Personal Trainers: How to Help Your Clients With Meal Planning

Personal Trainers: How to Help Your Clients With Meal Planning

There’s a saying in the personal training world: abs are made in the kitchen.


If you’re a personal trainer, chances are, even your best clients struggle with healthy eating. You can push your clients to do one extra rep, you can encourage them to add a little bit of extra weight for an exercise (while maintaining perfect form), but once they leave the gym, it’s a little more difficult to ensure they keep up their commitment to healthy living.

And the problem is, no matter how hard they work in the gym, if they don’t fix their diet, their goals will stall. And you might end up getting blamed.

Unfortunately, you can’t be with your clients every minute of the day, and you can’t stop them from making poor decisions when it comes to their nutritional intake. But there are certainly things you can do as a personal trainer to ensure your clients are not only doing their exercises diligently, but also taking care of their nutritional needs.

You can help your clients understand portion control, help them be more reasonable when they visit restaurants, and share the power of meal planning with them.


Here are some tips to share with your personal training clients.



Concentrate on portions, not on bad or good foods (unless you have allergies or sensitivities)

While there are certainly foods that are healthier than others, for most people without allergies or sensitivities, a less-than-healthy choice once in a while won’t have dire consequences.

If you enjoy a variety of foods, continue to eat those foods that you enjoy, and concentrate on portion sizes.

Most people aren’t aware that their portion sizes are likely too large, and this has an effect on their health. Here is a handy (no pun intended) chart to understand what portion sizes look like.

When you serve yourself, try to remember these portion sizes. Using your hand as a guide is useful, since you always have your hand with you.

When having a treat, order a child size



For many people, depriving themselves eventually backfires. After denying yourself foods that you enjoy, you may fall to binging when the diet is over. A better approach is to apply moderation.

Allow yourself a treat, but order smaller portions. Most places have children’s sizes that are not necessarily advertised on the menu. When out for a treat, ask if a child size is available, and order that instead of the regular size.

And remember that a treat should happen once in a while, not on a daily basis. That’s why it’s called a “treat.” Using this moderation approach, you can still enjoy the foods that you love, while maintaining your health.


Ask for a take-home container before you start eating restaurant portions



Restaurant portions have increased steadily (and rapidly) over the last two decades. Most restaurant portions are enough for 2 to 3 meals and are far too large for one person.

To avoid overeating at restaurants, ask for a take-out container and put at least half of your meal in it before you start eating. You’ll then avoid unnecessary extra calories and as a bonus, you’ll have left-overs for the next day.


Prepare Healthy Snacks and have them in easy to reach spots



Prepare some healthy snacks on the weekend, and put them front and center in your fridge or cupboard. Healthy snack preparation doesn’t have to be extremely time-consuming.

You can simply cut up some veggie sticks or boil some eggs and have them easily available. If you have a little extra time, you can prepare a simple healthy snack such as this 3-ingredient energy bar.

For more ideas for healthy snacks, click here.

Plan out your week’s meals



A great way to eat healthily while saving time and money is to meal plan. Planning out your meals for the week ahead of time has several advantages: you’ll waste less food (and thereby less money), you’ll save time by having some meals prepped ahead of time, and you’ll avoid stress, because you won’t spend time wondering what you’ll cook for dinner tonight.

You can use pen and paper to plan out your week’s meals, use Pinterest for inspiration, or better yet, use an online solution that’s made specifically for meal planning, has several recipes you can use, and helps you cater your plans to your specific diet needs.

Shop according to your meal plan



Once you’ve written down (or typed up) your meal plan for the week, write down your grocery list accordingly (if you use a software solution, that could be done for you automatically).

Take your grocery list to the store with you and shop only by it. This will not only save you money, but it will also help you to avoid impulse purchases of unhealthy food items.

That’s not to say you can’t have a treat once in a while, but try to plan for that instead of buying it impulsively.

Get a professional to help you plan meals that work for you and your goals



If meal planning seems overwhelming, have your wellness practitioner help you find a plan that works for you. A good wellness practitioner will provide you with an intake form or questionnaire prior to giving you a meal plan. This questionnaire will help your personal trainer, wellness coach, nutritionist, or dietitian develop a meal plan that’s personalized to fit your health needs and goals.

Once you have a meal plan, eating healthily becomes easier, and if you have a few meal plans to cycle through, you won’t get bored, and you’ll be able to save time, save money, and avoid stress.


Want to help your personal training clients with meal planning even more? Offer ready-made meal plans that will save them (and you) time and will help them maintain a healthy eating plan.

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