If you’ve ever (briefly!) thought about duct-taping your kid to a chair while you wedge a forkful of spinach into their mouth, you know the frustration and anxiety many parents experience around kids’ nutrition.

“Are they eating enough?”

“Are they getting the right nutrients?”

“Why won’t they eat anything green??”

“Am I failing as a parent???”

“WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE ANYWAY?!”

We feel you.

The good news: It is possible to help kids get the nutrients they need without everything being perfect. Because let’s face it: When does that ever happen?

We’ve worked with over 100,000 clients—many of whom are parents and guardians looking to bring more peace to mealtime and more greens to their fridge.

Here’s what we tell them: You don’t need to win the Best School Lunch contest, make the world’s healthiest family dinners, or demand your kids eat a heaping plateful of vegetables.

Instead, we recommend another approach: Be gently persistent, and take the long view.

When kids have some choice and control, a basic understanding of why nutrition matters, and a safe, low-stress environment to try some food experiments… a lot can change. (For the better.)

Check out the infographic below for nine ways to help your little ones make healthier food choices on their own.

Plus, five recipes that draw on family-favorite foods that most kids will love. No duct tape required.

Download the tablet or printer-friendly infographic to share it with friends, family, or (if you’re a coach) clients.

Nutrition for kids can feel like advanced algebra thanks to picky eaters and hectic schedules. Try these low-stress strategies, plus 5 kid-friendly recipes.

Don’t forget to download and save this infographic so you have low-stress strategies for kids’ nutrition when life gets busy.

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, preferences, and circumstances—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.

The post Level 1: 9 ways to take the anxiety out of nutrition for kids. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

What do a doctor, dietitian, licensed clinical social worker, side-hustling nutrition coach, and personal trainer all have in common?

No, this isn’t the beginning of a terrible joke…

The answer: We interviewed people in each of these careers, and they all said getting a nutrition certification was worth it. 

But is a nutrition certification worth it, for you?

In this article, we’ll explore that question.

The truth is, a nutrition certification’s worth-it score depends on your situation.

To help you weigh all the pros and cons, we put together this comprehensive guide, complete with a free self-assessment tool to help you make the decision for yourself.

In this article, you’ll also find:

  • The essential questions to consider before getting a nutrition certification.
  • 5 unexpected side benefits of getting certified.
  • Why a nutrition certification often translates into greater client success.
  • How a nutrition certification can boost your income potential.
  • Insights from seven successful certified nutrition coaches from a wide range of professions.

++++

5 questions that’ll help you decide if a nutrition certification is worth it

Figuring out whether a nutrition certification is worth it can be tricky. In part, because we all define “worth it” differently.

For instance, is a nutrition certification worth it if you:

  • Gain knowledge you need to achieve your career goals?
  • Earn more money because of it?
  • Get more clients or new opportunities afterwards?
  • Learn something that changes your nutrition philosophy?
  • Create connections with like-minded people in your industry?

Consider the following questions to define what “worth it” means to you.

How to use this quiz to make your decision

Each section below ends with a question. You’ll rank your response on a scale from 0 to 5. (Just click the number on your screen, and your results will automatically populate at the end of the quiz.)

Once you’ve answered all five questions, you’ll get a worth it/not worth it result.

If you’re not sure how to answer one or more of the 5 questions (or just want to consider it from multiple angles), you’ll find boxes labeled “dig deeper” with prompts for further reflection.

Our advice: Keep a journal handy. Jot down your thoughts so you’ll have something to refer to when making your decision.

Question #1: Does a nutrition certification fill a gap in your knowledge?

A nutrition certification is worth it if it helps you gain key knowledge or skills, according to the coaches we interviewed.

Here are a few real-life examples of how a nutrition certification can fill knowledge gaps.

The personal trainer who wanted to master nutrition

The release of a massively popular Netflix nutrition documentary, coupled with a resulting deluge of client questions, made personal trainer Tyler Buckingham, PN1, PPSC, realize the full extent of nutrition misinformation.

He wanted to better understand the discussion as well as be able to answer client questions with authority. “I was like, okay, it’s time to get certified in nutrition,” says Buckingham, who trains a group of former athletes.

Since getting certified, he’s much more adept at answering the nutrition questions clients lob his way—especially tricky ones with no clear answer.

“I like having that flexibility and being able to say, ‘Hey, you could try this, or you could try that. What do you want to do? Let’s have a conversation about it.’”

In the end, Buckingham knows his clients are getting answers to their questions, and the actionable advice they need to keep moving forward.

The doctor who wanted to give better advice

A family medicine resident and CrossFit Level 1 coach, Kristina Hines, DO, PN1, felt confident talking to patients about exercise. But the few hours of nutrition education she got in medical school just weren’t cutting it.

“I didn’t really know what to tell patients nutritionally,” she says.

Her patients often had specific questions about how to eat, whether various diets were right for them, and what foods calmed their symptoms.

Dr. Hines wanted a deeper level of nutritional understanding, so she decided to pursue a nutrition certification.

Thanks to the certification course, Dr. Hines now feels comfortable answering just about any nutrition question patients come up with.

The registered dietitian who wanted to learn about behavior change

Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, was already a dietitian when she got her nutrition certification. But she wanted to learn more about the psychology of behavior change and motivational interviewing.

“As a university professor, I like to see different teaching methods and different learning styles,” she says.

For her, getting a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification meant gaining perspective on how behavior change actually works, so she could better implement it with her clients.

Will a nutrition certification fill a gap in your knowledge?

already know everything
have a major knowledge gap

012345

Dig deeper

  • What are you hoping to learn from a nutrition certification? How will the certification help you learn it?
  • What skills would help you reach more people, or improve your work with them? Could a nutrition certification help?
  • How do you feel when nutrition questions come up? How does that compare to how you’d like to feel?

Question #2: Will a nutrition certification bring you additional and valuable benefits?

People often cite benefits of becoming certified that go beyond their initial reason for doing so, such as:

  • enhanced credibility
  • more confidence
  • improved communication skills
  • opportunities to learn from peers and experts in the field
  • a healthier relationship with food

Below, we’ll cover each of these benefits in detail, so you can decide if they’re worth it for you.

Benefit #1: Enhanced credibility

After Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT,  earned her nutrition certification, she noticed something that surprised her: “My credibility increased,” says the registered nurse, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach. “Clients know I’m evidence-based and not biased, and they’ve felt the difference.”

Gill saw that lots of other trainers in her community pushed dieting, counting macros, and detoxing. Her nutrition certification helped her realize that a different approach would resonate more with her clients.

“I’ve decided to be the voice of reason and grace,” she adds.

Benefit #2: More confidence

What does Buckingham see as the biggest hidden benefit of getting certified? “Definitely the confidence I have now,” he says.

Not long ago, a client came to him wanting to lose weight. During their intake, Buckingham learned the client had already lost several pounds. Clearly, the person was doing a lot right.

In the past, Buckingham would have felt pressured to deliver a completely different program—for the sake of it. Thanks to what he learned from his certification, however, he confidently encouraged his client to keep going with some of the same strategies.

Buckingham also feels more at ease talking about nutrition’s gray areas.

Instead of claiming to know it all, he feels comfortable saying: “Hey, I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’ll find out,”  or “Why don’t we see if it works? Then after a week, we can see what happened, and take it from there.”

Benefit #3: Improved coaching and communication skills

Some nutrition certification courses, like Precision Nutrition Level 1, include information on the art of coaching as well as nutrition science. In other words, part of the course trains you to talk to your clients more effectively. (Want to see what we mean? Check out our FREE Nutrition Coaching e-course.)

Josh Chang, PN1, a dietitian and owner of Mycro Nutrition, says getting a certification was worth it for him because it taught him how to talk to clients about their barriers.

“Dietitians are trained to use a little bit of motivational interviewing and empathize with clients, but Precision Nutrition teaches you to take that one or two steps further—to get to know the client and how to dig into why they might be saying what they say or doing what they’re doing.”

“A nutrition certification may be worth it if you need a little help strengthening those communication or rapport building skills,” he adds.

Benefit #4: Opportunities to learn from peers and experts in the field

Some nutrition certifications offer Facebook groups, online forums, and even in-person events. These resources provide coaches with a chance to connect with like-minded health professionals, get input from others on challenges and, in some cases, access top experts in the nutrition field.

Having a large community of coaches at his fingertips was one of the biggest unexpected benefits for Chang.

“Once you enroll in PN Level 1 or 2, you get invited to a Facebook group. I particularly enjoy seeing how different coaches respond when people post questions. Some coaching suggestions are just so out of left field, in a good way. I’m like, ‘I would’ve never thought of that, but it’s brilliant.’”

Benefit #5: A healthier relationship with food

Jenna Ashby PA-C, PN1, an oncology physician assistant, decided to become a nutrition coach after overcoming disordered eating.

Though Ashby primarily uses her nutrition certification in her side job at Breathe CrossFit in Derry, New Hampshire, she also came away from the experience with some personal takeaways.

“It helped solidify what I’ve been building upon the last few years, and it helped me find more peace with myself,” says Ashby. “I now know, without a doubt: I can love my body, be okay with my body, and appropriately nourish it.”

“That’s huge because I once thought that, if I wanted to eat, I had to exercise, or vice versa. Now, that mentality is reversed: In order to be strong and feel strong I need to nourish myself. The PN certification really solidified that for me,” she says.

Will a nutrition certification bring you additional and valuable benefits?

not valuable at all
massively valuable

012345

Dig deeper

  • How would you like clients to view your knowledge about nutrition, and how do you think you’re currently measuring up to that?
  • How confident do you feel about your nutrition recommendations when working with clients? When you aren’t sure about something, how do you handle it?
  • How would you rate your current coaching and communication skills? When you talk to people about nutrition, how does your message seem to be received?
  • Where do you currently connect with peers and experts in your field? How might you benefit from additional opportunities?
  • How would you describe your current nutrition philosophy and your relationship with food? Is there room for improvement here?

Question #3: Does a nutrition certification line up with your career goals?

A nutrition certification enables you to make nutrition recommendations to otherwise healthy clients. 

With a nutrition certification, you’ll be qualified to:

  • Give the right nutrition advice at the right time
  • Develop an action plan your clients will actually follow
  • Help people transform their bodies and their health

These qualifications can be useful in a variety of careers.

What are your career opportunities with a nutrition certification?

People often wonder if they need to go to (or go back to) a university to get started with a career in nutrition. For certain jobs (such as registered dietitian), you need a specialized degree and training.

But there’s also a lot you can do with a nutrition certification alone. Coaches in our community have job titles like:

  • Nutrition coach
  • Sports nutrition coach
  • Weight loss coach
  • Weight management consultant
  • Corporate wellness educator
  • Nutrition program manager at a gym or other health facility
  • High-performance consultant
  • Stay-at-home parent and part-time nutrition coach

If you already have additional certifications or degrees (or plan to get them), there may be other career options. Some PN-certified coaches are also:

  • Registered dietitians
  • Sports nutritionists
  • Personal trainers and strength coaches who do nutrition coaching
  • Physical therapists who do nutrition coaching
  • Doctors, nurses, and physician assistants who do nutrition coaching
  • Psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers who do nutrition coaching

What are you not qualified to do?

It’s important to note that Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)—which involves giving nutrition advice to treat or cure disease—is out of scope unless you’re specifically MNT-accredited. You won’t be qualified to do this with a nutrition certification alone, and you should never try.

Depending on where you live, rules and regulations vary on what people with nutrition certifications are allowed to do.

For instance, in some states in the US, the only people who can provide meal plans are registered dietitians. But in these states, nutrition coaches can still help people with their eating as long as they’re not telling people exactly what they should and shouldn’t eat.

If you take a Precision Nutrition certification, you’ll learn that meal plans, deeming foods “off-limits,” and telling people exactly what to eat aren’t our style anyway. In our nutrition certification, you’ll learn how to get results without using these tactics.

Does a nutrition certification line up with your career goals?

don’t line up at all
yes, they completely line up

012345

Dig deeper

  • How can nutrition coaching fit into your current job? Or are you looking to pursue a new career in nutrition?
  • Take a look at the job titles listed above. Which ones sound interesting to you and/or resonate with your career goals?
  • Do you need a nutrition certification to be qualified (or feel confident enough) to hold the job titles you listed in the previous question? Why or why not?

Question #4: Will a nutrition certification help the clients you work with (or want to work with)?

Our grads say a nutrition certification can help you provide a better service to your clients (or potential clients). This service can not only focus on what they eat, but also how they think, feel, and go about their daily routine. (We call this “deep health” coaching.)

This allows you to figure out what’s really holding clients back from making the lasting changes they really want.

That’s important since many people get a nutrition certification, at least partly, because they want to help people—even if it’s their friends or family members. So it’s worthwhile to consider how getting certified will help the people you work with (or eventually want to work with).

For instance, Buckingham now includes nutrition coaching his personal training clients as an added value service. “If you’re meeting me in person, I’ll often say, ‘Hey, let’s talk nutrition. Let’s make sure that you get those questions answered,’” he explains.

Getting a nutrition certification may also improve client experiences. “I think it’s made me a better practitioner,” Dr. Hines says.

Developing her motivational interviewing skills, she says, helped her approach conversations about nutrition in a way that makes patients feel more at ease.

“Now, I’m able to meet my patients where they are instead of having them feel like I’m just lecturing them. I really try to empower patients to know that they have a say in this. It’s not just me telling them what they have to do.”

Lastly, a nutrition certification may help clients get better results.

For example, Kelly Lynch, LCSW, EMT, CPT, PN1, a therapist who specializes in treating first responders, began suggesting clients talk to their physicians about blood work and other diagnostic tests, especially when she suspected their mental health symptoms might be related to (or exacerbated by) nutritional deficiencies, GI dysfunction, or hormonal issues.

When one of her clients described worsening depression along with digestive issues, Lynch thought of a condition she’d learned about during her certification that could contribute to these symptoms: SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). She encouraged the client to ask their doctor about it.

Sure enough, testing revealed Lynch’s hunch was correct, and the client’s depression improved once the SIBO was treated.

Will a nutrition certification help your clients?

won’t help at all
will help majorly

012345

Dig deeper

  • What additional value would your clients receive if you got a nutrition certification?
  • How would more knowledge and better coaching/communication skills improve clients’ experiences?
  • In what way would nutrition and coaching expertise help your clients get better results?

Question #5: Will a nutrition certification boost your income potential, or provide other financial benefits?

Based on our survey of 1000 nutrition coaches and additional independent research, coaches with a nutrition certification earn slightly more per hour than coaches without one.

If you have two to three certifications, you’ll earn an average $12 more per hour than coaches with just one.

And coaches with a Precision Nutrition certification earn 11 percent more than people with other certifications.

So it’s safe to say that, on average, certified coaches earn more.

For Chang, getting a nutrition certification was the impetus to start his own coaching business, getting him out of a hospital nutrition setting and into the driver’s seat of his own career and earning potential.

Lynch experienced greater interest in her therapy services after sharing that she’d gotten certified in nutrition. It also helped her launch a coaching side business, providing an additional revenue stream.

For some, a nutrition certification might be an avenue to saving money. In addition to enabling her to start a side job as a nutrition coach, Ashby says getting certified meant she no longer felt like she needed to pay for nutrition coaching from someone else. Now, she feels totally confident adjusting her own eating habits.

Will a nutrition certification boost your income potential, or provide other financial benefits?

not at all
yes, absolutely

012345

Dig deeper

  • Will getting a nutrition certification allow you to charge clients more than you are currently, or offer new services?
  • How might getting certified in nutrition increase interest in your services? Could it help expand your client base?
  • How might getting a nutrition certification potentially save you money, in terms of services you’ll no longer need or outsourcing you’ll no longer have to do?

So is a nutrition certification worth it?

YOUR TOTAL SCORE:

Now find your score range to see if a nutrition certification is worth it.

20 and above: Yes, a nutrition certification is worth it for you!

Based on your answers, it sounds like a nutrition certification will pay off. By getting certified, you’ll level up your:

  • nutrition science and coaching knowledge
  • career opportunities and coaching services
  • ability to help clients
  • income potential
  • and so much more.

6 to 19: A nutrition certification might be worth it for you.

Based on your answers, it sounds like a nutrition certification will pay off in some ways, but might not in others.

The big question for you to consider: Do the likely benefits outweigh the costs?

To answer that, take another look at your quiz answers, specifically at the ones where you scored a 4 or 5.

Compare the benefits with the cost associated with getting certified.

For example, let’s say you ranked high for a certification filling a knowledge gap as well as for it likely bringing in more income. For costs, maybe you already have the money set aside as well as the time to take and pass a course. In that case, you’ll likely decide that a certification is worth it.

On the other hand, let’s say you picked 5 for a certification lining up with your career goals. For all of the other questions, you choose a 3 or lower. On top of that, you’d have to borrow money to pay for a certification. And you’re already working two jobs. Oh, and you’ve got a baby on the way. Well, a certification might not be worth it to you—not right now anyway.

5 and under: It doesn’t seem like a nutrition certification is worth it for you.

Based on your answers, it’s not clear that you’ll find a nutrition certification to be worth it. That said, there are always exceptions.

You might be interested in getting a certification just for your own personal benefit—not for your career. You may not want to work with clients, earn money through nutrition coaching, or change jobs, and that’s totally legit.

No matter what you decide, it’s important to have a clear picture of your reasoning. Hopefully, that’s what you’ve gained through this self-assessment.

Where to go from here

If you decide to get a nutrition certification, you have quite a few programs to choose from.

For guidance, check out this in-depth article: How to choose the right nutrition certification program for YOU.

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, preferences, and circumstances—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.

The post Is a nutrition certification worth it? 5 questions to ask yourself before signing up. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Can you determine if a nutrition certification program is reputable, a good fit, and something that will boost your career—before you actually sign up?

Absolutely! To do so, you’ll need to:

This article gives you all the answers.

But they’re not just based on what we here at Precision Nutrition think. Because… we’re a little biased. (We offer the #1 rated nutrition certification worldwide, according to a third-party industry report.)

That’s why we asked five outside nutrition certification experts to help you weigh the pros and cons—so you can choose the best nutrition certification program for you with confidence.

Maybe you’re wondering:

What the heck is a nutrition certification expert? 

They’re health and fitness industry professionals who have so much experience with certifications they’ve earned the right to be called experts. A couple of them have dozens of certifications.

One is the 2017 IDEA Health & Fitness Association Personal Trainer of the Year.

Three have Master’s degrees. Two others are registered dietitians, one of whom has taught on the university level.

Put simply: When other professionals are considering a nutrition certification, they turn to these people for advice.

You’ll hear from…

Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, a former professional baseball player who owns The LAB in Fairfield, New Jersey. Named IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year in 2017, Piercy has collected 34 advanced certifications from a variety of health, fitness, and nutrition organizations.
Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD—a London, Ontario, Canada-based Registered Dietitian and founder and CEO of NutritionRx—got certified as a nutrition coach after she completed her 1800+ hours of training for her dietetic internship. She’s completed Monash University’s low-FODMAP diet training as well as taken courses in eating disorders, food sensitivities, pregnancy, sports nutrition, nutrition supplementation, and motivational interviewing.
Deana Ng, a Sherman Oaks, California Pilates instructor, has certifications from a wide range of organizations: Precision Nutrition, National Pilates Certification Program (NPCP), TRX, Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Buff Bones, The MELT Method, and Osteo-Pilates.
Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT—a Granite Bay California-based registered nurse, personal trainer, and lifestyle coach—holds more than a dozen certifications in everything from yoga to nutrition, including ones from NASM, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Strozzi Institute, AFAA, Les Mills, and the Yoga Alliance.
Kathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD, an El Paso, Texas-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Iron MVMNT, studied nutrition at Texas A&M University, completed hundreds of hours of training for her RDN through Oakwood University, and began her career as a dietitian in a teaching hospital before shifting to an online practice.

This team of experts has experienced it all.

Many reported that their certifications catapulted their business—helping them attract clients, improve their success, and, as a result, generate more referrals and positive reviews.

Have they ever felt like they wasted their money on a nutrition certification? Um, yeah. And, in this article, they reveal three powerful tactics that can help you avoid the same mistake.

Here, you’ll learn what they look for in health, fitness, and nutrition certifications, how they decide if certifications are worth it, and the strategies they use to steer clear of shady companies.

++++

When choosing a nutrition certification, ask yourself these questions.

This probably won’t shock you: No one certification is right for all people.

So how do you zero in on the right one for you—right now?

According to our team of nutrition certification experts, you’ll want to carefully consider 8 questions.

1. Why do you want to get certified?

At age 15, Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, had read every fitness book he could find at a store at his local mall. Still, a nearby gym wouldn’t hire him. “We only hire certified trainers,” they told him.

That might have been the end of his prospects had it not been for his “never take no for an answer” mother, who called certification company after company, in search of one that would enroll her 15-year-old. She eventually found a program that welcomed Piercy.

Later, with his new certification in hand, he reapplied and got hired. (Aren’t moms the best?)

Back then, Piercy’s “why” was obvious: It’d help him get a job.

But getting a job is just one of many important reasons to get a certification.

Jennifer Broxterman, MS, RD, took a nutrition certification to dive deep into the science of behavior change.

Vivian Gill, MA, RN-BC, CPT, wanted to expand her personal training and life coaching businesses.

And Kathleen Garcia-Benson, RDN, LD, sought out her nutrition coaching certification so she could brush up on behavior change and motivational interviewing skills.

What do you want your certification to do for you?

Here’s a list of what the right nutrition certification could help you accomplish:

✓ Acquire new clients

✓ Retain existing clients

✓ Gain new strategies to help clients succeed

✓ Get hired by someone who requires a nutrition certification

✓ Improve nutrition knowledge

✓ Feel qualified to coach nutrition clients

✓ Add nutrition as a service

✓ Break into the health, wellness, and fitness field

✓ Reach the next level in your career

✓ Improve your ability to communicate with clients

✓ Overcome problems with difficult or resistant clients

✓ Boost your credentials

✓ Set yourself apart from your peers

✓ Increase your rates

✓ Build credibility and/or confidence

✓ Fill a knowledge gap

✓ Dive deep into a specific aspect of nutrition (for example, pregnancy nutrition)

✓ Learn about successful behavior change

✓ Be more respected by your peers

All of the above? They’re great reasons to undergo certification—but not all certifications address all those reasons, which brings us to the next important question to consider.

2. What are your values?

You might be tempted to just skim past this question, thinking, ‘What does THAT have to do with my nutrition certification?!’

The answer: everything.

Here’s why:

Your strongly held beliefs about nutrition, health, and fitness will affect which nutrition certifications feel like a good fit—and which ones just don’t. 

For example, maybe you:

  • Don’t believe in diets—for anyone. Like ever.
  • Follow a strict fully plant-based diet for both spiritual and ethical reasons—and only want to work with clients interested in that style of eating.
  • Deeply resonate with the concept of holistic health.

None of those values are universally right or wrong for all people.

But they might be deeply right or wrong for you—and you’ll want your certification to reflect that. Otherwise, you’ll feel like an outsider.

Take Gill. In her nursing career, she’d noticed that, for patients who struggled with wellness, detailed meal plans or sets of food rules didn’t work. These patients had too many other things getting in the way. Like stress. Like insomnia. Like rage eating. Like loneliness. Like lack of support.

As a result, Gill wasn’t remotely interested in:

  • One magical weight loss diet. She only wanted a certification experience that showcased a range of ways to eat.
  • Lists of universal good foods and bad foods.
  • A heavy focus on nutrition science but very little on stress, sleep, and other deep health factors that affect eating behaviors.

Like Gill, Broxterman wanted an open-minded program that taught nutrition in a nonjudgemental way, without heavy bias against specific diets or foods.

“I get turned off by food advocates who go deep down just one rabbit hole,” she says.

Your values may differ from Gill’s or Broxterman’s—and that’s okay.

The point: By knowing your values, you’ll know what you want your certification to cover. 

If you want to get an idea of what the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is like, you can try our FREE Nutrition Coaching e-course.

3. What does the nutrition certification cover?

Questions #1 and #2 will lead right into question #3.

Based on your why and your values, you might want a nutrition certification that covers holistic health coaching, plant-based diets, intuitive and mindful eating, and/or any number of other close-to-your-soul topics.

At the same time, you may not want a certification that focuses too heavily on one or more areas.

In addition to your why and your values, our experts suggest you ponder three additional points.

Assess your nutrition know-how.

If your understanding is pretty basic, you’ll benefit from a course that hits on the fundamentals: how digestion works, the role of vitamins and minerals, and the types of foods that contribute to good health.

On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who reads nutrition journals for fun, an overemphasis on fundamentals may put you to sleep.

For example, during one of Deana Ng’s fitness certification courses, an instructor spent hours explaining how to do squats, planks, and other basic moves—all stuff Ng already knew.

The information wasn’t wrong or bad. Other people in the class got something out of it. But Ng stood there thinking, “Why did I waste my money on this?”

Consider how to level up your skills.

If you learn about the neurological impact of aging, for example, could you better attract older clients? Would a digestion-specific nutrition certification help you stand apart from other coaches? If you deepen your knowledge of plant-based diets, could you better serve existing clients who are interested in that style of eating?

Examine your level of confidence.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who would ace the nutrition category on Jeopardy. But when it comes to people skills? You freeze.

In that case, you might want a certification that focuses more on behavior change and less on the nuts and bolts of nutrition.

Many people who come to Precision Nutrition, for example, don’t come just to learn about food.

They seek out our Level 1 and Level 2 certifications for guidance on how to help clients change their behavior. After all, clients usually know what they’re supposed to eat, Piercy says. They just lack the skills to actually do it.

This is especially true right now, says Gill, because clients are struggling with stress, sleep, and mental health—all things that intensify hunger and cravings.

4. What’s the reputation of the nutrition certification company?

This is one of the top questions our clients say they consider when choosing a nutrition certification. To vet nutrition certification companies, our experts suggest you do five things.

Read up on the nutrition certification program and the experts who created it.

Broxterman decided to undergo nutrition certification with Precision Nutrition, in part, because the person who created it, John Berardi, PhD, frequently spoke at a nutrition and fitness summit at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

“He got invited back year after year because of his credentials, background in science, leadership, and knowledge of the business. I felt like I could trust what he created.”

But let’s say you haven’t had the opportunity to hear a lecture from one of the company’s higher-ups. What else can you look at? Our experts suggest a quick Google search to learn more about the company, its founder, and its curriculum team. Try to learn about:

  • Educational background: Do the founder and curriculum team have degrees in the nutrition, fitness, and/or health field? Do those degrees match up with the expertise the company claims to have?
  • Research background: Have the company and/or its employees published anything that appears on PubMed.gov?
  • Presentation background: Do large, reputable organizations invite members from this company to talk to their students, clients, attendees, and/or employees?
  • Employment background: Where have high-level employees worked—and how might those experiences have influenced them?
  • Recreational and social background: How do high-level company employees spend their free time? Do they walk the talk?
  • Company background: Do you see yourself—race, age, class, hobbies—reflected in the bios, photos, and credentials of the people who work for the company? And does the company tend to hire highly-qualified people with advanced degrees and training, such as Registered Dietitians or people with Master’s degrees or Doctorates?

“I looked at a lot of companies,” says Garcia-Benson. “What really helped me feel comfortable with the certification company I chose: They had Registered Dietitians on staff. For me, that was really important. It helped me to know that, as a Registered Dietitian, I would be welcome and the program would be science-based.”

Make sure the company mentions scope of practice.

Scope of practice was a biggie for Garcia-Benson. She’d seen people throughout the fitness industry who were prescribing supplements to treat complex health problems, putting people with diabetes on questionable diets, or continuing to work with clients with orthorexia rather than referring them to professionals qualified in medical nutrition therapy.

For her, this was an ethical issue.

Garcia-Benson only wanted to learn from a company that made it clear what a certified nutrition coach could or could not do—both legally and ethically.

Check the company’s blog and social feeds.

Look for companies that focus on educating others at least as much as on making money.

Vet the quality of the materials, too, checking to see if they:

  • Include research to back up nutrition claims, along with footnotes and links to sources.
  • Feature advice from people with bonafide nutrition credentials.
  • Are clear and easy to understand.

Piercy looks for companies that make everything really simple.

“That way I know I can communicate that information to the people I train and coach,” he says.

Search out people with the certification.

Read reviews from people who have undergone the company’s certification program. Talk to other people in the field, too. When available, check out third-party industry reports that rank certifications and offer pros and cons.

5. How much will it cost?

Whether your certification costs a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, the price must match the rigor. 

You might expect a weekend course, for example, to cost a couple of hundred dollars—but certainly not a couple of thousand. On the other hand, for a year-long certification course that’s recognized by people throughout the industry? A few grand might feel like a bargain.

“This is what I tell the trainers who work for me,” says Piercy, “Any certification you get has to pay for itself within the first few months.”

Will a reputable nutrition certification help you earn more money?

In a word: yes.

Based on our survey of 1000 nutrition coaches as well as additional independent research, coaches with:

  • One nutrition certification earn slightly more per hour than coaches with none.
  • Two to three certifications, earn an average $12 more per hour than coaches with just one.
  • A Precision Nutrition certification earn 11 percent more than people with other certifications.

To decide whether a new nutrition certification is worth it, use this advice.

Check to see if the same material exists for less money.

Could you learn everything the course provides from freely available videos? Or by reading a book? Sure, many certifications consolidate all of that information in one convenient place. But worth-it certifications should offer more value. “It has to be about more than just consuming knowledge,” says Piercy, “because you can consume knowledge for a lot less money than it costs to get a certification. It has to help you apply that knowledge.”

Do a cost-benefit analysis.

Revisit your “why” and consider how a certification will improve your life. If it does any of the following, you’ll likely feel happy about the money spent:

  • Helps you get new clients
  • Improves how you teach
  • Boosts your confidence
  • Allows you to reach a new client population
  • Makes you a stronger component in the healthcare system

Look into hidden costs.

Consider whether the company will ask you to pay more, in the future, to recertify and/or undergo continuing education.

If the company requires re-testing, re-certifying, and/or professional development, vet the quality of those future professional development options. If few, if any, of the future professional development offerings will help you improve your coaching skills, these recertifications can feel like a money-making scheme, says Ng.

Is that nutrition certification worth it? What an IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year wants you to know.

When people ask for advice on whether to sign up for a new certification, Michael Piercy, MS, CSCS, offers a lesson he learned as a professional baseball player.

When searching for hitting advice, Piercy knew he couldn’t absorb any one baseball player’s philosophy 100 percent—because their gifts and strengths weren’t necessarily the same as his. At the same time, he usually gleaned one or two pointers that helped him connect with the ball more powerfully.

When applied to certifications: Any new nutrition certification should teach you one or two things you can start using immediately.

“If you learn something that changes how you coach or train, that’s a game-changer,” says Piercy.

6. How long will it take?

You won’t get as much market credibility from shorter certification courses as you’ll get from longer ones.

“My education was a couple of years of my life and hundreds of documented hours,” says Ng. That’s completely different than someone who is teaching after taking just a weekend workshop—and clients get it, she says.

7. What is the online learning experience?

When choosing an online experience, consider four factors: how you learn, the level of difficulty, how you’ll be tested, and the support you’ll receive.

How you learn

Think about whether you’re the kind of person who needs a deadline for motivation versus someone who thrives in a self-paced program.

Similarly, do you learn more from reading than from watching videos—or the other way around?

And consider how virtual group discussions make you feel. Do you look forward to connecting with others? Or do you cringe every time an instructor says, “Okay, let’s pair up. Please find a partner”?

There are no right or wrong answers here. The point: Your learning style will affect whether an online learning experience feels like a good fit.

The level of difficulty

The honest truth: A program’s percentage of successful graduates drops as standards rise.

Why? Reputable companies with high-standards tend to create certification opportunities that require:

  • A few weeks to several months worth of learning.
  • Reams of reading.
  • Interactive activities, worksheets, and quizzes that force students to think deeply about their answers.

In other words, you have to get through a lot of material. No one is forcing you to study. Therefore, students who don’t put in the time tend to struggle.

In the end, a certification is only worth what you put into it.

How you’ll be tested

For Ng, what she learns is more important than how she’s tested because that’s what matters to clients. They don’t care if you can name every bone in the body or describe the digestive system in intricate detail. They care that you know how to help them change, she says.

The support you’ll receive

In addition to the online learning experience, consider added value services, such as:

  • Member’s only virtual communities for students and graduates
  • Online materials and handouts to share with clients
  • Tangible resources you can highlight, if it suits you to do so

8. What is the quality of the curriculum experience?

Granted, you may not find out what the curriculum experience is like until after you’ve already handed over your credit card, but these tactics can help you get a solid sense of things.

Check out what the company puts out for free.

We mentioned this investigative tactic earlier, as a way to assess a company’s reputation. “I look for companies that are educating generously—not offering a tiny little nugget and then quickly pivoting to a sales pitch,” Gill says.

Also, clear, easy-to-grasp free materials most likely signal that the company’s curriculum materials will be just as clear and easy to grasp.

If you want examples, here’s a shortlist of free resources that Precision Nutrition offers. (It’s also where our bias comes in, but hopefully, you’ll find it valuable.)

Consider any bonus resources that the company bundles with the certification.

Years after your certification, you may no longer remember every detail. That’s why it’s helpful if the certification company allows lifetime access to materials so you can refresh your memory, says Ng.

“One of the reasons I decided to get certified at Precision Nutrition: There’s just so much information for free. Not all certifications do that,” says Ng. “You’ve got this whole arsenal, a library of stuff. There are so many tools. It’s like a superpower that allows you to do your job to the best of your ability. It makes you feel like a badass.”

Look for certifications that teach you how to coach with confidence.

Some coaches learn and learn and learn—but never actually take the plunge to start coaching. So advanced certifications that pair them with a mentor and allow time for role play can be helpful for building confidence, says Gill.

What to look for in a good nutrition certification program

We just told you—a lot. Chances are, you won’t remember it all. That’s why we boiled down all of the key points in the handy checklist below. Screenshot it. Print it out. Or just bookmark this page.

Use it to vet certification companies so you can get your money’s worth.

Your Complete Nutrition Certification Program Checklist

Look for nutrition certifications that:

✓ Help you take the next step in your career.

✓ Cover the nutrition topics that interest you the most.

✓ Boost your confidence.

✓ Match your values, level of knowledge, and learning style.

✓ Are highly regarded by other health, fitness, and wellness professionals.

✓ Publish easy-to-understand, evidence-based materials.

✓ Demystify scope of practice.

✓ Offer validation for their graduates, so clients can check to see if their certification is legit and current.

✓ Teach you one to two skills you can use immediately.

✓ Will pay off within six months.

Avoid nutrition certifications that:

✓ Focus on a narrow “flavor of the month” skill that will quickly become dated.

✓ Are promoted by companies that are 100 percent focused on the “hard sell.”

✓ Are priced much higher than similar courses based on rigor and reputation.

✓ Do not staff credentialed experts.

✓ Use social media to spread debunked nutritional claims.

Whether you ultimately decide to get certified by Precision Nutrition or another company, we’re sincerely rooting for your success. (The world needs more great coaches.)

The post How to choose the right nutrition certification program—for YOU appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Elimination diets can help people understand food sensitivities and intolerances. This free ebook gives nutrition coaches tools to help clients through elimination diets with confidence.

The post Ebook | Coach Clients Through an Elimination Diet appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

When you think about sports nutrition, what comes to mind?

  • The lean, ripped bodies of professional athletes.
  • Advanced macro ratios that are “administered” and closely monitored.
  • Biochemistry, nutrient timing, and cutting-edge supplementation.
  • All of the above.

Answer A, B, C, or D (everyone’s favorite)? That’s pretty typical.

There’s just one problem: Even collectively, these responses represent only a small slice of what sports nutrition is really all about.

That’s why…

It’s time we redefine sports nutrition. 

And that’s exactly what we’ve done, based on our years of experience coaching elite athletes and active people.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use our new rules of sports nutrition to:

  • Create nutrition plans that are truly personalized for each client.
  • Implement sports nutrition with more clients than ever before.
  • Develop a reliable coaching method for optimizing client results—every single time.

And most importantly? We’ll explain how this new perspective on sports nutrition doesn’t just get your clients to perform better. It can also help them live more balanced and fulfilling lives.

Because peak performance is great. But combined with a healthy, vibrant life? Now you’re truly winning.

++++

The 5 new rules of sports nutrition.

New rule #1: Don’t treat all athletes the same.

In some ways, all athletes are the same. All human bodies who move share the same general needs and basic biology.

But in other ways, all athletes are different. 

For instance:

  • A high school athlete in their teens isn’t the same as an experienced elite in their 20s.
  • A professional athlete isn’t the same as a “regular person” who works out hard in the gym four to five times a week but also has a full-time job and two kids.
  • A person with a heavy manual labor job where their body is their livelihood—such as tactical personnel in the field—isn’t the same as a person who plays a sport for fun.

Traditionally, sports nutrition has focused on the science of nutrients and making prescriptive, idealized recommendations. This typically includes designing a plan based on: 

  • sport type 
  • body weight and height
  • exercise duration
  • exercise intensity
  • current training cycle and competition schedule

These are all crucial factors to consider. They’re something we think about a lot, in fact. (Can we interest you in a fascinating discussion of how protein needs are determined in the lab? Wait… come back.)

But in our experience, nutrients, simple body measures, and sports-based factors aren’t enough.

There’s more to a person than their stats and training schedule. 

Even two people who have similar body sizes and the exact same training schedule will have important differences to account for.

Here’s an example. Derek and Vishal are youth soccer athletes. They share some key characteristics. They’re both 14, are on their school’s soccer team, and are around the same weight.

But Vishal and Derek are on a different schedule of physical and psychological development and maturity.

Check out their profiles below: Can you spot why giving them the same exact nutrition recommendations might not work so well?

Let’s take a look.

Vishal’s profile

Vishal hit puberty young. That’s given him an edge in soccer, since he’s got much longer legs and a significantly more muscular body composition than many of his teammates.

He loves playing soccer, but he never really thinks about his future in the sport. In fact, Vishal doesn’t think much about his future at all. For now, he’s just enjoying high school. After all, he’s only 14.

Derek’s profile

Derek hasn’t grown much in the past couple of years. His appetite has increased recently, but he isn’t growing at a pace to match, which means he’s gained some fat over the past few months. His dad keeps telling him, “I was a late bloomer myself.”

Derek is a fast sprinter and a talented dribbler, so he’s maintained his spot on the team’s starting lineup. He also thinks a lot about where soccer might take him. Derek hopes it’ll be his ticket to the university of his dreams, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure he gets in peak shape.

Okay, those are the details. Got your answer? See how it compares to ours.

Vishal and Derek: Why their nutrition plans should differ

Though their bodies follow the same physiological laws, and they have similar athletic demands, Vishal and Derek have different…

  • Mindsets: Vishal is looking to enjoy his time on the field. Derek has a can-do attitude when it comes to eating to maximize his performance. In both cases, this will likely impact their ability to follow a nutrition plan.
  • Body compositions: Vishal is on the leaner side. Derek has more body fat. This will affect their nutritional needs.
  • Hormonal profiles: Vishal may have an advantage with gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass, since he’s further along in puberty.

For these reasons, if you give Derek and Vishal the exact same sports nutrition plan, they’re not going to get the same results. 

Enter: movement nutrition.

We define this as nutrition that fuels, enhances, and/or promotes recovery from a wide range of activities and movements.

Movement nutrition goes beyond just the science of nutrients or prescriptive recommendations (like “eat X grams of nutrient Y”) to coaching a person in the full context of their life.

It includes:

  • the science of nutrition (of course!)
  • the science of behavior
  • the skills and practices of systematic coaching
  • the context of a client or athlete’s whole life
  • the view of a client or athlete as a complete person
Two Venn diagrams showing the difference between traditional sports nutrition and Precision Nutrition’s movement nutrition concept.

A sports nutrition coach who uses movement nutrition takes the full picture into account.

With movement nutrition, you still use nutrition science. But you expand your perspective to better understand and help each athlete as an individual.

New rule #2: Don’t ignore athletes’ psychological and social health.

Athletes aren’t just moving bodies. They’re real, unique people with real, unique lives.

Take Lorain, for instance—an accomplished powerlifter. Her dad owns a lifting gym, so she was raised between sets of squats.

A Black female powerlifting athlete holding a barbell above her head.

To help Lorain reach her weight class goal, you’ll need to look at more than just her health stats.

Lorain wants to qualify for Nationals, but she knows she has a better chance of making it if she cuts down to the 185-pound (84 kilogram) weight class. That’s why she came to you for coaching.

It sounds simple enough, right? Athletes cut weight all the time, and Lorain is clearly a hard worker. You’ll just gather info about her current height and weight, what she’s eating, how she’s training, and use that to create a plan that’ll get her into a calorie deficit. You’ll chip away at that goal together, slowly and sustainably. Easy.

But after a month, Lorain’s not seeing much progress, and you’re left scratching your head.

Here’s what you didn’t know about Lorain:

  • She’s currently commuting to law school. She spends more time in the car than out of it—which means plenty of fast-food wrappers and empty soda bottles, and not much activity outside her workouts.
  • She stays with her dad on weekends. While he’s super supportive of her powerlifting goals, he’s also a former heavyweight and proponent of the “eat big, lift big” school of thought. So he’s not as supportive of the idea of getting “smaller.” In a way, Lorain feels alone in her quest to reach a lower weight class.
  • Between school, student loans, checking on her dad, and working a part-time job, Lorain is struggling to focus on her health and performance.

All three of these factors are making it harder for Lorain to stick to the plan you’ve created for her.

But you won’t find out about them unless you look beyond the obvious data.

This is where so many sports nutrition coaches go wrong. 

Enter: The biopsychosocial model.

Lorain’s initial weight-cutting plan only took into account biological factors: her physical stats, eating habits, and workout routine.

But the psychological factors and social context are also important parts of the big picture. Lorain’s stressed from school, feeling alone, commuting in a less-than-ideal environment, and getting pressure from her dad.

A Venn diagram showing how the biopsychosocial model works, and what areas of life are included in the three areas: biology, psychology, and social context.

The biopsychosocial model can help you get better results as a sports nutrition coach.

Asking about all aspects of your athletes’ lives will help you collaborate with them to develop customized nutrition plans that set you apart from other “just make a meal plan” coaching approaches.

That’ll improve the quality of their results. And bringing your client’s awareness to the factors that may be limiting their progress? That’s also likely to improve their quality of life.

(Deep health is another useful model for learning more about your active clients’ lives.)

And by the way, this isn’t just a good idea on paper. It comes from our direct experience working with clients.

The bottom line: Learn more about your clients as people. 

That way, you can use your nutrition science knowledge and coaching skills to create a plan they enjoy, appreciate, and most importantly… will actually do.

New rule #3: Expand your definition of the word “athlete.”

Typically, we think of “sports nutrition” as something geared towards people who are “elite” in some way: pro basketball players, competitive marathon runners, and high school sports stars.

Not only does this mentality limit your pool of potential clients, it might also limit your clients’ results. After all, we’re seeing people with more diverse bodies, abilities, ages, and skills training and competing as athletes these days.

Valentina is a prime example. She’s in her 40s and runs a school for young girls and their pursuit of glory in the sport of charrería (Mexican rodeo).

After working with the girls all day, she spends another five to six hours taking care of all the horses, running the barn, and caring for her family.

It wasn’t a big deal when she was younger, but after years of under-eating and body image issues, it takes a bit more than a couple of NSAIDs to get Valentina back into the saddle and recover from a day’s work.

Valentina might not fit the typical definition of an “athlete,” but due to the active nature of her job and life, she could really benefit from a targeted nutrition strategy. One that’ll help support her busy and physically-demanding schedule.

The bottom line:

Elite athletes aren’t the only “movers” you can help.

Generally, there’s some point at which a person moves often and intensely enough to need or want some type of nutritional support.

Rather than lumping all athletes together, we use three categories to think about people who move their bodies and can benefit from targeted movement nutrition strategies.

  • Athletes: Anyone who has the capacities, training, and skills to do a set of physical tasks, usually under specific circumstances (such as a sport with a particular set of rules), and often for the purpose of competition.
  • Exercisers: Anyone who purposely does physical movement to improve and/or maintain health and wellness, function, and/or body composition—or simply for enjoyment.
  • Movers: Anyone who moves their bodies relatively often and/or intensely—whether for work, play, or the demands of daily life.

These categories overlap. All athletes are movers, of course, but not all movers or exercisers are athletes. People can move in and out of different categories.

All athletes are—at the most basic level—movers.

Our point: Most people aren’t professional athletes.

But you can help all active people, in some way, with nutritional support.

This mindset shift can translate to a broader pool of clients and ultimately, better results.

New rule #4: Focus on fundamentals before advanced nutrition methods.

Biochemistry is cool. And when you’ve got the science of nutrition down, it’s tempting to rely on the highest-level, most innovative and cutting-edge protocols you can think of.

But even the most talented athletes aren’t always advanced nutritionally. In fact, they’re often missing fundamental nutrition skills.

Take Stephen, for example. He’s a talented basketball player who’s just been given a college scholarship. Scouts have their eye on him as a future NBA pro.

A young athlete holding a basketball.

Focusing on the fundamentals can help athletes like Stephen stay in peak shape.

Not only is Stephen great on the basketball court, he’s been terrific at every physical activity he tried.

Stephen is what you might call “jacked.” And at 18, he’s nearing his prime physical performance and physique.

So what’s his diet secret? Surprise! It’s Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Frosted Flakes. Washed down with a Super Big Gulp from 7-11. In other words, whatever is cheap, fast, and easily available.

Turns out, Stephen’s secret to being ripped, swole, and a top athletic performer is youth, lots of activity, and good genes. Unfortunately, most of those gifts run out during an athletic career, and a poor diet will accelerate the process.

When it comes to athletes, Stephen is closer to the norm than an outlier. 

Don’t knock nutrition basics—even for top-level athletes.

As his coach, you know that if Stephen wants to last through his college and professional seasons, he’s going to have to do some things differently.

But giving him a complicated plan with specific macro ratios? Or an elaborate nutrient timing protocol?

Considering how he’s currently eating, that’s probably not going to work.

So for Stephen and other athletes like him, consider developing fundamental skills like:

  • Making time to plan out some of his meals for the week, so there are fewer last-minute decisions
  • Scheduling meal times and stocking up on healthy, convenient, and budget-friendly options, so fast food becomes less of a necessity
  • Adding more minimally-processed foods (instead of insisting Stephen stops eating fast food altogether)
  • Using the “PN plate” template, to ensure Stephen is getting plenty of protein, vegetables, smart carbohydrates, and healthy fat in each meal
  • Collaboratively building a red, yellow, and green-light foods list over time based on what helps Stephen feel his best during training

The takeaway: Basic nutrition habits can make a real difference—even for elite athletes. 

New rule #5: Use a systematic coaching method.

The first time you meet an elite athlete client can be scary. You might be sitting across from a million-dollar body, and maybe their million-dollar coaches too.

Alternatively, you might be working with special ops military personnel. And they’re depending on you to help them pass selection.

Your newest client could also be a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t just want to run her neighborhood’s annual 5K; she wants to win.

Helping movers achieve their hopes and dreams can be a lot of pressure. 

You need a coaching plan.

And not just any old plan. You need a coaching method. One that:

  • can be a customized for a variety of types of clients
  • provides a roadmap to help ensure you’re meeting each client’s unique needs
  • helps you use the best available evidence to guide your decisions.

This is why we developed the Precision Nutrition Coaching Method. It’s a six-step coaching process that can help ask the right questions, and take the right actions, at the right time.

A visual representation of the six steps of Precision Nutrition’s coaching framework.

All six steps can be used with every single client.

Here are the steps and some questions you might ask in each:

Before you start (step 0): Plan and prepare. 

  • Where and how am I doing this coaching session?
  • What do I already know about my client, and what questions do I need to ask them?
  • What forms, assessments, and measuring or monitoring tools do I need?

Step 1: Assess and gather data. 

  • What activities does my client do?
  • What, exactly, are my client’s goals?
  • What are some basic facts about my client?

Step 2: Understand and explore. 

  • What kind of person is my client?
  • What is their life and daily routine like?
  • What is their deeper purpose, or “why,” for achieving their goals?
  • What are they ready, willing, and able to do right now?

Step 3: Strategize and plan. 

  • What are all the potential paths forward towards the goal?
  • What’s most realistic and possible for my client?
  • What’s one high-impact, low-effort thing my client can do right now?

Step 4: Choose and test.

  • What exactly will you and your client do next?
  • What is ONE task your client is willing to do every day, over and over, no matter what?
  • If you choose a particular action, how will you and your client know whether it “works” or not? How will you define “success” or “progress?”

Step 5: Observe and monitor.

  • Is the client doing the correct actions consistently?
  • What do the data say is occurring?
  • Is this plan demonstrably helping my client?

Step 6: Analyze and evaluate. 

  • Are we getting the results we seek? Why or why not?
  • Is there something we could do differently or better?
  • What should we change (if anything) moving forward?

(If you want to learn more about PN’s coaching method, we teach it in depth in our Level 1 Certification.)

The takeaway: systematize your coaching, and you’ll feel excited when an athlete comes to you with a big goal—not nervous. 

We’re born to move.

Humans start moving well before we’re born. We emerge into the world flailing and grasping, with built-in movement reflexes firing.

Unless we’re constrained, paralyzed, or otherwise actively prevented from movement, we move throughout our lives until we die.

By expanding the idea of what it means to be a sports nutrition coach, we can more effectively understand, plan, and implement good nutrition practices for a wide range of active clients.

Because it’s not just about energy and nutrients. 

It’s about performing and winning… and staying sharp and energetic. And recovering. And having a long, healthy, active life.

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, preferences, and circumstances—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.

The post Level 1: The new rules of sports nutrition: This could revolutionize the way you coach athletes. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

It’s 7 a.m., and you’re already disgusted with yourself.

You planned to go for an early run, but when your alarm sounded, you hit snooze. Then you hit it again. After the third time, your partner told you to “shut that damn thing off!”

Now here you are: About to embark on yet another overscheduled day, and you’ve blown your one chance for some exercise.

And you’re left wondering:

“Why can’t I get motivated to work out in the morning?”

As a sleep scientist and professor of medicine at UCLA, I can tell you with confidence: Repeatedly hitting the snooze button has nothing to do with motivation. The real problem: You’re just not getting enough sleep.

This probably isn’t a revelation, of course. People complain about needing more sleep all the time. But what to do about it? That’s where many folks could use some help.

The good news: Getting a truly restorative night’s rest is within your reach.

The key is understanding the biological factors that influence your (or your client’s) ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake feeling rested.

This article is your how-to guide—for how to sleep better.

It’ll help you optimize your natural 24-hour sleep/wake cycle, so you can feel more energetic, mentally sharp, and emotionally strong—every waking hour of your day.

+++

The biology of sleep

While we often have lots of wants and desires around sleep, we can’t influence it with motivation, willpower, or attitude. (At least not for long.) Anyone who’s ever experienced insomnia or fallen asleep in an embarrassing situation can tell you that.

Sleep is a biological necessity akin to drinking water.

Think about it like charging your phone. You drain your battery power during the day, and you need to recharge at night. (Or else.)

During sleep, a few really important things happen. First, your body restores and rebuilds. Sleep lowers a host of inflammatory biomarkers and boosts recovery hormones.

Sleep is also the time when your brain consolidates information learned during the day and stores it in long-term memory. This is true both for our social and emotional experiences and for “muscle memory.”

In reality, there are likely dozens of unknown biological and psychological benefits to a good night’s sleep that are yet to be discovered.

Ultimately, the biological process of sleep is controlled by three factors.

3 factors that control your sleep

To understand sleep, don’t think about it as an isolated daily event, but rather as a 24-hour sleep/wake pattern.

Day and night are linked in a continuous loop. One night’s sleep impacts the next day’s wakefulness, which impacts the next night’s sleep. And so on.

You can probably relate. After all, everyone’s familiar with the concept of “catching up on sleep” after a late night out. But this oversimplification is what leaves many people dragging.

To fully explain, let’s start with what’s known as the 2-process model of sleep regulation. According to this theory, first proposed over 30 years ago, two main factors interact to orchestrate seamless transitions between sleep and wake:

  • Sleep Drive (Process S)
  • Circadian Rhythm (Process C)

These factors align to the 24-hour light/dark cycle.

Here’s a look at each, along with a third factor, your fight-or-flight response.

Factor #1: Sleep Drive (Process S)

Sleep drive is a biological “hunger” for sleep that accumulates while you’re awake. Quite simply, the longer you’re awake, the more likely you are to fall asleep. We all know that from experience, of course. But the “why” is what’s interesting here.

It starts with an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine [uh-DEN-uh-seen].

A byproduct of cellular metabolism, adenosine lowers your brain activity and makes you feel sleepy. During your waking hours, as cells busily make energy, adenosine levels rise faster than your brain can clear them.

The higher your adenosine, the higher your sleep drive. 

While we sleep, however, adenosine is metabolized and other waste products are cleared from our brains. The result: If we sleep long enough, we wake up feeling well-rested and alert.

Let’s go back to our phone example: Just like your phone’s battery needs a certain amount of time to fully recharge, your body needs a certain amount of sleep to effectively lower your adenosine levels.

Otherwise, you won’t adequately reduce your sleep drive—or “recharge your battery”—and will likely be tired the next day.

If this increased sleepiness nudges you to go to bed earlier, it can be a good thing, especially if you make that earlier bedtime a habit.

On the other hand, it can work against you if, instead, you try to catch up on a weekend by sleeping in until 10 a.m.

Sure, you might wake feeling great because you’ve adequately lowered your adenosine levels, and thus, your sleep drive. But the problem occurs later, when you hop into bed at 10 p.m., aiming to get a good night’s sleep before Monday morning.

No matter how hard you try, you just can’t fall asleep.

Why? You’ve only been awake for 12 hours. For an adult, this isn’t enough time.

After a good night’s rest, most people need to be awake around 16 hours before they feel sleepy. (This number can vary depending on the person, especially if you’re not sleeping well.)

Even if you do fall asleep, you might wake up in the middle of the night, having satisfied your sleep need with just a few hours. (Hello, ceiling.)

Factor #2: Circadian Rhythm (Process C)

Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour biological clock that controls how alert you feel. It fluctuates throughout the day, sending out “circadian alerting signals.”

These alerting signals can either ramp up and override your sleep drive (keeping you awake) or quiet down and allow you to succumb to it (causing you to feel sleepy).

The chart below shows how these two systems—sleep drive and circadian alerting signals—interact.

Chart shows how sleep drive and the circadian alerting signal interact and fluctuate throughout the day. Sleep drive gradually increases from wake time (6 am) and peaks at 10 pm (bedtime). The circadian alerting signal gradually increases from 6 am (wake time) until 12 pm. It doesn't increase at 2 pm, which allows sleep drive to "overpower" it, causing drowsiness and the "mid-day slump." After 2 pm, the circadian alerting signal begins increasing again and peaks at about 9 pm. At 10 pm, it begins to decrease and allows sleep drive to once again overpower causing you to become sleepy at bedtime.

Both your sleep drive and circadian alerting signals increase gradually throughout the day. Your circadian alerting signal peaks just before bedtime, and then starts to decrease, or quiet down. This is when sleep drive ”overpowers“ it and causes you to feel sleepy. Note that the circadian alerting signal also temporarily quiets down at 2 pm. The result: The dreaded “mid-day slump.”

The biological actions of your circadian clock explain a couple of common experiences.

Experience 1: You’re sleepy after lunch. This typically has nothing to do with food. About eight to nine hours after our usual rise time, our circadian alerting signal quiets down a bit. This can allow sleep drive to temporarily “overpower” it, causing drowsiness. (Even if you’ve had a good night’s sleep.)

In some cultures, people use this as an opportunity for “siesta.” If you lay down in a quiet place, it’s pretty likely you’ll fall asleep. It’s also why many people opt for a caffeine boost. (To learn about the role of napping, read The truth about naps below.)

Experience 2: You get a “second wind” as bedtime approaches. Once you’ve been up for 14 or 15 hours, your internal clock has to work hard to keep you awake. (Since your sleep drive is now very high.) As a result, your circadian alerting signal is at its highest in the last few hours before bedtime.

Yes, that’s counterintuitive.

No one knows exactly why this happens, but one theory is that there’s an evolutionary benefit: Instead of falling asleep right when the sun goes down, your second wind ensures you have enough energy to prepare a safe place to sleep (put wood on the fire, check your environment, make sure your kids are good, cover the opening of your cave).

Ever feel exhausted when you get home from work, but then a bit more energetic later in the evening? That’s your second wind.

But don’t be fooled. Once your alerting signal quiets down, you’ll fall asleep. For instance, at 9:30, you might feel like you can stay awake for a whole movie, but by 10:30 your partner is taking a video of you snoring on the couch.

Factor #3: Fight-or-Flight Response (Process W)

There’s one more factor that plays an important role: your fight-or-flight response. Some experts refer to this as Process Wake, or Process W.

When your brain thinks you’re in danger, it won’t let you fall asleep. Imagine again that you’re a cave-dwelling human in ancient times. Just as you’re settling down for the night, you hear a bear outside making noise.

You start to worry about whether the bear will enter your cave and attack you. You lie perfectly still, but you can’t fall asleep.

In modern times, bears aren’t a big concern. But our modern stressors—work deadlines, kids having trouble in school, credit card debt, or parents who are ill—have a similar effect. Our stress response is the same, and it keeps our brains awake. (Read more: Do you have a Stress Bod?)

6 questions that can transform your sleep

Question #1: How long will you sleep?

Each day, our brain and body accumulate a need for a certain amount of sleep. This isn’t the same for everyone, but the vast majority of healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

To figure out how many hours you personally need, consider the routine you tend to settle into after a few days of vacation. How many hours do you usually get when you don’t bother to set an alarm clock—and when you wake feeling rested? That’s the number of hours you’ll want to shoot for every night.

Question #2: What time will you (consistently) wake up?

If you want to reprogram your sleep pattern, this question is crucial.

That’s because the strongest signal to your biological clock is when you wake. When your get-up time is consistent, your internal clock will recognize that as the time to start producing circadian alerting signals.

There’s another good reason to start with your get-up time: You have less control over it. Based on your daily responsibilities, there’s probably a limited range of possible rise times. Once you choose one, you can then work backward to figure out your bedtime (Question #3).

In selecting the time you wake up, it’s critical that you consider your own natural tendencies.

If you’re a “night owl,” a 5 a.m. run might not be the best plan. On the flip side, if you enjoy mornings, getting up for a workout might be a great start to your day.

In any case, don’t try to make a drastic shift all at once.

Start with your current usual rise time—that is, the time you actually get up. Then move it a half-hour earlier every three to four days. This approach makes it less likely that you’ll have trouble falling asleep at your new bedtime.

Once you’re awake, expose yourself to light right away.

If you tend to feel sluggish in the morning, combine the light exposure with some movement. It doesn’t need to be a full workout: Walk your dog around the block or just do some simple chores.

Question #3: What time will you go to bed?

After you’ve established your planned wake-up time, think about how much sleep you need.

Take the number of hours of sleep you need to feel fully rested, and count backward from your planned rise time. Let’s say you plan to wake at 5 a.m., and you know you need 7.5 hours to feel rested. That means your bedtime should be 9:30 p.m.

If you get to this point, and think, ‘Are you kidding me? This bedtime is impossible!’, go back to Question #2, and reconsider your rise time.

For example, let’s say you need eight hours of sleep and want to get up at 5 a.m. But there’s a problem: You have to pick your kid up from theater practice at 9 p.m., so the math doesn’t work.

You now have two choices: Find a ride home for your child, or set a later rise time. While getting up later may not be ideal for your goals, it may be the practical tradeoff you need to make.

And if you still can’t make the math work? The truth about naps (below) gives you another option.

The truth about naps

You might’ve heard naps are good for you.

But as usual, the real answer is, “It depends.”

When naps are good: If they’re part of your sleep plan. My favorite example: The South of Spain where they nap every day. Businesses close, people go home, and a daily siesta is a normal part of their lifestyle and culture.

When naps aren’t so good: If they’re used to make up for a tough night of insomnia. This will lower your sleep drive, and make it harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep the following night.

The big questions: Can you build napping into your routine consistently? And do you need to?

Most people can’t accommodate a daily nap because workplaces don’t shut down, and protecting the time for sleep isn’t easy.

But there are exceptions. For instance, perhaps you’re a personal trainer who sees clients in the mornings and evenings. Your work schedule may make it difficult for you to fully recharge overnight.

Or you might be a parent with young children who nap. Getting up early to work out, and then taking a nap when your kids do, might be a great solution.

So, in some cases, it can be both realistic and smart for you to schedule an afternoon nap as part of your daily sleep routine.

If that’s your situation, take your nap about eight to nine hours after your rise time. Most folks feel better after a short nap (about 20 minutes) or after a long nap (90 minutes), but not in between. (This has to do with sleep stages.)

Remember, though: The longer your nap, the more it will lower your need for sleep that same night. So plan ahead, and use with caution.

Question #4: What can you do to make your bedtime a reality?

When making decisions about how you spend your time each evening, think about how your choices impact your sleep.

One hour before bedtime

Avoid activities that get you energized or “amped up.” For most people, this isn’t the best time to pay bills or read the news.

On the other hand, folding laundry, editing photos, or online shopping are probably fine.

Note: If you plan to use a device during this time window, consider blue-light blocking lenses (or using “night mode” on your devices) to limit blue light exposure this close to bedtime.

You also want to avoid activities that make you fall asleep too early.

The chart below provides some general guidance, but pay attention to your own experiences and act accordingly.

Table shows activities that support healthy sleep. In column 1, it lists activities that may make you fall asleep too early: 1) lying down watching TV in a dark room, 2) reading in bed, 3) drinking alcohol. These should be avoided. In column 2, it lists activities that may keep you awake too long: 1) consuming caffeine, 2) playing video games, 3)watching the news. These activities should also be avoided. In column 3, it lists activities that keep you awake until bedtime but not over-stimulating: 1) watching your favorite old TV show with the lights on, 2) preparing for tomorrow, 3) pleasure reading (not in bed). These activities support healthy sleep.

One half-hour before bed

Develop a routine for winding down and putting the day to rest. You might choose any of these activities:

  • Change into your pajamas
  • Brush your teeth
  • Talk to your partner
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Set out your clothes for tomorrow
  • Prepare your next day’s lunch

This sends your brain and body a message that it’s time to “disconnect.” During this window, avoid technology as much as you can.

Question #5: Can you stick to this schedule 6 out of 7 nights?

We all make exceptions to our healthy habits. We enjoy cake on our birthday, eat fast food when we travel, and can’t always (or ever) say “no” to Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.

None of this means we have “bad eating habits.” The most important factor is consistency over time. Think about sleep in a similar way.

If you can stick to your plan six nights a week, it’s okay to make exceptions for a late night out, a sunrise hike, or lounging in bed on Sunday mornings.

But if you find yourself struggling to follow your plan even three or four nights each week, you’ll need to adjust.

Because there’s no point in setting yourself up for failure, try the following exercises before you start.

Confidence test your sleep schedule.

On a scale of 0 (no way) to 10 (too easy), rank your confidence that you’ll follow through on your sleep plan.

If you’re working with a client, emphasize the need for honesty.

Is the answer “9” or “10?” You’re good to go.

But anything less? You need to scale back the proposed plan, and ask again.

“What does it take to get to a 9?”

Write down your “why.”

What are three reasons you want to improve your sleep? Jot them down and remind yourself of them each day. Examples:

  • I’ll be a better parent or partner
  • I’ll get more done at work
  • I’ll feel more energetic
  • I’ll be more likely to exercise
  • I’ll be less likely to binge eat

Mainly, what will sleeping better do for you?

It sounds like a small thing, but based on preliminary research I’ve done, this exercise seems to help people stick to their sleep schedule.

Question #6: Who will be affected by your plans?

Most of us don’t live (or sleep or work) alone. As a result, our decisions about sleep habits and routines impact others. What’s more, their routines impact our ability to sleep.

Start by thinking about your partner. If you plan to change your schedule, how will it affect them? And how will your partner’s sleep schedule affect yours?

For example, if you go to bed an hour before your partner, what can you both do to ensure your partner doesn’t wake you up? And if you get up an hour before, what can you do to ensure your partner continues to sleep?

If you have kids, how does your plan align with their schedule? Will you really be able to go to sleep at 9:30 if your toddler sometimes goes to bed at 8:30—but then sneaks out 23 times to proclaim, “I’m not tired!”?

What commitments can you shift around to create more time in the morning and/or at night?

One way to approach this issue is to share the reasons you’re making these changes. Try saying this:

“I’ve been feeling pretty tired lately, and I think part of the problem is my sleep habits. I don’t consistently get enough, and it makes me [grumpy, frustrated, miss workouts]. I want to try making some changes to my routine for a couple of weeks, and see if it helps. Could you work with me on this for the next two weeks, and then we can re-evaluate?”

Once everyone is on board, you can brainstorm a range of solutions, such as:

  • If you go to bed first, maybe your partner agrees to use the flashlight feature on their phone to guide their way to bed rather than flipping on the lightswitch.
  • If you get up earlier than everyone else, perhaps you quietly close everyone’s bedroom door before you go about your morning. Maybe you also gather up your work clothes the night before—so you don’t have to loudly search for them in the morning while your partner is trying to sleep.
  • You might agree to take morning toddler duty if your spouse handles bedtime, or vice versa.
  • If one of your children struggles with sleep, they might benefit from a good sleep plan, too. Perhaps you can make this a family habit change?

How to sleep better: Your 14-day plan

Using your answers to the six questions above, decide how you’ll change your sleep routine. As a refresher:

Choose what time you’re going to get up. Strive for consistency here, even on the weekends. A few pointers:

  • You might find it easier to get up if you sleep with the blinds open—allowing natural light to stimulate Process C (your circadian rhythm).
  • Get activated early in the day, by making your favorite coffee, taking a shower, walking the dog, or checking social media.
  • If you plan to shift your morning routine by more than an hour, do it in 30-minute increments, every three to four days.

As you shift your wake time, shift your bedtime. There’ll be a delay of a day or so, but they should go together. Otherwise, you’ll be sleep deprived.

Lower your stress levels near bedtime. (No news or work email!)

Line up support from family. Consider what you can do to ensure you can easily stick to your plan six days out of seven, and remember the three reasons why improving your sleep matters to you.

Try the plan for two weeks, and re-assess. Do you fall asleep easily, drifting off within 20 minutes or so? Have your middle of the night awakenings become a rare occurrence? Can you get out of bed without smashing the snooze button countless times? Do you feel more rested and energetic?

If you answered yes to all those questions, great job. You’ve just figured out a sleep routine that works for you.

If you answered yes to some, that’s great, too. Keep up the good work! Some people never feel full of pep when they wake up (especially if it’s still dark), but ideally, you should feel better than before. (And better is better.)

By continuing what you’re doing most of the time, your sleep schedule will stay pretty consistent throughout your life. So even if you experience temporary changes—jet lag, a new job, a newborn—you can get yourself back on track pretty easily by going back to the routine that works for you now.

If you’re still struggling, however, you may need to make a few more changes. We’ll explore what to do in the next section.

What if I’m doing everything right, and I’m still exhausted?

So you made some changes with your sleep, but it didn’t seem to help. Where do you go from here? There are two possible reasons why this might happen.

1. You didn’t go far enough. You may need to get even more sleep than you originally thought. In that case, keep a sleep log for a week, and see how it matches up to your schedule.

If you’re sticking to your plan, try extending your time in bed by 15 minutes. If that doesn’t work, add another 15 minutes. If you’ve added 30 minutes and still don’t feel rested, move on to option 2.

2. There’s a different reason you’re feeling tired. Has your primary care doctor ever asked you how you’re sleeping? Chances are they haven’t. Sleep disorders are under-recognized and as a result, they’re often left untreated. If you feel like you’ve made significant changes to your sleep habits but still feel tired or fatigued during the day, talk to a healthcare provider.

If you’re a coach, this is when you know it’s time to refer out to a qualified professional. The most common sleep disorders are:

  • Insomnia: a condition where people can’t sleep well even if they do everything “perfectly.” It’s best treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Sleep apnea: a condition in which breathing is interrupted while a person sleeps (even though they may have no trouble breathing when awake). There are multiple treatments, and a sleep medicine specialist can help identify the best ones for a given person.
  • Restless legs syndrome: a condition in which a person’s legs feel “twitchy” and unsettled when they lie down to rest. It’s more common in women because it’s sometimes related to low iron levels. A doctor can check ferritin levels, and discuss medication treatment options.

What to do next

Maybe you’re thinking: All this advice sounds so simple.

Well, that’s the point.

When it comes to sleep, you can often do more by doing less. 

An entire industry caters to people who struggle to fall and stay asleep. Each year, people spend countless dollars on special bedding, sheets, teas, supplements, and apps.

Yet many folks could address their issues more cheaply and effectively—by first aligning their sleep/wake cycle with their biological sleep tendencies.

Often, paying more attention to your sleep habits and routines, then making small sustainable changes, will be enough to get a better night’s rest.

And the real payoff? Every other part of your life gets better, too.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Basheer R, Strecker RE, Thakkar MM, McCarley RW. Adenosine and sleep-wake regulation. Prog Neurobiol. 2004 Aug;73(6):379–96. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2004.06.004

2. Borbély AA, Daan S, Wirz-Justice A, Deboer T. The two-process model of sleep regulation: a reappraisal. J Sleep Res. 2016 Apr;25(2):131–43. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12371

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, preferences, and lifestyle—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.

The post Level 1: Transform your sleep: The scientific way to energize your body, sharpen your mind, and stop hitting snooze. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

In this 5-day course, Dr. John Berardi—one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the health and fitness industry—shares his formula for career success.

The post FREE E-COURSE: How to Succeed in Health & Fitness appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Just over 20 years ago, Google was a garage startup, and no one had heard of “fat loss hacks.”

But a lot can change in two decades. (We’ll spare you the screenshot of our search results.)

One thing that hasn’t changed: Obesity is still on the rise.1

Graph that shows the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in the United States from 1999 to 2018. Both trend lines show a steady and gradual increase over time.

Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in the United States from 1999 to 2018.

Which is to say:

There are no legitimate fat loss hacks—despite server farms filled with fat loss hacks.

That’s because obesity isn’t a simple, hackable problem. 

There are many interconnected factors—physical, psychological, social, environmental, emotional—that influence our ability to eat less and move more.

And the magnitude of each factor can vary for any given individual. For a visual, check out the illustration below.

Infographic that shows how many interconnected factors can reduce activity due to stress, lack of time, or physical ability and increases drive to eat due to stress, hormones, or food quality.

Now here’s the ironic part:

Most “diet hacks,” “fast fixes,” and “easy solutions” make fat loss even harder than it needs to be. 

These approaches often promote overly restrictive and unnecessary rules that:

  • eliminate carbs or sugar
  • demonize fat or meat (ethical reasons aside)
  • moralize food choices (implying there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to eat)
  • encourage or require dietary perfection
  • emphasize what’s theoretically optimal over what’s truly practical (and may advise supplements or “superfoods” as necessary components)

This isn’t to suggest food and exercise choices don’t matter. But rather to say: Compared to most fat loss hacks, you (or your clients) can enjoy greater flexibility in what you eat and how you exercise—and still get the lasting results you want.

Our case? The 10 charts that follow, labeled Exhibits A-J. When it comes to fat loss, they may help you picture a more effective and sustainable solution—no “hacks” necessary.

Exhibit A: The foods we eat the most.

There’s no doubt: Many people who struggle with weight control eat too many carbs. (And too much fat.) But is this an indictment of the carbs themselves? Or the sources of those carbs? Consider this data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).2 Chart shows the top 10 sources of calories in the American diet: 1. Burgers, sandwiches, and tacos (13.8%); 2. Desserts and sweet snacks (8.5%). 3. Sugar sweetened and diet drinks (6.5%); 4. Rice, pasta, grain-based dishes (5.5%); 5. Chips, crackers, savory snacks (4.6%)s; 6. Pizza (4.3%); 7. Meat, poultry, seafood dishes (3.9%); 8. Non-starchy vegetables (3.8%); 9. Alcoholic beverages(3.8%); 10. Starchy vegetables (3.8%).

Based on this research, nearly one-quarter of the average American’s calorie intake comes from desserts, candy, snacks, and sugary drinks. (Not all foods are shown in the chart.)

That’s a good chunk of daily calories.

These foods aren’t on anyone’s recommended eating list. But as you can probably see: Drastically cut carbs—or even just sugar—and you’ll automatically eliminate most of these “junk foods.” (And, importantly, lots of calories from both carbs and fat.)

This leads to a popular claim: When you give up carbs, you stop craving junk food, making it easier to lose fat.

Which may indeed be true. But is this because you’ve eliminated the carbs, or because you’ve eliminated the junk food?

Our next chart provides some insight.

Exhibit B: The delicious foods we can’t resist.

In a recent study, University of Michigan researchers looked at the “addictive” qualities of common foods.3 The chart below shows the 10 foods that people are most likely to rate as “problematic,” using the Yale Food Addiction Scale.

Chart shows what people rate as the “most addictive” foods. They rank: 1. Pizza, 2. Chocolate, 3. Chips, 4. Cookie, 5. Ice Cream, 6. French Fries, 7. Cheeseburger, 8. Regular Soda, 9. Cake, 10. Cheese.

Glycemic Load (GL) indicates the impact of the food on blood sugar, due to the amount and type of carbohydrate. A GL of 20 or greater is considered a high-glycemic load food. A GL of 10 or lower is a low-glycemic load food.

Whether you restrict carbs or fat, nine out of 10 of these foods would be off-limits—or at least significantly reduced.

Note that all but one are ultra-processed foods, and most contain some combination of sugar, fat, and salt.

This ingredient combo makes these foods “hyper-palatable”—or so delicious they’re hard to stop eating. Food manufacturers engineer them to be this way. (Learn more: Manufactured deliciousness: Why you can’t stop overeating.)

What about the foods, such as soda or chocolate, that aren’t loaded with all three of those ingredients? They tend to contain “drug-like” compounds—such as caffeine and/or theobromine—to enhance their appeal.

With this in mind, It’s worth taking a look back at the previous chart, too. Eight out of 10 of the most “addictive” foods shown here in Exhibit B are also five out of the top six most consumed categories of foods in Exhibit A.

What do they have in common? They’re usually ultra-processed and manufactured to be irresistible.

Now consider: What foods are especially problematic for you? And what do they have in common?

(To test this on yourself or with a client, download our Yale Food Addiction Scale worksheet.)

Typically, minimally-processed, whole foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains aren’t high on many people’s “problem” lists. We simply don’t tend to overeat these foods consistently.

Yet there are fat loss hacks that tell you to avoid fruit, never eat a starchy vegetable, and eschew beans and grains of any kind.

Our question: When exactly did these foods become the problem?

Which brings us to our next item.

Exhibits C-G: The nutritious foods we aren’t eating.

Public health officials have long advised we eat more vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains.

But these recommendations have come under fire for not working. Because collectively, we’ve gotten fatter despite them. The argument from certain camps: It’s the fault of these “healthy” foods.

Is that the case, though?

Or is it because people are eating other (ultra-processed, hyper-palatable) foods instead?

If that sounds like a loaded question, here’s why:

According to NHANES data, 58.5 percent of all calories consumed in the US come from ultra-processed foods.4

And our consumption habits aren’t improving: During the five-year survey period, that percentage increased by one percent every year.

But let’s take a closer look at the recommended “health” foods, starting with whole grains, since they’re often particularly vilified.

Chart shows 1) recommended intake for whole grains, 2) actual intake of whole grains, and 3) intake of refined grains. Refined grains are much higher then recommended intake, and whole grains are much lower than recommended intake.

Given this NHANES data, you can certainly argue people eat too many refined, ultra-processed grains.5

But whole grains? Comparatively speaking, people still aren’t eating them.

The same is true for fruit.5

And vegetables.5

Chart shows recommended intake for vegetables for males and females versus actual intake of fruit. Actual vegetable intake is much lower than recommended intake for both groups.

And legumes.5

Chart shows recommended intake for legumes for males and females versus actual intake of fruit. Actual legumes intake is much lower than recommended intake for both groups.

The reality is this: When looking to improve their diet, most people focus on subtraction. They might say: “I’m giving up sugar” (see Exhibit A) or “I’m cutting out junk food” (see Exhibit B).

Trouble is, there’s often no plan for what they’ll eat instead. This can lead to feelings of deprivation and diet dissatisfaction.

That’s why it can help to start with addition: Eat more vegetables. Eat more fruit. Eat more whole grains and legumes. Eat more lean protein. (Men tend to consume fattier sources of protein, which provide more calories, and women often struggle with getting enough protein overall.)

Based on our experience working with over 100,000 clients, this “add first” strategy can be highly effective at “crowding out” ultra-processed, hyper-palatable foods. (No, this doesn’t mean you have to live life without any “junk food”: Learn why.)

Besides getting more nutritious foods into your diet, something else often happens when you “add first”: You automatically eat less.

An example: A recent study conducted at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (an institute of the NIH).6

Twenty adults were admitted to a metabolic ward and randomized to a diet of ultra-processed foods or minimally-processed foods. They were allowed to consume as much or as little as desired. After two weeks, they switched and did the alternative diet for two weeks.

The result: As you can see in the chart below, participants ate 508 more Calories per day and gained weight on the ultra-processed diet. They lost weight on the minimally-processed diet.

Chart shows data from two diets: One that included mostly minimally-processed foods and another that included mostly ultra-processed foods. The diets provided the same amount of calories, fat, fiber, and macronutrients, and the study participants could eat as much or as little as they desired. One line graph shows that when people ate the minimally-processed diet for two weeks, they consumed around 2,500 calories a day. When they consumed the ultra-processed diet for two weeks, they consumed about 3,000 calories a day. A second line graph shows that people lost about one kilogram when they consumed an ultra-processed diet, and they gained 1 kilogram when they consumed a minimally-processed diet.

It’s a small but very well-controlled study (other studies have shown similar outcomes7,8), and it reflects what we often see with clients who use our “add first” approach.

Their overall calorie intake goes down as they include more minimally-processed foods in their diet. They find food more fulfilling and satisfying.

If it seems counter to conventional wisdom to add versus subtract, you might ask yourself: What if conventional wisdom is wrong?

You’ll undoubtedly find that adding first is far easier than overhauling your diet instantly. And if it’s not working for you, you always have the option to subtract.

But the best part: It doesn’t require perfection to drive meaningful results, as you’ll see in Exhibit H.

Exhibit H: Progress doesn’t require perfection.

When we coach clients at Precision Nutrition, we don’t expect them to change their habits or build new skills overnight. We don’t even want them to try.

Instead, we give them one daily health habit to practice—such as consuming five daily servings of fruit and vegetables or eating lean protein at each meal—every two weeks for 12 months.

These practices accumulate, and by the end of the year, they’re incorporating 25 practices total.

This is how we help folks develop healthy eating and lifestyle skills and habits that become automatic—and aren’t reliant on discipline and willpower.

None of these practices direct clients to avoid certain foods.

That just happens.

But because our clients are humans, it doesn’t happen all the time.

And that’s okay. It works anyway.

Our data shows when people are 90 percent consistent with their daily practices, the results are usually amazing.

But even when folks are only 50 to 80 percent consistent, they experience profound outcomes. 

What’s more, clients who are just 10 to 49 percent consistent can still make significant, meaningful progress.

Here’s what the results look like.

This bar graph chart shows that when women were 10-49% consistent, they lost 11 pounds, lost 6% body weight, 11 total inches, and 3 inches from their waist. When 50 to 79% consistent, women lost 12 pounds, lost 7% body weight, 15 total inches, and 3.5 inches from their waist. When 80 to 89% consistent, women lost 15 pounds, lost 9% body weight, 17 total inches, and 4 inches from their waist. When 90 to 99% consistent, women lost 19 pounds, lost 10% body weight, 21 total inches, and 5 inches from their waist. It also shows when men were 10-49% consistent, they lost 11 pounds, lost 5% body weight, 8 total inches, and 2 inches from their waist. When 50 to 79% consistent, men lost 17 pounds, lost 7% body weight, 12 total inches, and 4 inches from their waist. When 80 to 89% consistent, men lost 24 pounds, lost 11% body weight, 16 total inches, and 5.5 inches from their waist. When 90 to 99% consistent, men lost 29 pounds, lost 13% body weight, 20 total inches, and 6 inches from their waist.

This data was collected from 1,000 Precision Nutrition clients over the course of our 12-month coaching program. Results for “women” and “men” are based on individual clients choosing our “men’s program” or “women’s program” at client intake. We recognize that the terms “men” and “women” don’t encompass the diverse identities of our clients and are working to update our program intake process to be more inclusive.

This approach is based on the idea that progress isn’t about perfection.

It’s about accepting that better is better. And that consistent effort, even if small, can translate into meaningful fat loss and health benefits.

That’s not just true when it comes to nutrition. It’s true of exercise, too…

Exhibit I: Movement doesn’t have to be programmed.

Here’s a fun chart. It tracks the change in daily energy expenditure from 1900 to the early 2000s.9 The researchers also plotted the widespread adoption of both time-saving and time-wasting technology.

The finding: a 60 to 70 percent reduction in total daily energy expenditure over the last century.

This chart shows a line graph of daily energy expenditure from 1900 to the early 2000s, plotted against advances in both time-saving technology and time-wasting technology. The energy expenditure line is relatively horizontal until around the 1950s, when cars became more accessible, and it starts to slope down slightly. It slopes down slightly more as televisions become a fixture in households around the 1970s, and then takes a steep decline as home computers and the Internet become more prevalent around year 2000.

In a previous study, the same scientists calculated that actors playing the part of Australian settlers 150 years ago were 1.6 to 2.3 times more active than sedentary modern office workers.10 That’s the equivalent of walking 5 to 10 more miles daily (or around 10,000 to 20,000 steps).

This isn’t to suggest you need to start walking 10 miles a day. It’s to emphasize how much less we move in today’s modern world compared to any other time in human history. And that most of us would benefit from more daily movement of any kind, even if we regularly work out.

Practically-speaking, this might only require a mindset shift. For example:

  • Vacuuming the house
  • Weeding the yard
  • Taking the dog for an extra walk
  • Shooting hoops in the driveway
  • Marco Polo with the kids (instead of watching them play in the pool)

These aren’t hassles or time drains: They’re opportunities to move a little more while you accomplish other stuff.

No, these activities won’t maximize your per-hour calorie burn. But this slight reframing might inspire you to get more done, have more fun, and increase your daily energy expenditure significantly—all without requiring more time in the gym.

What to do next 

We now present Exhibit J. If you’re a dedicated follower of PN, you may have seen this Venn diagram before. (We like it a lot.)

Graphic shows a Venn diagram of five diets: Fully plant-based (vegan), low-fat (high-carb), Paleo, Mediterranean, and keto (low-carb). In the middle (what they all have in common) are these nutrition fundamentals: 1) emphasize whole foods, 2) get enough quality protein, 3) incorporate lots of vegetables, 4) prioritize high nutrient density, 5) eat slowly until satisfied, 6) minimize processed foods..
The upshot? The nutrition fundamentals in the middle of the diagram are universal among almost every well-considered dietary pattern. You might call them the basics.

That doesn’t mean they’re easy. In fact, they can be really hard.

After all, how many people do you know who consistently follow these six nutrition fundamentals?

Or perhaps more appropriately, how likely is the average person to successfully adopt these fundamentals all at once… for the long-term?

The odds aren’t good. You probably don’t need a chart to see that.

Now consider: If the basics are too hard, what can you expect from an approach that restricts even more foods or advises immediate and dramatic changes to what they’re doing now?

Make no mistake: One can do very well on keto, Paleo, fully-plant based, or any other type of diet. But overnight? That doesn’t usually happen, at least not in a way that’s sustainable.

Instead, we offer another approach—one that fosters lasting behavior change.

Here’s the short version of how to start:

Step 1. Focus on just one new daily practice at a time.

Do that for two weeks or three weeks. The idea is to choose a daily practice that helps you make positive progress, no matter how small. You could start with the fundamentals, selecting one of these options:

  • Get enough high-quality protein
  • Eat lots of produce
  • Emphasize minimally-processed whole foods
  • Eat slowly until satisfied 

(After you’ve practiced one for a couple of weeks, try adding on another.)

Step 2. Make the practice seem easy.

If you’re eating one serving of fruits and vegetables a day now, getting five servings every single day might be too hard.

But could you shoot for three servings a day? Or five servings three or four days a week?

The idea: You want a practice that’s likely to result in success. You can build from there.

Imagine: If you stack easy on top of easy on top of easy, you wake up one day and realize you’ve made serious change, and it was… easier than you expected. (Because we won’t pretend lasting change is ever “easy.”)

Step 3. Chase consistency, not perfection.

Your day won’t always go as you want: a surprise deadline at work, an argument with your partner, an emergency trip to the vet.

But as we’ve already shown, you can see real benefits with less than 50 percent consistency. One day doesn’t negate your positive efforts.

All of this may seem too “basic” to work.

Or you might think, “It sounds way too slow! I need a faster fix!”

That’s completely understandable.

But you might feel this way because:

  1. You’re accustomed to appealing ads that promise “six-pack abs in six weeks” or a “bikini body in 30 days.”
  2. Your previous fat loss experiences have made you feel deprived and miserable (and often like a failure).

These two factors are closely related, in case you haven’t made the connection.

Because of this, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable by the “long duration” of behavior change, the lack of a “detailed eating plan,” or the idea of “making just one easy change at a time.”

If that’s the case, we’d simply ask:

How’d the alternative work for you in the past? 

If you feel good about the experience and the outcome—and where you are now—maybe you’ve found what works for you.

But if you don’t have the warm, fuzzy feels, it may be time for a new approach (whether that’s for yourself or your clients).

One that helps you transform your eating and lifestyle habits, in a way that takes the full complexity of fat loss (and your whole life) into account.

So that you’re not miserable. You don’t feel deprived. And it’s hard to fail.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like a fat loss hack. (But it’s not.)

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Adults: United States, 2017-2018. NCHS Data Brief. 2020 Feb;(360):1–8. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db360-h.pdf

2. Adapted from: 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. Available from: https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf

3. Schulte EM, Avena NM, Gearhardt AN. Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 18;10(2):e0117959. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117959

4. Baraldi LG, Martinez Steele E, Canella DS, Monteiro CA. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and associated sociodemographic factors in the USA between 2007 and 2012: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2018 Mar 9;8(3):e020574. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020574

5. A Closer Look at Current Intakes and Recommended Shifts: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines; health.gov. Available from: https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/

6. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, Cai H, Cassimatis T, Chen KY, et al. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metab. 2019 Jul 2;30(1):67–77.e3. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008

7. Larson DE, Rising R, Ferraro RT, Ravussin E. Spontaneous overfeeding with a “cafeteria diet” in men: effects on 24-hour energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord [Internet]. 1995 May;19(5):331–7.

8. Larson DE, Tataranni PA, Ferraro RT, Ravussin E. Ad libitum food intake on a “cafeteria diet” in Native American women: relations with body composition and 24-h energy expenditure. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Nov;62(5):911–7. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/62.5.911

9. Vogels N, Egger G, Plasqui G, Westerterp KR. Estimating Changes in Daily Physical Activity Levels over Time: Implication for Health Interventions from a Novel Approach. Int J Sports Med. 2004 May 24;25(08):607–10.

10. Egger GJ, Vogels N, Westerterp KR. Estimating historical changes in physical activity levels. Med J Aust. 2001;175(11-12):635–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11837872

 

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, preferences, and lifestyle—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.

The post Level 1: Fat loss hacks!?!? 10 charts show why you don’t need them. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Most of us think we know what stress is and how it feels:

  • A pounding heart when we’re awakened at 3 a.m. by the sound of breaking glass.
  • The need to pee five times before we deliver a presentation.
  • A temper bomb that explodes when our entire day goes sideways.

But another, more subtle kind of stress can lurk beneath the surface.

It’s what happens inside our bodies when we’re continually exposed to the din of construction noise, the uncertainty of a pandemic, the scars of childhood trauma, or the never-ending pressures of parenthood, work, and finances.

These hidden stressors can be so constant that we don’t register them. They’re a part of the backdrop, woven seamlessly into our “normal.”

Over time, however, as they accumulate, hidden stressors can wear us down— leaving us feeling foggy, listless, tired, bloated, and sore.

People used to call this walking dead sensation “adrenal fatigue.”

The adrenal-fatigue theory went like this: Chronic stress depletes the adrenal glands, reducing their ability to pump out the stress hormone cortisol. This adrenal-fatigued state left people drained.

And it all certainly sounded plausible.

Then two doctors from the Adrenal and Hypertension Unit of the Universidade Federal de São Paulo in Brazil decided to take a close look at the research. After carefully examining and poking hundreds of holes in 58 different studies,1 they concluded:

Adrenal fatigue is not a thing. 

Their exact words: “Adrenal fatigue does not exist.”

The doctors’ most convincing evidence against the “adrenal fatigue” theory: In most people tested for the condition, cortisol levels were… normal. In other words, their adrenal glands were anything but depleted.

So… what’s going on?

It all has to do with something called HPA axis dysfunction. 

In simple language, HPA axis dysfunction means the stress response doesn’t work as it should.

HPA stands for “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal.” And the word “axis” means those things are all connected, specifically:

  1. An area of the brain, called the hypothalamus, interprets stress, secreting a hormone called corticotropin secreting hormone (CRH).
  2. CRH tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH).
  3. ACTH instructs the adrenal glands to make the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Once your adrenals have pumped out some cortisol, they tell your brain “we did our job,” and your brain flips off the stress response.

At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

But when we face too many stressors too close together for too long, this intricate system can malfunction.

Your adrenals either don’t tell your brain “we did our job,” or your brain doesn’t hear the message. The end result: Cortisol production stays on when it should be off.

Though more research is needed to completely unravel that mechanism, some functional medicine experts believe that this constant flood of cortisol makes the body resistant to its message.

Introducing: The “Stress Bod.”

Let’s face it: HPA axis dysfunction is a mouthful. That’s why we use the much simpler term “Stress Bod.” (Yes, we coined it.) It sounds like what it is.

When we have a Stress Bod, we might not feel rested, even after sleeping more than 8 hours. So we turn to caffeine, sugar, salt, and fat as energy-sustaining (and coping) substances.

And if we ignore our body’s messages to “take it easy” and instead try to power through an intense workout, we’ll likely find that we can’t pump out as many reps or lift as heavy or run as quickly as we used to.

We might even get injured or sick.

And if we’re the kind of data-driven people who track things like morning heart rate and temperature, we’ll notice that the first is creeping up, while the second is going down.

Now, for the good news.

This is important: If you’ve been beating yourself up for skipping workouts, gulping down boxes of toaster pastries, or mindlessly scrolling social media when you’re supposed to be, a-hem, working, we’ve got four words for you: Give yourself a break.

You’re not lazy. 

You might be in a situation that happens to be incredibly common, especially this year, given the general state of uncertainty and unrest unfolding all around us. For example, in April 2020, the percentage of people living in the UK who were experiencing significant mental distress rose to 27 percent of people surveyed, up from 19 percent the year before.2

You’re not stuck. You can do something about this.

  1. Take the quiz below. It’ll help you determine your current stress load.
  2. Check out the infographic that follows. It’ll help you better understand your signs and symptoms, identify hidden stressors, and incorporate healing practices to nourish and restore your body.

What’s your stress load?

Use these questions to rank your overall stress as well as how effectively you’re coping with it.

They’re based on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)—the most widely used stress assessment.3

1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and stressed?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

4. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all of the things that you had to do?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

5. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

6. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

7. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about our ability to handle your personal problems?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

8. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

9. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

10. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

Your score:

0-13: Your perception of stress is relatively low. That’s great!

14-26: Your perception of stress is moderate. You’re already doing a lot right, and you also have some room to improve.

27-40: Your perception of stress is pretty high. That’s okay—you can do something about this.

Now that you know where you stand, use this infographic to:

  • Understand your Stress Bod symptoms
  • Pinpoint the sneaky stressors that contribute to Stress Bod
  • Learn a 6-step process for overcoming stress—so you can feel like your usual self again!

Go ahead and print it out or download it to your tablet, so you can refer back to it as you change for the better.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. BMC Endocr Disord. 2016 Aug 24;16(1):48.

2. Pierce M, Hope H, Ford T, Hatch S, Hotopf M, John A, et al. Mental health before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal probability sample survey of the UK population. The Lancet Psychiatry [Internet]. 2020 Jul 21.

3. Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. A global measure of perceived stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983;24(4):385-396.

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 adopt simple but effective habits they can sustain—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.

 

The post Level 1: Do you have a Stress Bod? The surprising science of feeling awful—and what to do about it. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Compared to losing weight, staying the same weight sounds like it should be easy.

“Just don’t go back to what you were doing before!”

Simple, right?

Yet it often doesn’t feel that way.

In fact, maintaining your progress might be even harder than dropping those pounds in the first place.1

This is true even if you don’t crash diet.

That’s because…

What makes you good at losing weight doesn’t necessarily make you good at keeping it off.

Post-weight loss, people often find themselves wondering:

  • ‘Can I really keep saying “no” to ice cream forever?’
  • ‘What’s my goal now that… I don’t have a goal?’
  • ‘If I’m not trying to lose weight, but I can’t go back to my old habits, what am I supposed to do?’

Here’s the good news:

If you’ve lost weight, you do have the skills you need to maintain your weight.

But those skills likely need to evolve. This guide will show you how.

+++

.pncta-l1-banner {
width: 90%;
max-width: 90%;
min-height: 262px;
padding: 0;
display: block;
margin: 1rem auto 3rem;
box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,.08) 0 0 6px 0;
box-sizing: border-box;
background: #2b363e radial-gradient(circle at 78% 56%,#435360,#2b363e 53%);
overflow: hidden;
height: auto;
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
position: relative;
width: 65%;
height: 70px;
margin: -40px auto 30px auto;
background: #00bbe3;
text-align: center;
border-radius: 15%/50%;
padding-top: 45px;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

.pncta-l1-shape:after {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: -95%;
bottom: -15%;
right: -5%;
left: -5%;
background: inherit;
border-radius: 15%/50%;
}

.pncta-l1-over {
position: relative;
z-index: 200;
color: #fff;
padding: 0;
margin: 0 auto;
font-size: 14.5px;
font-weight: 200;
text-align: center;
width: 100%;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 23px
}

.pncta-l1-row:after {
content: “”;
display: table;
clear: both
}

.pncta-l1-content {
position: relative;
display: flex;
margin: 15px 27px;
flex-direction: row;
align-items: normal;
overflow: hidden;
background: url(https://www.precisionnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/img-book-ipad.png) no-repeat;
height: 100%;
width: auto;
background-size: contain;
background-position: 100% 0;
min-height: 180px;
}

.pncta-l1-info {
padding: 0;
margin: 0;
text-align: left;
width: 60%;
overflow: hidden;
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 23.5px;
font-weight: 700;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: normal;
letter-spacing: normal;
color: #fff!important;
padding: 0 0 10px;
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
text-align: left;
padding: 0 0 15px 0;
margin: 0;
font-size: 14.5px;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: 1.37;
letter-spacing: normal;
color: #c6cbce;
font-weight: 400;
width: 90%;
}

.pncta-l1-img {
width: 40%;
position: relative
}

.pncta-l1-img > img {
display: none;
margin: 0;
position: absolute;
top: 1em;
right: 0;
left: 0;
max-width: 100%;
margin: 0 auto;
z-index: 2;
}

.pncta-l1-btn {
color: #f4f4f4 !important;
width: 180px;
height: 34px;
text-transform: uppercase;
font-size: 13.5px;
font-weight: 600;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: normal;
letter-spacing: normal;
text-align: center;
min-width: 180px;
background: linear-gradient(to bottom,#00bbe3 2%,rgba(41,151,186,.96)),linear-gradient(to bottom,#1fd8ff,rgba(31,216,255,0) 6%);
line-height: 0;
border-radius: 2.4px!important
}

a.pncta-l1-addbanner:active, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:hover, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:link, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:visited {
color: none !important;
text-decoration: none!important;
outline: 0!important
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 768px) {
.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px;
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 21px;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
margin: 15px 27px 25px;
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 21px
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
.pncta-l1-btn {
font-size: 14px;
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
width: 75%
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 17px
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
background-size: 44%;
margin: 15px 35px
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 17px
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
font-size: 13px;
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 580px) {
.pncta-l1-shape {
width: 80%
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 17px;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
background-size: 50%;
margin: 15px
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 14px
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
font-size: 13px
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 500px) and (orientation: portrait) {
.pncta-l1-content {
background: 0 0;
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
width: 100%;
margin: 1rem auto;
min-height: 380px;
max-width: 100%
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
position: relative;
width: 75%;
height: 80px}.pncta-l1-info p,.pncta-l1-over{font-size: 13px;
display: table}.pncta-l1-info h3,.pncta-l1-over>strong{font-size: 17px;
line-height: initial!important;
font-weight: 600;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
flex-direction: column;
align-items: baseline;
margin: 0 auto;
text-align: center;
padding: 0 15px;
width: 100%;
height: 320px;
background-size: 50%;
background-position: bottom center}.pncta-l1-img,.pncta-l1-info,.pncta-l1-info p,.pncta-l1-info>h3{width: 100%;
display: block;
text-align: center;
margin: 0 auto}.pncta-l1-img>img{display: block}.pncta-l1-content: after{content: “”;
display: inline-block;
width: 0;
height: 0;
border-style: solid;
border-width: 0 100px 50px 100px;
border-color: transparent transparent #00bbe3 transparent;
z-index: 0;
transform: scale(3.5);
left: 0;
right: 0;
position: absolute;
bottom: 0;
margin: 0 auto;
text-align: center
}
}

Nearly 100,000 health & fitness professionals certified

Save up to 30% on the industry’s top nutrition education program

Get a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Reaching your weight loss goal means you’ve mastered a set of skills.

That’s right, “skills.” Essentially, you’ve built a better health resume of consistent practices and experience.

For example, you’ve likely learned how to:

  • Maintain your boundaries and avoid foods and situations that don’t align with your goals
  • Create new nutrition, exercise, and/or lifestyle habits
  • Stay with the discomfort of doing things differently
  • Consistently stick to your plan (whether it’s restrictive, super flexible, or somewhere in between)

Congratulations!

This deserves some recognition. Changing your body and improving your fitness and health isn’t easy.

In a world filled with hyperpalatable foods, out-of-control stress levels, and unlimited access to screens, building the skills you need to lose weight is no easy feat.

But once you’ve reached your goal, the game changes.

You may feel like you don’t know HOW to maintain your new progress.

Maybe you don’t know how to live your life without “being on a diet.” (Or you may have to face whatever “being on a diet” helped you avoid in your life.)

You may feel afraid that you’ll have to:

  • Follow a rigid meal plan
  • Track every morsel of food
  • Weigh yourself every day; and
  • Constantly worry about your weight

… FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER.

Ugh. Why bother?!

The good news is: Weight maintenance is a different game than weight loss. And you can learn to play that new game, just like you can learn anything else.

Weight maintenance means adjusting your mindset—and your hard-earned skills—accordingly. 

Ever rewrite your resume for a new job? Your skills don’t actually change, but how you express those skills does.

And, of course, once you start, there’s a learning curve—no matter how experienced you are.

It’s the same when you enter a new phase of weight control. But by adjusting your skills, and then practicing them, you’ll be up to speed in no time.

3 ways to evolve your skills for weight maintenance

Weight loss skill Why it works for weight loss Why it doesn’t work for maintenance Weight maintenance skill
Learning how to say “no” and setting boundaries Helps you avoid overeating triggers and preserve your time/energy Saying “no” all the time can become too restrictive Master moderation: Balancing your “yeses” and “nos”
Creating and maintaining new habits Moves the needle on weight loss; feels exciting and fresh You know what to do, but it’s no longer novel or fun Evolve your habits using the “dial method” and our deep health framework
Working towards a specific goal Your source of motivation is obvious Motivation becomes less tangible when pursuing the status quo Find your deep reason, and regularly connect to it

Skill #1: Shift from a place of “no” to “sometimes yes.”

Saying no to every unplanned treat? Sure, you can do it for a short period of time. In the long-term, though, saying “no” too often feeds into something we refer to as the challenge cycle (a.k.a. yo-yo dieting), as you can see in the illustration below.

Graphic shows a 4 step cycle titled "The Challenge Cycle" composed of four steps: inital excitement, period of restrictive eating, short-lived success and return to normal.

This frustrating experience is pretty familiar to most of us.—even for those who’ve lost weight sustainably. (You have to change or restrict your diet in some way to lose weight.)

So how do you break the cycle without regaining the weight? Practice saying “yes” sometimes, but not always.

You’ll probably recognize this as practicing moderation, which can be confusing and hard (and maybe scary).

But we’re about to show you how to ease your way into it. So that it feels totally doable (and not so scary).

Try it: What happens when you say “yes”?

This is a pretty straightforward process of trial and error. Fair warning: It might be uncomfortable at times.

Step one: Say “yes” when you’d normally say “no” because of your weight loss habits.

For example, maybe you say “yes” to:

  • Eating birthday cake
  • Skipping the gym to do something that sounds more fun
  • Having two glasses of wine with dinner
  • Staying out late with your friends

Do any of this too often, and you’ll likely end up regaining the weight you lost.

But these are also the types of experiences that bring color to your life. Avoid them completely, and you may feel like you’re missing out. (And end up sliding into the challenge cycle).

So experiment with saying yes. Each time, write down what happens, including:

  • How did you feel?
  • Would you do it again? Why or why not?
  • What did you learn?

Follow this practice for a couple of weeks. Eventually, you won’t need to write down your reflections anymore.

Each time you say “yes” to something, you’ll get a better feel for what’s worth it—and what’s not.

Over time, it’ll become a new skill that helps you better balance “yeses” and “nos.”

Skill #2: Reframe your habits.

By the time many people reach their weight loss goal, they find themselves getting restless.

They know how to stick to their food and exercise habits, but it’s just not exciting, challenging, or interesting anymore.

The result: They start to let their healthy habits slide.

Here’s where a little reframing can make a world of difference.

Try it: Use the dial method and deep health framework.

Here at PN, we use these two strategies to help people reevaluate their habits and decide how they might move forward.

You could use one or the other, or both, to figure out what your “next level” or next challenge might look like.

The dial method

All of those habits that helped you reach your weight loss goal? They can be “dialed” up or down, depending on what’s going on in your life.

For instance, maybe your weight loss workout routine looked like number six on the exercise dial below: three one-hour gym workouts per week, plus a daily walk.

But perhaps in order to accommodate this, you had to dial down in other areas of your life, like socializing, de-stressing routines, or maybe even sleep.

One way to make healthy living feel more exciting now that weight loss isn’t your number one priority:

Play with the dials. 

Maybe you can dial down your nutrition habits slightly, while dialing up your sleep habits.

That might look like meal prepping for just three days a week instead of seven. Now, you have more time to experiment with a restorative yoga routine before bed and waking up with the sun.

That’s just one example of the virtually unlimited options. For more ideas on how to put this into practice, check out our infographic that shows you how to adjust your “life dials.”

The deep health framework

Health is about the physical elements of your life, but it’s also about how you think, feel, live, and connect to others.

That’s one of the reasons we coach with the goal of deep health.

There are six areas or domains of deep health: physical, emotional, environmental, mental, existential, and relational.

Your weight and body composition fall under the “physical” domain.

But there are five other domains where you can make progress. If you’re looking for a new challenge, this could be it. Simply identify one domain you want to work on and create some new practices there.

If you’re not sure where to start, fill out this deep health questionnaire and do a little self-reflection.

Where does it seem like there’s room for improvement? Where would you most like to grow or do better?

Here’s the coolest part about deep health: Progress in one domain can help improve the others. Sometimes, in ways that make maintaining your weight easier.

For instance, maybe you work on your mental health by finally going to therapy. That might result in reducing urges to binge eat.

Another example: Working out the lingering issues with your mom might mean fewer sleepless nights, giving you more energy to exercise.

It’s all interconnected, and that’s a beautiful thing. Why not take advantage of it and refresh your habits in the process?

The bottom line: Expand your view of health beyond what’s going on with your weight. 

There’s nothing wrong with caring about your weight and body composition. But by the time you make it to maintenance mode, you’re ready for the next level.

Skill #3: Use your deep reason for motivation.

Pursuing the status quo can feel… anticlimactic. 

On New Year’s Day, most people don’t say, “Hey, I think I’ll shoot for no improvement in my life this year!”

That’s how maintenance can feel, especially if you’ve made tremendous progress with weight loss.

The result: People who’ve gotten used to having a clear goal in sight might feel lost, confused, or even a little discouraged.

Whether we’re talking about food choices or workout habits, reminding yourself that your goal is to stay exactly the same isn’t very motivating.

Try it: Connect to your deep reason.

There’s one motivational strategy in particular that can help you keep going when you don’t have a big, shiny, exciting goal.

Identify your deep reason for wanting to maintain your weight—or even just live a healthy lifestyle—and remind yourself of it frequently.

We use The 5 Whys exercise to help clients identify their meaning and purpose.

The 5 Whys starts with a simple question: “Why do I want to accomplish this?”

In this case, you might start more specifically with: “Why do I want to maintain my weight?”

Then, whatever answer you come up with, ask why again. And so on, five times, until you get to the heart of what’s really behind your goal.

You can use this worksheet to get started.

What might your “why” look like? Examples:

  • To be fit and mobile enough play with your kids and grandkids (because that time is precious for all of you)
  • To be able to go on adventures with your partner (because these experiences strengthen your bond)
  • To enjoy a high quality of life for as long as you can (because you saw how poor health affected a family member)

Here’s what’s really cool:

Your meaning and purpose can replace weight loss and become your new big shiny goal. 

Now you have a clear reason to do the hard stuff when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

Connecting to this deeper meaning and purpose also helps you avoid getting caught up in day-to-day struggles, like the ups and downs in your scale weight.

You’ll always have a gut check available to help you to decide whether you’re on the right track.

You can ask:

‘Is what I’m doing right now aligning with my purpose?’

And if not… ‘Am I okay with that?’

If you’re not okay with it, you’ve got a pretty compelling reason to circle back on your habits (using the process outlined in skill #2) and adjust as needed.

Together, these 3 skills help you build self-trust.

Developing trust in yourself is a life-long pursuit. It takes some time to develop, and no single experiment or practice can necessarily “get you there.”

Self-trust is the ultimate weight maintenance skill. 

In some ways, it’s the ultimate life skill.

But for life-long weight maintenance (and life-long health management), you’ve got to make the transition from having a regimented plan to facing an uncertain future without one.

That requires something big: being more flexible in your thinking and trusting yourself to course correct as needed. 

You can probably see how practicing the three skills outlined in this article set you up to develop self-trust:

  • Skill #1 helps you get to know what works for you and what doesn’t. It enables you to develop healthy but flexible boundaries.
  • Skill #2 allows you to learn why, how, and when to tweak or evolve your health habits to fit your current needs and goals.
  • Skill #3 keeps you constantly grounded in the reason behind it all—your “why” for even caring about this stuff in the first place.

Combined, these three skills enable you to tackle whatever comes your way.

And as a bonus, you’ll develop an ability to sense your ever-changing needs. Better yet, you’ll be able to do something about them.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Hall KD, Kahan S. Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. Med Clin North Am. 2018 Jan;102(1):183–97.

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 make progress no matter where they are in their journey—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.

The post Level 1: Weight loss vs weight maintenance: Why the strategies that got you results might not help you keep them. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

We first envisioned an article about trauma a few years ago.

Over and over, we’d seen clients who checked out when they ate. Or shut down during workouts.

Or who raged when we made a relatively innocuous nutritional suggestion. (Like, “Consider eating slowly today.”)

Or who panicked. Disappeared. Became distressed. Got paralyzed.

Or seemed unable to cope with overwhelming urges to eat, restrict, purge, binge drink, or do a variety of other unhelpful behaviors.

As their coaches, we looked for individual explanations. 

And we found them.

Painful childhoods with abusive or absent adults. Sexual assault. Emotional neglect. Substance abuse. Military service. Displacement. Miscarriages. Natural disasters. Grief and loss.

But today more than ever, it’s apparent that trauma of all kinds can negatively affect client progress.

Racism, homophobia, poverty, sexism, ableism, transphobia, fatphobia.

Unsafe neighborhoods and communities. Lack of power and resources.

Violence, abuse, and bullying from the people who are supposed to protect them—partners, police, workplaces, health systems, schools, the government.

Economic uncertainty. A global pandemic.

No wonder many of us are having a hard time managing our eating, exercise, and self-care.

Yet remarkably: We still have the capacity to change and thrive.

To that end, this article aims to help—by providing insights and tools that you, as a nutrition, fitness, or health coach, can use to appropriately support clients who are struggling with trauma.

+++

This article is about eating and exercise. But it’s also much bigger than that.

As humans, we’re called on to help make the world a better place. And to stand as advocates for all people harmed by suffering, injustice, and abuse.

At Precision Nutrition, we support not just the “physical health” of our clients, but their deep health: nurturing all the things that make a complete human. 

That’s because each domain of deep health—physical, emotional, mental, environmental, relational, and existential—affects all other domains.

And trauma? It can have negative and long-lasting effects on any of these domains, making it difficult for clients to experience meaningful progress in their health and fitness.

That’s where you come in.

As a nutrition, fitness, or health coach, it’s outside your scope of practice to ask clients directly about trauma.

But sometimes clients will tell you about traumatic experiences. Or they might do or say things that just don’t seem to add up.

Understanding how trauma manifests can help explain why clients often do puzzling or apparently unhelpful things, such as overeat when they’re also desperate to lose weight or be healthier.

Or neglect their own health and wellbeing even if they take great care of everyone else.

You should know how to respond and support these clients, because—unfortunately—trauma can happen to anyone, and it’s more common than many people realize.

Growth can happen for these clients, even in the face of overwhelming suffering. Humans are astonishingly resilient.

Being a trauma-aware coach can help you: 

  • understand people and their challenges, which will lead to more effective, productive coaching relationships
  • understand why some clients behave “irrationally” or struggle with their eating and exercise habits
  • identify strategies that can help clients get unstuck
  • avoid re-traumatizing people, which is part of being a good person (and is probably smart for your business, too)
  • recognize when a client needs additional support—such as a referral to a therapist—to work through trauma

++++

What is trauma?

Trauma is anything that overwhelms our existing resources and ability to cope.

How is trauma different from stress?

When we experience stress of any type, the body enters an alarm phase. In a normal situation, we eventually recover and get back to our baseline, or maybe even come away stronger and more resilient.

But with trauma, we experience the stressor so intensely that we’re unable to go through all the steps we need to recover. We end up worse off than where we started.

A graph showing how a traumatic event negatively impacts ability to cope with stress over time.

Trauma-inducing stressors can come from many different areas of our lives.

Various types of stress including cultural, mental, physical, social, environmental, psycho-spiritual, financial, emotional.

There are several types of trauma with varying degrees of severity, but they all can affect our health, wellbeing, and ability to care for ourselves.

Big-T trauma

Most people associate the word “trauma” with events like sexual assault, living or serving in a war zone, physical violence, or being in a car crash.

Because such experiences are extremely damaging and objectively terrible, psychologists refer to these as big-T trauma.

Usually, people know if they’ve experienced this type of trauma, although they may not be aware of its far-reaching effects.

Little-t trauma

Other times, traumatic events may seem like “no big deal” objectively, but they still leave a strong and lasting impression.

Little-t trauma refers to the more prevalent indignities, insecurities, injuries, and paper cuts of life.

  • The experience may be something “minor” that hits in a vulnerable moment, like a parent who was largely absent during your teen years.
  • Or it might be something deeply unfair or angering that happens over and over, like systemic racism or homophobia.

Little-t trauma can have lasting effects too. Many people experience it without ever recognizing it as “trauma.”

Collective trauma

We can also experience trauma as a group.

Collective trauma is a psychological effect that destabilizes the foundation of a society or group.1

Bombings, natural disasters, wars, famines, and pandemics are all obvious examples of events that can result in collective trauma.

Collective trauma can also come from violence, abuse, and indignities perpetrated against a specific group. This can happen cumulatively over time.

For example, the imposition of colonialism and residential schools on indigenous people in many countries such as Canada, the US, and Australia has had lasting generational effects.

People living through the collapse of a political regime, or in a general state of heightened awareness of violence—for instance, in a military state where they see guns on a daily basis—also suffer collective trauma.

(People may experience this type of trauma somewhat differently from individual trauma. Although it may feel less personal, trauma is trauma.)

Importantly, we don’t have to experience trauma directly in order to be affected.

For example:

  • Parents may feel traumatized after a school shooting, even if their child doesn’t go to the school where the shooting happened.
  • People who are alive in 2020 may have not experienced slavery directly, but the social scars of it are still “alive.”

This type of trauma can last for generations in our collective memories, and the meaning we find in these memories often goes on to shape society.

Intergenerational trauma

Trauma can be passed down through families in many ways.

First, if a person has experienced trauma, their behavior towards their child may change. 

A parent or caregiver may repeat the traumatizing behavior they experienced, perpetuating the cycle.

Or, they may be so deep in their own coping mechanisms—such as abusing alcohol—they’re unable to provide for their child materially and/or emotionally.

Clients dealing with intergenerational trauma may tell you that their first issues with food appeared early in life when they felt scared, alone, small, angry, or otherwise distressed by what was happening in their families.

Second, the effects of trauma can be passed down via what’s known as transgenerational epigenetics.

Trauma can actually change how our DNA is packaged, and thus how our genes are expressed.

So traumatized people may give birth to babies who are epigenetically (i.e., biologically) predisposed towards mental or physical health challenges, increased inflammation, and/or more chronic disease.2,3,4,5,6,7,8

The most famous example is from research on the descendants of Holocaust survivors, which showed changes to genes in both parents and children.9,10 Other research has correlated a legacy of slavery with elevated stroke risk in African-American populations living in the southeastern United States.11

Similar effects have been observed in other marginalized populations (and in animal research), but this is considered an emerging area of science.12

Trauma isn’t “fact-based,” but perception-based and response-based.

A person’s subjective experience of an event or situation determines whether it was traumatic, regardless of how major or minor it seems.

Let’s say Fatima and Sonal both burned themselves on hot stoves when they were kids.

Neither of them remembers it that well, but they had similar experiences: Mom freaked out. They had to go to the hospital to treat the burn.

For Fatima, the experience wasn’t traumatic. She was upset and scared in the moment, but in the days that followed, she recovered. It didn’t leave any more of an imprint than skinning her knee on the playground.

For Sonal, the experience was traumatic. She already felt vulnerable because her dad wasn’t around, and her mom was always super stressed and working overtime to make ends meet. Though she hardly thinks about it now, the burn left a mental mark.

Now, as an adult, Sonal is wary of cooking. She doesn’t really know why.

She has stories to explain why she doesn’t cook. She’s busy. The stove just kind of seems… complicated. Or something.

But what made the experience traumatic was the context—not the burn itself.

Trauma is probably more prevalent than data indicates.

But here’s what we know: About 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women experience at least one significant trauma in their lives.13

Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child abuse, while men are more likely to experience physical assault, combat, accidents, and disasters.14 Men are also more likely to witness death or injury.

Privilege and power are protective.

People from marginalized groups—such as people from racialized minority groups, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQI* people, people experiencing poverty, and so on—are much more likely to experience trauma.

But many people who’ve had big-T trauma don’t report it. And certainly most people who’ve suffered little-t trauma don’t.

What would they say?

  • “I’d like to report my coworker being a racist or sexist a-hole?”
  • “I’d like to report my mother being emotionally unavailable to me during a crucial point in my development?”
  • “I’d like to report I only go out when it’s daylight so I won’t get harassed?”
  • “I’d like to report a hot, corrosive rush of shame from something someone said, even though they weren’t even talking to or about me?”

For many folks, these types of events are just “how things are.” As famous feminist Gloria Steinem said about sexual harassment and assault in the 1960s and 70s, “We didn’t even have a word for it. We called it ‘life.’”

Many Precision Nutrition Coaching clients—and very likely many of yours, if you’re a coach—are dealing with the effects of trauma.

This can affect their eating and exercise behaviors, their self-care choices, and their ability to regulate their emotions.

Trauma affects how we eat, move, and live.

Although trauma manifests differently in different people, we tend to see common patterns.

Trauma changes our brains.

Often, trauma affects how a person behaves, defines themselves, and communicates with others.

Here’s what that might look like in interactions with clients:

They struggle to identify emotions, needs, and/or physical sensations. For instance, when you ask, “How do you know when you’re hungry?” or “Does that hurt?”, or “How are you feeling?”, they might say they’re not sure.15

They don’t seem to have the best memory. If you ask, “What was food like when you were little?”, or “What time did you eat dinner as a kid?”, they might not remember. They “forget things” like their daily coaching practices.

They often get stuck or paralyzed. The “freeze response” immobilizes us. Clients may say they feel unable to act, they avoid things, and/or they feel powerless. “I don’t know what happened, I just found myself eating… ”

Their story of themselves is deeply negative. “I hate myself. I’m a failure. I’m doomed. I can’t do anything right.” It’s hard for them to imagine that anything could be different or better.

They have a bigger reaction than expected. Seemingly mundane exchanges trigger fight/flight/freeze. Let’s say you suggest that your client try adding protein to their breakfast. They, in turn:

  • Get super angry (fight)
  • Walk away from the conversation (flight)
  • Become very quiet or even completely disengage (freeze)

You might be shocked at what appears to be an over-reaction, but this is a deeply ingrained human response to fear and danger.

They always want to please you. This client might agree to literally every nutrition strategy you suggest. Eventually, it becomes clear they’re not implementing them. It just feels safer to go along with your ideas than to explain why it won’t work for them.

This is called fawning behavior. It’s often learned and employed by victims of abuse: By making themselves as invisible and agreeable as possible, they’re trying to protect themselves from further trauma.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A deeper look

Sometimes, traumatic events result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. We don’t know exactly why, but PTSD is most likely to occur in women16, military veterans17, and people who already have one or more traumas in their past.18

PTSD manifests in a couple of ways:

1. It can disorganize our sense of time, place, and space. 

This affects how we remember a traumatic experience—often making it seem like the event is happening right now—and setting off a series of psychological and physiological responses such as dissociation, panic, and fight/flight/freeze.19

2. It affects how well we can reintegrate the traumatic event. 

When something terrible happens, we may dis-integrate, or fall apart. To heal, we need to “re-integrate” the experience into our life and make meaning from it.

With PTSD, that reintegration never happens. Victims are left with persistent, long-standing cognitive, neurological, psycho-emotional disorganization, that we cannot, without treatment, resolve.

Trauma changes our physical health.

People with trauma may struggle with physical issues including:

● Hormonal problems, like an overactivated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a hormonal feedback loop that’s exquisitely sensitive to things like energy availability and stress.

When the HPA axis is hyperactivated, sex hormones, cortisol, and even brain neurotransmitters can get out of whack. The body may sound an alarm or simply shut the factory down.20

● Elevated inflammation, seen in biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and inflammatory cytokines, perhaps due to an overactivated HPA axis.21,22

This may be a reason childhood trauma is associated with a higher risk of health issues like heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and more.23

People with trauma may also have more chronic illnesses, particularly autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, chronic fatigue, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and allergies.24

● Unexplained pain, like long-standing, nagging pain or tightness that doesn’t seem to have a cause.

Maybe your client’s been X-rayed, MRI’d, CAT-scanned, and seen by every specialist. There’s no sign of injury. But the pain, restriction, and physical limitation persists.

Interestingly, the cumulative effect of stress, HPA axis/hormone dysfunction, and inflammation can actually increase pain perception.25,26 You know how things just hurt more when you’re stressed out? This is part of the reason why.

Stressed and hurting: The Bohr effect and pain

When we’re physically stressed—such as during an intense workout—we tend to inhale quickly and forcefully. Our exhales also get faster.

When we do this, it strips carbon dioxide (CO2) from the bloodstream.

This is an important bodily response. It helps the body dispose of the waste products generated by exercise, and enables us to deliver fresh oxygen to our muscles.

This dynamic relationship between blood CO2 and blood oxygen concentration is known as the Bohr effect.27

But if you’re sitting still and something stressful happens, you may experience the same shift in your breathing—deep inhales, short exhales. (Imagine a person hyperventilating during a panic attack.)

Except because you’re sitting still, there’s no increased oxygen demand in your muscles. If this happens frequently over time the following sequence of events can occur:

  • You’ll have reduced CO2 in your bloodstream.
  • Reduced CO2  in your blood ultimately reduces the amount of oxygen in your muscles.
  • This alters the way you produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what muscles use for energy.
  • Changes to ATP production alter how muscles contract and relax, increasing baseline tension.
  • Because your muscles can’t fully relax, you may experience chronic tightness.

This tightness is particularly common in postural muscles, such as the ones found in the lower back, neck, and shoulders. So in addition to increased pain perception, people dealing with trauma may also experience pain due to chronic muscle tightness.

The good news?

The tightness caused by dysfunctional breathing patterns can be alleviated, in part, by learning to breathe more efficiently.

In particular, practicing longer exhales can be very helpful in delivering more oxygen to the muscles, which helps them relax.

To learn more about breathing drills and why they work, jump down to helping clients learn self-regulation.

Trauma can change our nutrition, exercise, and health habits.

When people struggle with their behavior around food and fitness for years or decades, particularly with obesity or patterns of disordered eating, there’s a pretty good chance that something happened to them. And it doesn’t even have to be something “big.”

Clients with a trauma history may:

  • Overeat and/or binge.28 Losing themselves in a binge can shut out the world for a while.
  • Compensate after they feel they’ve overeaten. They may purge, or over-exercise, or fast.29 The endorphins released in a punishing workout, or from bingeing and purging, may provide a temporary high.
  • Control and restrict their eating. In fact, they may alternate between this and losing control.30
  • Come up with strict “rules” with harsh consequences. Like “I must work out two hours a day or else I’m a lazy walrus.”
  • Do things that seem confusing or contradictory. Like going on a diet in the morning and binge eating in the evening. Or keeping trigger foods around to “test themselves,” even though they often “fail.”
  • “Check out” or get “brain fog” around food. Like “I don’t know what happened, I sort of woke up and the bag of chips was empty.” Or, “I get paralyzed when I try to decide what to do. It’s just overwhelming.” Or, “I guess I’m just not motivated.”

The more intense the trauma in a person’s life, and/or the more frequent it’s been, the more likely they are to have physical symptoms and/or maladaptive behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs.

One study tracked the relationship of BMI over time, correlating it to trauma history. The graph tells an interesting story.

A graph showing the relationship between PTSD and increased BMI.

The more PTSD-type symptoms a person had, the more likely they were to gain weight over time.

Another study looked at the relationship between exercise tolerance and childhood abuse.

Researchers found that women who’d been abused were more likely to avoid exercise because the higher heart rate and feeling “amped up” evoked the same feelings of anxiety and fear they’d experienced earlier in their lives.32

Trauma can also change us for the better.

As human beings, we can feel about 50 different things at once and not have them be inconsistent. We’re complex.

We can feel horrible because of post-traumatic stress but still be growing.

A person might lose everything but then have that “screw it” moment where they reevaluate their life and decide to dump some crap and clutter overboard. That’s one type of post-traumatic growth.

Post-traumatic growth is when we change and evolve in good and healthy ways as a result of trauma. 

It often involves finding meaning in our pain. For instance, we may vow to help others in similar situations.

It can help to think of post-traumatic growth like kintsugi, a type of Japanese pottery made from broken ceramics. Artists use precious metals to put the pieces back together, and the repaired version is considered more beautiful and desirable than the original item—especially because the process takes quite a bit of time.

If you know how to recognize trauma in your clients, you might just be able to help them take steps towards making repairs. They may find meaning in what they’ve been through. Or even discover the beauty in rebuilding.

7 ways to help your clients break the cycle.

#1: Familiarize yourself with the signs of trauma.

Good news: You’ve already accomplished this by reading this article!

Importantly, the reasoning behind understanding the signs of trauma isn’t so you can diagnose your clients. As noted earlier, that’d be a job for a qualified therapist. So unless you happen to be one of those, it’s important to stay within your scope of practice as a coach.

But knowing what trauma looks like helps you:

  • support your clients and avoid retraumatizing them
  • avoid feeling frustrated when client behavior doesn’t seem to make sense
  • know when it’s time to refer out to a mental health practitioner

Educate yourself and be prepared to handle difficult material sensitively.

If you want to dig into some further reading, consider these resources:

#2: Affirm the validity of people’s feelings.

Don’t say “It’s no big deal.” It obviously is to them.

Don’t say “I understand completely.” You don’t.

Don’t say “Get over it.” They can’t, not without help.

Don’t avoid the topic and say nothing because it’s too icky or you don’t know what to say.

Instead, say: “I’m sorry for what you’re going through. Thank you for trusting me with this. I am here to listen and support you.”

#3: Maintain and respect boundaries.

Care about your clients but don’t become a caregiver for them. Know where you can help, and where you can’t.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we’ve come up with a code of ethics for coaches, as well as best practices for maintaining healthy boundaries with clients.

Familiarize yourself with these concepts. They’re important for all clients, but they can help establish a sense of safety with traumatized clients.

You should pay special attention to:

  • Using open, non-confrontational body language to give off friendly, non-threatening vibes.
  • Using a warm yet professional tone of voice.
  • Establishing consent early and often if your coaching methods require physical touch.

That last point is key.

It may feel awkward to bring it up, which is why a lot of coaches skip it. Don’t be one of those people.

The guidelines here are simple:

  • Any time you want to touch a client, ask: “Is it okay if I touch you here, like this?” Use hand gestures to indicate what you mean.
  • Before you remove your hand(s) from a supportive position (such as helping to position their rib cage during a pushup), ask: “Is it okay if I remove my hands now?”

It might sound strange to ask about removing your hands, but doing so without asking can make a person with body-related trauma feel especially vulnerable.

Asking these questions gives a client ownership over what happens to their body. They can control who touches them, how, and when. And that’s how it should always be.

#4: If your client is open, explain the trauma response.

If you have a client who has disclosed trauma, it can help to share what happens during the trauma response with them. 

Why? People are often really confused about what’s happening to them.

It’s a lightbulb moment to learn that what they’re experiencing is a physiological response to something that happened in their past.

It’s well worth taking the time to explain that their brain and body have learned a pattern of responding, and so what’s happening to them and their health struggles are not their fault.

When your client blanks out in front of the fridge, it’s not because they don’t have enough willpower or they bought the “wrong” groceries.

This realization can make a huge difference for the client and how they define themselves. They realize they’re not a bad person or lazy or that they can’t control themselves. They’re just repeating a pattern they learned long ago.

#5: Help clients learn to calm themselves.

This is a powerful skill that anyone can learn or teach. Here are three approaches to try.

Balloon breathing

“There’s a physical relationship between how you breathe and what your brain is telling your body to do,” says Craig Weller, CPT, PN Master Coach and resident exercise specialist. Exhaling triggers parasympathetic input from the brain, slightly slowing the heart rate.

By extending your exhale, you spend a little bit more time in the parasympathetic, calm-down state. 

Try a longer, slower out-breath, like blowing up a balloon:

  • Breathe out slowly for several seconds. You can count 1-2-3-4-5 if you like.
  • Pause for a few seconds. Again, feel free to count.
  • Then, consciously relax, and let the in-breath happen naturally.
  • Repeat.

Core-engaged breathing

Putting your spine in different positions has differing effects on your nervous system via physical pressure receptors called ganglia.

Extending your spine (think upward dog in yoga) activates sympathetic receptors, turning on “fight or flight” mode.

Conversely, flexing your spine (think fetal position, or a puppy taking a nice nap), takes pressure off the spinal ganglia, producing a calming effect. Long exhales with your ribs and core in this position relieves the pressure even more.

Two versions of core-engaged breathing to consider: fetal position breathing and ribs-down breathing.

Grounding exercises.

These can help a client who struggles with “checking out” by drawing their attention to concrete physical sensations.

Examples of grounding exercises:

  • Focus on the sensation of your feet on the floor
  • Feeling the barbell in your hands
  • Smell the rubber of the medicine ball you’re holding

#6: Have a referral network at the ready.

There may be times when you can’t (and shouldn’t) address all your clients’ needs on your own.

Keep some recommendations for mental health practitioners handy. These can be people you know in your community, or ones you’ve identified through research. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas:

Make a list, and keep it handy. Try our referral worksheet.

Remember, referring out doesn’t mean you stop seeing your client. You can continue to support them in their health habits while they get specialized support in another area.

#7: Serve, but preserve.

There’s no getting around it. This is heavy stuff.

You may yourself have experienced trauma and be dealing with very similar issues as your client.

A lot of people choose to go to a coach over a therapist, for a variety of reasons—from not having health insurance to stigma around mental health.

While you should maintain your boundaries with clients and stay within your scope of practice, there are going to be times when you’re the only person a client can confide in.

But therapists have something coaches don’t always have in place: supervision and advisors. They regularly get together with other therapists to discuss cases, share advice, and get support.

As a coach, you can do something similar by talking with like-minded coaches regularly. Get that support.

Difficult subject matter can be draining. So make sure to harge your own battery.

Because your health is important, too.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Hirschberger G. Collective Trauma and the Social Construction of Meaning. Front Psychol. 2018 Aug 10;9:1441.

2. St-Hilaire A, Steiger H, Liu A, Laplante DP, Thaler L, Magill T, et al. A prospective study of effects of prenatal maternal stress on later eating-disorder manifestations in affected offspring: preliminary indications based on the Project Ice Storm cohort. Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Jul;48(5):512–6.

3. Fuller-Rowell TE, Homandberg LK, Curtis DS, Tsenkova VK, Williams DR, Ryff CD. Disparities in insulin resistance between black and white adults in the United States: The role of lifespan stress exposure. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019 Sep 1;107:1-8.

4. Allen AM, Thomas MD, Michaels EK, Reeves AN, Okoye U, Price MM, Hasson RE, Syme SL, Chae DH. Racial discrimination, educational attainment, and biological dysregulation among midlife African American women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2019 Jan 1;99:225-35.

5. Conway-Phillips R, Dagadu H, Motley D, Shawahin L, Janusek LW, Klonowski S, Saban KL. Qualitative evidence for Resilience, Stress, and Ethnicity (RiSE): A program to address race-based stress among Black women at risk for cardiovascular disease. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2020 Jan 1;48:102277.

6. Farmer HR, Wray LA, Haas SA. Race, gender, and socioeconomic variations in C-reactive protein using the Health and Retirement Study. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci [Internet]. 2020 Feb 17; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbaa027

7. Williams DR, Priest N, Anderson NB. Understanding associations among race, socioeconomic status, and health: Patterns and prospects. Health Psychology. 2016 Apr;35(4):407.

8. Hidayat K, Du X, Shi B-M, Qin L-Q. Foetal and childhood exposure to famine and the risks of cardiometabolic conditions in adulthood: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Obes Rev. 2020 May;21(5):e12981.

9. Yehuda R, Daskalakis NP, Bierer LM, Bader HN, Klengel T, Holsboer F, et al. Holocaust Exposure Induced Intergenerational Effects on FKBP5 Methylation. Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 1;80(5):372–80.

10. Jawaid A, Roszkowski M, Mansuy IM. Transgenerational Epigenetics of Traumatic Stress. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2018 Jun 11;158:273–98.

11. Esenwa C, Ilunga Tshiswaka D, Gebregziabher M, Ovbiagele B. Historical slavery and modern-day stroke mortality in the United States Stroke Belt. Stroke. 2018 Feb;49(2):465-9.

12. Jawaid A, Mansuy IM. Inter- and transgenerational inheritance of behavioral phenotypes. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 2019 Feb 1;25:96–101.

13. VA.gov | Veterans Affairs [Internet]. [cited 2020 May 27]. Available from: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp

14. Tolin DF, Foa EB. Sex differences in trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder: a quantitative review of 25 years of research. Psychol Bull. 2006 Nov;132(6):959–92.

15. Franzoni E, Gualandi S, Caretti V, Schimmenti A, Di Pietro E, Pellegrini G, et al. The relationship between alexithymia, shame, trauma, and body image disorders: investigation over a large clinical sample. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013 Feb 18;9:185–93.

16. Kimerling R, Weitlauf JC, Iverson KM, Karpenko JA, Jain S. Gender issues in PTSD. Handbook of PTSD: Science and practice, 2nd ed. 2014;2:313–30.

17. Kang HK, Natelson BH, Mahan CM, Lee KY, Murphy FM. Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome-like illness among Gulf War veterans: a population-based survey of 30,000 veterans. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Jan 15;157(2):141–8.

18. Neuner F, Schauer M, Karunakara U, Klaschik C, Robert C, Elbert T. Psychological trauma and evidence for enhanced vulnerability for posttraumatic stress disorder through previous trauma among West Nile refugees. BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Oct 25;4:34.

19. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Exhibit 1.3-4, DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for PTSD. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014.

20. Monteleone, Alessio Maria, et al. Childhood trauma and cortisol awakening response in symptomatic patients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders Volume 48, Issue 6, pages 615–621, September 2015.

21. Baumeister D, Akhtar R, Ciufolini S, Pariante CM, Mondelli V. Childhood trauma and adulthood inflammation: a meta-analysis of peripheral C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α. Mol Psychiatry. 2016 May;21(5):642–9.

22. Baldwin JR, Arseneault L, Caspi A, Fisher HL, Moffitt TE, Odgers CL, et al. Childhood victimization and inflammation in young adulthood: A genetically sensitive cohort study. Brain Behav Immun. 2018 Jan;67:211–7.

23. Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, Williamson DF, Spitz AM, Edwards V, et al. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Am J Prev Med. 1998 May;14(4):245–58.

24. Song H, Fang F, Tomasson G, Arnberg FK, Mataix-Cols D, Fernández de la Cruz L, et al. Association of Stress-Related Disorders With Subsequent Autoimmune Disease. JAMA. 2018 Jun 19;319(23):2388–400.

25. Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic stress, cortisol dysfunction, and pain: a psychoneuroendocrine rationale for stress management in pain rehabilitation. Phys Ther. 2014 Dec;94(12):1816–25.

26. Blackburn-Munro G, Blackburn-Munro RE. Chronic pain, chronic stress and depression: coincidence or consequence? J Neuroendocrinol. 2001 Dec;13(12):1009–23.

27. Grossman P. Respiration, stress, and cardiovascular function. Psychophysiology. 1983 May;20(3):284–300.

28. Backholm K, Isomaa R, Birgegård A. The prevalence and impact of trauma history in eating disorder patients. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 2013;4:10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.22482. doi:10.3402/ejpt.v4i0.22482.

29. Brewerton TD, Dansky BS, O’Neil PM, Kilpatrick DG. The number of divergent purging behaviors is associated with histories of trauma, PTSD, and comorbidity in a national sample of women. Eat Disord. 2015 Feb 26;23(5):422–9.

30. Madowitz J, Matheson BE, Liang J. The relationship between eating disorders and sexual trauma. Eat Weight Disord. 2015 Sep;20(3):281–93.

31. Kubzansky LD, Bordelois P, Jun HJ, Roberts AL, Cerda M, Bluestone N, et al. The weight of traumatic stress: a prospective study of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and weight status in women. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014 Jan;71(1):44–51.

32. Dale, Lourdes P., et al. Abuse History is related to Autonomic Regulation to Mild Exercise and Psychological Wellbeing. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback (2009) 34:299–308. DOI 10.1007/s10484-009-9111-4

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 supports the deep health of the whole person—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, October 7th, 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 How trauma affects health and fitness: Is it the reason your client can’t make progress? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Every six months, we get to celebrate the folks who have had the most incredible body transformations in Precision Nutrition Coaching.

They’ve spent 12 months with a personal nutrition coach, completely changing how they eat, move, look, and feel.

They’ve lost weight, gained strength, boosted their health, and inspired their friends and families.

No extreme diets or crazy workout routines. No strict meal plans or off-limits foods. No deprivation. No guilt. No unbreakable rules.

Just a commitment to the program—with results to prove it.

Collage of three female Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

The transformations we’re celebrating today are as mind-blowing as ever. As you’ll see in the photos below, these 14 men and women lost 338 pounds collectively, shedding pant sizes, food frustrations, and self-doubt.

But this year, the stories of these clients—who started their PN journeys back in July 2019—also feel a little different.

For one, they’re the first coaching group to complete our program during an earth-shattering global pandemic. For that fact alone, their determination deserves serious respect.

They’re also different because PN is transforming, too.

Yes, we’re still featuring our clients’ impressive physical transformations. (They deserve it.)

But we also want to highlight the mental and emotional transformations they’ve experienced. Because they’re every bit as powerful, worthy, and amazing.

In fact, clients often tell us it’s these internal changes that have the deepest and most meaningful impact on their whole lives.

So click the links below to check out these total life transformations. And get ready to feel seriously inspired.
++++

58-year old CEO with poor health and bad knees drops 35 pounds—and finally climbs a mountain with his wife.

The life-changing realization that helped a 44-year old woman stop struggling with her weight and lose 29 pounds. 

This man learned he could have a six-pack—and eat his cake, too. 

This 38-year old woman banished heartburn, cellulite, and achy joints with three simple words: Just show up.

30 pounds lost in 100 days: How the pandemic helped this man gain the control he needed to transform his body.

This 42-year old mom lost 17 pounds and signed up for a Spartan race.

71 pounds gone: This couple lost weight and found fitness together.

With 4 kids and a business, Stephanie had zero extra time: Here’s how she lost 21 pounds anyway.

From “mac & cheese” on his pizza to choosing fresh pineapple as a treat: How Owen transformed his nutrition and lifestyle habits

How Damian packed on 14 pounds of muscle.

For the first time in years, this woman got below 200 pounds: What happened next shocked her (in an awesome way).

A breakup, a relocation, and COVID-19: It might have been the worst year of this man’s life, yet he still crushed his fitness goals.

This 68-year old woman mastered the Turkish getup and lost 42 pounds. If she can’t inspire you…

++++

58-year-old CEO with poor health and bad knees drops 35 pounds—and finally climbs a mountain with his wife.

Not long before Jeff joined Precision Nutrition Coaching, he and his wife were vacationing in Banff, Alberta.

While she set out to climb Sulphur Mountain (elevation 8,041 feet), Jeff stayed behind—as he normally did on her adventures.

She’d always loved the outdoors. But him? Not so much. More important, though: She was in climbing shape; Jeff wasn’t.

They were used to this arrangement, and it worked for them. Or so he thought.

“After her hike my wife said, ‘You know, it would be nice if we could do that together,’” Jeff recalls. “It hurt.”

At 58, Jeff weighed 250 pounds. He struggled with chronic health issues, including Grave’s disease—which causes overactive thyroid—and sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that can affect the lungs.

He’d also had a double knee replacement after surviving two explosions while stationed overseas years before. When he got down on the floor to play with his dog, it was difficult to get back up.

So climbing a mountain? Not high on Jeff’s to-do list.

Then things got worse: During a routine physical, his doctor told him he was one appointment away from a diabetes diagnosis.

‘You’re on death row,’ Jeff thought. ‘You’ve got to make some changes.’

That’s when Jeff registered for Precision Nutrition Coaching. It was a way to take back some control. It was hope.

As the CEO of a consulting company, Jeff was on the road a lot. Out of necessity, he ate fast food as often as twice a day. He couldn’t help but be skeptical: Could someone this busy follow the PNC program?

“I messaged my coach and said, ‘Look, I’m on the road, all the time. I’m in meetings. I have to go to banquets. I have to eat at restaurants.’”

Jeff’s coach, Jonathan Pope, listened. Then he asked a follow-up question that changed everything: “So you can’t pack stuff to take with you?”

Jeff laughs: “The light bulbs came on. Packing stuff? It was a lot of work, but I could do that.”

On business trips, Jeff took huge bags of veggies wherever he went and stopped at grocery stores for pre-cooked chicken and fresh fruit. He stored everything in the tiny hotel fridge. Now he always had a healthy meal on hand.

Jeff prioritized making time for nutrition and fitness. He began walking his dogs every day—eventually getting up to a 5k loop—and started cycling, too. He bought a squat rack, weights, and resistance bands, and when winter came he invested in a set of snowshoes.

All of this happened during the last year. And his body completely transformed. Jeff’s now 35 pounds lighter and a whole lot stronger. His doctor recently reduced his thyroid medication.

“I feel like I’m 30,” says Jeff.

The 2020 pandemic got in the way of Jeff’s plans to hike Sulphur Mountain, so instead he and his wife tackled a smaller mountain in Saskatchewan.

A common theme we heard from Precision Nutrition Coaching clients this year: “I might not be here today if it wasn’t for this program.”

“It meant everything to me, but it meant the world to her. It actually brought tears to her eyes,” says Jeff… with tears in his eyes.

The life-changing realization that helped a 44-year old woman stop struggling with her weight and lose 29 pounds.

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: When Sneha was a teenager, family members started to comment that she was “plump.”

For years, Sneha wanted to lose weight. But she struggled to put her needs before others’.

From then and into adulthood, she went through frustrating cycles of losing and regaining weight.

It’s been a long journey. Sneha first enrolled in Precision Nutrition Coaching five years ago. She made progress, but she didn’t achieve the body transformation she was after.

Still, she kept coming back. And this year, she experienced the breakthrough she’d been looking for.

Turns out, Sneha’s struggles to lose weight were tied to her deep commitment to her family.

Namely: It was hard to find time to… exercise, get proper sleep, prepare meals, de-stress and recover…  because she had to take care of others.

Everyone else always came first—another all-too-familiar scenario.

Her PN coach suggested: “How about drawing some boundaries?”

This made Sneha angry. 

“I was thinking, ‘I grew up in an Indian family. How can I draw boundaries? That would mean the end of relationships!’”

But upon reflection, Sneha realized that being everything to everyone wasn’t a core value of her own. It was conditioning from her Indian upbringing.

“I had to ask, ‘Why do I believe this? Where is this coming from?’” Sneha recalls. “It really opened a Pandora’s box for me.”

She used journaling to parse out her true beliefs and identity.

“Now I realize drawing boundaries just changes the nature of relationships. It doesn’t have to end them,” she says.

Sneha no longer feels like a victim. “I’m not allowing other people to walk all over me anymore.”

She also discovered her journey wasn’t about getting a certain body at all. “My primary goal was to change my relationship with myself and my relationship with food. It took me so long to understand that,” Sneha says.

But, through this process, she lost 29 pounds—the lightest she’s been in years.

Funny how that works.

Sneha’s “after PN” photo shoot celebrates the body transformation and self awareness she gained from the program.

“There are many layers in an onion. I guess mine was bigger and had many, many more layers to get through,” she says.

This man learned he could have a six-pack—and eat his cake, too.

A couple of years ago Mickler’s son’s mother invited him to brunch. But…

“Before I could even answer, my son said, “Oh, he’ll never come because he doesn’t eat breakfast.”

It stung.

Mickler, now 29, had been on and off extremely restrictive diets for years. One of them, intermittent fasting, meant he was “Team No Breakfast”—and apparently he’d turned his son down a few too many times.

“In retrospect, my son was just trying to bond with me through food. At the time, I was proud of how disciplined I was.”

Mickler is part of a large, blended family in which much of life centers on celebrations, togetherness, and food.

“Once on my birthday, they got me my favorite cake, a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake,” Mickler recalls. “I wouldn’t eat it because I was on keto.”

Mickler often had the shredded body he wanted—but just as often, he didn’t.

“Summer would come and it was time to be restrictive,” he says. “Then winter would come, and I could loosen up. Then summer came again and I had to restrict again.”

On and on the cycle went.

Mickler cycled on and off restrictive diets for years.

“Eventually I recognized that I couldn’t continually go up and down like that,” Mickler says. “I needed to find a way to be steady, and I recognized there was a hole in my understanding of food.”

Mickler found Precision Nutrition Coaching through a Facebook ad and signed up at first chance.

“Having a habits-based program and a coach was a game changer for me,” Mickler says.

Because the habits are designed to work in any circumstance, Mickler’s family life immediately got easier. “I’d be eating something at a party and they’d be like, ‘Hey, aren’t you on a diet!?’” Mickler remembers with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m on a diet where you can eat whatever you want!’”

Mickler’s Coach, Jonathan Pope, was a source of reassurance through the sometimes tough transitions. Early on, he gently recommended that Mickler try eating breakfast so he could tune into his hunger cues.

Mickler tried it and discovered that being more aware of how he felt when eating was way more effective—and practical—than a “diet.”

“That was a pivotal point in my journey,” Mickler says.

“I could have the body I want but still be present for my family. I could have a better relationship with food and the people around me. I could be free.”

Micker now feels “free” from food rules. He’s also a Precision Nutrition Certified coach.

Now, 26 pounds and the coveted six-pack later, Mickler no longer has to choose between having the body he wants and bonding with his family over brunch or birthday cake.

“My biggest takeaway from the year is my awareness,” he says.” “I can make food choices that aren’t the ‘best’ sometimes, and just learn from them, let them add to my awareness.”

As for what the future holds: Mickler is now a nutrition coach and currently working his way through the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class. “Having been a client myself, it helps me guide my own clients.”

This 38-year old woman banished heartburn, cellulite, and achy joints with three simple words: Just show up.

Not too long ago, Kate was a thirty-something “bad girl” by choice. At least, that’s what she liked to pretend.

“Deep down, I was miserable.”

Just barely out of her 20s, Kate suffered heartburn and often felt sick after she ate. And she’d lost mobility—she couldn’t touch her toes.

“I drank too much, smoked too much, and had the diet habits of a long-haul truck driver,” Kate says.

She knew she needed a change. Then, a surprising shift did happen.

“I finally gave way to that tiny voice inside me that had always dreamed of being a dancer.“

Someone told Kate that 80 percent of life was showing up, so that’s what she did, arriving at her first-ever ballet class at age 32.

“I was absolutely horrible. I didn’t know what was going on, I couldn’t balance. At a later class I actually fell on my butt,” Kate remembers, laughing. “Stretching was painful for an entire year.”

Kate in the ballet studio before embarking on a year of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

But she kept showing up, and ended up falling in love with dance.

Still, Kate didn’t feel she’d made all the changes she needed. She wanted a “ballet body”—but in a healthy way.

So she signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching. “I wanted the tag in my leotard to say “small.”

Just like ballet, Kate just kept showing up.

“When the pandemic hit seven months in, I stayed calm. I had all this experience feeling better, and I knew that all I had to do was stick to the PN habits. The old Kate would have been eating a lot… a lot… of takeout,” she says, with a smile and head shake.

It helped to check in with her coach, Pam Ruhland, and fellow clients. “During lockdown, sometimes you just need to see people who aren’t in your house, and talk to them about how it’s hard to work out, it’s hard to get out of your PJs.”

Now 38, Kate’s transformation has been life-changing.

“My heartburn is gone, my cellulite is gone, I don’t feel sick, my joints don’t hurt. I’m more relaxed and organized. I’m definitely way stronger,” Kate says.

And something totally unexpected happened: “Now when my ballet teacher demonstrates a combination, I can actually remember it. My focus is better. It’s a relief.”

Kate is down 7 pounds from 12 months ago, but hardly remembers her wish about the leotard. “I stopped caring about the tag, and started caring about myself,” she says.

To mark her transformation, and her transition to pointe slippers, Kate enlisted her husband for a photoshoot.

“For the first five years of this journey, I never posted pictures of myself dancing,” Kate says. “I was too embarrassed. I wasn’t good enough, thin enough, flexible enough, or strong enough.”

Now, she’s sharing her photos with the whole world.

Kate celebrated her new life, and her transition to pointe, with a photo shoot in her Toronto condo building.

“I know this is the end of the program, but it feels like a beginning.”

30 pounds lost in 100 days: How the pandemic helped this man gain the control he needed to transform his body.

The day the COVID-19 lockdown hit Phoenix, Arizona in March, Will Spencer was moving into a new apartment with a single piece of furniture: a bed.

Will had just moved back to the U.S, to a city where he had no friends or possessions, after three years of world travel and a devastating failed relationship. Through the stressful months-long breakup, he’d managed to get to the gym somewhat consistently, but he wasn’t watching what he ate.

Now, more than halfway through Precision Nutrition Coaching, Will had actually gained weight, from 202 to 212 pounds.

“My world was melting down,” says Will.

Since he can remember, Will has been attracted to transformative experiences, an interest that set him apart from his family. For the past 20 years, he’s prioritized inner transformation via meditation, travel, and, occasionally, the psychoactive tea ayahuasca.

Eventually, Will realized he had a final frontier: his body.

“My body was the one thing I wasn’t able to transform,” he says. 

“You have to have the right environment. I was in my mid-thirties and I hadn’t known a single fit person my whole life. So moving back to the States and having my own space and a lockdown, I thought, okay, this is the moment.’”

PN’s lessons and habits gave Will a framework he could stick to. “Everything was completely out of control in my life, but I could control my activity and my eating. It’s the only thing I had to hold onto.”

With support from his coach, Jonathan Pope, Will lost 30 pounds in his final 100 days on the program.

Considering the stresses Will was coping with earlier this year, he thinks it’s remarkable where he ended up.

Will’s body was the one thing he couldn’t seem to transform. Now he’s done it.

“Things very easily could have gone a different way,” he says. “But I know this is who I am now, this is part of my DNA.”

This 42-year old mom went from little awareness about nutrition to losing 17 pounds and signing up for a Spartan race.

When Jenny’s husband, Martin, joined Precision Nutrition Coaching two years ago, she considered it his thing.

“I have to confess, when he was doing PN, I didn’t really care about it,” Jenny says.”I supported him, but I wasn’t trying any of the habits.”

Growing up in Colombia, Jenny didn’t have much awareness about nutrition. “For me, it was more important to look after my parents and my sisters, go to uni, and pay the bills. I didn’t see it as important to take care of myself.”

But after her husband’s experience with PN, Jenny had a change of heart. “I said, ‘Well, why not?’ I thought it was a good opportunity for me to do something for myself and see what happens.”

Jenny, 42, didn’t have big hopes for the program. She wanted a smaller belly, but she didn’t think about change on a grand scale.

The early lessons shifted Jenny’s thinking: Maybe it was important to look after herself and her body. As she started to get more consistent with her habits, something amazing happened: Jenny’s 5-year-old daughter Sophie started joining in on the home workouts.

“She’d start jumping and doing squats and pushups,” Jenny remembers. “That motivated me even more.”

Similarly, exploring new foods and meals became a family activity. The food Jenny makes now means something more.

“This food has value because I know it’s going to help my body and make me feel better, not worse. I feel like I’m bringing my family together with food. Now I can speak the same language as my husband.”

It’s a language that’s helped Jenny lose 17 pounds and feel good about the habits she’s teaching—and demonstrating for—her daughter.

One of Jenny’s proudest moments? Her husband asked her to join him in an upcoming Spartan race. (You can probably guess her answer.)

Jenny’s outlook on nutrition and fitness got a total overhaul. Even better? Her daughter has picked up the habits.

71 pounds gone: This couple lost weight and found fitness together.

Doug and Sandrine are a couple who did PN coaching in tandem.

Fitting perhaps, that they first met back in 2007 as bicycle guides.

“At that period of my life, I was fitter,” says Doug. “But I never put any thought into eating or nutrition. I just would go and be outside for eight hours a day, riding my bike. I just had a lot of energy, but I didn’t eat very well.”

In time, their lifestyle changed. And Doug noticed that his nutritional habits were catching up to him.

“My life changed, and I didn’t change. My eating stayed poor, and my exercise went way down. And I started gaining weight over time.”

It wasn’t just the creeping number on the scale that led Doug to think about making a change. In 2018, he was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, a potentially life-threatening blood clot.

“I had to go on blood thinners for three months after that blood clot,” says Doug. “It made me decide that I had to change, and so that’s what led me to talk to my sister [a previous PN client], and get involved with PN.”

Doug and Sandrine on a trip to Iceland, pre-Precision Nutrition.

When Doug signed up, Sandrine joined him. “[I thought,], it’s easy if the two of us do it together because we can support one another, encourage one another,” she says. “I’ll know what he’s going through and be able to help.”

Much as their reasons for joining Precision Nutrition differed, so did their approaches to the program.

Doug’s approach: “Specific, precise, process,” Sandrine says. “He’ll do his warmup exactly the same way, and he times himself. And he’s not going to deviate from it.”

Doug was also very engaged with his coach, Scott Quick, and the other clients, frequently checking in and even posting videos of workouts to make sure his exercise form was correct.

Sandrine, on the other hand, preferred a lighter touch with the group, and she found she wanted to mix things up. “Three months ago, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m tired of this warmup routine, I’m going to do what I want.’ And I might do yoga. I might do some dancing. I might do whatever I feel in the moment.”

Where their approaches overlapped: Keeping it simple and doing it together. 

“Our workouts eventually became just an afternoon ritual in a way. We do them together at the same time, pretty much most 99% of the time,” says Doug.

Though their goals and approaches differed, both Doug and Sandrine emerged from the program with deep and lasting change.

Doug lost 55 pounds. “Doing anything outdoors is more enjoyable now. Life is just better, mentally and physically.”

Sandrine lost 16 pounds, but she notes her bigger takeaway is that she now sees health itself as a resource. “It’s going to be an asset in any situation that you encounter, like disease or illness, or growing old, all these things.”

Their advice for anyone going through PN Coaching as a couple?

Doug and Sandrine now: lighter, fitter, and happier. “Health is an asset,” Sandrine says.

“You’re supporting, and you’re creating those rituals and that increased connection. But at the same time, you make it your own experience,” says Sandrine. “You head in the same direction, but you follow your own path.”

With 4 kids and a business, Stephanie had zero extra time: Here’s how she lost 21 pounds anyway.

Stephanie’s life was plenty hectic, even before COVID hit. That’s just how it is when you have four young kids (or even one!) and your own business to run.

“I really just put myself second,” Stephanie recalls. “I knew that I should eat more vegetables or maybe get more sleep, but I found myself just grabbing whatever when I was hungry, even though it wasn’t really filling.“

On some level, Stephanie recognized her approach wasn’t working; she wanted to lose weight and feel better. But she didn’t know how.

“I didn’t know a better way. I was in survival mode.”

She was ready for change. But if she was going to transform herself—she wanted to do it only once.

“I thought, ‘If I do it, then it will be a lifelong thing.’” So she started PN with a simple but bold commitment: Try everything.

One of the most groundbreaking lessons for Stephanie was the very first one: Take a 5-minute action. Starting small, you learn to make time for yourself.

Stephanie was surprised at the impact, both on her own eating and sleeping habits and on her work relationships. “I had people texting me 12 hours a day. I was finally like, okay, I need to have time to get stuff done, too.”

Having time for herself has become an automatic part of her day, and it’s added up to more change than Stephanie expected.

She’s down 21 pounds, but more than that: “I’m moving better than I ever have. Recently I was chasing my kids around the playground and I realized, ‘They can’t beat me!’”

Stephanie with her youngest child in March of 2019 (left) and 21 pound lighter a year later.

From “mac and cheese on pizza” to fresh pineapple as a treat: How Owen transformed his nutrition and lifestyle habits.

When Owen booked the flight for his vacation to Alaska, he was thrilled. But it also prompted a recognition.

“At my weight, it was going to be an absolutely miserable eight hour flight,” Owen says.

The motivation helped him drop 25 pounds before his trip.

Owen on vacation in Alaska, before joining Precision Nutrition Coaching.

“When I got home, I realized that I didn’t want to lose that momentum.”

That’s when he heard PN cofounder Dr. John Berardi on a podcast talking about food as a continuum. It was an interesting alternative to Owen’s usual all-or-nothing approach.

“I’d be in situations where I was trying to explain to my 5-year-old niece that I couldn’t have a piece of cake because it wasn’t a ‘cheat day,’” Owen explains. “Then cut to me three days later, and I’m putting mac and cheese on a pizza.”

Owen signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching and was struck by the gradual method. “I remember thinking, ‘My workout is to go for a walk. What’s the point of this?’”

Slow and steady nutrition and fitness habits have allowed Owen to stick to his goals.

But after decades of extremes, Owen soon found it refreshing to “not jump in with both feet.” It was allowing him to do something new: Stick with the plan.

Like many of us, the pandemic threw Owen for a loop. But maybe even more so in his case. That’s because he’s a healthcare professional. (A big thank you to Owen and all essential workers out there.)

Yet through it all, he managed to stay the course, losing 28 pounds and two pant sizes.

But he’s not done: Owen’s decided to sign up for another year of Precision Nutrition Coaching. He’s benefitting from the support—and, of course, from the physical and mental transformation.

Owen plans to keep the momentum going with another round of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

“About a month ago, I’d just finished an insane 70-hour work week. At the store, I decided to get myself a treat. I got home and realized that I didn’t get a box of donuts or a bag of chips or a frozen pizza. I got a pineapple. That was a pretty cool moment, realizing just how far I’ve come.”

How Damian packed on 14 pounds of muscle

Damian knew something wasn’t quite right when he went to a Carnival fete with his wife.

“Machel Montano was on stage and he’s singing his song ‘Famalay.’ I remember putting up my hand and singing along, and within 10 seconds I’m tired. Really tired.”

In that moment he recognized he wasn’t truly taking care of himself.

“I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t eating correctly. I didn’t know what to eat,” he says.

Where Damian lives, in Trinidad, metabolic-related disease is prevalent. Damian wanted to feel better—and he also didn’t want to become a statistic. “I wanted to set the right example for my kids and my wife so they know what healthy lifestyle habits look like.”

When Damian signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching, he decided to focus on muscle gain and consistency. It wasn’t easy.

“I always had the mindset that sees every challenge as an opportunity for growth,” says Damian. He drew from that resilience to stick with the program no matter what—through work, raising kids, and COVID-19.

The result of his persistent effort: Damian was able to put on 14 pounds of lean mass. He simply followed the program, day-by-day, week-after-week.

That’s how big change really happens.

Damian before (left, center) and after developing 14 pounds of muscle–and nutrition and fitness habits for life.

“What I’m getting from this experience is more than just what the eyes can see. Along the way I developed traits I never even considered—for example, being proactive, consistent, and resilient—which all lead to me being more confident and to do even bigger and better things in the future.”

For the first time in years, this woman got below 200 pounds: What happened next shocked her (in an awesome way).

Leor wanted to slim down for a wedding she’d be attending soon. She’d tried lots of programs in the past, but hadn’t been able to stick to them for long.

“I approached things as a massive change, thinking I have to do it all at once,” says Leor. “I’d have the mindset that, ‘If I don’t do it perfectly, then it’s not worth trying.’”

Leor, 40, knew about the value of slow, mindful eating. She also knew about nutritious foods. Her problem: actually doing it.

She found Precision Nutrition Coaching through a friend and signed up, hoping to fix that. Right away, she knew PN was different. She appreciated that the program felt flexible.

“It wasn’t about perfection at all,” she says.

Leor listened to her lessons while she took a shower each morning. “At the end of the day, I would look back and think, ‘Okay, what did I actually do today? What else do I need to do?’ I started and finished my day with PN.”

And her body started to change.

But then the wedding came and went.

That’s when things got harder.

“After the wedding, it was like refocusing and reframing, trying to find a new goal,” she says.

Her work as an assistant professor at a med school in Barbados got super busy during that time, too. So Leor focused on two practices she could take with her anywhere she went: mindful eating and eating slowly.

It’s not as if those two concepts were new to her. Her grandmother had dieted a lot when she was younger and often tried to eat mindfully. But until PN, those just seemed like logical ideas—she hadn’t actually put them into practice. This time she told herself: “Practice this and give it a chance.”

It paid off.

One day Leor realized she’d hit a milestone. She was below 200 pounds—for the first time in more than a decade.

“The next day, I realized a difference in my mindset,” she says. “Breaking 200 had been this big hurdle. I was so focused on that number that I couldn’t focus on other things. It put me in a different cognitive space to be able to ask, ‘Where else can you put your energy?’ It allowed more things to enter in.”

She decided to get more active, possibly try yoga.

By year’s end, she was down a total of 39 pounds.

Leor before (left) and after Precision Nutrition Coaching. “It was simpler than I thought it would be,” she says.

“I learned small, simple things that I could really do, very easily, and incorporate into my life. I didn’t have to make these massive changes that were going to be super complicated and take me forever to do. With PN, I just focused on a few simple things and, collectively, they made a big difference.”

A breakup, a relocation, and COVID-19: It might have been the worst year of this guy’s life, yet he still crushed his fitness goals.

When Gautham started Precision Nutrition Coaching in July of 2019, life was, relatively speaking, smooth sailing.

He’d lost about 30 pounds over the preceding two years. But he struggled with an all-or-nothing mindset. He wanted health habits he could maintain.

Gautham was crushing it with PN. He decided to learn how to swim and mastered several strokes. He worked out regularly, biked several miles to work every day, ate slowly, and created a sleep ritual that allowed him to wake refreshed and get more done throughout the day.

Then, 2020 showed up. Some years, it seems, are just harder than others.

Suddenly, a serious relationship disintegrated. Not long after, a family member was hospitalized. A couple days after that, on the way to the gym, Gautham saw someone snatch a pedestrian’s purse and chased the guy down. (He got the bag but the snatcher got away.)

“That was all by January 15,” Gautham says.

Uh-oh.

By February, Gautham’s best friends and housemates moved away, which meant Gautham had to find a new place to live.

He’d just settled into his new home when the calendar flipped to March, a pandemic made its way to the US, and a “shelter in place” order went into effect where he lived in Washington DC.

“When you suddenly move to a job that you could, in theory, do from bed—without moving at all—that’s a different challenge,” he says.

Every Tuesday, like clockwork, he made sure to dial into his nutrition coaching video call. It became his anchor. He helped other clients with their challenges, and vice versa.

“You learn so much about yourself by listening to other people,” says Gautham.

Several months into the pandemic, Gautham learned of several family members who had COVID. Some were doing okay. Some weren’t.

He found he couldn’t sleep, which affected his energy levels.

So he turned to his coach, Jonathan Pope, who helped him scale things back.

Gautham went into his workouts aiming only for a 6 or a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale. He didn’t lift as heavy or run as hard. He reminded himself that an intensity level of 6 was a lot better than zero.

Now one year later, Gautham’s body is leaner and 10 pounds lighter. “This is definitely the lightest I’ve ever been, and it makes it easier to move.”

But what’s changed even more: his mindset.

Gautham before Precision Nutrition Coaching (left) and after. He shed 10 pounds and an all-or-nothing mindset.

“There is always going to be life happening. And you just have to find a way to deal with it and make it work,” he says.

This 68-year old woman mastered the Turkish getup and lost 42 pounds. If she can’t inspire you…

Looking at her now, it’s hard to believe that, just one year ago, 68-year-old Donna McKinney spent her days huddled inside her home.

Each morning, she flipped on the TV and plopped down in front of it with her breakfast in hand. She drifted in and out of that room over and over throughout the day.

“I knew I was overweight, and I knew I needed to get in shape, but I was stuck,” Donna recalls.

A holiday visit with her daughter, who appeared much smaller and fitter than before, changed everything.

Donna asked, “What did you do?”

Her daughter told her about Precision Nutrition Coaching and Donna decided to sign up.

Her one goal: to get fit. She had two young, extremely active grandchildren. “I didn’t want to be the grandmother who couldn’t sit on the floor and play games with her grandkids,” she says.

Donna’s body transformed in ways she never expected. The first time she tried to do a Turkish get-up, she couldn’t figure out where her arms or legs were supposed to even go. But slowly, over time, and with a lot of patience, she broke down the exercise into tiny steps.

“One day, it was automatic. I could just knock those out without thinking. That was a breakthrough for me.”

Around the five-month mark, Donna’s hips started to feel stiff and then painful. The feeling traveled to her low back. After seeing a doctor, she had a diagnosis: arthritis and tendonitis.

“I was eating better and working out and losing weight—and now arthritis wanted to take control of my body? That didn’t feel fair,” she says. “Thank God for my coach.”

Coach Pam Ruland helped Donna to focus on what she could do—rather than on her limitations.

”Before I would just push, push, push. Telling myself, ‘I can do this. Don’t be a wimp. Get on with it,’” Donna says. “But I’ve got to find things that work for my body. I can accept that now. It’s helped me to look into myself so much more than I ever imagined.”

Donna before and after her 42-pound weight loss. Now she has no problem getting up off the floor–even while holding a grandkid.

A year later, Donna is 42 pounds lighter.

More important, Donna is filled to the brim with obvious energy. Her eyes sparkle. Her skin glows. Her smile seems ever-present.

And she’s the grandmother she’s always wanted to be. “I still have arthritis, and that’s not going to go away,” she says. “But we run and play and pretty much do anything they want to do.”

And that TV?

“It’s hardly on anymore,” Donna says. “A lot has changed. I feel like a very different person.”

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.

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, 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, July 15th, 2020.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, we 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 become the fittest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself 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 14 people. 338 pounds lost. They transformed their bodies and lives. (And so can you.) appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

How do you become a nutrition coach? What do nutrition coaches do? How much do nutrition coaches earn? And what certifications do you need?

In this article, you’ll find the answers to all those questions—and many more.

But, first, a little background. After all, you might be wondering: Why should you trust what we have to say about nutrition coaching?

For starters…

Our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is recognized by many as the industry’s leading certification for nutrition coaches. And to date, we’ve trained nearly 100,000 health and fitness professionals on the art and science of nutrition coaching.

So get ready: We’re going to tell you everything you need to know to become a nutrition coach. You can read it all, or if you prefer, simply jump right to your most pressing questions by clicking the links below.

What is a nutrition coach?

Nutrition coaches help people build practices that lead to improved health, body composition, and/or performance.

This requires that nutrition coaches have a deep understanding of nutrition science, including:

  • The chemical makeup of macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and the roles they play in the body
  • Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (from plants), myconutrients (from fungi), and zoonutrients (from animals)
  • Calories, metabolism, and energy balance
  • Digestion
  • Water, electrolyte balance, and proper hydration
  • Energy transfer, fat storage, and muscle gain

But a nutrition coach’s job is about more than vegetables and macro ratios. 

Nutrition coaching is about people.

How they think. How they feel. How they live. Why they act the way they do.

As a nutrition coach, you work with real people and their real struggles, all within the messiness of their real lives.

In other words, effective nutrition coaching has more to do with behavior change psychology than it does with nutrition science.

Just have a look at the chart below. Every year, we ask thousands of new Precision Nutrition clients about their biggest nutrition challenges. Here’s what they say.

A bar chart showing the most common nutrition challenges that cause people to seek out a certified nutrition coach.

As a certified nutrition coach, you’re qualified to help clients deal with a variety of challenges.

“I don’t know what to eat” doesn’t even make the top 10.

In fact, 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 experts 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 don’t teach nutrition coaches to tell people to “eat better.” Plenty of people can do that.

The real job of a nutrition coach:

  • Help people build lasting habits that allow “eat better” to become easy, consistent, and automatic.
  • Support clients through the entire process, not just calculating their daily calorie needs and giving them an eating plan.

Who do nutrition coaches help?

The types of clients vary from one nutrition coach to another. Many nutrition coaches focus on a particular niche or specialty.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Busy parents who want to improve the health of their whole family
  • Seniors who want to improve their health
  • People who find themselves marginalized or excluded from traditional health and fitness communities
  • Professional, college, and Olympic athletes who are training for a sport or competition
  • Adults who are looking to get back in shape
  • Clients looking to feel better, mentally and physically
  • Models and physique competitors who want to optimize body composition
  • Runners, para-athletes, cyclists, triathletes, powerlifters, and weekend warriors trying to perform their best

Nutrition coaches aren’t limited to just one speciality, though. The principles you learn through a good nutrition coaching certification can apply to any type of client and goal.

What do nutrition coaches do?

Nutrition coaches:

  • help people clarify their health, nutrition, and/or fitness priorities, values, and goals;
  • work with clients to identify skills, practices, and sustainable daily actions for achieving those goals; and
  • support them every step of the way.

Exactly how this looks will vary from one coach to another. Here are some of the key steps we teach nutrition coaches. It’ll give you a good idea of the many different ways nutrition coaches can work with their clients.

Step 1. Assess and gather client data.

At Precision Nutrition, we use an intake form to better understand clients, track their progress, and help them identify and clarify their goals. The data we gather includes:

  • Nutrition and lifestyle knowledge and history: previous weight loss or gain, exercise experience, awareness of healthy behaviors
  • Current nutrition and lifestyle habits: what they normally eat now, their schedule, food preferences, sleep
  • Body composition and measurements: height, weight, body girths, lean mass, body fat, bone density

Step 2: Understand the client and “build the story.”

A nutrition coach takes the information gathered in step 1 and discerns how it fits into the context of a client’s life.

For instance, let’s say someone wants to lose 20 pounds. But several other things stand in their way: a demanding job, crummy sleep, and family stress. If you simply give them a premade 1,800 calorie meal plan, they’ll probably struggle. That’s because the meal plan didn’t address any of those other key factors, which are probably more important to their eating habits than calculating calories.

By exploring a client’s priorities, motivations, and perspectives, you can get a better handle on the small everyday actions that can, over time, result in long-term success.

For example, that client with the demanding job, crummy sleep, and family stress? They may not have the energy or time to stick to a detailed meal plan right now.

In fact, giving them that plan as-is, without additional support or addressing those other more pressing life factors, may actively make clients worse. They may get distracted from developing the skills and practices that would actually help them, and they’ll probably feel like “failures” if they can’t follow the plan.

The role of the nutrition coach: Help the client identify other steps they can take to start making progress toward goals. For instance, maybe that person can eat slowly or incorporate protein at every meal, which brings us to the next step in the process.

Step 3: Create an action plan.

Good nutrition coaches don’t tell clients exactly what to eat or what to do. Instead, they guide and support them to automate habits.

This is what drives lasting change. For someone looking to lose weight, these habits might include:

  • Eating slowly and mindfully
  • Choosing mostly minimally-processed whole foods
  • Including lots of vegetables, especially colorful ones
  • Having lean protein at most meals
  • Eating until just physically satisfied, or what we call “80% full”

While these might sound boring or too obvious, the reality is this: Following this simple advice is not only highly effective for most people, it’s also incredibly hard. After all, how many folks do you know who are consistently doing all five habits well?

The bottom line: Nutrition science is important. But…

Mastering the art of lasting behavior change is what truly makes nutrition coaches successful and in-demand. 

For a deeper dive into our coaching method, check out these articles:

Step 4: Choose and test one action.

People don’t just wake up one day with a new habit.

They form it by consistently practicing a series of small, strategic, simple actions. For example, someone who wants to lose weight might decide to establish a habit of eating slowly, until they’re 80 percent full. To get there, however, they might start by thoroughly noticing their first few bites.

Or let’s say they want to include more veggies at every meal. Their first action might be adding lettuce to the sandwich they usually eat for lunch most days of the week.

Step 5: Observe and monitor what happens.

Once you and a client have agreed on one action to try, you’ve essentially started an experiment. You’re gathering data again, such as:

  • How consistently did your client do the assigned task?
  • How well did your client do the assigned task?
  • Did any challengers or questions come up?
  • Was there anything that went particularly well?

You’re also tracking progress, with indicators such as:

  • Body measurements
  • Lab test results
  • Sleep quality
  • Energy levels
  • Immunity
  • Confidence
  • Pain
  • GI health

Step 6: Use outcome-based decision making.

Together, you and your client look at how well they did on their assigned action.

There is no failure in experiments, only feedback that helps you determine next steps. This is known as outcome-based decision making.

Once you and your client analyze what happened, you’ll work together to choose the next task or strategic direction of the nutrition coaching program. This can include:

  • Adding a new action
  • Changing the original action
  • Shrinking the original action so it’s easier or more manageable (if the client struggled initially)
  • Making the original action more challenging (if the client found it too easy)

You’ll then repeat this cycle, helping clients solve problems, overcome limiting factors, and modify their overall plan, as needed.

Read more: Three Easy-to-Use Coaching Tools

What’s the difference between a nutrition coach and a registered dietitian?

Registered dietitians (RD) undergo more education and training than nutrition coaches do—and this extra training qualifies them to do medical nutritional therapy. They usually work in a medical or hospital setting, in conjunction with other healthcare professionals. Some RDs also work in private practice.

The following chart outlines the sdifferences between coaches and dietitians.

Nutrition Coaches Registered Dietitians
Have usually completed a certification, continuing education, or university coursework in nutrition and/or behavior coaching Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
Have some background in biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy, along with other relevant subjects Must complete coursework in human physiology, nutrition science, and other sciences, finish a 900-1200 hour supervised internship, pass a comprehensive exam and, in some states, apply for a license to practice.
Not qualified to offer medical nutritional therapy (MNT), but can give clients tools and strategies that help them improve their daily eating. Qualified to offer medical nutritional therapy (MNT) for a wide array of medical conditions, through a tailored diet and close monitoring
Can work anywhere—online, over the phone, and/or in person. Often work with patients in hospitals and other clinical settings. Some work in private practice.
Help people form habits and change behaviors Prescribe specific meal plans

Registered dietitians and nutrition coaches aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, many registered dietitians—especially those in private practice—earn nutrition coaching certifications, too. This helps them develop the coaching skills that improve their effectiveness.

What’s the difference between a nutrition coach and a nutritionist?

This depends a lot on where you live.

In some places, the terms “nutritionist” and “nutrition coach” can be synonymous—and there are little to no regulations about what kind of training someone needs to use either term.

But in other places, the title “nutritionist” is protected by law. To use that title, someone often must undergo specific training, pass a certification exam, and apply for a license. These certification and licensing requirements vary by country and by state.

In the United States, all registered dietitians are nutritionists and can market themselves as RDNs (Registered Dietitian Nutritionists). But only nutritionists who undergo the rigorous training mentioned in the previous section can call themselves dietitians.

Consult a local lawyer to find out how regulations in your area may affect what you can and cannot call yourself.

What’s the difference between a nutrition coach and a health coach?

It depends on the certifications you’re comparing, but typically, they have a lot in common.

People generally hire nutrition coaches for help with… their nutrition. And people generally go to health coaches for help with… their health.

And since health affects nutrition and nutrition affects health, there’s often a lot of overlap.

For example, sleeping too little can trigger intense food cravings that lead someone to eat more. And eating too much for dinner can interfere with sleep.

Another example: A nutrition coach might help a client with stress management—because stress can interfere with fat loss. A health coach also might help a client with stress management—because stress can interfere with energy levels or even disease risk.

In those ways, nutrition coaches are health coaches, and health coaches are nutrition coaches. The difference lies in the framing. In fact, we believe they’re so closely related that for our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, we teach nutrition and lifestyle coaching.

Do any laws limit what nutrition coaches can do?

In our Level 1 certification program, we share this Code of Ethics. It lists several best practices for nutrition coaches.

In addition to using those best practices, check the laws in the area where you reside. Though the limits will vary from one location to another, in most places nutrition coaches are allowed to make general suggestions about the kind of food that’s likely to support their clients’ goals.

But depending on your state or country, there are limits to what nutrition coaches, nutritionists, and other non-registered dietitian professionals can say about nutrition. (Learn more.)

That means nutrition coaches can’t:

  • Prescribe anything in order to treat a health condition or symptom. Without medical training, coaches are legally prohibited—and, frankly, unqualified—to give that kind of advice.
  • Diagnose what’s wrong with someone.
  • Treat someone with medical nutritional therapy.

That may sound like a lot of “can’ts.” But nutrition coaches can still do a lot—becoming a key player in someone’s healthcare team. More about that in the section: “Why do people need nutrition coaches?

What kind of jobs can you get as a nutrition coach?

One option: open a private practice. This allows you to make your own hours and be your own boss while doing what you love: helping others.

For some, an online nutrition coaching practice could be the perfect career for these times. Case in point: Nutrition coaches were using video conferencing and online software to coach clients long before the 2020 pandemic.

Earning your nutrition coaching certification can allow you to market yourself as a nutrition coach, sports nutrition coach, weight loss coach, food coach, and potentially a wellness and lifestyle coach, depending on your background.

While some people choose to solely work as a nutrition coach, most who get certified combine nutrition coaching with other health and fitness roles. At Precision Nutrition, graduates of our Level 1 Certification use the nutrition coaching skills they developed in a variety of vocations, including:

  • Personal trainer
  • Strength coach
  • Group exercise instructor
  • Yoga instructor
  • Health coach
  • Physical therapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Registered dietitian
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Dentist
  • Chiropractors
  • Team sport coach
  • Individual sport coach

In these cases, becoming a nutrition coach enhances your ability to help people in other disciplines.

Why do people need nutrition coaches?

Consider what happens when someone goes to the doctor and leaves with a “prescription” to eat more vegetables, stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, and start exercising. More than likely, their doctor will quickly explain everything in a matter of minutes.

Which often leaves them with a big question: “Okay, but how do I do that?”

For many, they’re on their own.

For help, they might turn to a knowledgeable friend, a best-selling diet book, or a YouTube video.

Here’s the deal, though: Mere knowledge doesn’t always lead to the kind of long-term changes that allow someone to improve their health.

Imagine, for example, that you want to be more productive. So you decide to start getting up at 3 a.m.

Now, anyone can set their alarm and get up at 3 a.m.—once.

Most of us have done it to catch a flight. But getting up at 3 a.m. every single day, when you’re used to sleeping until 7? Well, that’s a whole different story.

Lots of things in your life might have to change because of it.

It’s the same with nutrition. To implement new, lasting habits, people need help creating routines and strategies. And without that help, they tend to struggle. Even if they eat a few veggies and give up soda for a while, they eventually have a bad day. And then another bad day. And then another.

And then they stop trying.

This presents a huge opportunity for nutrition coaches.

Think about a nutrition coach’s job in two parts: There’s knowing what to tell people, of course. This is the SCIENCE of nutrition.

But the other component? Helping people consistently take action, to the point where they can actually change long term.

This is the ART of nutrition coaching, and it’s even more important than the nutrition science.

When nutrition coaches lean into that art, they can help their clients…

  • Take a big goal, like weight loss, and break it down into smaller, more digestible steps.
  • Overcome limiting factors like a junk-food-loving family, intense cravings for sweets, or that dead-tired feeling that makes people decide to order take out rather than cook.
  • Learn to grocery shop, meal prep, and cook, not just follow a pre-made nutrition plan that may not match their personal preferences.
  • Tune into their own physical signs of hunger and fullness, not just count calories and macros.
  • Figure out how to prioritize and practice helpful lifestyle behaviors like exercise, stress management, and quality sleep.
  • Understand why their hunger strikes so fiercely at a certain time of day—as well as how to alter their meals so they provide more staying power

We could have added dozens more bullets above. But we’re hoping you get the idea. Nutrition coaches aren’t better or worse than registered dietitians or doctors. They merely fill a different and incredibly important role. Doctors and registered dietitians diagnose, treat, and educate patients. Nutrition coaches help people actually do what their healthcare team recommends—on a regular basis, for as long as it takes.

Why do people become nutrition coaches?

We’ve trained nearly 100,000 people to become nutrition coaches.

Many have used our Level 1 and Level 2 certifications to deepen their understanding of nutrition, making their first major steps toward becoming health and fitness professionals.

Some are still in another career, as they work toward becoming more established as a nutrition coach.

Others already work in the health and fitness fields—as personal trainers, Pilates or yoga instructors, chiropractors, mental health professionals, massage therapists—and they hope to use their nutrition coaching certification to catapult their careers to the next level.

Or perhaps, as physicians or registered dietitians, they’re already helping a ton of people—but they know they could be even more effective if they learned coaching skills.

Still other people look to nutrition coaching as a side hustle that they can do from home and online. And we could list many more reasons people decide to become nutrition coaches.

But all of those reasons? They really all boil down to just one.

People decide to become nutrition coaches because they want to change lives for the better.

They know that people are frustrated with…

  • Trying diet after diet and not seeing real results
  • Struggling to “just” put their doctor’s advice into practice
  • Bodies that seem to betray them at every turn

They want to help others—and they know they can help. That’s what a nutrition coach does.

How much money does a nutrition coach make?

Obviously it varies—based on many different factors: education, experience, and client load, to name a few.

But, based on our survey of 1,000 nutrition coaches:  

  • The median hourly rate for nutrition coaching is $65 per hour. In other words, half the coaches we surveyed make less than $65 per hour. Half make more.
  • Some high earners are able to charge $10 to $15 an hour more than the median rate.
  • Some super earners are charging double the median rate—$130 per hour or more.

For very successful Precision Nutrition coaches, $100 to $200 per monthly client is attainable. Some of these well-established coaches work with as many as 50 to 100 clients or more at any one time. (We’ll let you do the math.)

However, these rates vary based on experience, location, and offerings (such as one-on-one vs. group coaching).

Plus, total income also depends on many additional factors, including your levels of interest and motivation, the time you can commit, and the results you can deliver.

How do I become a nutrition coach? What credentials do I need?

If you’re going to talk about nutrition, you really need to know what you’re talking about.

But you probably guessed that part.

You also need to know about coaching, psychology, and behavior change.

While there isn’t one particular certification, it’s best to seek out a training program that:

  • Is rigorous and well-respected
  • Covers nutrition science, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, and other related topics.
  • Is client-centered
  • Based on the “whole person” approach to a healthy lifestyle
  • Continuously reviewed and updated per the latest findings with real clients and in peer-reviewed research.
  • Includes coaching techniques and change psychology. Because understanding the science of nutrition won’t get you very far if you lack the foundational coaching skills needed to communicate and guide your clients toward change behaviors that’ll actually stick.

When deciding on a program, look for one that will do more than simply give you a certification that you can put on your wall and add to your title. You want one that not only teaches you about nutrition but also sets you up to start coaching, with confidence, on the day you graduate.

We’re obviously biased, but we believe the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the best place to start. That’s because our program checks all of those boxes, teaching you both the science and the art of nutrition coaching.

By the end of the self-paced course, coaches understand cell metabolism, the GI tract, energy balance, macro and micronutrients, fluid balance, and the importance of stress management and sleep quality.

Plus, they know how to use that knowledge to inspire their clients to make consistent changes to what, how much, and how they eat, as well as how they move, sleep, and recover.

We could go on and on about the many benefits of a PN certification. But, like we said, we’re biased.

So how about this? If you’re interested in learning more hop on over to our Level 1 certification page.

And no matter where you ultimately learn how to become a nutrition coach, we’re rooting for you.

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, preferences, and lifestlye—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, July 15th, 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 Become a nutrition coach: Everything you need to know to get started appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

By the time Tina Cox-Vega hit her highest weight ever, she had a terrifying thought: “I was killing myself with food.” Here’s how she lost 100 pounds—and got her life back.

++++

Tina Cox-Vega stepped on the scale.

“265,” the doctor said.

Tina’s heart sank. At the time, she was 44. Her weight had been creeping up for years. Still, at 5-foot-6, she never thought it would get this high.

She drove home. Then cried.

“I knew I was on the path to 300 pounds. I felt so heavy and self-conscious. I needed special accomodations everywhere I went.”

Tina felt imprisoned by her body. The extra pounds were intensifying her chronic knee pain. Stairs? Forget it. She couldn’t stand for very long, either, which made it seem as if her life was slipping away without her participation.

Tina looked for excuses to avoid accompanying her family and friends to concerts and amusement parks. She just couldn’t keep up without resting. Plus, the long wait to get on a rollercoaster would be excruciating: When it was her turn to get on, she worried the attendant would say, “I’m sorry ma’am, but the harness won’t close.”

For years, Tina had been telling herself she would fix things—someday.

But that day in the doctor’s office, she knew “someday” had arrived.

So when her close friend Michelle Richards suggested Precision Nutrition Coaching, Tina took the advice seriously.

Michelle gushed about the goals she’d reached with PN coaching. She even offered to cover Tina’s fee, using some of the $25,000 she’d received from winning our body transformation contest.

Tina declined, but not because she wasn’t convinced. She just wanted to pay for it herself.

“I told Michelle: ‘If I don’t have a financial stake in this, I won’t do it.’”

In the first few weeks, Tina did an exercise called The 5 Whys, a method for uncovering the deeper motivation behind a goal. As Tina contemplated the questions, she realized that her motivation went way beyond just wanting to lose weight:

“I wanted to be healthy for my children. But on an even deeper level, I was afraid that I was slowly killing myself with food. I knew I needed help.”

Uncovering those “whys” fired Tina up so much that she committed herself to program. “I quietly read every lesson. I did every habit, every workshop, every workout,” she says.

At first, Tina struggled because of her knee issues. But her coach, Denise Allen, provided her with alternative exercises and, slowly, Tina’s fitness improved.

Adopting the PN approach of looking for ways to do things just “a little bit better,” Tina took small steps toward her goals.

She took the stairs at work instead of the elevator—even though she, at first, got so winded she wasn’t sure if she’d make it. Soon, she was purposely parking in the farthest spot in the lot, her old handicapped permit gathering dust in the glove box.

Next, she stopped relying on TV to lull her to sleep. She used meditation to wind down instead.

Tina was seeing physical results, too. Her weight dropped and her entire body changed. When she looked at photos of herself, she saw a new woman.

But around the program’s halfway mark, something happened that kicked Tina’s results into high gear.

One day, Tina posted in the PN coaching Facebook group, asking for recipes that she could make with her daughters.

Two weeks later, she got a package in the mail. Denise, her coach, had sent her the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook. Inside, Denise had written: “I want you to know you can do this.”

“I was literally in tears,” Tina says. “I was like, ‘Wow she really gives a damn. She wants me to succeed.’”

By the end of the year, Tina had lost 60 pounds and 50 inches. Her crippling knee pain was gone, and the clouds of depression had cleared. For the first time in a long time, she felt happy, empowered, and very much alive.

Tina was no longer afraid of dying. She was too busy living.

That line of thought, popularized by The Shawshank Redemption, rang true for Tina. And she wasn’t done. With Denise’s encouragement, Tina signed up for a second year of coaching.

Near the end of year two, Tina stepped on the scale, looked down, and cried: 165. She’d lost 100 pounds.

“I took a picture of the scale that day, so I could always remember it,” she says.

At times, Tina can hardly believe her transformation. Neither can her kids.

“They drove by and saw their mother, believe it or not, jogging,” she laughs.

Tina’s even playing volleyball again, a sport she loved in high school. “I’ve got my confidence back,” she says.

Perhaps best of all is the newly-strengthened bond with her daughters. Tina can now spend a whole afternoon out and about without needing to take a break or worrying about special accommodations.

“PN has done more than just help me lose weight. It has helped me grow closer to those around me,” Tina adds.

“I’m never going to go back to what I was before. And, honestly, I think PN saved my life.”

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.

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, 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, July 15th, 2020.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, we 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 become the fittest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself 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 This woman lost 100 pounds. Her story has a lesson for everyone. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Jon McLernon’s heart was racing.

“Go to the hospital,” a voice screamed inside his head. “You’re dying.”

But he wasn’t dying, and he knew it. Years of career changes, international moves, extreme diet and exercise plans, injuries, and trauma from a violent incident overseas were all taking their toll.

He was having yet another panic attack.

He longed for comfort. But it was the middle of the night. His wife was asleep, and he didn’t want to wake her.

Plus, he didn’t want her to know.

He was a man, after all. He was supposed to be strong, right?

That’s why she called him the tin man.

The then-35-year-old quietly shuffled to the couch.

It seemed like the attacks were striking all the time now, despite the medication he took to treat them. Jon, who lives in Red Deer, Alberta, was suffering from so many panic attacks that he stopped going to the public places that triggered them, including the gym.

Instead, he squashed his uncomfortable emotions—guilt, shame, anger—with a familiar friend: food. The emotional eating combined with little to no exercise caused his weight to climb. At the beginning of 2017, he reached  290 pounds.

And he felt like a failure. He’d struggled with his weight since his early 20s, when he’d been sidelined from sports by a motorcycle accident. Since then, 6-foot-1 Jon longed to get back to his old athletic self.

“I looked back at who I was, and who I had become, and I felt so discouraged.”

Over the years, Jon had lost and regained a lot of weight. He’d tried so many diets and exercise strategies: keto, kettlebells, macro counting, HIIT workouts—you name it.

He tended to look for a quick, extreme fix. “I kept thinking, ‘I’ve just got to do this for 12 weeks, and then I’m done.’”

But because he was always all-or-nothing with his efforts, life had a tendency to get in the way, and his weight would balloon back up.

Jon knew he needed to do something before he landed back at his all-time high: 328 pounds. So he figured he’d just do what he’d always done: “white knuckle” through another extreme diet and exercise plan.

“I’ll just keep powerlifting two hours a day. Sleeping five hours a night. Working 14 hours a day. I’ll just beat myself harder, and my body will respond.”

A nutrition coach who helped run a supplement store, Jon knew a lot about health. But despite everything he knew about exercise and nutrition, his tactics weren’t working.

“I thought, ‘How can I know all this stuff and still not succeed?’”

Jon even tried working with two nutrition coaches. But he couldn’t stick to the rigid meal plans they were assigning him, which just made him feel worse: “That really made me almost self-destruct,” he says.

By the summer of 2017, Jon was exhausted and miserable. Luckily, during one of his many nutrition research sessions, he stumbled across Precision Nutrition.

Jon McLernon at the beginning of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Jon McLernon at the beginning of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

“Maybe they can help me…”

With PN, he immediately realized the approach would be different: Less focus on extreme diets and exercise programs, and more focus on sustainable changes. “They were speaking to me differently than I was used to,” he says.

So he took a leap of faith and signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Jon was surprised to discover that Scott Quick, his PN Coach, was nothing like his previous nutrition coaches who’d berated him for failing to count and track his macros.

“There was nothing judgmental about his approach. He didn’t talk to me like I was a failure. He didn’t talk to me with this expectation that I was going to let him down.”

Coach Scott met Jon’s efforts with compassion. And Jon wasn’t sure how to handle it. “Even then, I didn’t accept it with open arms,” Jon remembers.

But all that was about to change.

One day, Coach Scott asked Jon to make a list of everything that was important to him.

Then, Coach Scott followed up with a key question: “How far down the list do I have to go before I find Jon?”

The question hit Jon hard. “I was like, ‘Holy crap. Why don’t I love myself?’”

“I sat there and I actually cried,” he says.

Despite everything he’d tried—all the diets, exercise routines, supplement regimens—Jon realized he’d been missing a crucial piece. Until now, he never considered what he needed.

After years of keeping his emotions in a locked box, Jon finally allowed himself to feel. And Coach Scott was there to support him.

“He said, ‘It’s okay to feel these things.’ And that was a foreign message to me,” Jon says.

Jon even decided to tell his wife that he was having panic attacks. “Of course, she didn’t respond at all like I thought she would. She responded with compassion and care and concern.”

Now, Jon was ready to start working smarter instead of harder.

He started focusing on eating his meals slowly and not stuffing himself. He tried to become more aware of the reasons he overate, and better tune in to his body’s appetite signals.

Previously, Jon would have scoffed at simple nutrition strategies like these. But he was committed to letting go of his all-or-nothing approach.

He agreed to follow Coach Scott’s advice and start small, by practicing tiny daily actions consistently—instead of trying to overhaul his whole life at once. “Over time, it started to pay off,” Jon recalls.

His self-awareness grew. He recognized his pattern of emotional eating and sought out other, healthier outlets for his anxiety, like doing a few minutes of meditation each day.

Most of all, Jon started to prioritize himself and his own well-being. No more beating himself up, physically or emotionally.

“I’m not putting excessive demands on myself now,” he says. “Instead of trying to punish my body into health, I’m celebrating what I can do.”

Jon McLernon 60 lb. lighter after 12 months of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Jon McLernon 60 lb. lighter after 12 months of Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Today, Jon is down 60 pounds since starting with PN.

While Jon’s certainly proud of his weight loss, he’s even happier with his inner transformation.

Jon’s wife no longer refers to him as a “tin man.” The intense and unsustainable diets? Gone. So are the nightly panic attacks.

“I got my life back,” he says. “And my wife got her husband back.”

Jon and his wife in a photo he labels “Not the tin man.”

Even better, Jon has taken what he learned during his PN Coaching experience and applied it with his own clients. He’s now a Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Coach with a thriving business, Freedom Nutrition Coaching.

“It’s given me the sense of fulfillment I was always looking for—of being a part of something bigger than myself.”

Thriving mentally, physically, and emotionally, Jon has discovered deep health. Not just for twelve weeks, but for life.

Try It Now

One of the most powerful tactics Jon used to lose weight successfully: prioritizing his needs so he could consistently make time for himself.

We’re all busy, and we’re all surrounded by distractions (hello smart phone) along with people and situations that grab our attention. On top of this, many of us want to please and help others, which can make us feel guilty when we take time for ourselves.

Problem is: If we don’t make time for ourselves, we won’t consistently find time to do what’s needed—plan meals, shop for healthy foods, exercise—to reach our goals.

That’s why listing what’s most important to you is such a powerful tactic, says Coach Scott. “It gets very real, very fast,” he says. “It can be humbling, mind-blowing, and mind-opening.”

To try it for yourself, do the following:

  1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. Make a list of every person, activity, and thing you love, value, and hold dear.
  3. Take a look at your list. Where do you fall on it? Do you make the cut?

For some people, this ultra-simple exercise is an immediate game-changer. Other people, however, struggle with their new revelations, wondering, “Yeah I realize I should move myself up the list, but…how?”

If the latter describes you, Coach Scott recommends yet another set of questions: Why do you feel this is a struggle? Why are you hesitating? What’s holding you back?

If you worry about competing priorities (for example, spending time with your kids) or letting others down, consider how you might say “Me, Too” instead of “Me, First,” says Coach Scott. In other words, how do you prioritize yourself and the people you love rather than choosing just one or the other?

For example, perhaps you could:

  • Include your family in your nutrition and fitness activities. For example, during a family celebration, could you say, “I’d like to go for a quick walk. Would anyone like to join me?”
  • Communicate your goals with coworkers and family members so they understand, for example, why you want to make time to prep food or go to sleep 30 minutes earlier than usual.
  • Ask for help. Imagine your daily routine. How might you move yourself—and especially your health and fitness goals—up your priority list while at home, at work, while traveling? What obstacles stand in your way? What small actions might family, coworkers, and friends take to help you overcome those obstacles?

And keep in mind: Yes, this is hard work. Change is uncomfortable. But so is stagnation, says Coach Scott. “It takes courage and discomfort to move yourself up the list,” he says. “But it’s okay to struggle because struggling means it’s important to you.”

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.

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, 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, July 15th, 2020.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, we 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 become the fittest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself 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 This man gave up extreme dieting and exercise. That’s when he finally lost 60 pounds. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“But how do you get enough protein?!”

If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or even just a fan of Meatless Mondays, you’ve probably been asked this question.

Plant-based protein is a hot topic for plant-based eaters or anyone whose dietary choices emphasize plant foods as important components.

Much of the controversy and confusion revolves around getting “enough” protein and choosing the “best” sources.

But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to plant-based protein. That’s because:

  • There are lots of different types of plant-based eaters: vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, pescatarians, people who are plant-curious or plant-forward… the list goes on.
  • Getting “enough” protein is relative. A person’s ideal protein intake depends on their individual body, goals, and preferences.
  • The “best” sources of plant-based protein may vary from person to person. Some sources may be higher-quality than others, but intolerances and allergies need to be taken into account, as well as what a person is able to eat on a consistent basis.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about protein for plant-based eaters, including how to answer the following questions for yourself (or your client):

  • Why is protein so important, and how much do you need?
  • What are the best sources of plant-based protein?
  • What should you do if you’re struggling to meet protein needs on a plant-based diet?

Let’s get started.

++++

Many believe plant-based eaters struggle with protein.

To some degree, that’s true.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we’ve coached over 100,000 people on their eating habits. And every year, we ask thousands of new clients about their biggest nutrition challenges via a questionnaire.

Then, our data wizards analyze the responses to understand the most common nutrition problems.

According to our recent intake data, plant-based eaters were much more likely than non-plant-based eaters to have a lower protein intake.

A bar graph showing that plant-based eats usually have fewer meals with protein per day than non-plant-based eaters.

According to our intake data, plant-based eaters were less likely to include a serving of protein with most meals.

Of course, protein isn’t a problem for all plant-based eaters.

But protein does deserve special attention—no matter what your diet.

Why is protein so important?

We need protein consistently from our diets in order to grow, maintain, and repair our tissues, hormones, and immune system. 

Some people may want to eat more or less protein depending on their preferences and goals, but we all need a bare minimum of protein to prevent issues like:

  • losing muscle mass (which can cause a drop in your metabolism)
  • having skin, hair, and nail problems
  • healing more slowly if you get cuts or bruises
  • experiencing mood swings
  • being more likely to break bones

And unless you have a specific medical reason to keep your protein intake low, most people will benefit from eating more protein.

The specific benefits of a higher-protein diet include:

  • Appetite control: Eating a high-protein diet seems to improve satiety.1,2
  • Weight and body composition management: Higher protein intakes may help people eat less when they’re trying to lose fat, increase the number of calories burned through digestion (the thermic effect of food), and retain muscle during fat loss.3
  • Muscle growth or maintenance: Keeping protein levels high, combined with exercise, helps people gain vital muscle mass and hang onto it over time, especially as they age.4,5
  • Improved cardiometabolic health: High protein diets can help lower blood pressure, improve glucose regulation and blood cholesterol, and more.6
  • Better strength: Higher amounts of protein combined with exercise can also aid in strength gains.7
  • Improved immune function: Proteins are the building blocks of antibodies, and serve several functions in the immune system. People who are protein-deficient are more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.
  • Faster recovery: Higher protein intakes help to repair tissue damaged during exercise, as well as after injury.6

Other folks who need more protein than the bare minimum include those who:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are growing
  • Have a health issue that causes problems with protein absorption
  • Are eating a 100 percent plant-based diet. (More on that in a minute.)

The good news?

With a little knowledge and planning, it’s not so hard to meet your protein goals on a plant-based diet. This is true whether you’re just looking to hit the bare minimum or you want to try out a high-protein approach.

How much protein do you need?

Your protein needs depend on a variety of factors including your age, weight, activity level, health status, goals, and more.

The simplest way to find out how much protein you need—no matter your eating style—is to use our Nutrition Calculator. It’ll tell you how much protein to eat in both grams and easy-to-track hand portions, along with your ideal intake of fat, carbs, and veggies.

But if you’re looking for some general guidelines…

  • Sedentary people should aim for a bare minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (Or 0.36 grams per pound.)
  • Adults over 65 should aim for 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. (Or 0.55 to 0.91 grams per pound of bodyweight.) New research shows that most older people need more protein than the bare minimum recommendation to slow down muscle loss.8,9
  • Athletes and active people should aim for between 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. (Or 0.55 to 1.0 grams per pound of bodyweight.) People who are overweight and obese may want to stick to the lower end of this range, since protein needs are not as high relative to their bodyweight.
  • Healthy people who want to change their weight or body composition should strive for 1.6 to 3.3 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. (Or 0.75 to 1.5 grams per pound.) Going above the threshold for active people (2.2 grams of protein per kilogram) may not be necessary, but there’s little evidence it’s harmful. Fun fact: Some overfeeding studies have ventured as high as 4.4 grams/kilogram (or 2 grams/pound), with no ill effects after several months.10

It’s likely helpful to adjust protein intake based on goals and current body composition.

If you’re not sure whether you’re getting enough protein, it may help to experiment with tracking your intake using hand portions or macros for a couple of weeks. Based on what you discover, you can adjust as needed.

Is plant protein as good as animal protein?

Some people wonder if humans need animal protein to be healthy. And the truth is, plant and animal proteins are different in some ways.

All proteins are made up of amino acids, which are sort of like different colored Legos. They can be put together in different ways to serve different purposes in the body.

In all, your body uses 20 different amino acids.

Seven of those are non-essential amino acids. That’s because your body can create them on its own.

There are also four conditionally essential amino acids, which your body can make, but not always. For example, your body might have a harder time making enough of them when you’re sick or after a really tough workout.

The other nine amino acids are known as essential amino acids (EAAs). Your body can’t make these, so you have to get them from food.

This is important, because EAAs play key roles in building and repairing tissue—like muscle—but also in building hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), a subcategory of EAAs, are especially important for their role in muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis is the process your body uses to repair and build muscle after exercise. While muscle protein synthesis is much more complicated than just one amino acid, leucine plays an integral role in triggering the process, which makes it probably the most well-known BCAA.

One thing to keep in mind, though: BCAAs are great, but you still need all of the EAAs to maximize the protein synthesis from your protein source.

A Venn diagram showing the types of amino acids, including essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.

Amino acids can be divided into three categories: essential amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.

The reason all this is relevant: because of how complete and incomplete proteins are often at the center of the plant vs. animal protein discussion.

These terms refer to whether a food has enough of all nine EAAs to meet your protein needs if you only ate that food.

So imagine your sole source of food was eggs. You ate eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s it. Nothing else.

Would subsisting on eggs alone provide all of the EAAs you require? Yes: They’re a complete protein. (Although you’d fall short in other nutrients!)

Now imagine that your sole source of food was barley (an incomplete protein). You ate barley for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s it. Nothing else.

Would subsisting on barley alone provide all of the EAAs you require? No.

This unrealistic example represents the limited value of classifying foods as either “complete” or “incomplete” proteins.

All this to say, as long as you’re not subsisting on only a couple of foods (for instance, you only eat corn and bananas), you likely don’t need to devote mental energy to complete vs. incomplete proteins.

If you’re 100-percent plant based, we do recommend eating at least one cup of cooked legumes—such as chickpeas, edamame, or tempeh—a day. Legumes are high in lysine, an amino acid that’s in short supply when only eating plants.

Do plant-based eaters need more protein?

Because of the way the human digestive system is structured and the varying amino acid profiles of plant foods, we might not absorb protein from some plants as well as animal proteins.

The lower digestibility of protein in plant foods means that if plants are your only source of protein, you’ll need more protein from them in order to get the same benefit and meet your body’s needs. (To learn more about protein digestibility and how it’s calculated, read this article.)

In fact, standard recommendations for protein intake assume that at least 10 percent of a person’s protein comes from animal sources.

So if you eat a 100 percent plant-based diet, you’ll need to consume more protein than someone with the same goals and physical characteristics who eats animal products.

A bar graph showing that people who eat a fully plant-based diet need more protein than those who eat animal protein.

People who eat a 100 percent plant-based diet have slightly higher protein needs than people who eat animal protein.

Which plant-based foods are high-protein?

Below, you’ll find a full plant-based protein foods list—as well as some vegetarian and pescatarian options.

But before we get to the list, a quick explanation of how we created it.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we don’t label foods “good” or “bad.” But some foods are more health-promoting than others. That’s why we look at foods on a spectrum from “eat more” to “eat some” to “eat less.”

We collaborated with our team of nutrition experts to categorize plant-based foods along a continuum, allowing for multiple perspectives and debate. We considered a variety of factors in creating the list you’ll see below, including:

  • Health and nutrition data on a given food, including long-term health outcomes in people who have been eating it for a long time (if that information is available).
  • Recommended daily intakes of various nutrients and how a given food helps fulfill those.
  • Reward and palatability: how enjoyable a food is to eat and how it tastes.
  • Nutrient density, meaning what macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, and zoonutrients a food contains.
  • Level of processing, because more highly-processed foods are often (but not always!) less health-promoting.

Our intention wasn’t to create a perfect, undebatable list, but rather a practical tool to help plant-based eaters understand their options and progress toward health goals.

It’s also worth noting that there are exceptions everywhere. 

For someone allergic to soy products, tempeh and tofu won’t be in the “eat more” category.

If a plant-based eater values environmental sustainability above all else, resource-intensive foods such as products derived from water-hungry nuts and certain types of fish will be placed in the “eat some” or “eat less” categories.

With that said, let’s get to our plant-based protein foods list.

By focusing on protein-rich foods in the “eat more” and “eat some” categories, you’ll be prioritizing lean, minimally-processed sources of protein. (But that doesn’t mean you can never have foods in the “eat less” category.)

And keep in mind that your own personal spectrum may look a bit different from what’s laid out in the sections that follow.

Protein sources

The following foods can be considered your primary source of protein in a meal.  Depending on your approach to plant-based eating, you may want to stick with the sources in the fully plant-based section, or add options from the vegetarian and pescatarian sections, too.

An infographic with illustrations of the best high protein foods for vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians.

These high protein foods are minimally-processed and nutrient-dense.

Fully plant-based

Soy products: Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all high in protein and are present in a variety of dishes across various cultures.

Soy has been the subject of much controversy, but the body of research shows that in reasonable amounts, it’s overall safe. Research indicates that:

  • Soy foods and isoflavone (bioactive compounds found in soy) supplements have no effect on testosterone in men.
  • Soy doesn’t increase risk of breast cancer in women.
  • Soy most likely doesn’t have a harmful effect on thyroid health, either, though more research is needed in this area (If you want to get the full story on soy, here’s more info.)

Lentils: Lentils are a type of legume that have a rich and nutty flavor. The most common varieties in North America are brown, green, and red, but there are many others that can be found worldwide. Lentils are highly nutritious: They contain generous amounts of protein, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and fiber.

Beans: There are many types of beans to choose from. For example: black, pinto, navy, lupini, cannellini, and more. Generally, beans are high in fiber and carbohydrates, and provide a moderate amount of protein.

Split peas: Those who have digestive issues with beans and legumes may find that split peas are less irritating.

Black-eyed peas: These offer a similar nutrition profile to beans and lentils.

Vegetarian

Eggs and egg whites: Chicken eggs are considered one of the world’s most versatile foods, and one of the best vegetarian protein sources. A single egg contains about 6.5 grams of protein, plus minerals like iron and folate, and a healthy dose of vitamins A, E, D, and B12.

There’s some debate over whether egg yolks are healthy or not. They won’t increase blood cholesterol or the risk of heart or artery disease—for most people. However, egg yolks should likely be minimized for people with diabetes, heart disease, and or familial hypercholesterolemia.

Plain Greek yogurt: Bacterially produced dairy products—or ones that are made with fermentation—seem to be the healthiest options. Most varieties of yogurt fall into this category, but Greek yogurt is particularly high in protein. (And in case you’re wondering, flavored Greek yogurt and other types of yogurt are considered sources of fats and/or carbohydrates.)

Cultured cottage cheese: Similar to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is a high-protein dairy option that can be particularly beneficial when made with live cultures. (The product label will note if it’s made with live and active cultures.)

Pescatarian

Fish: There are lots of choices within this category. Examples: cod, salmon, tilapia, herring, bass, snapper, and more. Fish is an ideal source of lean protein and is often rich in other nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Shellfish: Scallops, shrimp, clams, oysters, and mussels are high in protein and other nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and zinc. Some are rich in iodine, which is key for thyroid health.

An infographic with illustrations of high protein foods for vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians.

Include these in meals occasionally, but not always.

Fully plant-based

Plant-based protein powders: There are many types of plant-based protein powder on the market including soy, pea, rice, hemp, and other vegan blends. There are pros and cons to each type, so it’s best to choose based on your own individual preferences and needs.

A chart comparing different plant-based protein sources found in protein powder.

Weighing the pros and cons of different plant-based protein sources can help you choose the best protein powder for you.

If you choose to use protein powder, 20-40 grams of protein per day (usually 1-2 scoops) from protein powder is a reasonable amount. For most, 80 grams per day (about 3-4 scoops) is a good upper limit of supplemental protein intake.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a general guideline.

The main reason: Getting more than 80 grams from protein powder is excessive for most people, as it displaces whole food sources that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. That’s why it’s in the “eat some” section.

Textured vegetable protein: Also known at TVP, this is a soy product that is derived from soy protein isolate, a processed version of the protein found in soybeans. It has a texture similar to ground meat, which makes it easy to add to sauces, soups, stews, curries, and more. It’s a dense source of high-quality protein, kind of a “food-like” equivalent of protein powder.

Tempeh bacon: Usually made from a combination of tempeh, soy sauce or tamari, and maple syrup or other sweeteners, tempeh bacon can be made at home or bought pre-made. Though it has many of the same benefits as plain tempeh, it falls into the “eat some” category because it contains added sugars and other ingredients.

Soy yogurt, unsweetened: There are many types of plant-based yogurt available, but the only one that has a meaningful amount of protein is soy yogurt. When it’s unflavored, it can serve as a protein source since it has a higher proportion of protein relative to carbohydrates and fat. Flavored soy yogurts and other plant-based yogurts can be considered primarily sources of fat and/or carbohydrates, since they’re usually higher in those two macronutrients than protein.

Seitan: This meat substitute is made from gluten, the protein found in wheat, which means it’s not suitable for people who are gluten free. Because seitan goes through a lot of processing and doesn’t offer much aside from protein in terms of nutrition, it’s not as good of an option as tofu and tempeh. Seitan does have a relatively meat-like texture, which makes it a popular meat substitute in restaurant dishes.

Black bean burgers and traditional veggie burgers: These can be a source of protein, but they’re often more diluted in terms of their protein content. Veggie burger ingredients vary widely across manufacturers, so like all other foods on this continuum, their position isn’t set in stone. Some include lots of vegetables and high-quality sources of protein, while others contain lots of additives and few other nutrients.

Vegetarian

Animal-based protein powders: Similar to plant-based protein powders, there are many varieties of animal-based protein powders. The highest quality protein powders in this category are dairy and egg-based. Similar to plant-based protein powders, limiting protein from animal-based protein powders to 20 to 40 grams per day (with an upper limit of 80 grams per day) is a good guideline.

A chart comparing some of the animal-based protein sources found in protein powder.

Vegetarian protein powders may also be a good option for some plant-based eaters.

(To learn more about all types of protein powders, read this article.)

An infographic with illustrations of less-nutrition high protein foods for vegans, vegetarians, and pescatarians.

These foods are high in protein, but should be eaten in moderation.

Fully plant-based

Plant-based protein bars: You can probably guess by now why plant-based protein bars fall under “eat less.” Even if a protein bar is a good source of protein, it’s likely to contain a host of other ingredients that have little to offer nutritionally. Protein bars may be convenient on the go, but there are a lot of other portable snack options to consider (including homemade protein bars, which can be made with any type of protein powder).

Plant-based meats: This category includes branded products and burgers like Impossible, Beyond, Gardein, Boca, and Tofurkey. People are often curious about why these products, particularly some of newer, more innovative ones, are in the “eat less” category.

One reason: Most plant-based meats are made from a highly-processed plant protein, along with added oils, salts, sugars, flavors, and colors. The more meat-like burger products are usually comparable to an 80-percent lean beef burger. That type of meat would also fall into the “eat less” category—something you might eat once in a while, but not every day if your goal is better health.

And in the case of some of the newer, highly-engineered products in this category, ingredients that are brand-new to the human food system are used to create a more meat-like result. We simply don’t know how these ingredients will impact long-term health. Of course, it’s possible we’ll eventually realize they’re not harmful at all. But we might also look back 50 years from now and say, “Wow, highly-processed plant-based meat wasn’t such a great idea after all!”

On the positive side, these products do help normalize plant-based eating. They’re increasingly available in restaurants, and can be an appealing alternative to less palatable plant-based options, especially in restaurants that don’t specialize in this type of cuisine.

Plant-based meat may also be helpful in cases where the plant-based eater might otherwise feel like an outsider.

Vegetarian

Animal-based protein bars: Similar to plant-based protein bars, these usually contain lots of extra ingredients that offer little, if any, additional health benefit.

Pescatarian

High-mercury fish: Eating fish is the major source of mercury exposure for humans. When mercury reaches a certain level in your body, it can cause serious health problems. Predatory fish like shark, tuna, king mackerel, tilefish, swordfish and orange roughy have the highest levels of mercury.

Fish/seafood that aren’t predatory—including sardines, salmon, clams, and shrimp—have lower levels. What’s more, farmed fish generally have the lowest mercury content (though there may be other concerning outcomes with intensive fish farms).

Plant-based carbohydrates and fats that are high in protein

These foods can help boost your protein intake, but are primarily carbohydrates or fats. They’re especially helpful for 100 percent plant-based eaters in increasing protein intake.

An infographic with illustrations of carbohydrate foods that also contain protein.

Add any of these foods to meals to bump up protein content.

Protein-rich carbohydrates include foods like beans, lentils, and grains.

(As noted above, beans and lentils can count as a protein source if you don’t have another source of protein in your meal, but they are higher in carbohydrates than protein.)

Grains like buckwheat, farro, amaranth, quinoa, oats, and wild rice also fall into this category.

An infographic with illustrations of fats that also contain protein.

These fat sources can help increase protein intake.

These fat sources boost protein intake and often add tasty flavor and other healthful nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, while they’re at it.

Various nuts and seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, and some plant milks fall into this category.

.pncta-l1-banner {
width: 90%;
max-width: 90%;
min-height: 262px;
padding: 0;
display: block;
margin: 1rem auto 3rem;
box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,.08) 0 0 6px 0;
box-sizing: border-box;
background: #2b363e radial-gradient(circle at 78% 56%,#435360,#2b363e 53%);
overflow: hidden;
height: auto;
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
position: relative;
width: 65%;
height: 70px;
margin: -40px auto 30px auto;
background: #00bbe3;
text-align: center;
border-radius: 15%/50%;
padding-top: 45px;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

.pncta-l1-shape:after {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: -95%;
bottom: -15%;
right: -5%;
left: -5%;
background: inherit;
border-radius: 15%/50%;
}

.pncta-l1-over {
position: relative;
z-index: 200;
color: #fff;
padding: 0;
margin: 0 auto;
font-size: 14.5px;
font-weight: 200;
text-align: center;
width: 100%;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 23px
}

.pncta-l1-row:after {
content: “”;
display: table;
clear: both
}

.pncta-l1-content {
position: relative;
display: flex;
margin: 15px 27px;
flex-direction: row;
align-items: normal;
overflow: hidden;
background: url(//cdn.widerfunnel.com/assets/PNU/LE13.3/img-book-ipad.png) no-repeat;
height: 100%;
width: auto;
background-size: contain;
background-position: 100% 0;
min-height: 180px;
}

.pncta-l1-info {
padding: 0;
margin: 0;
text-align: left;
width: 60%;
overflow: hidden;
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 23.5px;
font-weight: 700;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: normal;
letter-spacing: normal;
color: #fff!important;
padding: 0 0 10px;
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
text-align: left;
padding: 0 0 15px 0;
margin: 0;
font-size: 14.5px;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: 1.37;
letter-spacing: normal;
color: #c6cbce;
font-weight: 400;
width: 90%;
}

.pncta-l1-img {
width: 40%;
position: relative
}

.pncta-l1-img > img {
display: none;
margin: 0;
position: absolute;
top: 1em;
right: 0;
left: 0;
max-width: 100%;
margin: 0 auto;
z-index: 2;
}

.pncta-l1-btn {
color: #f4f4f4 !important;
width: 180px;
height: 34px;
text-transform: uppercase;
font-size: 13.5px;
font-weight: 600;
font-stretch: normal;
font-style: normal;
line-height: normal;
letter-spacing: normal;
text-align: center;
min-width: 180px;
background: linear-gradient(to bottom,#00bbe3 2%,rgba(41,151,186,.96)),linear-gradient(to bottom,#1fd8ff,rgba(31,216,255,0) 6%);
line-height: 0;
border-radius: 2.4px!important
}

a.pncta-l1-addbanner:active, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:hover, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:link, a.pncta-l1-addbanner:visited {
color: none !important;
text-decoration: none!important;
outline: 0!important
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 768px) {
.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px;
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 21px;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
margin: 15px 27px 25px;
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 21px
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 767px) {
.pncta-l1-btn {
font-size: 14px;
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
width: 75%
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px;
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 17px
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
background-size: 44%;
margin: 15px 35px
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 17px
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
font-size: 13px;
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 580px) {
.pncta-l1-shape {
width: 80%
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
min-height: 232px
}

.pncta-l1-over {
font-size: 13px
}

.pncta-l1-over > strong {
font-size: 17px;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
min-height: auto;
background-size: 50%;
margin: 15px
}

.pncta-l1-info h3 {
font-size: 14px
}

.pncta-l1-info p {
font-size: 13px
}
}

@media only screen and (max-width: 500px) and (orientation: portrait) {
.pncta-l1-content {
background: 0 0;
}

.pncta-l1-banner {
width: 100%;
margin: 1rem auto;
min-height: 380px;
max-width: 100%
}

.pncta-l1-shape {
position: relative;
width: 75%;
height: 80px}.pncta-l1-info p,.pncta-l1-over{font-size: 13px;
display: table}.pncta-l1-info h3,.pncta-l1-over>strong{font-size: 17px;
line-height: initial!important;
font-weight: 600;
}

.pncta-l1-content {
flex-direction: column;
align-items: baseline;
margin: 0 auto;
text-align: center;
padding: 0 15px;
width: 100%;
height: 320px;
background-size: 50%;
background-position: bottom center}.pncta-l1-img,.pncta-l1-info,.pncta-l1-info p,.pncta-l1-info>h3{width: 100%;
display: block;
text-align: center;
margin: 0 auto}.pncta-l1-img>img{display: block}.pncta-l1-content: after{content: “”;
display: inline-block;
width: 0;
height: 0;
border-style: solid;
border-width: 0 100px 50px 100px;
border-color: transparent transparent #00bbe3 transparent;
z-index: 0;
transform: scale(3.5);
left: 0;
right: 0;
position: absolute;
bottom: 0;
margin: 0 auto;
text-align: center
}
}

Nearly 100,000 health & fitness professionals certified

Save up to 30% on the industry’s top nutrition education program

Get a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

3 common plant-based protein problems, solved.

Problem #1: I’m supposed to be eating all these beans and legumes, but my stomach is a mess.

When you’re all-in on eating more plants, it can be easy to go overboard with beans and legumes. Black bean burrito for breakfast! Yellow dal for lunch! Chickpea stew for dinner! Yum!

But for some people, eating too many beans and legumes too quickly can cause digestive upset.

How to fix it:

Eat slowly. We talk about this a lot at Precision Nutrition, for good reason. Our digestion can be significantly affected by the pace of incoming food, how well we chew it, and the state of our nervous system. When we rush at a meal, we may activate our sympathetic nervous system, which induces the “fight or flight” response and can mess with digestion. By staying calm and eating slowly, we’re more likely to stay in the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state. (Read more: Your Complete Guide to Slow Eating.)

Add beans and legumes gradually, and try a variety. Beans and legumes are good for you—there’s no doubt about that. But they can cause gastrointestinal issues for some people because they contain fermentable fiber. Fermentable fiber is great for your gut and microbiome, but it does cause gas and other digestive problems in some people, particularly those who aren’t used to eating a lot of fiber.

It may help to add them into your diet slowly. Try a spoonful or two of cooked beans or legumes each day, and see how well your GI tract tolerates them. Give your body time to adjust. If things seem okay, add quantity over time.

Also, experiment with different types of beans and legumes. You may find, for instance, that chickpeas are okay, but black beans aren’t.

Consider preparation. Beans and legumes prepared in certain ways may be better tolerated. For example, canned beans and legumes might be easier on your stomach than those prepared from dry. (Just make sure to rinse them before eating!)

If you prepare them from dry at home, make sure to rinse, soak, and cook them well. Not only are undercooked beans and legumes hard to eat and digest, some types of raw, dry beans can be actively toxic. For instance, dry red kidney beans contain a lectin (a type of protein) called phytohaemagglutinin, which can poison us with as few as four or five beans.

Try digestive enzymes. Alpha-galactosidase is an enzyme that helps to break down the bloat-inducing starch in beans. This isn’t a cure-all, but taking this digestive enzyme as a supplement helps some people find relief.

Problem #2: I’m having trouble meeting my protein goals.

Especially if you’re new to plant-forward eating, it may feel difficult to meet protein goals. This can be particularly challenging if you have limited food options because of allergies, intolerances, food aversions, budget constraints, or gastrointestinal problems, such as IBS and IBD.

How to fix it:

Eat a variety of foods. Expanding your protein options can make it a lot easier to hit your protein goals. Review the list of plant-based protein sources and jot down a few new ones to try. Eating a variety of protein sources also means you’ll get an array of amino acids, which as we covered earlier, is key.

Try a protein powder. Some people find the convenience and portability of protein powders to be really helpful in meeting their protein goals. Protein powder shouldn’t be your only source of protein, but it can provide a boost. (Learn more about how to fit protein powder into your diet here.)

Consider including animal protein strategically. If you’re open to it, adding some animal protein—whether from dairy, fish, or meat—may be helpful if eating only plant-based protein isn’t cutting it.

Zoom out. It’s okay to have days of eating lower amounts of protein. The human body allows for some wiggle room. In other words, we can probably meet our basic protein needs over a number of days.

Think about it: You don’t suffer protein malnutrition if you choose to eat french fries for dinner, go to bed, and don’t eat any protein again until the next day. So if you’re low on protein some days and high on protein others, don’t sweat it.

Problem #3: I’ve got a list of plant-based protein sources, but I don’t know how to eat/cook them.

If you’re not used to eating a plant-based diet, it can feel daunting to figure out how to create a meal around plant-based proteins. After all, a list of protein sources can only take you so far if they feel completely unfamiliar.

For some, not knowing how to incorporate plant-based proteins becomes a barrier to trying a plant-based diet in the first place.

How to fix it:

Remember that plant-based eating exists on a spectrum. You don’t have to eat only plant-based protein to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet (unless you want to). Plenty of plant-based eaters include dairy, fish, and even meat in their diet regularly or occasionally. So remind yourself that there are lots of ways to be a plant-based eater, depending on your reasons.

Focusing on what you can add to your diet rather than what you “have to” take away can be a helpful mindset shift. If you’re not ready to remove animal products from your diet completely, you can make your favorite chicken pasta dish and add some chickpeas to it.

“Plantify” your go-to meals. One way to find inspiration is to take some of your favorite meals and swap some animal ingredients for plant-based ones. For example, if you love beef burritos, you could try making tempeh burritos instead. Or just trade the cheese for avocado. If you always order pad thai with chicken, try it with tofu.

As you experiment with different combinations, keep a running list of plant-based protein recipes you enjoyed. Categorize your list by breakfasts, lunches, and dinners so you can refer back to it when you’re looking for meal ideas.

Map out meals ahead of time. Not everyone loves meal prepping. That’s okay. But if you’re open to it, planning and cooking your meals in batches is a great way to ensure you get plant-based protein into each meal.

Plus, having meals ready ahead of time helps banish decision fatigue about food. Since we make so many decisions on a day-to-day basis, it’s nice to not have to worry in the moment whether or not your meals have enough protein.

There are lots of ways to win the plant-based protein game.

Just like there’s no single best diet for everyone, there’s no best way to be a plant-based eater.

Including more plant foods in our diets can offer benefits that extend from personal (reducing the risk of chronic disease) to planetary (creating less of an ecological burden).

Still, many of us face a daily nutritional contradiction. On the one hand, we have protein in our nutritional bullseye. And on the other, we aren’t quite sure how—or if—plant foods can contribute to our daily protein requirements.

But whether you’re avoiding animal products completely, or just want to get some more plant goodness into your diet, plant-based protein will play an important role in your diet.

At first, it may feel daunting to figure out how much protein you need and how to get enough of it. But like anything else, with the right tools, a little bit of practice, and openness to experimentation, you’ll be a plant-based protein pro in no time.

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 optimize their nutrition no matter their dietary 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, October 7th, 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.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ, Wildman R, Kleiner S, VanDusseldorp T, Taylor L, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 14;14:16.

2. Weigle DS, Breen PA, Matthys CC, Callahan HS, Meeuws KE, Burden VR, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):41–8.

3. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373–85.

4. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, Schoenfeld BJ, Henselmans M, Helms E, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376–84.

5. Baum JI, Kim I-Y, Wolfe RR. Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Intake? Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 Jun 8;8(6). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu8060359

6. Jakše B, Jakše B, Pinter S, Jug B, Godnov U, Pajek J, et al. Dietary Intakes and Cardiovascular Health of Healthy Adults in Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Whole-Food Plant-Based Lifestyle Program. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Dec 24;12(1). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12010055

7. Thomas DT, Erdman KA, Burke LM. American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Mar;48(3):543–68.

8. Gorissen SHM, Witard OC. Characterising the muscle anabolic potential of dairy, meat and plant-based protein sources in older adults. Proc Nutr Soc. 2018 Feb;77(1):20–31.

9. Phillips SM, Chevalier S, Leidy HJ. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 May;41(5):565–72.

10. Antonio J, Peacock CA, Ellerbroek A, Fromhoff B, Silver T. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 May 12;11:19.

11. Hamilton-Reeves JM, Vazquez G, Duval SJ, Phipps WR, Kurzer MS, Messina MJ. Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug;94(3):997–1007.

12. Chen M, Rao Y, Zheng Y, Wei S, Li Y, Guo T, et al. Association between soy isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk for pre- and post-menopausal women: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89288.

13. Bitto A, Polito F, Atteritano M, Altavilla D, Mazzaferro S, Marini H, et al. Genistein aglycone does not affect thyroid function: results from a three-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun;95(6):3067–72.

The post Protein for plant-based eaters: How to choose the best sources. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Special operations selection courses are designed to weed people out.

In the Navy, the screening test to just qualify for these courses has about a 90 percent failure rate.

From there, anywhere between 60 to 90 percent of candidates don’t make it through the course itself.

Those who do make it, more than anything else, display the ability to just keep going through a painfully discouraging process.

They face a daily onslaught of being pushed to their limits: hypothermia, hypoxia, hypoglycemia, and sand-in-your-everything.

Yet some persevere and ultimately graduate.

How do you stay motivated through something that’s devised to make you feel terrible, day after day?

The answer is more complex than you might imagine.

Contrary to what most people think, accomplishing big-picture dreams has very little to do with feeling motivated from moment to moment.

And it has even less to do with being good at something from the start.

This is true whether you’re trying to get through a grueling selection course, a fat loss journey, a career change, or a marathon training plan.

My story is a prime example.

Right after graduating high school in small-town South Dakota, I joined the Navy.

I volunteered for a Special Operations unit. But when I left for boot camp, I didn’t know how to swim. As you can imagine, swimming is a pretty important skill in Naval Special Operations.

My odds of success were near zero.

I learned to swim by taking the screening test, failing it, and going to an hour of stroke development to practice. I passed that test by seven seconds on my third and final attempt.

Then began two and half years of suffering.

I spent 16 months in preparatory training, and was two weeks from graduating my first Special Warfare Combatant Crewmember (SWCC) selection course when I failed a timed swim. Because I was so far along, I was given the option of repeating the entire course.

But before starting over, I spent four months in a BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) development program. Then I went through SWCC selection again. This time, I graduated.

Along the way, I watched thousands of people—nearly all better swimmers than me—fail out or quit. During this process, I learned the characteristics that help someone succeed. (I also learned the factors that lead to failure.)

What I discovered surprised me: Initial talent was only a small piece of the picture. And physical fitness? It was only one of many factors.

The best athletes often quit early and reliably.

As it turns out, where you start is far less important than where you’re willing to go.

One of the main differences between those who succeeded and those who didn’t was the word “yet.”

“I’m not strong enough. Yet.”

“I don’t know how to do this. Yet.”

“I can’t handle this. Yet.”

Like everyone else in the program, the people who graduated struggled plenty, suffered setbacks, and had bad days. But the difference maker? They were also the ones who managed to consistently do a difficult, discouraging thing for a long time in order to finally reach a long-term goal.

Which then leads us to ask, How?

Here’s the secret:

It wasn’t motivation that got them there.

Motivation is what gets you started. Almost everything after that is just doing what needs to be done in the moment… until you eventually get where you want to be.

Motivation may return at some point—but it’s never guaranteed.

7 ways to keep moving forward when you don’t feel motivated.

Doing the right thing when the right thing is hard isn’t limited to the tiny, bizarre world of special operations. It’s a universal concept.

A new parent getting out of bed at 3 a.m. to soothe a screaming baby for the fifth night in a row isn’t enthusiastic about it.

The entrepreneur spending their Friday night combing through bank statements and receipts isn’t madly in love with do-it-yourself accounting.

The athlete putting in 5 a.m. workouts doesn’t hate warm blankets and sleep.

But if not motivation, then what helps people do the hard stuff? 

People who consistently do the hard thing have several core ideals and practices in common. Here’s how you can adopt them yourself.

#1: Have a deep reason.

When I had my lowest points in training, I fell back to a mental image of my Dad’s snow boots sitting by our front door.

Growing up, we had two cars. My mom was a paramedic and needed one of them. My dad chose to walk to work in the snow every morning so my siblings and I could use the other car to get to school.

The mental image of his snow boots represented the countless little sacrifices my parents made for me over the years. Knowing all these sacrifices gave me a deep reason to persevere: I didn’t ever want to have to tell my parents I’d given up because it was too hard.

A deeper reason is the fail-safe that keeps you going when you’ve got nothing else left in your tank. 

This mental image has to be uncomplicated, because when you’re hitting rock-bottom from stress, you won’t have the capacity to sort through complex, abstract concepts. You need one image that cuts directly to your core, no matter how tired you are.

There’s no surefire way to find that image. Each of our inner worlds is too complicated for this to be an easy exercise. But for a place to start, ask yourself:

  • When you have your biggest successes or failures, who do you want to talk to about them? Why?
  • Think back to a time when someone truly cared about and helped you. Imagine that person watching you in one of your most difficult moments. What do you want them to see?

#2: Find meaning being uncomfortable.

The Latin root of the word passion is patior, which means to suffer or endure. This is where phrases like The Passion of the Christ got their name. Eventually, the word came to mean not just the suffering itself, but the thing that sustains you while suffering.

When we think of people who consistently overcome hardships in order to achieve a big goal, patior is what we see. And it’s easy for us to mistake patior for motivation.

It’s not that these people feel like making small daily sacrifices and trading short-term comfort for long-term happiness. It’s that they have a purpose for doing so. Their suffering has meaning.

In order to keep working towards something big, this purpose needs to be a frequent, daily presence in your mind. 

In Okinawa, where people have the longest, healthiest lifespans in the world, they call this ikigai: Their reason for living.

When surveyed, most Okinawans know their ikigai immediately, just as clearly as you know what you had for lunch.

The ikigai of one 102-year-old karate master was to teach his martial art. For a 100-year-old fisherman, it was bringing fish back to his family three days a week. A 102-year-old woman named spending time with her great-great-granddaughter as her ikigai.

This is different from the deepest reason I described earlier. That deep reason is something rooted in your past, that helps to drive you forward and, as the ancient Greeks used to say, “live as though all of your ancestors were living again through you.”

Your ikigai is more about being and becoming. It’s present and future. It’s defining, through your actions, the words that will be on your tombstone.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we use an exercise called the “5 Whys” to help people identify their meaning and purpose.

Take some time to go through this exercise using this worksheet. It’ll help you clarify your values, define your own ikigai, and identify where in life you derive the most meaning.

#3: Prioritize systems over willpower.

If motivation isn’t the answer, willpower must be what we need, right?

Not quite.

Here’s an example: When I was a student in the early portion of the Naval Special Warfare pipeline, I had to get up at 3 a.m. for workouts. Being late or missing a workout could mean being dropped from the program.

I made it to the workouts on time, but not by making myself promises or being super-duper disciplined every day. I simply put my alarm clock on the other side of my room.

I slept in a top bunk and had roommates, so when the alarm clock went off, I had to literally jump out of bed to shut it off.

I removed the possibility of failure from the path. It didn’t matter if I felt like getting out of bed. I had to.

Essentially, I created a system to help make getting out of bed feel like the obvious path forward—rather than an uphill slog.

Setting the alarm clock across the room was my system.

Systems help us prioritize what to do and when to do it. They also remove a lot of the effort and willpower we think are required to get things done. 

This approach of shaping your environment to help yourself succeed works with any type of habit you’re struggling to stick to.

(To get started with creating your own routines to make difficult tasks easier, learn more about setting up health and fitness systems.)

#4: Separate your feelings from your identity.

In BUD/S, I was once in a support role keeping an eye on other students in the middle of Hell Week. The students were about three days into the week and were given a brief nap in tents on the beach. I was assigned to watch them for medical issues and get them to walk the 100 yards or so to the bathroom—rather than peeing in the same sand we’d be doing pushups in the next day.

One of those students stepped out of the tent and trudged past me toward the bathroom. His uniform was still wet with saltwater, and he shuffled along as if trying to shrink inward to avoid touching cold, wet cotton. He paused briefly in front of me, staring off into the distance, then burst into a full-body shudder.

With his eyes still affixed on the horizon, he said: “F**k I’m cold.”

With that, he resumed his slow, steady walk to the gate.

He was probably as miserably cold as he’d ever be in his life. He was hitting bottom, and he didn’t hide from it. He acknowledged what he was feeling, and set it aside. Being cold was a passing, unpleasant thing, like bad weather. It wasn’t his identity, and it didn’t shape who he was or what he chose to do.

Eventually, he graduated: A newly minted SEAL.

We often assume that our feelings should drive our behavior. 

That if we feel tired or sad or discouraged, we should do tired, sad, and discouraged things. (Of course, expressing and acting on your feelings often does serve a purpose. It’s a release, and it sends a clear message to others.)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can recognize and accept those feelings in the same way that we grab a  jacket when we see storm clouds passing over.

Our moment-to-moment feelings don’t have to determine who we are or what we choose to do. Simply knowing this can make it easier to carry on when we don’t feel like it.

#5: Use behavior to change negative feelings.

One way to deal with negative feelings—which will inevitably come up when pursuing a challenging goal—is to put behavior first. Over time, this allows us to have more control over how we feel in any situation.

In special operations selection, we used the phrase “quit tomorrow.” When we had particularly bad days, we would tell one another (or ourselves) that we’d just finish out the day. Tomorrow, we could be done with it all and never have to do burpees while soaked in saltwater and covered in sand again.

Inevitably, the next day would come. We’d realize the low point the day before wasn’t that bad, and we’d keep going.

In the long run, this took advantage of a phenomenon called self-herding.1 Self-herding is forming a new behavioral habit by subconsciously referring to what you did in the past under similar circumstances.

By not quitting in our low moments, we built a habit of finding a way to keep going whenever things got really bad. Over time, the urge to quit faded because we repeatedly reinforced that bad days still meant that we’d be okay.

Our choices don’t just reveal our preferences. They shape them. 

If you’re applying this to your own habits, it’s the same process.

When you hit a low point, promise yourself you can quit tomorrow.

After this workout.

After this last round of meal prep.

After this section or chapter or lesson.

Over time, you’ll reinforce the decision and action to “do the thing that’s good for me right now,” and it’ll shape your future impulses and preferences.

#6: Use low moments to your advantage.

When we experience something that disturbs our equilibrium, such as a tough workout or a bad day at work, a subconscious part of our mind rapidly assesses two things:

  1. Do I know what’s happening?
  2. Do I have what it takes to cope with it?

Our perception of both are derived from experience.

The more things we throw ourselves into, whether we succeed or fail, the broader our experiences to refer to when assessing future stressors.

As years of varied experiences accumulate, we can begin to formulate a universal lesson:

No matter how many bad things you went through in the past, you were still alive when they were over. 

This isn’t something you consciously decide. It’s something you teach a deeper part of your brain through practice.

The next time you crash and burn or feel like you keep getting knocked down, remember that even failure provides an opportunity.

It’s an earned experience that helps create a more accurate and effective stress appraisal in the future.

At some point, your mind will know that you’ve been there, done that—even when you’re in the middle of something awful. And you can calmly and rationally move forward with the benefit of hard-earned knowledge.

#7: View life as a series of learnable skills, and practice them.

Refer back to the power of the word “yet.” Resilient, effective people don’t just “try harder.” Rather, they see any process as a skill that can be developed.

Perhaps your self-talk turns toxic when you’re having a terrible day. Don’t just tell yourself to self-talk better. Identify the specific components of that process you can improve upon—and the contextual cues that will trigger you to do so.

Here’s how it might work:

  • Identify a past experience when your self-talk became self-sabotage.
  • Take that apart. What exactly was happening in your mind, and what were you doing?
  • Decide on a specific practice that could be instituted in a similar situation in the future.

Perhaps when you were trying to get up for a 5 a.m. workout, you began mentally complaining and negotiating with yourself about getting out of bed.

Your future practice: Instead of complaining about how tired you are, you replace that dialogue with a different narrative. You tell yourself that you’re supposed to feel tired when you’re waking up. And that this early morning is the path you chose as a necessary step toward doing the thing that you truly want to do.

Or maybe you just replace the negative self-talk with a mantra or meaningful song lyric.

Whatever it is, be specific about what you’ll practice.

Then, in the same way that a runner times their splits on the track, time your ability to maintain this new practice. If you can replace or alter your negative self-talk for five minutes before breaking down, that’s your split. Reset your timer and start over next time.

The starting point doesn’t matter nearly as much as your willingness to improve, little by little.

Motivation, if anything, is an outcome.

You can’t control motivation. It can’t be directly pursued.

What you can control is the series of factors that underpin motivation.

Just knowing this can help you:

  • stop waiting for a green light to get started
  • realize that, even if it’s hard, taking action gets you closer to the goal that keeps you up at night
  • understand that doing the right thing in the moment is totally within your control

With this approach, no matter what happens, you can move forward and make progress on any given day. And that progress, even if small, feels good and can be enough to keep you going… until the next day.

This is how you achieve great things.

Yes, it might be a long, slow, hard journey. But when we look back on our lives, what we remember most will be the things that were worth struggling for—and the way it felt to earn our happiness.

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 overcome their biggest obstacles—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, October 7th, 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.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Ariely D, Norton MI. How actions create–not just reveal–preferences. Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Jan;12(1):13–6.

The post Motivation gets you started: Here’s what keeps you going, even when you feel like giving up. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

“Eat whole grains, not refined grains.”

As nutrition rules go, this one needs no explanation. Or does it?

Do most folks know the real difference between whole and refined grains?

And more importantly, are whole grains always the better choice?

Understanding the facts can help you (or your clients) select grains that best match your personal preferences and goals.

Let’s start with the key difference:

  • With whole grains, processing removes only the indigestible outer hull, preserving the nutrition-packed bran and germ, and the endosperm.
  • With refined grains, processing strips away the bran and germ—leaving behind only the soft, easy-to-chew endosperm that’s rich in starch but not much else.

Does this mean refined grains should be universally avoided?

No.

Processing is just one factor to consider.

For example, refined grains are an important part of many food cultures and experiences and can absolutely be part of a healthy overall diet.

What’s more, some refined grains contain more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals than many people think. This is especially true when it comes to specific varieties of breakfast cereal, bread, and pasta. (Many refined grains are “enriched” with healthful nutrients.)

So rather than sorting grains into “good” and “bad” categories, think of them on a spectrum—and in the full context of your (or your client’s) life.

  • At one end of the spectrum: intact, minimally-processed whole grains like quinoa and brown rice.
  • At the other end of the spectrum: refined, heavily-processed grain-based foods like white bread, pasta, kids’ breakfast cereals, and pastries.

Between those extremes? A whole lot of options for many different circumstances, preferences, and health needs.

Check out this infographic to learn the whole truth about grains.

Download the tablet-friendly version of this infographic to broaden your grain horizons (and/or to help your clients practice good nutrition without being needlessly restrictive).

Download the tablet-friendly version of this infographic to open your mind (and kitchen) to the full spectrum of grain products. 

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, preferences, and lifestyle—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, October 7th, 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 truth about whole grains vs. refined grains. [Infographic] appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

Not all protein powders are created equal.

Some are definitely better than others.

But with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of options out there, it can be hard to know the right protein powder for you (or your clients).

After all, each person has unique goals, physiology, and preferences. So there’s no one single protein powder that’s best for everyone.

There may, however, be a best protein powder for you.

And we can help you find it. 

In this complete guide to protein powder, you’ll learn:

  • Why protein matters so much in the first place
  • When it makes sense to include protein powder in your diet
  • What to look for in protein powder
  • How to choose the right protein powder for you (or help your client choose what’s right for them)

If you’re looking for a quick answer to a specific question, you can jump directly to any of the information below:

Alright, let’s dive in.

+++

How much protein do I need?

Before you can find the protein powder that’s right for you (or your client), it helps to understand exactly why protein matters so much in the first place.

The main reason to use protein powder is to help you hit your protein goals.

(If you’re not sure how much you need, check out our handy Nutrition Calculator, which will give you a personalized recommendation for protein, carbohydrate, fat, and calories.)

Not getting enough protein can cause you to:

  • lose muscle mass (which can cause a drop in your metabolism)
  • have skin, hair, and nail problems
  • heal more slowly if you get cuts or bruises
  • experience mood swings
  • be more likely to break bones

To be clear, though, this isn’t a concern for the majority of folks.

Most people eating the average Western diet aren’t protein deficient.

The bare minimum protein requirement is estimated to be 0.8 grams per kilogram (kg) of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. So at the absolute minimum, a 160-pound person needs about 58 grams of protein to prevent protein deficiency.

For reference, a palm of protein (using Precision Nutrition’s hand portion method) has about 20 to 30 grams of protein. So with 2 to 3 palms of protein—like chicken breast, tofu, Greek yogurt, or legumes—per day, you’d be set.

But eating the bare minimum of protein is different from eating an optimal amount of protein. 

Generally, most active people can meet their optimal protein intake by eating 1 to 2 palms of protein at each meal.

Unless you have a specific medical reason to keep your protein intake low, most people will benefit from eating more protein.

Why? There are plenty of reasons, including:

  • Appetite control: Eating a high-protein diet seems to improve satiety.1,2
  • Weight and body composition management: Higher protein intakes may help people eat less when they’re trying to lose fat, increase the number of calories burned through digestion (the thermic effect of food), and retain muscle during fat loss.3
  • Muscle growth or maintenance: Keeping protein levels high, combined with exercise, helps people gain vital muscle mass and hang onto it over time, especially as they age.4,5
  • Better strength: Higher amounts of protein combined with exercise can also aid in strength gains.6
  • Improved immune function: Proteins are the building blocks of antibodies, and serve several functions in the immune system. People who are protein-deficient are more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.
  • Faster exercise recovery: Higher protein intakes help to repair tissue damaged during exercise, as well as after injury.6

Protein from whole foods is ideal.

Why is protein from whole foods superior? Mainly, it’s because it comes packaged with other nutrients: vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, zoonutrients, and so on, depending on the source. (If you’re not sure which whole foods are good sources of protein, here’s a helpful guide.)

No supplement will be able to imitate those combinations exactly, nor their synergistic effects. And when foods are processed to create protein powder, certain nutrients may be stripped, and others may be added back in—which can sometimes be beneficial, and sometimes not.

Of course, protein powder does digest faster than whole foods. This would be an advantage if you were trying to quickly flood your muscles with protein after a workout.

This is an approach called nutrient timing—or eating certain nutrients at strategic times—and it was all the rage in the early 2000s. But as research advanced, the benefits of slamming a protein shake immediately after a workout proved less important than we once thought.

For most people, here’s what matters most: The amount of protein you consistently eat over the course of the day—not precisely when you eat it. 

That’s not to say that nutrient timing is totally bogus. There’s certainly evidence that in some situations, protein (and carbohydrate) timing matters.7

But unless you’re an elite athlete or pursuing extreme fat loss or muscle gain, you don’t need to worry too much about when you get your protein.

Why use protein powder?

While whole-food protein is best, it’s just not always possible to get all the protein you need from whole foods. Ultimately, there are two big reasons you might want to consider adding protein powder to your diet.

Reason #1: Convenience: In some cases, people just don’t have time to (or simply don’t want to) sit down and eat a whole-food meal. This might happen when a person is:

  • Very busy with work, caregiving, or other responsibilities
  • Aiming for a very high protein requirement and doesn’t have time/desire to eat that much whole-food protein
  • Transitioning to a plant-based diet and still figuring out their preferred whole-food protein sources
  • Trying to meet protein goals while traveling or with limited food options

Reason #2: Appetite: Other times, people don’t feel hungry enough to eat the amount of protein they need. This might happen when a person is:

  • Trying to gain weight and is struggling to increase their intake
  • Sick and has lost their desire to eat
  • Aiming to improve athletic performance and recovery, but doesn’t feel hungry enough to meet their nutrient needs

These reasons are all completely legitimate.

But you don’t NEED protein powder to be healthy. It’s a supplement, not an essential food group. 

If you choose to use it, 20-40 grams of protein per day (usually 1-2 scoops) from protein powder is a reasonable amount. For most people, 80 grams per day  (about 3-4 scoops) is a good upper limit of supplemental protein intake.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a general guideline.

The main reason: Getting more than 80 grams from protein powder is excessive for most people, as it displaces whole food sources that provide vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need.

There are some exceptions, of course, such as for people who are struggling to gain weight.

How to choose a protein powder

If you’ve decided that protein powder is right for you (or your client), here are some considerations that’ll help you evaluate all your options and choose one that’s appropriate.

Question #1: What type of protein makes sense for you?

This is largely up to personal preference. 

Besides ethical considerations—such as whether you prefer a plant or animal source—you might also want to think about food intolerances and sensitivities here. (More on those in a minute.)

Factor #1: Protein quality

For many people, the quality of the protein source is the highest priority. When it comes to assessing quality, there’s a lot of talk about complete versus incomplete proteins.

Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are sort of like different colored Legos. They can be put together in different ways to serve different purposes in the body.

In all, your body uses 20 different amino acids.

Seven of those amino acids are non-essential amino acids. That’s because your body can create those on its own.

There are also four conditionally essential amino acids, which are ones your body can make, but not always. For example, your body might have a harder time making enough of them when you’re sick, or after hard athletic training.

The other nine amino acids are known as essential amino acids (EAAs). Your body can’t make these, so you have to get them from food.

This is important, because EAAs play key roles in building and repairing tissue—like muscle—but also in building hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), a subcategory of EAAs, are especially important for their role in muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis is the process your body uses to repair and build muscle after exercise. While muscle protein synthesis is much more complicated than just one amino acid, leucine plays an integral role in triggering the process, which makes it probably the most well-known BCAA.

A Venn diagram showing the types of amino acids, including essential amino acids, branched chain amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.

Amino acids can be divided into three categories: essential amino acids, conditionally essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids.

A complete protein contains sufficient amounts of all nine EAAs. Incomplete proteins are lacking or low in one or more EAAs.

Here’s why we took the time to explain all of this: People sometimes worry they won’t get all their EAAs if they opt for plant-based protein sources.

That’s because many plant proteins are low in or lack specific amino acids.

For example, pea protein is low in the EAA methionine. But you can still meet your overall protein needs as long as you eat a variety of other plant protein sources throughout the day. For example, tofu, brazil nuts, and white beans are all good sources of methionine.

Also: Some plant-based proteins—like soy protein and a pea/rice blend—offer a full EAA profile.

Oftentimes, supplement companies create blends of different plant-based proteins to ensure all EAAs are included in optimal levels.

Let’s take a deeper look: Protein digestibility

Beyond complete and incomplete proteins, there are several other methods scientists use to assess protein quality.

The main measures scientists look at are digestibility and bioavailability, or how well your body is able to utilize a given type of protein. This can vary depending on a protein’s amino acid makeup, along with other factors.

The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is a measure of how much of a given protein is truly digestible. The highest possible score is 1.0. And the higher the score, the higher the quality of protein. (Read this if you want to know more about how PDCAAS is calculated.)

There’s another scale that some prefer, as it may provide a more accurate picture of bioavailability: The Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS). Similar to the PDCAAS, the higher the score, the higher-quality the protein.8

Here’s how several common protein powders stack up according to these scales:

Protein type9,10,11 PDCAAS DIAAS
Whey protein isolate 1.00 1.09
Whey protein concentrate 1.00 0.983
Milk protein concentrate 1.00 1.18
Micellar casein 1.00 1.46
Egg white protein 1.00 1.13
Hydrolyzed collagen & beef protein isolate 0.00 0.00
Bone broth protein 0.00 0.00
Soy protein concentrate 0.99 0.92
Soy protein isolate 0.98 0.90
Pea protein concentrate 0.89 0.82
Rice protein concentrate 0.37 0.42
Hemp protein 0.63 N/A*
Rice/pea blend 1.00** N/A*

*Because DIAAS is a newer measure of protein quality, some values are unknown.
**A 70:30 blend of pea and rice protein closely resembles whey protein, but ratios vary across manufacturers.

As you can see, animal proteins (except for collagen and bone broth protein) tend to score higher than plant proteins.

Similar to choosing protein made from incomplete protein sources, just because a protein powder doesn’t have a PDCAAS of 1.0 or has a lower DIAAS doesn’t mean it’s a poor option. It can still be beneficial as long as you get a variety of protein sources throughout the day.

Factor #2: Plant-based vs. animal protein

Animal protein options can be divided into two categories: milk-based and other animal protein sources.

Milk-based protein powders

The most popular and well-studied protein powders are made from milk. They’re all complete sources of protein.

Whey is usually recommended for post-workout shakes because it’s an incredibly high-quality protein that’s fast-digesting and rich in BCAAs. You’ll commonly see whey protein in concentrate, isolate, and hydrolyzed formulas. (More on what those mean in a moment—or you can jump right to our section on protein processing.)

Casein is often touted as the best type of protein powder to have before bed, since it digests more slowly. You’ll find it mostly in two forms: micellar casein (an isolate) and hydrolyzed casein. Since hydrolyzed casein is more processed and theoretically digests faster, it sort of defeats the purpose of opting for a slow-digesting protein.

Milk protein blends usually include both whey and casein and are marketed as the “best of both worlds.” The reason: They provide both fast- and slow-digesting protein.

Usually, you’ll see them on the label as milk protein concentrate or milk protein isolate. You might also see them listed separately, for instance: whey protein isolate and micellar casein.

Some brands also sell mixtures of concentrate and isolate of the same type of protein. For example, you might see both whey concentrate and whey isolate in the ingredients list.

While this may be marketed as an advantage, it’s largely a cost-saving measure by the manufacturer. (Whey isolate is more expensive to produce than concentrate.) There’s no data to support the claim that this formulation provides a benefit.

If you’re choosing between whey and casein: Select whichever one you prefer, or go for a blend. 

Both are well-studied, meaning they’re reliable choices. Again, it’s your total protein intake across the day that matters most. For most people, the differences in the rates of digestion or absorption aren’t likely to be an important factor.

Of course, if you’re allergic to dairy, these won’t be good options for you. If you’re sensitive to or intolerant of certain dairy products, you may find that you can tolerate whey but not casein, or vice versa.

Other animal protein powders

For those who can’t or prefer not to use dairy products, there are several other types of animal-derived protein powder.

Egg white protein is often a good option for those who prefer an ovo-vegetarian (milk-free) source of complete protein.

Collagen is very popular right now as a skin, joint, bone, and gut health supplement. Collagen peptides, the most common form of collagen in supplements, are usually derived from bovine hide or fish. Some people also use it to boost their protein intake, and there are a few collagen powders marketed specifically as protein supplements.

This is somewhat ironic because until the early 2010s, collagen was considered a “junk” protein. This is partially because collagen is not a source of complete protein.12 It also hasn’t been well-studied as a protein supplement.

Collagen may have some benefits. In particular, type II collagen may support joint health when taken with vitamin C.13 But as a protein source, it’s not ideal. Quality varies, and there are some concerns about heavy metal contamination. So it’s especially important to look for third-party tested options.

Meat-based powders are often derived from beef, but they usually have an amino acid profile similar to collagen. That means they’re generally incomplete, lower-quality proteins. On the other hand, some research has shown that beef protein isolate is just as effective as whey protein powders for increasing lean body mass.14,15 However, more research is needed.

Bone broth protein is made by cooking bones, tendons, and ligaments under high pressure to create a broth. Then, it’s concentrated into a powder. Much of the protein in bone broth is from collagen. So, similar to collagen peptides, it’s not a complete source of protein.

Bone broth powder may be helpful for increasing your protein intake if you can’t have common allergens like dairy and soy, but it’s not ideal for use as a protein powder. This is especially true because bone broth protein tends to be expensive, and it hasn’t been well-studied for use as a protein supplement.

Plant-based protein powders

Not all plant-based proteins are complete proteins. We’re going to share which ones are complete and incomplete for your information, but just a friendly reminder: As long as you eat a varied diet with a mix of different protein sources, you’ll get all the amino acids you need.

Soy protein is effective for promoting muscle growth, and it’s also a complete protein. In fact, research shows soy protein supplementation produces similar gains in both strength and lean body mass as whey protein in response to resistance training.16

It’s also been the subject of much controversy, particularly when it comes to hormonal health. But the body of research shows that soy foods and isoflavone (bioactive compounds found in soy) supplements have no effect on testosterone in men.17

Evidence also shows that soy doesn’t increase risk of breast cancer in women.18 And while more research is needed in this area, it also seems that soy doesn’t have a harmful effect on thyroid health, either.19 (If you want to dig deeper into soy, here’s more info.)

Soy is a fairly common allergen, so that may also factor into your decision.

Pea protein is highly digestible, hypo-allergenic, and usually inexpensive. It’s rich in amino acids lysine, arginine, and glutamine. Although as we mentioned earlier, it’s low in EAA methionine, so it’s not a complete protein.20

Rice protein is also a good hypo-allergenic protein choice, and tends to be relatively inexpensive. It’s low in amino acid lysine, so it’s not a complete protein source.20

Hemp protein powder is made by grinding up hemp seeds, making it a great whole-food choice. Because of this, it’s high in fiber and a source of omega-3 fats. But like rice protein, hemp is low in lysine, so it’s an incomplete protein.11

Blends are common among plant-based protein powders. Often, they’re used to create a more robust amino acid profile, since different protein sources contain various levels of each amino acid. For example, rice and pea protein are frequently combined.

A chart comparing different protein sources found in protein powder.

Weighing the pros and cons of different protein sources can help you choose the best protein powder for you.

Factor #3: Processing method and quality

Protein powders are created through various processing methods and come in several different forms, including concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates.

Let’s look at each processing method in more depth.

Concentrates: Protein is extracted from animal or plant-based foods by using high heat and acid or enzymes. Concentrates are the least processed and can be 35 to 80 percent protein by weight.21 A protein percentage of 70 to 80 percent is generally the most common (though this can be lower in plant proteins in particular).

The remaining percentage is made up of carbohydrates and fats. So if you don’t mind having some additional calories from non-protein sources, protein concentrate could be a good option for you.

Isolates: Protein isolates go through an additional filtration process, which reduces the amount of fat and carbohydrates, leaving 90 percent or more protein by weight. This makes them slightly faster-digesting, though there isn’t evidence that this results in improved recovery, muscle growth, or fat loss.

Since isolates usually contain a bit less fat and carbohydrates than concentrates, they might be a slightly better choice for those who are carefully limiting their fat or carb intake, or who are willing to pay more just for potential extra benefit, even if not proven.

Whey, casein, and milk protein isolates may also be slightly better for people with lactose intolerance, since more processing removes much of the lactose.

Protein hydrolysates: To create this product, protein undergoes additional processing with heat, enzymes, or acid, which further breaks apart the protein chains into shorter peptides.

The idea is that this extra processing and the resulting shorter chains makes protein hydrolysates even more easily digested and absorbed. So they’re usually marketed to people who want to gain muscle and are drinking protein shakes around their workouts.

While this process makes sense theoretically, the evidence is far from clear that hydrolysates are better than isolates for this purpose.

However, because hydrolysates are essentially pre-digested due to their processing—there’s even less lactose in them—they can be easier on the GI tract for some people.

There are a couple of downsides to hydrolysates, though. First, they tend to have a bitter taste that generally requires a significant amount of added sweeteners and/or sugar to mask.

Second, whey protein concentrates and “non-ionized” isolates retain bioactive microfractions that may improve digestion, mood, and immune function. Whey hydrolysates (and “ionized isolates”) don’t contain these bioactive microfractions. (Casein appears to have some of these bioactive microfractions, too, but is less well studied in this area.)

Price may also be a drawback of hydrolysates, depending on your budget. Typically, the more processed a protein powder is, the more expensive it is.

Three tubs of protein powder show the differences between protein concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate.

Concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate are the three main types of protein powder processing.

Factor #4: Intolerances and sensitivities

If you have a known food intolerance or sensitivity, you’ll want to avoid protein powders containing those ingredients. For example, if you’re intolerant to eggs and dairy, you’ll likely be better off with a plant-based protein powder.

If you’re prone to digestive issues, more processed options, such as isolates and hydrolysates, are usually easier on the stomach.

It’s also not uncommon to experience digestive upset after using a new protein powder. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Use the below checklist to get to the bottom of it.

  • Ingredients: The protein powder you’ve chosen might contain ingredients you’re sensitive to, or be processed in a way that doesn’t agree with you. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check out the ingredient label (we’ll explain how below). You may need to try a few different options before finding the right protein powder for you.
  • Overall diet: Your body’s reaction to a protein powder might also depend on what else you’ve eaten that day. For example, many people can tolerate a certain amount of lactose, but once they get over their threshold, they experience symptoms. If your protein powder contains lactose, it could be pushing you over the edge.
  • Amount: It can also be an issue of quantity. Men are sometimes told to use two scoops of protein powder instead of one. For some individuals, this may simply be too much at once for their digestive tract to handle optimally. Others might concoct 1500-calorie shakes in an effort to gain weight. Most people would have a hard time digesting that. So it may help to experiment with smaller amounts.
  • Speed: Drinking too fast can cause you to swallow excess air, which can upset your stomach. And if you drink a shake with lots of different ingredients, your GI tract needs time to process them. Slow down, and you may find it’s easier to digest.

Question #2: What other ingredients are in the protein powder?

While sweeteners, flavoring, and thickeners are common in protein powders, some contain more than others.

There are exceptions, but you generally want to look for protein powders with fewer ingredients. That said, guidelines like “look for foods with fewer than five ingredients” don’t necessarily apply to protein powders.

Here’s a look at the most common ingredients in protein powders, plus how to make sense of them.

Protein

Because ingredients are listed by weight, the protein source should be the first item listed. Usually, it’ll include the name of the protein source (milk, whey, casein, soy, hemp) and the processing method (concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate). For whole-food protein powders, you might see something like “hemp seed powder.”

Sweeteners

Flavored protein powders will include some type of sweetener. Most often, you’ll see:

  • Nutritive sweeteners, like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, cane sugar, molasses, and agave. You’ll be able to tell right away if a product has nutritive or “natural” sweeteners by looking at the sugar content. Ideally, choose a protein powder that has less than 5 grams of sugar per serving (especially if your goal is fat loss or better overall health).
  • Non-nutritive / high-intensity sweeteners, like sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium. These are the same type of sweeteners found in diet soda, so you won’t be able to tell if a protein powder contains them from looking at the sugar content; you’ll have to check the ingredient label.

According to the FDA, stevia and monk fruit extract are non-nutritive sweeteners, though they are sometimes listed and marketed as “natural” sweeteners.22 This can be frustrating for consumers, because supplement companies sometimes advertise that their products have “no artificial sweeteners,” yet they contain monk fruit extract or stevia. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate this term, it’s important to check the ingredients list if you prefer to avoid all non-nutritive sweeteners.

  • Sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, maltitol, and erythritol. These are another non-caloric option and are made up of sugar and alcohol molecules—although not the kind of alcohol that causes intoxication. Because sugar alcohols act like dietary fiber in the body, people who are sensitive to FODMAPs may find they cause digestive upset.
  • Refined sugars, like sucrose and high-fructose corn-syrup, are less common in protein powders. But if you’re watching your refined sugar intake, it may be worth checking to see if they’re on the ingredients list.

Flavoring

Flavored protein powders will also contain flavoring agents, which are sometimes listed as specific ingredients. Most often, they’re represented more vaguely on the label as flavors, artificial flavors, or natural flavors.

Artificial flavors are generally recognized as safe when consumed at the intended levels, such as the small amounts found in protein powders.23

The only exception to this would be if you have any allergy to a specific ingredient. If a natural flavor contains one or more of the eight major food allergens, it must be listed in the ingredients. But if you have an allergy that isn’t one of the eight major allergens, it’s important to know that it does not have to be listed on the label.

Thickening agents

Protein powders often include substances that provide bulk for a thicker protein shake. These generally include psyllium husk, dextrins, xanthan gum/guar gum, and inulin.

These are safe in small amounts, so while some people may prefer protein powders without them, seeing thickening agents on the ingredient label shouldn’t cause concern.

Emulsifiers and anti-clumping ingredients

Whole food protein powders usually clump more, which makes them less ideal for mixing by hand. That’s often because they lack anti-clumping ingredients and emulsifiers (which provide a creamy mouthfeel) like carrageenan, lecithins, carboxymethylcellulose, and silicon dioxide.

Similar to thickening agents, small amounts of these ingredients have been shown to be safe.

Vegetable oils may also be added for a creamier texture. They are safe as long as they aren’t hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats). You want to avoid trans fats as much as possible since they can have adverse health effects, such as increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Certain thickeners and anti-clumping ingredients also double as preservatives to help protein powders stay shelf-stable.

Additional supplements

Some protein powders include added supplements, such as creatine, extra BCAAs, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, and probiotics.

These are often touted by marketers as a value-add. But we don’t know how well these nutrients work when formulated along with protein powder.

What’s more, manufacturers often include these additional supplements in inadequate amounts. So it’s generally better to seek out an additional supplement rather than looking for it in your protein powder.

For example, if you want to try creatine, it’s better to take it as a separately-formulated supplement. (Although it would be fine to consume them together in the same shake.)

A side-by-side comparison of the ingredients in two different types of whey protein powder.

When reading protein powder nutrition labels, check out the ingredients list.

Purity and quality: How to know if a protein powder is “clean” and safe

In laboratory tests, some protein powders have been shown to be contaminated with heavy metals. With this information in mind, it’s natural to wonder, are protein powders safe?

Depending on where you live, supplements may or may not be a regulated industry. So it’s important to understand the supplement regulations in your country or region.

For example, while regulations are much more stringent in Canada and Europe, in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t test the effectiveness, safety, or purity of nutritional supplements.

This means it’s possible what’s on the ingredient label doesn’t match up with what’s in the supplement.

Most supplement companies aren’t selling bogus supplements on purpose (although it happens). The main concern is that supplements could be contaminated with other substances like heavy metals (such as lead) or harmful chemicals, and in many cases, no one would know—not even the companies producing them.

It’s also important for competing athletes to know exactly what’s in their supplements, including protein powder, on the off-chance it might contain a banned substance. No protein supplement is worth a disqualification after months of training.

Because of the varying levels of regulation, it’s a good idea to choose third-party tested supplements when possible—particularly if you live somewhere with less pre-market testing.

NSF International does the most comprehensive third-party certification/testing of nutritional supplements for sport. In fact, here at PN, we advise our coaches and clients—even those who aren’t necessarily athletes—to use supplements that have been certified by NSF because of their high standards.

USP is also a reputable third-party tester.

Another organization, LGC Group, runs an independent drug surveillance laboratory providing doping control and banned substance testing for supplements through the Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice programs.

Products that have been tested by these organizations usually clearly state this on their websites and often on their product packaging. These organizations also have databases of approved supplements to choose from.

An important note: Third-party tested protein powders may be more expensive. This is partially because the testing process is quite expensive. At the same time, investing in third-party testing shows that a supplement company is committed to protecting the health and reputation of their customers.

While it’s preferable to opt for a validated supplement, if third-party tested options are outside of your price range, another option is to visit ConsumerLab or LabDoor. These websites are devoted to reviewing purity and label claims for a variety of nutritional supplements on the market today.

Other ingredient concerns

Much like other foods and supplements, protein powders are often marketed with buzzwords like “organic” and “grass-fed.” When choosing a protein supplement, it’s important to understand what these labels truly mean, so you can decide whether or not they’re important to you.

People often prefer organic products to non-organic ones because of concerns about pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, and chemical fertilizers. (You can read more about organic foods and standards here.)

The most recent evidence suggests there may be potential health benefits with consumption of organic foods. However, it’s still too early to conclude that organic food is safer and or more nutritious than conventional food.24,25

So ultimately, whether or not you choose organic comes down to a matter of personal preference.

If you do opt for an organic protein powder, look for the official organic seal of your country or region.

For certain types of protein, such as whey, casein, and beef isolate, being grass-fed is also seen as a plus. Grass-fed cattle only eat grass and forage, with the exception of milk prior to weaning. Certified grass-fed animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture.26

Grass-fed meats are often touted for their health benefits, as they contain more omega-3 fatty acids than non-grass-fed meats, so the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is superior. But because there’s very little fat in most protein powders, this benefit doesn’t necessarily translate from whole food to protein powder.

Also, grass-fed products may still be treated with growth hormone and antibiotics, so if that’s a concern, opting for a certified organic protein powder is a better option.

Finally, if the health and treatment of the animals themselves is important to you, choosing a product that comes from a certified humane producer is your best bet. A product being marked grass-fed and/or antibiotic-free doesn’t automatically mean it was produced humanely.

Question #3: How does protein powder fit into your diet?

Lastly, you’ll want to think about how your protein powder fits into the overall context of your diet.

Be mindful of your goal.

Here’s what you might want to consider depending on your goals, and what you’re hoping to get out of your protein shake.

Weight loss / fat loss: If you’re looking to lose fat, pay attention to the protein-to-calorie ratio of your protein powder. The best protein powder for weight loss will be higher in protein and lower in carbs and fat, since the latter two macronutrients will be more satisfying coming from whole foods.

Muscle gain: To put on muscle, look for a protein powder with a high protein-to-calorie ratio, as the main goal is to consume adequate overall protein. If you’re struggling to get adequate overall calories, a protein powder that’s also rich in carbohydrates can be helpful around workouts.

Weight gain: For those who are looking to gain any type of weight—most often this is due to illness that reduces appetite—consider powders that are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Particularly if you won’t be getting much other nutrition, it’s important to get all three.

Meal replacement: If you plan to use your protein shake as a meal replacement, it’s important to get some other nutrients in there, too. While there are protein powders that come with additional nutrients built-in, we recommend making your own Super Shake instead by incorporating fruit, vegetables, a source of healthy fats, and possibly more. That way, you get all the whole-food benefits of these ingredients.

Recovery/athletic performance: There are a variety of suggested ratios of carbohydrate and protein intake post-exercise to maximize recovery, but there isn’t much evidence showing any particular ratio is optimal. A protein powder with a 2:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio might be beneficial, but ultimately your total macronutrient and calorie intake for the day is the most important determining factor in athletic recovery.6

If you’re an athlete competing in multiple events in one day, consuming a beverage with 30 to 45 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein, and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in 600 mL (20 ounces) water for every hour of activity could help with recovery and performance.

Different ways to use protein powder, from a pure protein boost when mixed with water to a meal replacement smoothie.

How to use protein powder for a pure protein boost or as a meal replacement.

Consider how much taste matters to you.

It’s important to choose a protein powder that you’re likely to consume consistently. Enjoying the way it tastes is one way to help ensure that. Of course, the best-tasting protein powder option varies from person to person.

Factors you might want to be mindful of when deciding on a protein powder:

Mixability and texture

Mesh count refers to how fine a protein powder is, which can impact how easily it will mix by hand in a shaker bottle. You won’t be able to see this information on the label, but sometimes you can tell by looking at the powder or touching it.

Plant-based protein powders tend to have a grittier or chalkier texture, which means they often taste better when blended using an electric blender (rather than a shaker cup). Blending with a creamier liquid, such as plant milk, or adding higher-fat items like yogurt and nut butters to your shake can also help smooth out a chalky protein powder. (For ideas on how to make your protein powder taste better, try these flavorful smoothie recipes.)

More highly-processed powders, such as isolates and hydrolysates, are more likely to have a smoother texture.

Flavor

Some people are especially sensitive to the taste of artificial flavors and non-nutritive sweeteners. If that describes you, look for a protein powder made with nutritive sweeteners and/or natural flavors.

Unflavored protein powder may also be a good option if you don’t like artificial flavors, or simply prefer the flavor of whole foods. You can use unflavored protein powder in a variety of ways including:

  • Blended in Super Shakes with other flavorful ingredients
  • Baked into muffins, cookies, and even granola bars
  • Stirred into oatmeal, pudding, soups, and pancake batter

Flavored protein powders also work in many of these non-shake options. (Try this recipe for homemade protein bars that can be made with flavored or unflavored protein powder.)

As we already mentioned, you may have to experiment with a few different flavors and brands before finding the right protein powder for you.

Before you commit to a large package, try to get a sample pack of the protein powder. Larger nutrition supplement companies usually offer these.

If the powder you want to try isn’t available in a single-serve pack, you might be able to get a sample from a local supplement shop, if you ask nicely.

Protein powder isn’t a nutrition essential.

But it is a useful tool.

And here at Precision Nutrition, we’re all about picking the right tool for the job.

So if you’re struggling to meet your protein goals—whether because of convenience or appetite—then protein powder may be exactly what you need.

It’s worth noting you may have to do some experimenting before you find the right one. Our advice: pick one and stick with it for two weeks, and treat this time period like an experiment.

Pay attention to how you feel, and note any changes. Do you have more energy than before? Are you experiencing new, weird digestive issues? Are you feeling less hungry in the hours after your workout? Consider how these changes might be getting you closer to—or further away from—your goals.

If the changes are positive, you may have found your winner. If not, try a different flavor, brand or type of protein.

In the end, choosing the best protein powder for you ultimately comes down to asking the right questions, then experimenting with different options.

And that advice? It’s solid not just for picking a protein powder, but pretty much any decision in the world of nutrition.

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 rooted in science and personalized for their unique body, preferences, and lifestyle—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, October 7th, 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.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

1. Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ, Wildman R, Kleiner S, VanDusseldorp T, Taylor L, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 14;14:16.

2. Weigle DS, Breen PA, Matthys CC, Callahan HS, Meeuws KE, Burden VR, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):41–8.

3. Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373–85.

4. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, Schoenfeld BJ, Henselmans M, Helms E, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Mar;52(6):376–84.

5. Baum JI, Kim I-Y, Wolfe RR. Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 Jun 8;8(6). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu8060359

6. Thomas DT, Erdman KA, Burke LM. American College of Sports Medicine Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Mar;48(3):543–68.

7. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Feb 27;15:10.

8. Dietary protein quality evaluation in human nutrition: Report of an FAO Expert Consultation. FAO FOOD AND NUTRITION PAPER [Internet]. Available from: http://www.fao.org/ag/humannutrition/35978-02317b979a686a57aa4593304ffc17f06.pdf

9. Rutherfurd SM, Fanning AC, Miller BJ, Moughan PJ. Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores and digestible indispensable amino acid scores differentially describe protein quality in growing male rats. J Nutr. 2015 Feb;145(2):372–9.

10. Phillips SM. Current Concepts and Unresolved Questions in Dietary Protein Requirements and Supplements in Adults. Front Nutr. 2017 May 8;4:13.

11. House JD, Neufeld J, Leson G. Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11801–7.

12. Eastoe JE. The amino acid composition of mammalian collagen and gelatin. Biochem J. 1955 Dec;61(4):589–600.

13. Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;105(1):136–43.

14. Valenzuela PL, Mata F, Morales JS, Castillo-García A, Lucia A. Does Beef Protein Supplementation Improve Body Composition and Exercise Performance? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Jun 25;11(6). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu11061429

15. Sharp M, Shields K, Lowery R, Lane J, Partl J, Holmer C, et al. The effects of beef protein isolate and whey protein isolate supplementation on lean mass and strength in resistance trained individuals – a double blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Sep 21;12(1):P11.

16. Messina M, Lynch H, Dickinson JM, Reed KE. No Difference Between the Effects of Supplementing With Soy Protein Versus Animal Protein on Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Response to Resistance Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2018 Nov 1;28(6):674–85.

17. Hamilton-Reeves JM, Vazquez G, Duval SJ, Phipps WR, Kurzer MS, Messina MJ. Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug;94(3):997–1007.

18. Chen M, Rao Y, Zheng Y, Wei S, Li Y, Guo T, et al. Association between soy isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk for pre- and post-menopausal women: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 20;9(2):e89288.

19. Bitto A, Polito F, Atteritano M, Altavilla D, Mazzaferro S, Marini H, et al. Genistein aglycone does not affect thyroid function: results from a three-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jun;95(6):3067–72.

20. Gorissen SHM, Crombag JJR, Senden JMG, Waterval WAH, Bierau J, Verdijk LB, et al. Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates. Amino Acids.
21. WHEY PROCESSING [Internet]. Dairy Processing Handbook. 2015 [cited 2020 May 13]. Available from: https://dairyprocessinghandbook.tetrapak.com/chapter/whey-processing

22. Center for Food Safety, Nutrition A. Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2020 [cited 2020 May 13]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/additional-information-about-high-intensity-sweeteners-permitted-use-food-united-states

23. Center for Food Safety, Nutrition A. Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2019 [cited 2020 May 13]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-ingredients-packaging/generally-recognized-safe-gras

24. Vigar V, Myers S, Oliver C, Arellano J, Robinson S, Leifert C. A Systematic Review of Organic Versus Conventional Food Consumption: Is There a Measurable Benefit on Human Health? Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Dec 18;12(1). Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12010007
25. Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE, Bavinger JC, Pearson M, Eschbach PJ, et al. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives?: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Sep 4;157(5):348–66.

26. Grass Fed Small & Very Small Producer Program | Agricultural Marketing Service [Internet]. [cited 2020 May 13]. Available from: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/auditing/grass-fed-SVS

The post “What’s the best protein powder?” Your complete guide to choosing the right supplement for you appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1

You know the feeling: One salty crunch turns into 100, and suddenly you’re licking the cheese dust and wondering: What’s wrong with me? 

Actually, it’s normal to feel like you can’t stop overeating certain things. Today’s hyperpalatable food is creating a modern-day food crisis—one that’s leaving us feeling sick, out of control, and constantly craving more.

Here’s how it works, plus 3 ways to overcome it.

++++

It’s happened to us all.

After a frenzy of lustful grabbing and furious crunching, we find ourselves at the bottom of a jumbo bag of chips.

“How did that happen?” we ask fuzzily.

“What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop?”

But, before going into full-fledged self-loathing mode, consider this.

Processed foods are scientifically engineered to be irresistible and easy to gobble up in large quantities. If you can’t stop, the chips are doing their job.

(In fact, someone at Frito-Lay probably got a promotion for that recipe.)

That’s why, in this article, we’ll explain exactly how junk food is designed to make us respond with compulsive, manic, gotta-have-more snack sessions.

Even better, we’ll arm you with three useful strategies for examining your relationship with processed food and taking control of overeating.

Because, if you feel out of control around certain foods, you’re not crazy.

Even healthy eaters feel out of control around food sometimes. Even if we value nutrition and want to take care of ourselves, some foods can make us feel… kinda possessed.

Know what I mean?

You show up to a potluck with quinoa salad goals and find yourself inhaling a plate of chips, cookies, and some chocolate-peanut-butter-marshmallow thing that some devil, um friend, made.

You reach into the freezer to have one spoonful of ice cream and suddenly you’re mining the caramel swirl, then the nut clusters, then the brownie chunks, and then… your spoon scrapes the bottom.

You just want a bite of your friend’s french fry, but you find yourself elbowing her out of the way so you can steal all the fries, plus the burger too.

Even with the best intentions, the pull of certain foods is so strong that it can leave us feeling powerless.

If you’ve felt this, you’re not alone (and you’re not broken).

Certain foods are actually designed to make us overeat.

If you’re overeating, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you or your willpower.

Here’s the truth: There’s a whole industry dedicated to creating food that’s hyperpalatable—food that’s so tasty it’s nearly irresistible.

Your body and brain are responding exactly as they’re supposed to. It’s supposed to feel almost unnatural to stop eating these foods!

But we’re not talking about food like celery sticks, whole brown rice, or baked salmon filets.

(How often do you hear yourself say, “I ate sooo much steamed asparagus! I just couldn’t stop myself!” That’s right. You’ve never heard yourself say that.)

We’re talking about processed foods.

Processed foods are foods that have been modified from their original, whole-food form in order to change their flavor, texture, or shelf-life. Often, they’re altered so that they hit as many pleasure centers as possible—from our brains to our mouths to our bellies.

Processed foods are highly cravable, immediately gratifying, fun to eat, and easy to over-consume quickly (and often cheaply).

Processed foods will also look and feel different from their whole food counterparts, depending on the degree that they’re processed.

Let’s take corn as an example.

Boiled and eaten off the cob it’s pale yellow, kinda fibrous, but chewy and delicious.

Corn that’s a bit processed—ground into a meal and shaped into a flat disk—turns into a soft corn tortilla. A tortilla has a nice corny flavor and a soft, pliable texture that makes it easy to eat and digest.

But what if you ultra-process that corn? You remove all the fiber, isolate the starch, and then use that starch to make little ring-shaped chips, which are fried and dusted with sweet and salty barbecue powder. They’re freaking delicious.

That corn on the cob is yummy. But those corn-derived ring chips? They’re… well they’re gone because someone ate them all.

Let’s take an even deeper look

The food industry has a variety of processing methods and ingredient additives they use to make food extra tasty and easy to consume…. and over-consume.

Here are a few examples:

Extrusion

Grains are processed into a slurry and pass through a machine called an extruder. With the help of high heat and pressure, whole, raw grains get transformed into airy, crispy, easy-to-digest shapes like cereals, crackers, and other crunchy foods with uniform shapes.

In addition to changing texture and digestibility, the extrusion process also destroys certain nutrients and enzymes, denatures proteins, and changes the starch composition of a grain. This lowers the nutrition and increases the glycemic index of the product.

Emulsifiers

Used to improve the “mouth feel” of a product, emulsifiers smooth out and thicken texture, creating a rich, luxurious feel. Although there are natural emulsifiers, like egg yolk, the food industry often uses chemical emulsifiers like Polysorbate-80, sodium phosphate, and carboxymethylcellulose.

Emulsifiers are often found in creamy treats like ice cream products and processed dairy foods like flavored yogurts or neon orange cheese spreads.

Flavor enhancers

Flavor additives like artificial flavoring agents or monosodium glutamate (MSG) allow food manufacturers to amplify taste without adding whole-food ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or spices. This is useful because artificial flavoring agents are cheap and won’t change a product’s texture.

Coloring agents

Color strongly affects how appealing we perceive a food to be. No one wants to eat gray crackers; add a toasty golden hue and suddenly that cracker is a lot more appealing. Coloring agents, like Yellow #5 (tartrazine) and Red #40 (allura red),  are added purely for the look of food—they don’t add nutrition.

Recently, many large food corporations have been switching to natural foods dyes, like beet powder or turmeric, to color their food products after some correlations emerged linking artificial coloring agents to behavioral problems in children.

Oil hydrogenation

Natural fats eventually go rancid, changing their flavor and texture. In order to render fats more stable, hydrogen atoms are added to fats (usually vegetable oils) so they are less vulnerable to oxidation.

Food manufacturers use hydrogenated oils because it means their products can stay on the shelves for longer without changing flavor or texture. However, the consumption of hydrogenated fats, or trans fats, has been linked to increased rates of heart disease.

How processed foods trick us into eating more than we meant to.

There are four sneaky ways processed food can make you overeat. Often, we’re not even aware of how much these factors affect us.

That’s why, awareness = power.

1. Marketing convinces us that processed foods are “healthy”.

Processed foods come in packages with bright colors, cartoon characters, celebrity endorsements, and powerful words that triggers all kinds of positive associations.

Take, for example, “health halo” foods.

“Health halo” foods are processed foods that contain health buzzwords like organic, vegan, and gluten-free on their label to create an illusion, or halo, of health around them.

Companies come out with organic versions of their boxed macaroni and cheese, gluten-free versions of their glazed pastries, and vegan versions of their icing-filled cookies.

You’ll see chips “prepared with avocado oil,” sugary cereal “made with flaxseeds,” or creamy chip dip with “real spinach.”

The nutrient content of those foods isn’t particularly impressive, but the addition of nutrition buzzwords and trendy ingredients make us perceive them as healthier.

Marketers also choose words that relate more broadly to self-care.

Ever notice how many processed food slogans sound like this?

“Have a break.”

“Take some time for yourself.”

“You deserve it.”

Words like “break” and “deserve” distract us from our physical sensations and tap into our feelings—a place where we just want to be understood, supported, soothed, and perhaps just escape for a moment.

Health buzzwords and emotional appeals can make us perceive a food as “good for me”; it seems like a wise and caring choice to put them in our shopping carts, then in our mouths.

And if a food is “healthy” or “we deserve it,” we don’t feel so bad eating as much as we want.

2. Big portions make us think we’re getting a “good deal”.

People get mixed up about food and value.

We’re taught to save money and not waste food.

We’re taught to buy more for less.

Given the choice between a small juice for two dollars, and a pop with endless refills for the same price, the pop seems like better value.

What we don’t calculate into this equation is something I like to call the “health tax.”

The “health tax” is the toll you pay for eating low-nutrient, highly processed foods. If you eat them consistently over time, eventually you’ll pay the price with your health.

When companies use cheap, poor quality ingredients, they can sell bigger quantities without raising the price.

But what’s the deal?

Sure, you’ll save a buck in the short term, but you’ll pay the health tax—through poor health—in the long term.

3. Variety makes us hungrier.

Choice excites us.

Think of a self-serve frozen yogurt topping bar:

“Ooh! Sprinkles! And beer nuts! Oh, and they have those mini peanut butter cups! And granola clusters! Wait, are those crushed cookies?? And cheesecake chunks??! YES! Now on to the drizzles…”

Before you know it, there‘s a leaning tower of frozen dessert in front of you.

Or think of those “party mixes”—pretzels and corn chips and cheesy puffs and barbeque rings—all in one bag! The fun never ends because there’s a variety of flavors and textures to amuse you forever!

When we have lots of variety, we have lots of appetite.

It’s hard to overeat tons of one thing, with one flavor, like apples.

How many apples can you eat before, frankly, you get bored?

Reduce the variety and you also reduce distraction from your body’s built-in self-regulating signals. When we’re not so giddy with choice and stimuli, we’re more likely to slow down, eat mindfully, and eat less.

4. Multiple flavors at once are irresistible.

If there’s a party in your mouth, you can guarantee that at least two out of three of the following guests will be there:

  • Sugar
  • Fat
  • Salt

These three flavors—the sweetness of sugar, the luxurious mouthfeel of fat, and the sharp savory of salt—are favorites among those of us with mouths.

I never hear my clients say that they love eating spoonfuls of sugar or salt, or that they want to chug a bottle of oil.

However, when you combine these flavors, they become ultra delicious and hard-to-resist. This is called stimuli stacking—combining two or more flavors to create a hyperpalatable food.

For example:

  • The satisfying combination of fat and salt, found in chips, fries, nachos, cheesy things, etc.
  • The comforting combination of fat and sugar, found in baked goods, fudge, ice cream, cookies, chocolate, etc.
  • The irresistible combination of all three—heaven forbid you stumble on a combo of fat, salt, and sugar—a salted chocolate brownie, or caramel corn with candied nuts, or fries with ketchup!

Food manufacturers know: When it comes to encouraging people to overeat, two flavors are better than one.

In fact, when I spoke to an industry insider, a food scientist at a prominent processed food manufacturer, she revealed the specific “stimuli stacking” formula that the food industry uses to create hyperpalatable food.

They call it “The Big 5.”

Foods that fulfill “The Big 5” are:

  • Calorie dense, usually high in sugar and/or fat.
  • Intensely flavoredthe food must deliver strong flavor hits.
  • Immediately delicious, with a love-at-first taste experience.
  • Easy to eat—no effortful chewing needed!
  • “Melted” down easily—the food almost dissolves in your mouth, thus easy to eat quickly and overconsume.

When these five factors exist in one food, you get a product that’s practically irresistible.

In fact, foods developed by this company have to hit the big 5, or they’re not allowed to go to market.

When processed food manufacturers evaluate a prospective food product, the “irresistibility” (the extent to which a person can’t stop eating a food) is more important even than taste!

Just think about the ease of eating whole foods versus processed foods:

Whole foods require about 25 chews per mouthful, which means that you have to slow down. When you slow down, your satiety signals keep pace with your eating and have a chance to tell you when you’ve had enough. Which is probably why you’ve never overeaten Brussel sprouts (also because, farting).

Processed food manufacturers, on the other hand, aim for food products to be broken down in 10 chews or less per mouthful. That means the intense, flavorful, crazy-delicious experience is over quickly, and you’re left wanting more—ASAP.

Restaurants use these “ease of eating” tactics, too.

A major national chain uses this sci-fi-esque trick:

To make their signature chicken dish, each chicken breast is injected with a highly flavored sauce through hundreds of tiny needles. This results in a jacked-up chicken breast with intense flavor hits, but also tenderizes the chicken so it requires less chewing.

In other words, there’s a reason that restaurant chicken often goes down easier and just tastes better than the simple grilled chicken breast you make in your kitchen. Unless you have hundreds of tiny sauce-needles (weird), that chicken is hard to recreate at home.

This is why I rarely talk about willpower when my clients come to me struggling with overeating. If you’re relying on willpower to resist these foods, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

The solution isn’t more willpower. The solution is educating yourself about these foods, examining your own relationship with food, and employing strategies that put you in control.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Our love of certain flavors has very primitive roots.

So does our desire to load up on calories.

Once upon a time, food was not so abundant. Not only was food challenging to obtain—through effortful scavenging and hunting—but it was also not reliably safe.

That leaf over there? Yeah, that could be poison.

Those berries? They might give you the runs or make your throat close up.

Therefore, our ancient ancestors evolved some survival instincts along the way.

For example, sweet foods tend not to be poisonous. Therefore, we stored a preference for sweet, starchy foods in our brains to keep us safe.

Babies and children are particularly attracted to sweet foods, probably because their immature immune systems are less likely to recover from eating a poisonous plant, and their immature brains can’t tell the difference between dangerous bitter green (like hemlock) and safe bitter green (like kale).

Therefore, kids’ attraction to sweet (read: safe) foods is a built-in mechanism to prevent death by poisoning.

Fat is also a preferred nutrient, as it’s high-calorie and would be a jackpot for our often-threatened-by-starvation ancestors.

While most foods our ancestors ate would have been fibrous and low-calorie (roots, greens, lean meats), fat would have been a highly prized treat.

Imagine, as a primitive hunter-gatherer, stumbling on a macadamia nut tree. The yield from that tree might provide enough calories to feed your tribe for days!

As a result, we stored another preference in our brains: fatty, calorie-dense foods = yum / stock up!

Today, of course, we don’t have to run and dig and hike for nine hours to get our food. Instead, we can just roll up to the drive-thru window and order a combination of flavors we’re primed to love—maybe in the form of a milkshake and a cheeseburger—and enjoy it while sitting in our car.

Evolution’s gifts now work against us.

So, now you see why processed foods are so hard to control yourself around.

But what can actually you do about it?

Up next, some practical strategies to put you (or your clients) in the driver’s seat.

3 strategies to find your way back to a peaceful relationship with food.

It’s one thing to know in theory why certain foods are so easy to over-consume, but it’s even more valuable to discover for yourself how food processing, certain ingredient combinations, marketing, and even easy accessibility affect you and your food choices.

So, it’s time to get a little nerdy, try some experiments, and learn some strategies that will help you improve your relationship with food, get healthier, and just feel more sane.

1. Get curious about the foods you eat.

We’ve established that processed foods are designed to be easy to eat.

For a food to be “easy to eat”, it has to be:

  • broken down easily (less chewing), and
  • low volume (doesn’t take up much physical space).

So:

Less chewing + Low volume = More eating

Chewing takes time. The more we have to chew something, the longer it takes us to eat, giving our fullness signals a chance to catch up.

That feeling of “fullness” matters a lot too.

When you eat, your stomach expands. It’s partly through that sensation of pressure that your body knows you’ve had enough. Processed foods deliver a lot of calories without taking up much space, meaning you can eat a lot before you realize you’ve overdone it.

Experiment #1: Observe as you chew.

Yup, that’s right. I want you to count your chews.

Note: Don’t do this forever. I’m not trying to turn you into the weirdo who no one wants to sit next to at the lunch table.  Just try it as an experiment to get some data about how you eat different foods.

First, eat a whole food—a vegetable, fruit, whole grain, lean protein, whatever—and count how many chews you take per mouthful. How long does it take to eat an entire portion of that food? How satiated do you feel afterward? Do you want to eat more?

Then, next time you eat something processed, count how many chews you take per mouthful. How long does it take to eat that serving of pasta, chips, or cookies? How satiated do you feel afterward? Do you want to eat more?

Make some comparisons and notice the differences. Contrast how long eating each of these foods takes you, how satiated you feel after eating each of them, and how much you want to keep eating.

How will you use that information to make food choices moving forward?

2. Notice the messages you’re getting about food.

Food manufacturers use creative marketing strategies to imply processed foods are healthy. And even if you know they’re not, they have other ways of getting you to buy them.

Here’s an example:

Ever notice that the produce section is the first area you pass through in grocery stores?

Grocery stores have found that if they put the produce section first, you’re more likely to purchase processed foods. This is probably because if you’ve already got your cart loaded with spinach, broccoli, and apples, perhaps you’ll feel better about picking up some ice cream, cookies, and crackers, before heading to the checkout line.

Let that sink in: The supermarkets we all shop in several times a month are designed to make you feel better about buying foods that could negatively impact your health goals.

The good news? Simply being aware of this trick can help you bypass it.

Experiment #2: Evaluate your pantry.

In this experiment, you’ll examine the foods you have in your home and the messages you’ve been given about them.

Note: Keep in mind that this is a mindful awareness activity. You’re not doing this to judge yourself or feel shame about the food choices you’ve made.

Look at your pantry with curious (and more informed) eyes.

  • Step 1: Look for “health halo” foods. Do you have any? If so, why did you choose them? Was it the language used to describe it? Was it the packaging? A trendy “superfood” ingredient? Is it organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, Paleo, or something else?
  • Step 2: Read the nutritional information. Once you’ve identified the “health halo” foods, take a closer look. Is your “healthy” organic dark chocolate peanut butter cup all that nutritionally different from that mass-market peanut butter cup? Chances are, it’s just different packaging.
  • Step 3: Count how many varieties of junk foods you have. If you love ice cream—how many flavors do you have? If you peek into your cupboards, are there cookies, popcorn, candy, or chips? Without judgment, count the total junk food variety currently in your home. Generally, the more options you have, the easier it is to overeat.

The takeaway?

You’ll be more aware of the particular types of marketing you’re susceptible to, which you can use to make more informed food choices.

You’ll also have a better idea of which treat foods you prefer, and by reducing the variety of them in your home, you’ll cut down on opportunities to overeat.

3. Look for patterns.

We often use food for reasons other than physical nourishment.

For example, if we feel sad, we might reach for a cookie to comfort ourselves. Temporarily, we feel better.

The next time we feel sad, we remember the temporary relief that cookie brought us. So we repeat the ritual. If we continue to repeat this cycle, we may find our arm reaching for the cookie jar every time we feel blue. We’re not even thinking about it at this point; it’s just habit.

Habits are powerful, for better or for worse. They can work for us or against us.

Luckily, we have control over this.

All it takes is a little time and an understanding of how habits get formed.

All animals learn habits in the following way:

How habits are learnt

This leads us to our next experiment…

Experiment #3: Put the science of habits to work.

If you want to break the habit of overeating, you can use this trigger, behavior, and reward loop to your advantage. Here’s how.

Step 1: identify your triggers.

A trigger can be a:

  • Feeling. We might eat more when we’re stressed, lonely, or bored. Food fills the void.
  • Time of day. We always have a cookie at 11am, or a soda at 3pm. It’s just part of our routine.
  • Social setting. Hey, everyone else is having beer and chicken wings, so might as well join the happy hour!
  • Place. For some reason, a dark movie theater or our parents’ kitchen might make us want to munch.
  • Thought pattern. Thinking “I deserve this” or “Life is too hard to chew kale” might steer us toward the drive-thru window.

When you find yourself eating when you’re not physically hungry, increase your awareness of your triggers by asking yourself:

What am I feeling?

What time is it?

Who am I with?

Where am I?

What thoughts am I having?

Keep a journal and look for patterns.

And remember: Overeating is generally problematic when it’s chronic—those pants are feeling pretty tight after most meals—or when episodes of overeating are particularly intense, like during a binge. So don’t get too worried with isolated episodes of overeating.

To differentiate overeating from binge eating, keep in mind that binge eating feels disassociated, out of control, hard to stop, and usually comes with feelings of shame and guilt.

If, in observing your eating patterns, you discover that you may be dealing with compulsive bingeing behavior, then recruiting a doctor, therapist, or other qualified practitioner to help you navigate your feelings around food is likely the best course of action.

Step 2: Find a new behavior in response to your trigger(s).

Once you’ve identified your triggers, try associating new behaviors with them. These should support your health goals and feel good. If the new behaviors aren’t rewarding, they won’t be repeated, so they won’t be learned as habits.

In order to find the “right” new behavior, it’s helpful to know that when we eat, we’re trying to meet a “need.”

So when you brainstorm new behaviors, find something that meets that need—be it time in nature, some human connection, a physical release, or just a break from your thoughts.

For example, I had a client whose trigger was talking to her ex-husband. She felt angry when she interacted with him, and some furious crunching on chips temporarily made her feel better.

She eventually replaced the crunching with a punching bag session or by stomping up and down the stairs. Both activities were effective at relieving tension, but unlike the chips, they supported her goals.

Step 3: Practice.

Every time a trigger pops up that compels you to eat, replace eating with a healthy feel-good behavior.

Repeat this loop until the new behavior becomes a habit that’s just as automatic as reaching for the jar of peanut butter used to be.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Not all “feel-good” habits are created equal, in terms of their physiological effect on the stress response.

According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress relievers are:

  • exercising / playing sports,
  • reading,
  • listening to music,
  • praying / attending a religious service,
  • spending time with friends / family,
  • getting a massage,
  • walking outside,
  • meditation,
  • yoga, and
  • engaging in a creative hobby.

The least effective stress relievers are: gambling, shopping, smoking, eating, drinking, playing video games, surfing the internet, and watching TV / movies for more than two hours.

Although we may use the second list as “stress-relievers”—because they feel so good in the short term—they don’t actually reduce stress effectively.

This is because these habits rely on dopamine to give us a “hit” of pleasure. Dopamine feels rewarding immediately, but because it’s an excitatory neurotransmitter, it actually stimulates adrenaline and initiates the stress response.

In contrast, the first list of habits boost neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, and oxytocin, which calm down the stress response and induce a feeling of wellbeing.

Although these activities aren’t initially as “exciting” as the second list, they’re ultimately more rewarding and more effective at relieving stress long-term.

It’s not just about the food

As a dietician, I know how important nutrition is. So it might surprise you to hear me say the following:

It’s not all about the food.

Structure your diet around colorful, nutrient-dense whole foods, but also remember that a healthy life is not about calorie math or obsessing over everything you put in your mouth.

A healthy life is about giving time and attention to our whole selves.

Eating happens in context.

Pay attention to your mindset, your relationships, your work, and your environment.

When we’re well-nourished in other areas of our life, we’re less likely to use food as a cure-all when we struggle.

So if there’s one more piece of nutrition advice I have, it’s this:

Be good to yourself.

Not just at the table, but in all areas of life.

What to do next

1. Be kind, curious, and honest.

When we fall short of our ideals, we think that beating ourselves up is the fastest way to improvement. But it’s not.

Criticism and crash dieting may work in the short term, but can damage our mental and physical health in the long term.

Because overeating is already a painful experience, as you consider how these behaviors show up in your life and how you might address them, please be:

Kind: Be friendly and self-compassionate; work with yourself instead of against yourself.

Curious: Explore your habits with openness and interest. Be like a scientist looking at data rather than a criminal investigator looking to blame and punish.

Honest: Look at your reality. How are you behaving day-to-day around food? The more accurate you are at perceiving yourself, the better you can support yourself to change.

With this attitude of support and non-judgment, you’re more likely to move forward.

2. Use the “traffic light” system.

Precision Nutrition has a great tool for creating awareness around food that I use all the time with my clients. It’s called the “traffic light” system.

You see, we all have red light foods, yellow light foods, and green light foods.

Red means stop.

Red foods are a “no-go.” Either because they don’t help you achieve your goals, you have trouble eating them in reasonable amounts, or they plain old make you feel gross.

Often, red light foods are processed foods like chips, candy, ice cream, and pastries. Red foods can also be foods that you’re allergic / intolerant to.

Yellow means proceed with caution.

Yellow light foods are sometimes OK, sometimes not. Maybe you can eat a little bit without feeling ill, or you can eat them sanely at a restaurant with others but not at home alone, or you can have them as an occasional treat.

Yellow light foods might include things like bread, crackers, pasta, flavored yogurt, granola bars, or seasoned nuts. They’re not the worst choices, but they’re not the most nutritious either.

Green means go.

Green foods are a “go.” You like eating them because they’re nutritious and make your body and mind feel good. You can eat them normally, slowly, and in reasonable amounts.

Green foods are usually whole foods like fruits and vegetables, lean animal proteins, beans and legumes, raw nuts and seeds, and whole grains.

Create your own red, yellow, and green light food lists.

Everyone’s list will be different! You might leave ice cream in the freezer untouched for months, whereas another person might need a restraining order from that rocky road caramel swirl.

Once you have your list, stock your kitchen with as many green light foods as possible. Choose the yellow foods you allow in your house wisely. And red foods are to be limited or eliminated entirely.

At the very least, consider reducing the variety of red light or treat foods.

Take some pressure off your willpower and surround yourself with foods that support your goals.

3. Put quality above quantity.

It’s tempting to buy that jumbo bag of chips because it’s such a good deal.

But remember: Real value isn’t about price or quantity so much as it is about quality.

Quality foods are nutrient-dense and minimally-processed. They are foods that you like, and make sense for your schedule and budget.  

Quality foods may take a little more preparation and be a little more expensive up-front, but in the long run, they’re the real deal, and have a lower “health tax” to pay later in life.

4. Focus on whole foods.

Whole foods will make it easier to regulate food intake and will also improve nutrition.

We can almost feel “high” when we eat processed foods. Whole foods, on the other hand, are more subtle in flavor and require a bit more effort to chew and digest. Instead of feeling high, whole foods just make us feel nourished and content.

Whole foods are generally more perishable than processed foods, so this will require some more planning and preparation. So schedule some extra time in the kitchen—even ten minutes a day counts!

In ten minutes, you can cut up some veggies, boil some eggs, cook some oatmeal, or marinate some chicken breasts to make the following day go smoother.

While this might sound like more work, it’s rewarding. A closer relationship with food often means more respect and care for it too.

5. Find feel-good habits that support your goals.

Make a list of activities that you feel good doing. You might find that you like certain activities better than others depending on your feelings, the time of day, or your environment.

When you feel triggered to eat when you’re not physically hungry, choose an activity from your list.

This could be some gentle physical activity, fresh air, social interaction, playing a game, or a self-care ritual like painting your nails or getting a scalp massage.

The point is simply to disrupt the cycle of trigger > eat > reward, and replace eating with an activity that supports your goals.

6. Slow down.

If nothing else works, and the idea of taking away treat foods totally freaks you out, just do this:

Slow down.

Allow yourself to eat whatever you want, just eat slowly and mindfully.

Slowing down allows us to savor our food, making us satisfied with less. It also lets physical sensations of fullness to catch up, so we know when we’ve had enough.

Bingeing can feel stressful and out of control—by slowing down, we help ourselves calm down and take back some of the control.

7. If you feel like you’re in over your head, ask for help.

Sometimes we need support.

If overeating is especially frequent or extreme, or if you have health problems related to overeating that you don’t know how to manage, seek the help of a coach, nutritionist, dietician, or counselor who specializes in disordered eating behaviors.

There’s no shame in receiving support. The best coaches and practitioners often have their own support team too.

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.

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, 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, July 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].

jQuery(document).ready(function(){
jQuery(“#references_link”).click(function(){
jQuery(“#references_holder”).show();
jQuery(“#references_link”).parent().hide();
});
});

References

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

Avena, N.M, Gold, M.S. (2011). Variety and hyperpalatability: are they promoting addictive overeating? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(2), 367-368. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.020164.

Drewnowski, A., Shrager, E., Lipsky, C., Stellar, E., Greenwood, M.R. (1989). Sugar and fat: Sensory and hedonic evaluation of liquid and solid foods. Physiology & Behavior, 45 (1), 177-183. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(89)90182-0.

Kessler, David A. Your food is fooling you: How your brain is hijacked by sugar, fat, and salt. Roaring Book Press, 2012.

Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC (2006). Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 354 (15): 1601–1613. doi:10.1056/NEJMra054035.

Provencher, V., Polivy, J., Herman, C.P. (2009). Perceived healthiness of food. If it’s healthy, you can eat more! Appetite, 52(2), 340-344. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.11.005.

Rolls, B.J., Drewnowski, A., Ledikwe, J.H. (2005). Changing the energy density of the diet as a strategy for weight management. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 105(5S), 98-103. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.033.

The post Manufactured deliciousness: Why you can’t stop overeating (plus 3 strategies to get control). appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Source: Health1