadian rhythms of waking and sleeping).

Those differences can add up quickly, and this isn’t even an exhaustive list.

If you want to dig really deep into the factors that influence our energy balance, check this out:

The multifactorial nature of body weight.

In the end, hopefully you can see how equations used to predict calorie needs for the “average” person might not be accurate for you. And that’s why you could gain weight (or not lose weight) eating a calorie intake that’s below your measured (estimated) expenditure.

It’s also why some experts, who aren’t knowledgeable about the limitations of metabolic measurement, will try to find all sorts of complicated hormonal or environmental causes for what they think is a violation of thermodynamics.

The answer, however, is much simpler than that.

The estimates just weren’t very good.

And yes, water retention is a thing.

Cortisol is one of our “stress hormones”, and it has effects on our fluid levels.

Food and nutrient restriction is a stressor (especially if we’re anxious about it). When we’re stressed, cortisol typically goes up. People today report being more stressed than ever, so it’s easy to tip things over into “seriously stressed”.

When cortisol goes up, our bodies may hold onto more water, which means we feel “softer” and “less lean” than we actually are. This water retention can mask the fat loss that is occurring, making it seem like we aren’t losing fat and weight, when in fact we are.

Here’s an example.

A good friend of mine (and former high school hockey teammate) was struggling to make the NHL. He had played several seasons in the AHL (one step down from the NHL) and had just been called up to the pros.

The NHL club wanted him to stay below 220 lbs (100 kg), which was a challenge for him at 6’2”. He found that eating a lower-carb diet allowed him to maintain a playing weight around 218 lbs.

Yet his nutrition coach told him it was OK to have some occasional higher-carb days.

Unfortunately for him, he had one of these higher-carb days—going out for sushi with his teammates—right before his first NHL practice.

The next day, when reporting to the NHL team, he was called into the GM’s office to get weighed. He was 232 lbs (105 kg).

Thanks, carbs and salt!

My friend was crushed. Even worse, two days later he was back to 218 lbs.

OK, but what if I track my intake and expenditure meticulously?

You might be nodding your head, beginning to realize how complex metabolism is. How inaccurate calorie counts can be. How variable we all are. How much the body seeks to maintain the status quo. And how poor we are at estimating our own intake and expenditure.

But what if you are meticulously tracking intake? Logging your meals? Counting your steps? Even hitting a local research lab to measure your metabolism? And things still aren’t adding up?

Well, it goes back to what we’ve discussed so far:

  • The calorie counts of the foods you’ve logged might be higher than expected, either because of erroneous labeling or because of small errors in your own measurement.
  • Your energy needs might be lower than calculated (or even measured). This may be because…
  • You’re expending less energy through movement than your fitness tracker or exercise machine suggests.
  • You have less lean mass as you think, or it may not be as energy-consuming as you expect.
  • You’re absorbing more energy in digestion than you realize (for instance, if your gastrointestinal transit time is slow, or your microbiota are really good at extracting nutrients).

Maybe you’re just missing some data.

As mentioned above, while you’re probably not outright lying, it could be that you’re also “forgetting” to account for the few bites of your kids’ chicken nuggets that you didn’t want to go to waste. Or that extra spoonful of peanut butter. Or the large glass of wine you counted as a ‘medium’. Likewise, the calorie counts on those food labels can be (and often are) off.

Maybe you’re counting your workout as high intensity, even though you spent much of it sitting on a bench between low-rep strength sets. Maybe you were so hungry afterwards, you ate more than you intended (but figured it was all going to muscle-building, so no biggie).

It happens; we’re all human.

Measuring and tracking your energy intake carefully can help.

When we measure and track for a while, we become more aware of what we’re eating, get a more realistic idea of our portion sizes, and help ourselves be consistent and accountable.

But measuring and tracking definitely is not a perfect strategy.

It can be stressful and time-consuming. Most people don’t want to do it forever.

And it may misrepresent the “exact” calories we consume versus the “exact” calories we burn, which can lead us to believe we’re eating less than we’re burning, even when we’re not.

What about legitimate medical problems?

Whenever we arrive at this point of the discussion folks usually ask about whether underlying health problems, or medications, can affect their metabolism, weight, and/or appetite.

The answer is yes.

This includes things like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), certain pharmaceuticals (corticosteroids or birth control), severe thyroid dysfunction, sex hormone disruption, leptin resistance, and more.

However, this is less common than most people think, and even if you do have a health issue, your body still isn’t breaking the laws of thermodynamics.

It’s just—as discussed above—that your calorie expenditure is lower than predicted. And a few extra calories may be sneaking in on the intake side.

The good news: weight loss is still possible (albeit at a slower pace).

If you truly feel that you are accurately estimating intake, exercising consistently at least 5-7 hours a week, managing your sleep and stress, getting expert nutritional coaching, and covering absolutely all the fundamentals, then it may be time to consider further conversations and testing with your doctor.

So what can you do?

If you feel your intake is less than your needs, (in other words, you’re eating what feels like ‘too little’) but you still aren’t losing weight, here are some helpful next steps to try.

Measure your intake.

Use whatever tools you prefer. Your hands, scales and spoons, pictures, food logs, etc. It doesn’t matter.

Track your intake for a few days or a full week, to see if it adds up to what you “thought” you were eating. We are often surprised.

Sometimes, just the act of tracking increases our awareness of our intake, which helps us make better choices.

Be compassionate with yourself.

It may feel like being strict or critical is a good approach, but it isn’t. It just makes you more stressed out.

Conversely, research shows that being kind and gentle with yourself (while still having some grown-up honesty about your decisions) helps you have a healthier body composition, make wise food choices, stick to your fitness goals better, feel less anxious and stressed, and have a better relationship with food overall.

There are going to be meals or days where you don’t eat as you “should”. It’s OK. It happens to everyone. Recognize it, accept it, forgive yourself, and then get back on track.

Choose mostly less-processed whole foods.

Foods that aren’t hyper-rewarding or hyperpalatable are harder to over-eat. They don’t cause hypothalamic inflammation and leptin resistance.

They have lots of good stuff (vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, phytonutrients, disease-fighting chemicals, etc.) and are usually lower in calories.

And they are usually far better at keeping you full and satisfied.

Choose whole foods that you enjoy and will eat consistently.

Play with macronutrient levels.

Some people respond better to more carbs and fewer fats. Others respond better to higher fats and few carbs.

There’s no single best diet for everyone. We all have different preferences, and even different responses to foods and macronutrients. So play with this a bit, and find what works for you.

Own your decisions.

Let your adult values and deeper principles guide you when you sit down to eat. Make food choices by acknowledging the outcome you would expect.

Avoid playing mental games like “If I’m ‘good’ then I get to be ‘bad”, or “If I pretend I didn’t eat the cookies, then it didn’t happen”.

Face your behavior with open eyes, maturity, and wisdom.

Accept that all choices have consequences.

And appreciate that it’s OK to indulge sometimes.

If you are still having trouble, get coaching.

Behavior change and sustained weight loss are hard. Especially when we try to go it alone.

Seek out a qualified and compassionate coach or professional who can help you navigate these tricky waters.

(Might I suggest Precision Nutrition Coaching?)

If you’re a coach or professional, here’s how to help people with this.

If you’re working with clients or patients as a service provider, be empathetic. Remember, it can be incredibly easy to believe that we’re “doing everything right” and yet not seeing results.

Instead of jumping to conclusions or rushing in with reasons why your client isn’t succeeding, instead, follow these steps:

Step 1: Be compassionate and curious.

Understand that most people in this space are probably frustrated and/or beating themselves up. Don’t dial up some “tough love” and call them liars.

Be empathetic and gently curious.

Step 2: Gather (accurate) data.

Have people show you what they’re doing to the best of their ability. Pictures, food logs, tracking apps… whatever suits their level of ready, willing and able.

While meticulous tracking isn’t usually a good long-term solution, it can help both of you to get some more accurate data.

Step 3: Have a crucial conversation.

If you think this means being Coach Hardass, you are off the mark. Remember:

  • You are both working together in an alliance against the problem, not against each other.
  • You both want your client or patient to succeed.

Bring facts to the table, not opinions. What you see and what they see are likely different.

Step 4: Help them feel safe.

If someone is hiding from you foods that they ate, that is at least partly your responsibility.

For whatever reason, the individual doesn’t feel comfortable telling you they aren’t doing what they think they should.

This needs to be explored together. Slowly. Gently. With a curious, and non-judgemental mind.

++++

A final note on body composition.

Before wrapping up I wanted to mention something important.

In this article I decided to focus only on the body weight implications of the energy balance equation because that’s all the equation really describes (i.e. net transfers of energy).

Changes in body composition (i.e. your relative proportions of lean tissue and body fat) are, if you can believe it, much more complicated and far less comprehensively studied.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that helps each individual overcome their unique nutrition challenges—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Can you gain weight from eating too little? No, but here’s why it’s so easy to think you can. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“Here’s what you should eat… ”

Tell someone you want to lose weight or improve your nutrition, and this is almost always the first advice you get.

But that’s not, in fact, what the average person says they need the most help with. Not by a longshot.

We know because every year, we ask thousands of new Precision Nutrition clients about their biggest nutrition challenges.

“I don’t know what to eat” doesn’t even crack the top 10.

And year after year, people tend to have the same food frustrations, no matter what new “diet revolution” or “no-fail meal plan” comes along.

You might write that off as human nature. But we’d suggest another possibility:

Many nutrition coaches and diet programs don’t focus enough on solving the real food problems that prevent people from making progress.

Nor do they help people build the fundamental skills they need to sustain any changes they make.

That’s why we’re sharing these secrets from our own clients.

We’ve analyzed their answers and aggregated them into a snapshot of what truly troubles people. The data here are people’s own descriptions of their real-life nutrition struggles and stressors.

More importantly, we’ve also included real-life strategies—developed, tested, and refined while working with over 100,000 clients—that you (or your clients) can use to face and overcome your healthy eating obstacles for good.

The diet problems that drive people crazy

As you can see, “I don’t know what I should eat” is near the bottom of the list. Yet that’s the nutrition challenge most people—including coaches—obsess over.

Of course, what you eat matters for all kinds of reasons: appetite control, proper nutrition, optimal performance, and so on. But knowing what to eat probably isn’t the #1 thing holding you (or your clients) back.

Most people kinda-sorta know what they should be eating.

You’ve probably never said “I really shouldn’t eat this,” right before downing a big bowl of spinach. More likely, you utter those words as you dive headfirst into a bowl of salted caramel ice cream.

If you’re looking for a long-term fix to these top-ranking problems, more nutrition knowledge probably isn’t the answer. Neither is a meal plan. Or a new set of macros.

No, if you’re struggling with your food, eating, and exercise habits, you probably need help with your behaviors, especially being consistent with crucial fundamentals. (We call these “Level 1” practices, and we’ll introduce you to them throughout this article.)

According to our incoming clients, their most-pressing nutrition problems boil down to this:

How do they stop overeating and, at the same time, find convenient, practical, and satisfying ways to enjoy foods that best nourish their bodies?

Easy problems to solve? No.

Are they solvable? Absolutely.

With that in mind, here are the 8 biggest nutrition challenges*, along with proven strategies you can use to make better choices, and get better results.

Don’t try to tackle all these challenges at once. That rarely works.

Instead, choose just one. Focus on it for two or three weeks.

When you feel ready to take on more, select another area that needs some TLC, and give it your full attention.

You can make incredible, lasting progress this way. We know, because we’ve seen it happen with thousands of real clients.

Now it’s your turn. 

* We’ve combined closely-related categories.

Nutrition Challenge #1: “I can’t stop stress/emotional eating.”

More than 60 percent of our new clients list emotional/stress eating as a major nutrition challenge. What’s more, over 50 percent say they also “get intense cravings” and “snack when not hungry.”

If you relate, it might be a relief to know you’re not alone. Of course, that’s little consolation when your spoon’s scraping the bottom of a freshly-opened jar of cookie butter.

But what if you realized this behavior occurs…

  • Every time your mom calls?
  • On Sunday nights, when you’re dreading the start of a new week?
  • Whenever you see, smell, or hear something that reminds you of your ex?

In our coaching approach, we call this “noticing and naming,” and it offers us great opportunities to regain control.

Emotional eating and intense cravings are typically part of a pattern of behavior that’s triggered by a specific experience—a thought, feeling, and/or situation.

If you can identify the trigger, you can disrupt the pattern of behavior and make different choices. 

We use what we call a “break the chain” worksheet that helps clients identify their emotional and stress eating triggers. Then, we apply a step-by-step strategy to build alternative actions.

For the complete instructions, read this article: Conquer your cravings and break the sinister cycle that makes you overeat.

Nutrition Challenge #2: “I don’t plan meals.”

Survey says… 53 percent of both men and women check this box.

But good news: Serious improvement in this area may not be as time-consuming and complicated as it sounds.

Think about meal planning on a continuum. 

At the far left: You put zero thought into what you might eat later today or tomorrow or the rest of the week. Most decisions are made after you’re already hungry and while you’re staring at the contents of your refrigerator—or looking at a drive-thru menu.

At the far right: You spend Sunday morning grocery shopping and taking the afternoon to prep seven days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, packing it away in containers and leaving nothing to chance.

But in between? There’s real opportunity to progress, and it doesn’t require a complicated meal plan. You just need to do a little better than you are now.

A great place to start: 

Plan to eat one to two servings (think: an amount the size of your fist) of produce at each meal. 

Don’t worry about variety for now: If you like steamed broccoli or raw carrots or sliced cucumbers, you could have those at every meal, if you want. Just practice buying what you need and eating it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And if you find yourself at a restaurant, stick to the plan. That could mean getting a side salad with an order of broccoli instead of fries. (For bonus planning, try checking the restaurant’s menu online before you go.)

You’ll be amazed at how this simple approach can transform the quality of your meals, yet it doesn’t require a ton of effort.

For more ways to ease yourself into healthy eating, check out: Why meal plans usually suck.

Nutrition Challenge #3: “I eat too quickly.”

While this isn’t at the top of the challenge list overall, it was the #1 issue for men—with nearly 60 percent of guys raising their hand.

And turns out, these folks are spot-on. Almost everyone benefits from eating more slowly.

In fact, in our coaching method, slow eating is one of the first practices we ask clients to do. The reason is simple: It’s incredibly effective.

The act of consciously slowing down—even just taking a breath or two between bites at first—can help you eat less without feeling deprived.

And we’ve found it works for everyone from the most advanced dieters to those who’ve struggled with healthy eating for a lifetime.

To experience how you can use this practice to transform your body—starting at your next meal—see The 30-day slow eating challenge.

Nutrition Challenge #4: “I have a serious sweet tooth.”

Maybe you love cookies. Or M&Ms. Or anything that’s rolled in sugar.

That’s completely normal, according to almost 50 percent of our new clients.

However, it’s typically not just the sweetness that appeals to your taste buds, belly, and brain. It’s a diabolically delicious combination of sugar, fat, and salt that makes certain foods nearly irresistible. There’s even a special name for them: hyperpalatable.

In fact, food manufacturers use this flavor formula to create products you can’t stop eating. (It’s great for sales, after all.)

The biggest challenge with these foods is their availability: They’re everywhere, including your kitchen.

So, remember Berardi’s First Law (named for its originator, Precision Nutrition co-founder Dr. John Berardi):

If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.

This also leads to the corollary of Berardi’s First Law:

If a healthy food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.

We’re not saying you should make sweets off-limits. Instead, shape your environment to set yourself up for success.

What would happen if, next time you visit the grocery store, you bought some fruit for dessert instead of that jumbo pack of Oreos? 

Try it, and observe what happens.

To learn more about how to handle hyperpalatable foods, read Manufactured deliciousness: Why you can’t stop overeating.

Nutrition Challenge #5: “I eat out a lot.”

With so many temptations on restaurant menus, it’s natural to feel a little tortured about what to order. Once that mental back-and-forth begins, it’s all too easy to say, “Heck with it, give me the carbonara and pass the bread sticks.”

Along with planning meals or your food choices (as in Challenge #2), you can also plan how to show up.

  • Is this a special occasion where you want the freedom to indulge? Is the food so unique and amazing at this restaurant that it’s truly worth it? (If so, slow down and really savor the experience.)
  • Or would you prefer your choice align with your healthy eating practice? (If so, consider preparing in advance by reviewing the menu, or even setting a phone or calendar reminder to help yourself stay on track.)

There’s no right or wrong answer, but deciding ahead of time can help you stay focused and avoid being distracted by a mountain of pasta. 

Every time you follow through on your plan, notice how you feel after you’ve finished your meal.

Ask yourself: “Am I just as satisfied as I would have been otherwise?”

If yes, that’s a positive step to encouraging the same behavior next time. (With more practice, smart choices become easier and easier.)

If no, try following these steps:

  • Order a plant-rich dish. (Shoot for half your plate to be vegetables.)
  • Choose a lean protein. (Read: chicken breast or fish.)
  • Avoid breaded and fried foods. (This eliminates a lot of poor choices.)
  • Ask for dressings on the side. (And use responsibly.)
  • Eat slowly. (See Challenge #3, above.)
  • Stop when you’re 80 percent full. (See Challenge #6, below.)

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but a practical guide for when you’re eating out—no matter if you’re at a fine-dining establishment or a fast food chain.

Is this your top challenge? Make sure to read 25 ways to eat well on-the-go for additional insights and strategies.

Nutrition Challenge #6: “I eat larger portions than I need.”

In the weight loss industry, it’s popular to tell people, “It’s not your fault.”

And in this case, it’s probably true. Between your parents directing you to “clean your plate,” the abundance of hyperpalatable foods (see Challenge #4), and the mega-meals served by chain restaurants, eating more than you need can feel completely natural.

Which means eating an appropriate-sized meal can feel… completely unnatural. At least until you get you used to it. And that requires practice.

A simple way to start: 

Eat slowly (Challenge #3… again), and stop when you’re 80 percent full. Do this no matter how much is left on your plate or how uncomfortable it makes you feel. 

This won’t be easy at first, and you may wonder, “Am I at 80 percent full or 70 percent?” or “Did I just totally mess up and go over?”

Don’t worry about it. The point is to become a more mindful eater and pay better attention to your body’s satiety signals. That takes time, and like any skill, you’ll improve with practice.

We’re going for progress here, not perfection.

Of course, it helps to start with a reasonable portion size. But you don’t need to enter your meals into a calculator ahead of time. You can use your hands to estimate how you should eat, with our simple but effective portion and calorie control guide.

Nutrition Challenge #7: “I don’t have time to prepare meals.”

Are you seeing a theme emerge? Sure, this one’s related to “I don’t plan out meals” and “I eat out too much.” But it’s also slightly different because it’s specifically calling out the reason why: a lack of a key resource.

Now let’s be honest: There may be a lack of desire here, too, at least compared to activities you do have time for. And that’s okay.

After all, many people are on the move all day, making a living, commuting, and/or caring for others. You deserve some time to unwind, and if that means grabbing takeout so you can sink into your couch 30 minutes sooner, we get it.

But let’s go back to our continuum concept:

  • If you’re making zero meals now, could you find time to make one meal each week?
  • Or if you’re making three, could you find time to make four?

If you can make just one extra meal, you’ll be taking a positive action to change your behavior and improve your health. 

That’s how real, lasting transformation happens: one tiny step at a time, not by trying to change everything overnight.

So figure out what action you’re capable of now—even if it doesn’t seem like much—and try it out. Then practice it next week, too. As it becomes easier, ask yourself: “Could I add in another home-cooked meal?”

Remember: Progress, not perfection.

And for more ways to deal with a hectic lifestyle, check out 7 ways to make time for exercise and nutrition.

Nutrition Challenge #8: “I drink too much.”

If you’re nodding your head right now, we feel you. And so do more than 30 percent of our new clients who say they over-consume alcohol.

The question is: What does “too much” mean? It can be different for everyone.

Maybe you’re drinking two or three glasses of wine at night and wondering if you’re relying too much on alcohol to take the edge off. Or perhaps you don’t imbibe during the week, but drink to excess on the weekend.

Even if you don’t have what’s considered a “serious” problem, your drinking habits could be affecting your ability to lead a healthier lifestyle—by interfering with your sleep, affecting your judgement (“Hey everyone! Who wants late-night nachos??”), and stimulating your appetite.

Ask yourself: What’s one action you could take to feel a little better about your alcohol intake?

  • Could you have two glasses tonight instead of three?
  • Could you drink more slowly, so that one glass lasts longer?
  • Could you have a glass of water between cocktails?

If your alcohol intake isn’t destroying your work or family life, you don’t necessarily have to slam on the brakes.

Ease yourself into it, and notice how you feel. Better awareness can result in better choices. 

For more help and how-to advice, check out: Would I be healthier if I quit drinking?

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that helps each individual overcome their unique nutrition challenges—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Exclusive data: Overcome the 8 biggest diet challenges, based on 100,000 client results. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Glen and Katrina spent the past 12 months transforming their eating habits, health, bodies, and lives with personal help from a PN coach. And now? They’re our latest Grand Prize winners. See how we surprised them with $25,000 each, and meet the rest of our July 2019 Precision Nutrition Coaching winners.

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Every six months, in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program, we give away more than $125,000 to the men and women who have the most incredible, inspiring body transformations.

Yep, that’s more than $250,000 a year.

And today, you’ll meet our latest amazing winners.

These folks started working with us in July 2018 and—over the course of the past year—completely transformed how they eat, move, look, and feel.

They lost weight, gained strength, boosted their health, and inspired their friends and families.

What’s more, they did all of this without extreme diets or crazy workout routines. There were no meal plans or off-limit foods. No unbreakable rules. No deprivation. And perhaps best of all, no guilt.

Each person simply committed to making a change, stayed consistent, and used the accountability and support of one of our dedicated coaches.

$25,000 Grand Prize Winner: Katrina

Lost 41 lbs and 38 total inches!

Age: 44 years
Weight Lost: 41 lbs (from 170 lbs to 129 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 38 inches (from 225 inches to 187 inches)
Vote for Finalist #1

Finalist #1 selected!

After reviewing all the finalists – you can change your vote at any time – click “Place your vote” at the bottom of this page to record your choice.

Katrina McKinney loved to run.

She started fifteen years ago, tackling her first marathon in 2008.

She loved logging the miles, loved the community, and loved the fact that running had helped her go from her heaviest adult weight to her lightest.

But she couldn’t sustain it.

Running 30 or 40 miles a week wasn’t always compatible with her busy work schedule, and inconsistency with that mileage opened the door to injury.

Also, while she knew a lot about fitness and nutrition, she couldn’t consistently apply her knowledge. It was tempting to look for the easy fix, like the latest supplement or the hot new trendy diet.

“I was always trying something,” Katrina says.

But in the end, Katrina’s nutrition and fitness efforts always felt random.

No matter what she did or what progress she made, she always seemed to return to the same old condition—tired, discouraged, and overweight.

Then she got married, and while her life got better, her fitness got worse.

After work, it was all too tempting to discuss the day with her husband, Keith, over a bottle of wine or an extra-large portion of their evening meal. She started skipping workouts and missing runs. Over time, those extra calories added up.

Finally, both Katrina and Keith reached a breaking point: They knew they had to do better.

After all, if they were struggling with health and fitness now, in early middle age, what would happen later?

“I wanted to set us up for a healthy future.”

Enter Precision Nutrition. Taking a leap of faith and investing in their long-term health, Katrina and Keith signed up for coaching—together.

It wasn’t long before their rituals began to change. Instead of bonding over a beer, they’d start the day with a gym date and close it with a conversation about that week’s nutrition habit or the most recent lesson in the program.

This mutual encouragement proved crucial to their success.

“Even though our experience was different, we were always there to support each other. It’s like we were on the same train, even if we sometimes rode in different cars.”

The kids also came along for the ride. “They weren’t always giddy about eating so many veggies,” Katrina admits. But they were game to try. “The youngest happens to love licorice. I’ll never forget her smile when I showed her that fennel smells and tastes like her favorite candy!”

It was that mindful approach to cooking, eating, exercise, and sleep that made the biggest difference to Katrina. Day after day, she made small, consistent efforts. She stopped thinking in terms of depriving herself. Instead, she took care of herself.

The number on the scale seemed to take care of itself, too.

For Katrina, watching her weight drop was a thrill. Better yet was the experience of flying through the hills on a long trail run, and feeling as energetic after the race as before it.

Best of all was her newfound ability to listen to herself, to trust her inner voice.

For example, that inner voice prompted Katrina to quit a 12-hour challenge race after seven hours in the heat and torrential rain. Instead of pushing herself beyond her limits, or just sticking it out to drink beer and eat junk food, she opted to leave–and enjoy a cozy supper with Keith.

Other times, the inner voice gave Katrina the encouragement she needed to decline that extra drink at a social event so she could prioritize sleep.

Often, Katrina’s inner voice nudged her to get outside and connect with nature. To listen to the babble of the stream, to feel the stones under her feet.

These days, people ask Katrina what she’s been doing to get so healthy and happy.

“Honestly, it isn’t hard,” she says. It’s really about slowing down, listening, making one small positive choice, and then another.

“Focus on the process instead of on outcomes. What you do to and with your body matters,” she says.

“Most of all, remember that you’re worth it.”

Want to get results like Katrina? Learn more about the Precision Nutrition Coaching Program for Women.

$25,000 Grand Prize Winner: Glen

Lost 52 lbs and 33 total inches!

Age: 57 years
Weight Lost: 52 lbs (from 243 lbs to 191 lbs)
Total Inches Lost: 33 inches (from 262 inches to 229 inches)

An avid rower, Glen Schultz knew it may be time for a change the day he tried to get in the racing shell—and wouldn’t fit.

Though active, Glen, like many of us, had arrived at middle age carrying some extra baggage around his middle.

He couldn’t squeeze into his suits, either. Invited to a wedding, he had to make a trip to the Goodwill store to find something formal to wear.

But these were just irritations. Annoying, yes, but also funny. It was the confrontations with mortality that Glen found harder to shrug off.

First, his wife’s mother passed away. Then, he lost his own mother. A former classmate died of a stroke.

And he found himself dwelling on the reality that in his mid-50s, he had fewer years ahead of him than behind. With a loving wife and two teenage boys to raise, he didn’t feel ready to cut those years even shorter.

His medical checkup was the final straw.

“You’re pre-diabetic,” his doctor told him, and then mentioned something about “medications.” That’s when Glen decided to take control of his health.

He signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching, began to follow the habits and workouts, and bit by bit his mindset and waistline both started to change.

“In the past, I’d never really thought about how I eat,” he says.

Glen knew all about what he should eat, and why. But it turned out that slowing down, taking time, and reflecting on his choices made all the difference.

“Instead of going for that midnight ice cream, I’d write down how I was feeling.”

Afterwards, he might still hit the freezer for a snack, but he took a smaller portion and enjoyed it more.

Midway through his year of coaching he went for another checkup. This time, his blood work came back clear. He wasn’t pre-diabetic any more. And his GP had to cancel an upcoming appointment with a cardiologist.

Glen didn’t need it. His heart was in great shape.

That bin of “too small” clothes at the back of his closet? Now Glen found himself raiding it for something to wear.

In fact, he had to buy a new bin for the “too big” clothes.

The first item he tossed: that Goodwill suit he’d had to buy for the wedding a few months earlier.

Eventually, it got to the point where all his clothes were too big.

“I think I’ll have a ceremonial bonfire,” he laughs.

These days, Glen is rowing again. He bikes to work sometimes, and takes long walks on the weekends. His wife, who supported him from the start, has joined the coaching program herself, so they share their successes and challenges.

Glen’s old pattern was to do things the way he’d always done them and to fix every problem himself. To repair the broken bathtub, even though he didn’t know anything about fiberglass. To wear his hair the way he’d always worn it, even if it went against his natural part.

But his year of coaching has taught him the value of accepting help from the pros.

It turns out that bathtub repair guys really know how to work with fiberglass, barbers really understand hair, and PN coaches really know how to guide people towards greater fitness and health.

“You could wander in the vastness of what’s out there on the internet forever and get lost. Or you could ignore the flotsam and jetsam and get real help,” Glen says.

Also, you don’t need to be Michael Jordan or Lebron James to do this program.

“I can’t overstate it. This works for regular people. It really works.”

Want to get results like Glen? Learn more about the Precision Nutrition Coaching Program for Men.

Meet our other Women’s winners:

Marie

$10,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 39 years

Weight Lost: 36 lbs (167 lbs to 131 lbs)

Total inches lost: 29″ (217″ to 188″)

As a perfectionist, if I wasn’t able to do everything perfectly, to a T, I would often fall into a ‘why bother’ mindset. What I love about PN is that it is made for ‘real-life,’ ‘normal’ people! At times it is almost too easy, but that is the beauty of it! If you just follow along, one step at a time, just trying to be ‘one percent better every day,’ you’ll see amazing, lasting, and sustainable results!

– Marie

Laurie

$10,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 54 years

Weight Lost: 38 lbs (195 lbs to 157 lbs)

Total inches lost: 24″ (235″ to 211″)

I was looking for a program that would lead to positive, life-long, sustainable changes for my health and well-being. PN Coaching put me in control of my journey by providing thorough, well-researched information; lots of helpful advice; and supportive, empathetic, insightful coaching (much appreciated!). By helping me tailor my own program, I was choosing something meaningful and doable for me. I found that small changes done consistently led to amazing results.

– Laurie

Kathleen

$2,500 women’s Winner:

Age: 50 years

Weight Lost: 21 lbs (143 lbs to 122 lbs)

Total inches lost: 20″ (215″ to 195″)

As an avowed do-it-yourselfer, I spent a year studying the PN website and trying to follow the guidance on my own. I made some progress, but what a difference a year of PN Coaching made! Not only did I celebrate my 50th birthday leaner, healthier, and more confident than I had in decades, I got there in a way that felt natural, sustainable and easier than I ever imagined.

– Kathleen

Marilyn

$2,500 women’s Winner:

Age: 70 years

Weight Lost: 51 lbs (217 lbs to 166 lbs)

Total inches lost: 56″ (259″ to 203″)

I joined PN hoping to lose weight, and I did. A wonderful, unexpected bonus was that, along the way, I found my true, authentic self, and discovered how to align my life with my values. Thank you for giving me the calm and peace I need!

– Marilyn

Mia

$2,500 women’s Winner:

Age: 37 years

Weight Lost: 21 lbs (168 lbs to 147 lbs)

Total inches lost: 10″ (216″ to 206″)

I made the commitment to PN to regain my health, happiness, and confidence—but most importantly to establish myself as a top priority again. My transformation has been both challenging and exciting, but through PN I have formed and reinforced healthy habits that will support my continued consistency. BOOM!!

– Mia

Donna

$2,500 women’s Winner:

Age: 61 years

Weight Lost: 26 lbs (145 lbs to 119 lbs)

Total inches lost: 20″ (211″ to 191″)

Precision Nutrition is the “magic pill” I’ve been looking for most of my adult life. I’ve tried everything, but never experienced this success, which I achieved even while dealing with a new autoimmune inflammatory diagnosis that causes pain and a treatment that causes weight gain. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I could hardly walk, and although it has been an uphill climb it’s been worth every step. The daily inspiration, encouragement, and guidance I received from PN has touched every area of my life. I’m so very thankful to finally be healthy and fit enough to enjoy my retirement years (hopefully soon) and my grandchildren!

– Donna

Sarah

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 24 years

Weight Lost: 45 lbs (180 lbs to 135 lbs)

Total inches lost: 33″ (229″ to 196″)

I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally free. I’ve lost pounds and inches, and I gained a confident, happier, energetic lifestyle with a sense of purpose. By prioritizing my health, I am able to have the fullness of a life rooted in unshakable faith: in myself, in my relationships, and in my daily choices.

– Sarah

Joanne

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 64 years

Weight Lost: 52 lbs (222 lbs to 170 lbs)

Total inches lost: 51″ (266″ to 215″)

I feel reenergized, stronger than I’ve ever been, living a much more active and fulfilling life, and dedicated to always taking care of myself from now on, even when ‘life happens.’ PN has been there, week after week, encouraging, supporting, and providing solid information as I’ve made changes both inside and out. PN has sparked a real joy in me in learning again. I know now it is never, ever too late!

– Joanne

Sibylle

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 40 years

Weight Lost: 20 lbs (125 lbs to 105 lbs)

Total inches lost: 17″ (198″ to 181″)

Having been a lifelong yoyo dieter, PN was going to be a last-ditch effort to get my eating under control and to make lasting changes. While it wasn’t all smooth sailing, I feel that PN taught me the fundamental skills and gave me the mindset to finally find balance in my life, stop obsessing over food, and get into the best shape of my life! Through PN’s lessons and the support of my coach, Denise, I developed the necessary tools to lead a healthy, balanced life.

– Sibylle

Yami

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 32 years

Weight Lost: 27 lbs (162 lbs to 135 lbs)

Total inches lost: 29″ (226″ to 197″)

PN Coaching has been so much more than a physical transformation, it’s been a journey that’s transformed my mental capacity to understand my real strengths. I am convinced that small incremental changes over time make a big difference. I’m taking with me skills to make this a lifetime lifestyle change, and the motivation and desire to keep learning and continue to grow.

– Yami

Cheryl

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 56 years

Weight Lost: 38 lbs (212 lbs to 174 lbs)

Total inches lost: 24″ (241″ to 217″)

PN has given me the tools to understand that change comes from the inside and works its way out. The journey is ongoing, but instead of fear, the foundation is now being built on pride, love and compassion.

– Cheryl

Michelle

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 39 years

Weight Lost: 14 lbs (145 lbs to 131 lbs)

Total inches lost: 19″ (216″ to 197″)

I started out with PN desperate to lose weight. But at the end of this, what has really changed my life is what I have gained—healthy, sustainable habits; workouts that have challenged me and made me stronger; and unshakable confidence in my body and all the amazing things it can do. PN has helped me shift my entire way of thinking, and while I’m happy with my physical transformation, what I am really so grateful for are all the changes on the inside.

– Michelle

Sabrina

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 46 years

Weight Lost: 57 lbs (252 lbs to 195 lbs)

Total inches lost: 28″ (278″ to 250″)

What has impacted me the most in PN is learning the difference between hunger and eating for boredom or emotions. PN has given me the tools to be aware of what my body needs to be healthy and maintain that health for the rest of my life.

– Sabrina

Kelly

$1,000 women’s Winner:

Age: 54 years

Weight Lost: 43 lbs (181 lbs to 138 lbs)

Total inches lost: 43″ (237″ to 194″)

I’ve had an amazing year with PN Coaching. I lost weight, became physically stronger, and dug deep into the issues that had held me back from being the fit person I’d always wanted to be.

– Kelly

Meet our other Men’s winners:

Gavin

$10,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 34 years

Weight Lost: 27 lbs (181 lbs to 154 lbs)

Total inches lost: 20″ (230″ to 210″)

I joined PN to transform my body. Not only did they deliver on that, but they reignited my love of great food and cooking!

– Gavin

Rich

$10,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 59 years

Weight Lost: 39 lbs (213 lbs to 174 lbs)

Total inches lost: 22″ (242″ to 220″)

I joined PN to support my wife, with few expectations of my own. Along the way I admitted to myself that my hesitation to join had to do more with my own self-doubt and history. Previously, I had not kept up new eating habits, saw food as a reward, and hoped exercise would overcome bad eating habits. PN really helped me become more aware of my body’s signals and become more mindful of how these affect me, eventually leading to a physician- and wife-approved healthier me!

– Rich

Paddy

$2,500 men’s Winner:

Age: 44 years

Weight Lost: 64 lbs (225 lbs to 161 lbs)

Total inches lost: 34″ (248″ to 214″)

Over the past year I feel I’ve taken back control of body. I’ve learned to listen to my body to understand when I need rest and what food I need. The best thing over the past year: I’m pretty much pain-free.

– Paddy

Scott

$2,500 men’s Winner:

Age: 50 years

Weight Lost: 18 lbs (248 lbs to 230 lbs)

Total inches lost: 4″ (264″ to 260″)

PN Coaching was the catalyst for me to change my life and the direction it was heading. Knowing someone was there who ‘had my back’ allowed me to become accountable to myself and it brought out parts of me I had forgotten were there. Truly a life changing program physically, mentally and spiritually!

– Scott

Raj

$2,500 men’s Winner:

Age: 41 years

Weight Lost: 29 lbs (163 lbs to 134 lbs)

Total inches lost: 20″ (214″ to 194″)

The Precision Nutrition program does a stellar job of providing tools (presenting habits such as “Make Time,” “Eat to 80% Full,” and “Plan to eat Whole Foods”) through which you can restructure and reshape how you approach nutrition and fitness in your life. It enables a client to drive personal growth via INCREMENTAL change, which I’ve learned is the best way to achieve lasting change. Externally, I’ve lost 40+ pounds in the past 18 months, about 30 of that in the past year alone. Over the same timeframe, I’ve fundamentally changed my identity from someone who was just “getting older” to someone who clearly prioritizes nutrition and fitness and is a challenge-seeking leader.

– Raj

Wade

$2,500 men’s Winner:

Age: 47 years

Weight Lost: 26 lbs (190 lbs to 164 lbs)

Total inches lost: 21″ (242″ to 221″)

For me the PN Journey was all about my ‘inner game.’ I learned the outer, physical changes were not possible until I changed my inner-self. PN Coaching and specifically Coach Scott helped me recognize that my beliefs, old scripts, and the story I was telling myself were no longer serving me, and in fact weren’t even mine or true to begin with. As soon as I was able to analyze, question, and change them, everything started to change for the better. I felt a shift, improvement, or a ‘release’ in myself internally. With that, the external changes began to flow easily in all areas of my life.

– Wade

Jim

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 48 years

Weight Lost: 33 lbs (201 lbs to 168 lbs)

Total inches lost: 21″ (241″ to 220″)

Simply put, Precision Nutrition changed my relationship with food to a much healthier and sustainable one. By doing this, the changes in my life have gone beyond the basic measures of weight and girth. I feel more energized and more in control overall, and I even set a new personal best on a recent half marathon, by 16 minutes.

– Jim

Nathan

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 35 years

Weight Lost: 28 lbs (202 lbs to 174 lbs)

Total inches lost: 17″ (238″ to 221″)

Prior to PN, I didn’t really feel comfortable in my own skin. My body had changed over the past few years in ways I wasn’t happy with, and I felt helpless. However, as the year progressed, PN helped me build up habits and take control of my physical and mental health. Now I take the time each week to plan and prep for fun new recipes, and I get excited for my daily workouts, finding new ways to grow and challenge myself.

– Nathan

Ben

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 26 years

Weight Lost: 15 lbs (197 lbs to 182 lbs)

Total inches lost: 22″ (243″ to 221″)

My journey with PN has been incredible. I was challenged in ways I didn’t expect, and was taught the core skills I can use to stay healthy for the rest of my life. Getting fit is simply a decision: Once you make it, PN has you covered for the rest.

– Ben

Mike

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 38 years

Weight Lost: 28 lbs (213 lbs to 185 lbs)

Total inches lost: 15″ (248″ to 233″)

Precision Nutrition has been an amazing experience for me. The program has equipped me with straightforward tools and techniques that I can use forever to maintain long-lasting health. I couldn’t be happier with results.

– Mike

Charles

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 39 years

Weight Lost: 29 lbs (179 lbs to 150 lbs)

Total inches lost: 29″ (229″ to 200″)

Having been physically active for most of my life with martial arts, sports, and weight training, I hit a roadblock when I injured my back in my late 20s and had to stay in bed for nine months. Since then, I have been struggling with back pain, disk problems, etc., and I thought I was doomed to recurring injuries every few months. I thought I knew what I was doing because of my background in fitness, but PN has taught me things I never learned in all my years of training. I have been injury-free for the past eight months, and I feel better than I have in years! With my new priceless PN habits, I really have no words to say with how thankful I am! PN truly helped me change my mindset, my body, and the way I see life and myself in this world. I feel good, and I feel that I am more conscious and mindful of everything. Thank you, PN.

– Charles

Ashwin

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 31 years

Weight Lost: 26 lbs (174 lbs to 148 lbs)

Total inches lost: 8″ (225″ to 217″)

The biggest impact that PN Coaching has had on me is that I’ve BECOME that person who sees himself as someone who trains consistently, eats well most of the time, and takes good care of himself every day. Even though I used to train before and sort of knew the optimal food choices to make, there was always a gap between what I knew and what I ended up doing. PN has helped me develop the skillset required to effectively bridge this gap, and for that I’m forever grateful.

– Ashwin

James

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 54 years

Weight Lost: 32 lbs (221 lbs to 189 lbs)

Total inches lost: 22″ (259″ to 237″)

When I began with PN Coaching, I thought it was just a one-year program. It’s not; it’s a lifetime of healthy habits. PN Coaching taught me how to be engaged through the lessons and workouts, and to focus on the habits that helped me achieve the greatest reward: better health. This is my life now, and I have never felt mentally, physically, and emotionally healthier than I am right now. I am proud of what I have accomplished with the help of Coach Jonathan and the PN Team.

– James

John

$1,000 men’s Winner:

Age: 44 years

Weight Lost: 37 lbs (203 lbs to 166 lbs)

Total inches lost: 26″ (247″ to 221″)

What has really changed for me in the course of this program is what has eluded me with every previous effort to finally ‘get in shape’: a sustainable lifestyle shift. The weight has come off, I’m stronger, healthier and more energetic, but more importantly, for the first time in my adult life, I’m confident that I can maintain it. It’s not one big thing, it’s everything: My entire lifestyle has changed over the course of a year.

– John

Meet a few hundred more Precision Nutrition clients.

To view all the men’s and women’s finalists from the July 2019 Coaching Program, click the links below.

To view all the men’s and women’s finalists from all of our Precision Nutrition Coaching programs, click one of the links below.

Of course, if you’re interested in working toward a body or health transformation of your own, consider joining our next Precision Nutrition Coaching group. We’re opening up a few spots in the coming weeks.

Want to transform your body and health?

As you probably know, you won’t overhaul your body this dramatically by just logging time on a treadmill or reading health tips on Twitter. 

Awesome, lasting, wow-what-happened-to-you transformations usually require personal attention from an expert coach.

And here’s the good news: Precision Nutrition Coaching will be accepting new clients very soon, at our lowest, most accessible price ever.

If you’re interested and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list.

Being on the presale list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

The post Precision Nutrition Coaching Grand Prize Winners: July 2019. We just surprised our latest winners with more than $125,000 in prizes! appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Precision Nutrition clients usually start out hoping for a better body. They walk away with much more, including surprising mental shifts that lead to happier, richer lives. Today we feature 14 of their Postcards From The Future, showcasing what can happen with the right kind of support.

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Most of the folks who sign up for Precision Nutrition Coaching are after a strong, healthy, nice-looking body that makes them proud and keeps them feeling good for decades.

After 12 months — and, believe me, a lot of hard work — that’s what most achieve. (For more on their physical changes, check out our Men’s and Women’s Hall of Fame).

However, despite all the amazing before and after photos, despite the fantastic weight loss, despite the gains in strength, there’s one thing that really makes them light up.

They’ve become capable, confident, and free.

That’s worth thinking about.

You see, Precision Nutrition Coaching is both research-driven and personal. This means we use the latest scientific findings to help coach people through the unique challenges in their own lives; whether physical or emotional ones.

It’s part physiology. Part psychology. Part science. Part art.

And it typically leads to fantastic physical changes: Our clients lose weight, gain strength, go off meds, shed scary medical diagnoses, and more.

For most clients, these changes are only the tip of the iceberg. Because their improved bodies have now become vehicles for accomplishing inspiring things.

Indeed, they’ve become ready, willing, and able to tackle challenges they were previously afraid of, even incapable of.

About the Postcards From The Future exercise.

We often ask clients to envision where they’ll be in the future. What their new bodies will look like. What they’ll feel like. What they’ll be able to do.

But we take it one step further. We ask them to write ‘Destination Postcards’: Personal notes from their future selves to their current selves to inspire, motivate, and encourage.

Kinda like:

“Hey John, the weather’s great here. You won’t believe it but Dr. Smith, for the first time in years, gave us a clean bill of health. Plus, get this, we just ran a 5K. Can you imagine?!?”

Then, at the end of the program, we ask clients to make it real. To share photos and stories of what they are now able to accomplish after working with us.

The submissions are always incredible. And today I’m going to share a few.

These clients started out obese, or overweight, or injured, or bogged down, or unconfident, or feeling incapable, or imprisoned by all of the above.

Now, they’re climbing mountains, cycling on top of the world, and vaulting railings that stopped them before. Most importantly, they’re full of hope and looking forward to the adventurous, active years still ahead of them.

(Be sure to check out both the front and back, which describes the accomplishment, by tapping on each postcard.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want some help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health and fitness pros (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

The post Postcards from the future. [Inspiring photos] 12 months of healthy movement and nutrition. A stronger body. And achievements that could change your life. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1