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Over the last few weeks we’ve discussed some of the intricacies in assessment and program design. In case you missed those articles, you can find them here: The Assessment Process,  Program Design. For both of those concepts, assessment and program design, there’s basic principles to be applied. However, they may take different turns depending on the characteristics that an individual may present. So, when we talk about nutrition, it would make sense to take an individualized approach as well, rather than trying to follow trendy internet diet plans. Let’s take it from the top.

Nutrition is the base of health and fitness. The best coach in the world can put together the greatest training program ever, but without proper nutrition, it simply will not work. You see, food is what fuels our efforts during workouts and what helps us recover afterwards. In other words, it provides the base support needed to be able to train in the first place. If every person has particular goals and possesses unique characteristics that dictate what training will look like, then an individualized nutrition plan will be needed to go with the exercise program. What makes things complicated is that a lot more detail goes into it than we’ve been led to believe by the information that’s been made available in the past decades. Calories and macronutrients are NOT created equal. Quantities, timing, and absorption must be taken into account. And, again, this all varies person to person.


Food Hygiene:

This is a topic that most clients find a little quirky, but honestly, it’s the number one factor that will impact nutrition. Basically, it refers to how you “handle” your food. Food needs to be chewed a lot more than most people chew (over 30 times per bite to be precise). In addition, meals should be completely stress free. This means: sitting down, no rush, no working on the computer or watching tv. It should be JUST eating for the 10-15 minutes that it normally takes to eat a meal. If these things are not taken care of, it really doesn't matter what you eat.


Digestion:

The factors mentioned above basically set up the process of digestion. Simply put, digestion is the process of absorption and elimination of foods. If this process is not working properly, it needs to be addressed. Some people can digest certain foods and eat at certain times that others can’t tolerate. That’s why it’s important to look at each case individually, and adjust to one’s digestive capabilities.


Allergies/ Intolerances:

A big issue with digestion is the presence of allergic reactions to certain foods. An allergic reaction is an immune response to what the body considers a foreign substance. Reactions to foods can manifest itself in many ways. It may present gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, respiratory issues such as sinus, and skin issues such as rashes. It may also present itself in ways that we don’t usually associate with food such as joint pain, lack of sleep, and sluggishness. I’d dare to say that EVERYBODY, every single human being has some sort of food intolerance to some degree. Some foods are common offenders and easily identified, but others are a little more inconspicuous.


Goals:

As previously discussed, everyone has their own purpose in fitness. This is a crucial factor when laying down nutrition. Weight loss, weight gain, performance, aesthetics, and health will all require different protocols. Also, as one progresses in pursuit of his goals, so should the nutritional plan. Yet another reason of why a food profile should be established based on the current situation of the individual and revised throughout the process. Furthermore, if you’re going to train with a certain intensity and accumulate a certain volume, then food intake and timing must be in accordance. One cannot happen without the other. If there is a clear cut goal, those two paths must be parallel.


These are just some of the factors that go into nutrition planning. A real coaching program is not complete without nutrition. Just like assessment and program design, nutrition needs to be tailor made according to the person and revised as progress is made. Even people with similar goals will respond differently to the effects of food and having individualized support from your fitness coach is crucial in keeping it all aligned.




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