The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro Calculator

The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro Calculator

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

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

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

This estimate takes into account:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Precision Nutrition Calculator

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

Nutrition Calculator

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


 

© Precision Nutrition

The benefits of this calorie, portion, and macro calculator

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

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

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

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

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

The problem with only tracking calories

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

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

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

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

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

Why tracking your macros gives you an advantage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example, let’s say you eat:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hand portions: The easiest way to track calories and macros

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

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

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

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

Here’s a snapshot of how it works:

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

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

How effective are hand portions for tracking macros?

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

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

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

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

Resources

The calorie and macro math

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

Calorie math

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

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

Q: How do goals change the equation?
A:

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

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

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

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

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

Macro math

The macronutrients are calculated by many rules.

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

Custom macronutrient percentages

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

Calorie and macro FAQ

How do I make meals out of macros?

You can’t. At least not easily.

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

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

Hand portion math

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

Approximate portion sizes

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

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

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

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

Approximate portion math

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

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

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

Assumed variety of food choices

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

For example, let’s look at protein.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testing the hand portion math

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hand portion FAQ

Do I gauge my portions before or after cooking?

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

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

Other helpful notes:

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

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

What to do with foods that don’t fit?

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

Most notably problematic are liquids.

Dairy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soda

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

Nut Milks

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

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

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

Alcohol

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

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

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

How do I account for mixed-food meals?

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

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

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

Legumes and lentils: protein or carb?

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

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

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

Examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I quantify my exercise?

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

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

Moderate to Strenuous Activity

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

Gentle Activity

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

Example 1: Let’s say your week includes:

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

That’d count as:

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

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

Example 2: Suppose your week includes…

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

That’d count as:

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

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

Example 3: Suppose your week includes…

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

That’d count as:

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

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

Calculator development notes and FAQs

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

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

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

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, January 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 The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro Calculator appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Special report: The top nutrition, fitness, and health trends and insights for 2020. Key findings and proven solutions for better client results.

Special report: The top nutrition, fitness, and health trends and insights for 2020. Key findings and proven solutions for better client results.

Great information is valuable.

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

Which is why our first-ever nutrition and fitness trends report doesn’t just cover the trends. It also provides actionable takeaways you can use with your clients. Not just in 2020, but right now.

To create this report, we analyzed data from nearly 15,000 Precision Nutrition clients and used it to identify the most interesting (and useful) trends.

You’ll not only learn what people really want to achieve through nutrition, fitness, and health change, but also what they’re struggling with the most.

Even more important, we’re sharing our insights: The proven strategies we’ve developed to help people overcome their most frustrating challenges—and speed their progress—based on our work with over 100,000 clients.

With this in-depth report, you’ll learn:

  • The top 10 nutrition challenges clients face (these may not be what you think they are)
  • The eating struggle that affects 70% of women (and is the fastest growing problem for men)
  • The secret problem with modern foods (it’s not just their calorie counts)
  • The average person’s #1 health and fitness goal (and how to help your clients achieve it)
  • Why most weight loss diets will continue to fail (and what to do instead)
  • The top 3 barriers to exercise (with strategies to overcome them)
  • The key foods people aren’t eating enough of (fixing this can speed your clients’ progress)
  • How to help clients eat better at restaurants (even if they won’t stop dining out every day)
  • And much more, taken from our extensive client research and deep professional experience.

All to help you get ahead of the curve for 2020—for better client results… and greater success as a coach.

While we won’t suggest this special report is literally “priceless,” we’re pretty sure it’s worth way more than we’re charging. Which is… absolutely nothing.

To access this FREE report, click here to download.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

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

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

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, January 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 Special report: The top nutrition, fitness, and health trends and insights for 2020. Key findings and proven solutions for better client results. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Opening January 2020: Precision Nutrition Coaching for Men and Women

Opening January 2020: Precision Nutrition Coaching for Men and Women

Looking for an effective way to eat better, improve your health, and finally get the body you want? You’re in the right place. At Precision Nutrition, we help men and women get in their best shape ever—and stay that way—no matter how busy and hectic life gets. And the best news? We’ll soon be opening up spots in our next nutrition coaching group. 

What’s different about Precision Nutrition Coaching? We literally wrote the book on nutrition coaching and body transformation. Watch this video to see the amazing things our clients have accomplished over the past 15 years:

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

 

Ready to become your fittest, strongest, healthiest self? The time is now.

On Wednesday, December 4th, 2019 we’re opening registration for the next Precision Nutrition Coaching program for men and women.

As a coaching client, you’ll get a personal coach from our world-class coaching team and, with their support, you’ll learn how to:

  • Eat better, without dieting or feeling deprived.
  • Get active, no matter what shape you’re in now.
  • Ditch the food rules, dropping the fad diets and conflicting advice.
  • Build fitness into your life, without it taking over.
  • Achieve, and maintain, your goals, even when life gets busy.

The result? You’ll:

  • Lose the weight/fat you haven’t been able to shed for years.
  • Build physical strength and confidence in your body.
  • Gain mental confidence, no longer hiding your gifts and talents.
  • Let go of food confusion, learn what to do, how to do it.
  • Get off the diet roller coaster once and for all, and never look back.

Seriously, imagine a life where you…

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

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

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

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

…feel like food is your friend, not your enemy, and never diet again.

And here’s some really exciting news.

For now, we’ll continue to offer the program at the lowest price ever ($97 USD per month), and we’ve committed another $250,000 USD in prize money to the clients who experience the biggest transformations—physical, mental, and more.

Will Precision Nutrition work for you?

Yes, and here’s why.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve proven that the Precision Nutrition Coaching method is effective—through working with over 100,000 clients and publishing several peer-reviewed research papers on our approach.

Our coaching team is made up of the top Ph.D.s, nutritionists, strength coaches, counselors, researchers, and specialists in the world. We’re veterans, so we know what works—and what doesn’t.

We don’t prescribe short-term diets, meal plans, or “food rules.” Instead, we help you build the lasting skills and habits necessary to look and feel better—for the long term. For life.

Just take a look at a few of our clients.

Like Sue, a businesswoman from the UK. She lost 61 pounds with Precision Nutrition Coaching, gaining the energy and confidence—not to mention jean size—of a much younger person.

Or Carm, an artist and designer from Canada. Through Precision Nutrition Coaching he became the ‘fit guy’ he never thought he could be. Now he takes his teenage boys hiking and camping and they struggle to keep up.

Or Simone. With help from Precision Nutrition Coaching she got off the diet roller coaster and discovered a whole new freedom in her life. Now she focuses her energy on positive things vs. worrying about her weight.

Want to know how the program works?

This short video details what you can expect from Precision Nutrition for Men.

Learn exactly how Precision Nutrition Coaching for Men works.

And this one details what you can expect from Precision Nutrition for Women.

Learn exactly how Precision Nutrition Coaching for Women works.

 

We do health and fitness in a way that fits your life. (Instead of the other way around.)

We know: Life can get crazy.

Work, children, aging parents, running a household, and all the surprises life can throw at us. It never stops being complicated or busy.

That’s why we do something very different.

We show you how to make health and fitness a part of your life, no matter what else is going on.

At Precision Nutrition we often say that your program should be designed for your absolute worst days—not just your best days.

You know the days I’m talking about… you’re low energy, nothing goes your way, your partner (or children) aren’t pleased when you get home, and you have a million other things to do than spend 2 hours working out and cooking organic meals.

Normal fitness plans tell you to just tough it out.

You’ve gotta want it badly enough.

If you’re aren’t willing to put in the work, you don’t deserve the results.

That’s just silly, and it’s not reality. Which is why we work closely with our clients to help them eat well and exercise no matter what’s going on in their lives.

We’ll bring the accountability it takes for you to stay consistent. We’ll review your progress, answer questions, and make recommendations to help you improve. We’ll tap you on the shoulder if you start to regress. And we’ll help you get past each hurdle along the way.

The result? You’ll get into the best shape of your life within 12 months.

And you’ll have the habits, skills, and tools to stay that way for life.

This approach has worked for thousands of clients, like Lorena, who learned that she could actually get better results with less effort.

And Sean Patrick, who learned how to get past overwhelm by taking small steps everyday.

This “real life” approach is one of the main reasons our clients achieve—and sustain—jaw-dropping transformations.

What kind of awesome transformation could you get with Precision Nutrition coaching? Check out this short video to get an idea:

See what 365 days of Precision Nutrition Coaching can do.

 

 

Now, there is a catch.

If Precision Nutrition Coaching is right for you, it can be life-changing. But because of high demand, the program usually sells out within hours.

So, if you’re interested in registering—or even if you’re just interested in learning more—your best bet is to put yourself on our free presale list.

Once you add your name, we’ll send you more info. Plus, being on the list gives you the chance to register 24 hours before the general public.

Excited about what’s possible?

Here’s a little more inspiration from some previous clients.








 

And that’s just a small sampling of the thousands of men and women who’ve had success with Precision Nutrition Coaching.

Oh, I should also mention this…

We’re giving away over $250,000 in prize money this year!

That’s right, every year we give away big prize money to the men and women who achieve the biggest transformations in our program.

Like these folks:

Rachel lost 31 pounds in PN Coaching; we surprised her with $25,000.

Javier lost 60 pounds in PN Coaching; we surprised him with $25,000.

Consider this our antidote to the “you must suffer and feel guilty to get in shape” messages typically spewed out by the fitness industry.

We don’t need any more negativity in our lives, and we’re sure you don’t either. So, instead, we give you something cool and inspiring to shoot for.

Who knows, you might end up winning one of our grand prizes, like Spencer:

Watch as we surprise recent grand prize winner Spencer.

Or Lisa:

Watch as we surprise recent grand prize winner Lisa.

 

If you’re looking for help, why not work with the best in the business?

Just so you know, in addition to Precision Nutrition Coaching, we also provide nutrition advice to the most elite athletes and professionals in the world.

Companies like Nike, and Equinox; professional sports teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the Carolina Panthers; and dozens of Olympic athletes and their coaches call on us when they want next-level nutrition and performance strategies.

Precision Nutrition has been featured in dozens of media outlets…

…and has consulted with some of the world’s most innovative companies and teams.

Precision Nutrition Coaching is so uniquely successful that Fast Company named us one of the most innovative companies in fitness.

Image 10

Precision Nutrition was named one of the 10 most innovative companies in fitness by Fast Company magazine.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned, the Precision Nutrition method has been tried and tested with over 100,000 clients. And several peer-reviewed research papers have documented its safety and effectiveness.

In the end, we know what works. We have a proven system in place. And we consistently produce life-changing results for our clients, year in and year out.

Lots of people consider us the world’s leading experts in nutrition coaching. It’s a big responsibility, and we don’t take it lightly. Which is why we do everything possible to help you succeed.

This is your chance. Don’t miss out.

To give everyone the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open our doors and accept new clients twice a year. Because of that, our programs have historically sold out in a matter of hours.

However, if you put your name on our free presale list, we’ll send you more information about the program.

Even better, you’ll get the chance to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting a spot.

Plus, you’ll save up to 54% off the regular cost of the program.

Indeed, if you’re on our presale list, you’ll be able to get access to Precision Nutrition Coaching for just $97 USD per month, our lowest price ever.

I’ve been coaching for 25+ years now, and I can genuinely say this is the most affordable I’ve ever seen this caliber of coaching.

Plus, we guarantee our work. Because it’s the right thing to do.

Bring your commitment. Stick with us for a full year. Work hard.

You’ll lose the weight (and body fat) you haven’t been able to shed for years.

You’ll build physical strength and confidence. You’ll get results that last.

And if you don’t get the results you’re looking for, we’ll give you a full refund.

No risk. No joke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Opening January 2020: Precision Nutrition Coaching for Men and Women appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Should you stop drinking diet soda?

Should you stop drinking diet soda?

“Diet soda can’t be good for you.”

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

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

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

Is diet soda actually bad for you? 

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

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

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

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

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

Does diet soda lead to weight gain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if we studied high-intensity sweeteners individually?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the type of high-intensity sweetener might matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theory 1: Diet soda makes you addicted to sugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theory 2: Diet soda affects your hormones

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

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

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

Theory 3: Diet soda disrupts your microbiome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about cancer and other serious health problems?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Since this analysis, Diet Pepsi has adjusted their formula in the U.S. It’s now sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium (precise amounts not available).
** Adapted from Diabetes Self-Management, “Diet Soft Drinks” by Mary Franz, MS, RD, LD

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

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

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

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

Why can’t you stop drinking diet soda?

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

You can be sure: That’s no accident.

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

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

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

The weird reason you love carbonation

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

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

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

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

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

Caffeine: Diet soda’s little helper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flavor enhancers: The X-factor

Why is Coke more popular than Pepsi?

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

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

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

So, should you drink diet soda… or not?

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Worry about what really matters first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three additional notes on health: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

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

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

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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References

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

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

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

Opening December 2019: Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach. Where expert coaching, world-class curriculum, and innovative software meet.

Katie Wygant - testimonial card

ProCoach is world-class software that helps you coach more people, in less time, with better results. In one simple, easy-to-use platform, you get the industry’s leading nutrition and lifestyle coaching curriculum—complete with daily lessons, habits, progress updates, and more—ready to be delivered to your clients, with you showcased as the coach. 

Developed over 15 years and proven with over 100,000 clients, ProCoach is built on Precision Nutrition’s continually evolving curriculum—which is based on the latest scientific research, practice-based change techniques, our own clients’ transformative results, and feedback from over 12,000 ProCoaches to date. 

ProCoach gives you everything you need to roll out best-in-class nutrition coaching, effortlessly. Allowing you to turn what you learned in the Precision Nutrition Certification into a thriving coaching practice, get better results with every single client you work with, and add a highly profitable, scalable income stream to your business immediately. 

For more, check out this short video; it provides an overview of exactly how the ProCoach software works:

See how other health and fitness pros are using ProCoach with their clients.

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2020, ProCoach becomes available to all Precision Nutrition Certification students and graduates. 

ProCoach is software that provides health and fitness professionals all the tools they need to start coaching nutrition with confidence—helping clients achieve better, longer-lasting results.

Plus, you can lock in a one-time special discount—and save 30%! (More details below.)

The most reliable and effective system for coaching nutrition.

When your job is to help people get in better shape, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Piecing together all the details and getting the right systems in place to roll out a fully-functioning nutrition coaching service can be overwhelming.

As one of our ProCoaches put it: “Nutrition coaching felt SO complicated. When it came to offering it to my clients, I didn’t even know where to start.”

At best, most coaches are working with a clumsy combination of spreadsheets, Word docs, texting, email, and maybe a cheap calorie-counting app. They can already tell that as soon as they have more than 5 or 10 clients, it’s going to be chaos.

Despite their best intentions, these coaches struggle to keep their clients on track… which leads to negative feelings of self-doubt, stress, and frustration.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Adding nutrition coaching to your existing services doesn’t have to be so confusing, complicated, or difficult.

With ProCoach, you can seamlessly integrate nutrition into your business—while focusing on what you enjoy and do best: Coaching. Our software will handle all the details, from daily nutrition and lifestyle programming, to built in accountability, progress tracking, and more.

Now, instead of second-guessing yourself, feeling unsure about whether you know “enough” to offer nutrition advice, or worrying about figuring out all the details…

You can have total confidence—feeling energized, optimistic, and excited to integrate nutrition coaching into your business. Knowing you’ve got the world’s most effective and reliable system backing you up.

This means better results for every single client you work with. A stronger business for you. And the ability to help more people. 

With ProCoach, it’s all possible. 

Katie Wygant - testimonial card

Grow your business and work less.

Whether you want to start a new coaching business, or add nutrition coaching to your existing services, ProCoach will help you:

  • Market and sell your services to the people who need it.
  • Coach more people while delivering exceptional results.
  • Connect more deeply with your clients.
  • Spend less time on the admin things that drive you crazy.
  • Spend more time on the coaching things you enjoy.
  • Build a stronger business.

A proven curriculum, created/organized for you.

ProCoach automatically delivers—to your clients, on your behalf—an online nutrition coaching curriculum that helps them:

  • practice new eating habits,
  • troubleshoot their biggest challenges,
  • stay consistent, motivated, and accountable, and
  • radically improve their nutrition, lifestyle, and health.

With you as their coach—answering questions, offering encouragement, and tracking progress through a special dashboard—ProCoach helps you get more people to their goals, reliably and effectively every time.

Develop your coaching expertise.

ProCoach will also help you:

  • Assess clients quickly and efficiently.
  • Deliver daily habits, lessons, assignments from our curriculum.
  • Review client consistency and habit adherence at any time.
  • Track clients’ physical, mental, and behavior changes every week.
  • Communicate clearly and expertly when clients are stuck.
  • Attract new clients with photos, data, testimonials, and straight-up, irrefutable, hard-data evidence of your success as a coach.

ProCoach provides all the tools you need to start coaching nutrition—with confidence.

ProCoach is getting better every single day.

Through our exclusive ProCoach Facebook group, and the regular interviews and surveys we do with ProCoaches, we’re listening closely, responding dynamically, and creating new features every day.

As one ProCoach said: “I’m amazed at how closely you’re listening to feedback and shaping ProCoach in response. You’re saving us time, helping make both our experience and our clients’ experiences better, and much more.”

Indeed, since we opened ProCoach in June of 2016 we’ve released dozens of new features, including the following game changers.

Customized mini-site for every ProCoach

By answering a few simple questions within your ProCoach dashboard we’ll generate a customized mini website for your business, complete with a custom web address.

It’ll lay out your services, including the features, benefits, and hopeful future you’re promising.

Not only will this “do the selling for you,” it’ll also position you as the skilled, experienced, and educated coach that clients need to finally reach their goals.

ProCoach generates your own custom sales page and mini-site.

Done-For-You marketing

Attracting new clients is always a challenge. That’s why, with the help of Pat Rigsby, we created a host of online and offline marketing campaigns for you.

We built these to help you save time and make more money. They come complete with design assets, copy, and deployment instructions.

Now you can easily spread the word about your business and attract the right kind of clients without needing to be a marketing guru to do it.

Done-For-You Marketing is now built into ProCoach.

Quick-Start guides

Whenever onboarding new clients, it’s useful to share something tangible. Both so they feel like they’re getting something amazing for their money and so they can feel like they’re making progress on day one.

That’s why we’ve created these custom Quick-Start Guides. They’ll help set clients up for early success by giving them advice around portion control, workout nutrition, grocery shopping, and meal prep starting on Day 1.

Personalized Quick Start Guides are also built into ProCoach.

Comprehensive Learning Center

Since we first launched ProCoach in June 2016 we’ve made major improvements to our Learning Center.

With articles on every imaginable topic, and an awesome search feature, the Learning Center will teach you everything you need to be successful with ProCoach.

The comprehensive Learning Center included in ProCoach.

ProCoach Workouts (optional)

After working with thousands of ProCoaches to deliver comprehensive nutrition and lifestyle coaching, many began asking us to unlock our vault of expert-designed exercise programs so they can deliver a more holistic, single-platform experience.

As Precision Nutrition’s own coaching programs have offered integrated exercise, nutrition, lifestyle advice for years, we decided to make available our 28 client-proven exercise tracks for you to use with selected clients.

You now have 3 options when using ProCoach. For each client, you can:

  1. Use ProCoach for nutrition coaching only
  2. Use ProCoach for both nutrition and exercise coaching
  3. Use ProCoach for exercise coaching only

The choice is yours.

ProCoach Workouts is now an option you can use with selected clients.

Community of like-minded people + top experts

With our ProCoach Facebook group, you can now work alongside an extremely supportive group of more than 2,500 ProCoaches—including trainers, nutritionists, sport coaches, researchers, therapists, and other healthcare professionals from all over the world.

With case studies, lessons, daily tips, and more, being part of this community will help you expand your network, grow your business, and strengthen your coaching skills.

You’ll also get daily access to our experts and coaches, such as Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon, Kate Solovieva, Craig Weller, Adam Feit, and more. Ask questions, get feedback and advice, and nerd out on all things fitness and nutrition.

A story from our co-founder, Dr. John Berardi: “Once, I wanted to help more people. But I couldn’t.”

Enter JB:

I started coaching clients about 25 years ago. Back then, there was no such thing as “automated” or “online” coaching.

It was old-school: You met clients in person, you carried a clipboard, and after sessions you’d store handwritten programs on card stock paper in an organizer off to the side of the gym.

I have so many fond memories of my time training clients. But when I think back, there’s one frustration that always jumps out.

I consistently had between 15 and 20 full-time clients. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t find time to add more.

On top of working 45-60 hours every week on the gym floor training these clients, I needed to write programs, organize nutrition habits, do record keeping, manage billing, and nurture new leads.

I needed some time back, but I felt stuck.

I was working my butt off, but not making much money once the gym took their 50% cut of my coaching fees.

I realized that to make even a little more money, I’d have to find more time… which meant sacrificing my own workouts (and health) or the few hours I had left for socializing and sleeping.

After a few years on this merry-go-round, I finally came up with a solution:

I started supplementing my in-person training with online coaching.

It began really well. But whenever my roster reached 25-35 clients, I bumped up against new problems.

Problem 1:

With online clients, I didn’t have much time left for in-person coaching. I ended up doing a ton of administrative work for my online clients: program writing, record keeping, email responses, phone calls, and other routine client management tasks.

I was surprised; online coaching wasn’t the time-saver I had imagined.

Problem 2:

I started losing track of my clients.

Because I had more clients than ever, I started forgetting who was on what program, who had what goals… I sometimes felt like an idiot, asking people “So what program are you on again?” during a session.

The interesting part? Lots of other fitness and health coaches were experiencing the same things. They felt the same frustrations.

I wasn’t a lazy, disorganized, “bad” coach.

I just needed a system.

We all did.

We needed to find ways to do the “human” work of creating programs, listening, connecting with, and motivating our clients.

But we were constantly bogged down by administrative work, like paperwork, scheduling, and receipts.

So I got to thinking:

Couldn’t technology handle much of the repetitive “busywork” of day-to-day administration?

Couldn’t it keep us organized and on track? Monitor clients, even when we were sleeping or doing other things? Send us reminders and alerts?

I started asking: Could I “outsource” all these annoying and time-wasting administrative tasks so that I can take on more clients and do what I do best… coach?

So we built a dream solution to make coaching easier.

One of my best friends, Phil Caravaggio, had an answer.

Trained in systems design engineering, Phil showed me real-life examples of how IBM, Dell, and Apple were using software to simplify and amplify their businesses.

At that moment, I knew exactly what we had to do.

We set out to build a coaching platform that would allow coaches—starting with me—to deliver the highest quality coaching experience to larger numbers of clients.

One year later: Success!

We built a beta version of ProCoach and started testing it with a new batch of clients. Immediately I was able to go from coaching 25-35 clients to 100-150 clients at a time.

All while working the same number of hours—or even less—in a given week.

Chris Poese - testimonial card

15 years later, Dr. Berardi’s early prototype has become Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach.

Since then, the Precision Nutrition team has consistently and relentlessly refined the technology, the software, and the curriculum.

We’ve tested its max limits. We’ve broken it on purpose and rebuilt it so it’s stronger. We’ve found all the sweet spots.

For example:

Since we built the beta version of ProCoach, our in-house coaches at Precision Nutrition have coached an average of 5,000 clients per year with the software.

Today we’re able to coach these clients with 20 full-time Precision Nutrition supercoaches (and a group of part-time interns and mentors) who work wherever they want in the world, living life on their own terms.

You’ll notice that’s an average of about 250 clients per coach—and they get amazing results.

What kind of results are we talking about here? Check this out.

See what 365 days of ProCoach can do.

And this video shares some amazing behind-the-scenes client stories.

Bodies, and lives, are changed with ProCoach’s habit-based nutrition coaching.

As you can see, our clients are a diverse bunch. They come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, they’re probably a lot like your clients.

Which means:

The results you see in the videos above are the exact same results your clients can expect when you start using Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach.

Want to see more? Check these out:

  • Precision Nutrition Coaching – Men’s Hall of Fame
  • (225+ men’s before and after photos. Ages 21-70)
  • Precision Nutrition Coaching – Women’s Hall of Fame
  • (375+ women’s before and after photos. Ages 21-74)

Daniel Hennessey - testimonial card

The ProCoach reviews have been stellar.

In June of 2016, we opened ProCoach up to our Certification students and graduates. We wanted to let them test drive the program in their own businesses.

The response has been amazing.

We sold out all available ProCoach spots in a matter of hours—and the same thing has happened each time we’ve opened up new spots, ever since.

To date, our ProCoaches have:

  • enrolled over 100,000 new clients,
  • helped them lose over 965,000 pounds (and counting), and
  • collected nearly $57 million in revenue.

Yep, that’s all within just the first two years!

If you want to try this research-proven, client-tested, reliable system for coaching nutrition with your own clients—join us on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

Erika Volk Gilliland - testimonial card

Deliver nutrition coaching with confidence—and help your clients achieve better, longer-lasting results.

By incorporating ProCoach into your business, and coaching practice, you’ll:

  • Add practice-based nutrition coaching to your existing services, easily.
  • Add a highly profitable revenue stream, immediately.
  • Deliver habits, lessons, assignments from our proven curriculum.
  • Review and track your clients’ consistency and progress every week.
  • Set clients up for long-term, sustainable success.
  • Attract even more new clients with photos, data, testimonials, and straight-up, irrefutable, hard-data evidence of success.

You’ll save time while making more money.

Your clients will get world-class results.

You’ll look like a rockstar coach.

And you’ll feel more in control of your time (and your work) than ever before.

Nikki Strong - testimonial card

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

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2020, ProCoach becomes available to all Precision Nutrition Certification students and graduates.

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

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition, we like to reward the most interested and motivated professionals, because they always make the best students and clients. Join the presale list and we’ll give you 30% off the monthly cost of Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. Remember, last time we sold out within minutes. But 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 a confident nutrition coach, help more people live their healthiest lives, and grow your business… ProCoach is your chance.

The post Opening December 2019: Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach. Where expert coaching, world-class curriculum, and innovative software meet. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Level 1: The surprising truth about sugar. Here’s everything you need to know about what it does to your body.

This is what the breakdown of sugars looks like in a banana.

Worried you’re eating too much sugar? Wondering how much is safe to eat? Or whether it’s bad for you… no matter what? It’s time we took a clear-headed look at this topic. It’s time you heard the truth about sugar.

  • Want to listen instead of read? Download the audio recording here…

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Is sugar “good”?

Is sugar “bad”?

It’s hard to know for sure these days.

Which is interesting because…

Sugar is a fundamental molecule in biology.

Human bodies need sugar.

Sugar makes up the backbone of our DNA. Helps power our cells. Helps store energy for later. Plants convert sunlight into sugar. We convert sugar into fuel.

Molecules like glucose and fructose (just two of the many types of sugar) are so basic to our biological needs, even bacteria love them.

Indeed, sugar’s the breakfast of champions, chemically speaking.

Yet, somewhere along the way, sugar became the bad guy.

Why did we start hating on sugar?

When did we start wanting to purge it from our bodies?

Why do some of us fear it so much?

At this point… do we just need a little relationship counseling?

Or is it a toxic relationship?

Is it time to part ways?

The truth is, this is a difficult conversation to have because…

Almost all of us are emotionally invested in our position on sugar.

Talking about it brings up a lot of controversy and intense debate, even among scientists who are supposed to be “objective”.

So why not step back and take a fresh look?

In this article, we’ll explore five key questions about sugar:

  • Does sugar cause obesity?
  • Does sugar cause us to gain weight / fat?
  • Does sugar cause diabetes?
  • Does sugar cause cardiovascular disease?
  • How much sugar is OK to eat?

Yes, we’re biased too.

At Precision Nutrition, we generally consider ourselves ‘nutritional agnostics’. (Case in point: our view on the absolute best diet.)

We help people become their healthiest, fittest, strongest selves—in a way that works for their unique lives and bodies.

In our work with over 100,000 clients clients, we’ve learned a few things…

… that one size doesn’t fit all,

… that an all-or-nothing approach doesn’t work for most people,

… that fitness and health habits should be doable on your worst day, not just your best.

So here’s our bias in this article.

We follow the complexities of nutrition evidence as best we can, always interpreting them through the lens of:

  • How does practice X or Y work for us, for the clients we coach, and for the fitness professionals we certify?
  • Does said practice help us make our food choices wiser, saner, and simpler?
  • Does it address individual differences between people?
  • (And if not, how can we help adapt each person’s diet to match their unique needs?)

You can ask yourself these same questions as you go through the article. And, of course, feel free to come to your own conclusions.

But first, let’s get to know our sugars.

What is sugar?

Most of us think of “sugar” as the white stuff we put in coffee, or maybe what makes up 90% of those colored marshmallow cereals.

However, “sugar” is actually a group of molecules that share a similar structure. So we might actually call them “sugars”, plural.

This group includes lots of members such as:

  • glucose
  • fructose
  • sucrose, aka table sugar (which is glucose + fructose)
  • maltose (which is glucose + glucose)
  • galactose
  • lactose (galactose + glucose, found in dairy)

And so on.

Sugars naturally occur in biology and in most foods (even if just in trace amounts). For example, here’s what the breakdown of sugars looks like in a banana:

This is what the breakdown of sugars looks like in a banana.

There is, of course, much more sugar in processed and refined foods than in less-processed and unrefined foods.

(We’ll come back to this important point in a moment.)

Sugars live under the larger umbrella of “carbohydrates”.

Along with the sweet stuff, this macronutrient group also includes:

  • starches (like in potatoes or rice),
  • fiber (like the husks of whole grains), and
  • structural building blocks like chitin (which makes up the shells of crustaceans) or cellulose (which makes up things like the trunks of trees).

The more complex the molecule, the slower it digests.

  • Sugars, which are simpler, digest more quickly.
  • Starches and fiber, which are bigger, more complicated molecules, digest more slowly, if at all. (This is why eating more fiber can help us feel fuller, longer.)

Most carbohydrates are actually broken down into simpler sugars once they’re digested.

Other carbohydrates (such as insoluble fiber) don’t really get broken down nor absorbed fully, although our intestinal bacteria often love munching on them.

So: Sugars are a type of carbohydrate, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. And some carbohydrates break down quickly/easily into sugars. Others don’t.

This point is important to understand, because it tells us that not all carbohydrates do exactly the same things in our bodies.

Evolution has helpfully given us the ability to “taste” sugar.

Sugar-type molecules react with receptors on our tongue, which then tell our brain “OM NOM NOM DELICIOUS!”

Sugar tastes good to us, because in nature, sweet foods like fruits are often full of good stuff like vitamins, minerals, and energy.

But we differ in our physiology and behavior.

In all things, humans are diverse and variable.

Some of us like and seek out sugar more than others. This may be genetic. Or we may have learned it as we grew up. Or both.

For example, some of us like sugar in small doses; we can only eat a little before pushing the dessert plate away. While others like it a lot; the more we eat the more we want. The idea of “too much sugar” doesn’t compute.

Likewise, some of our bodies seem better suited to sugar than others.

For example, some of us can eat sugar all day long and feel fine. While others can only tolerate a little bit before our pancreas (which secretes insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get into the cells) tells us to knock it off.

In general, most of us like at least some sweetness.

When we’re young, we tend to like sweetness more and avoid bitter foods more. Yet each person’s response to sugar and sweet taste is unique.

With that said, let’s get back to the questions at hand. Starting with…

Question #1:
Does sugar cause obesity?

The term “obese” (or “overweight”) is, like sugar, a contentious thing. In this article we’ll use it just for the purpose of discussion, so bear with us.

The World Health Organization defines “obese” as having a Body Mass Index higher than 30. Of course, some fit athletes (like heavyweight boxers or rugby players) might have a higher BMI but still have a low body fat percentage.

However, for most folks, having a BMI higher than 30 signifies that they have a higher-than-average level of body fat. 

(Indeed, some studies that correlate BMI with body fat testing suggest that BMI may even under-estimate how much body fat a person has.)

When it comes to obesity, there have always been people who are heavier, and/or who have more body fat, than most other folks like them.

However, over the last several decades, “average people” in industrialized countries have gotten heavier, bigger, and gained more body fat fairly rapidly.

It’s now statistically “normal”.

Although this shift is happening worldwide, and there are differences by ethnic group and socioeconomic class, it’s particularly noticeable as a general trend in the United States.

Obesity rates in the United States

Along with body weights, we can look at changes in body fat percentage and overall fitness levels. Here, we also see that over time, body fat percentage has gone up, and fitness levels have gone down.

Currently in the United States, the average body fat percentage for men is around 28%, and the average for women is around 40%.

For comparison:

  • In general, 11-22% for men, and between 22-33% body fat for women, is considered a “healthy” range.
  • Lower than that is still “healthy” (to a point), but generally considered “athletic” or “lean”.

The percentage of body fats in U.S. adults

Does increased sugar consumption explain body weight trends?

Could sugar be responsible for changing body weights and body compositions in industrialized countries?

By reviewing data from the USDA Economic Research Service, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), as well as Food Frequency Questionnaires from the long-running Framingham Heart Study, we can track food intake from multiple angles. These varying streams of data all show fairly consistent trends.

They tell us that, since 1980, Americans:

  • Continued to eat the same total amount of fat.
    (Though they generally ate less naturally-occurring fats, like in whole fat dairy, and ate more added fats, like oils.)
  • Ate more carbohydrates.
    (Especially refined ones that included added sugars.)

So, as a percent of total calories consumed, fat dropped. But we didn’t end up eating less fat. We just added more sugar and other carbs on top of the fat we were already eating.

This added up to approximately 200-400 extra calories per day.

In terms of calories, that’s like eating an extra McDonald’s hamburger or a double cheeseburger, on top of your existing meals, every day.

Whether those calories came from sugar is probably irrelevant.

This increased energy intake alone, combined with decreasing rates of daily physical activity, is probably enough to explain people getting heavier.

Yes, but how might sugar play a role?

We can’t say that sugar specifically was the culprit behind the obesity surge for everyone. (Remember, humans vary.)

But our increased sugar consumption does seem to correlate with continued obesity levels… up until recently.

For about four hundred years, human beings have been enjoying more and more sugar.

Once Europeans discovered tropical trading routes and set up cheap slave labor economies to raise sugar cane, sugar became more and more available to the average person.

Indeed, sugar quickly became the food of the poor.

(It was said that the entire working class of the British Isles lived on jam and sugared tea during the Industrial Revolution.)

As a prime colonial power, the British once claimed the title of biggest sugar consumers. Per year, the average Brit consumed:

  • 4 lbs (1.8 kg) in 1704.
  • 18 lbs (8.2 kg) in 1800.
  • 90 lbs (40.8 kg) in 1901.

However, once they got rolling as a country, Americans weren’t far behind. Per year, the average American consumed:

  • 6 lbs (2.7 kg) of sugar in 1822.
  • 40 lbs (18.1 kg) in 1900.
  • 90 lbs (40.8 kg) by the 1920s.
  • There was a subsequent drop due to the Great Depression & World War II.
  • 90 lbs per person again by the 1980s.

Then they really took off: By 1999, the US reached peak sugar consumption of nearly 108 lbs (49 kg) of sugar per person per year.

Between 1980-1999 Americans ate more sugar. And obesity rates got higher.

But then something changed: Our sugar consumption actually started to decrease.

Interestingly, since 1999 through 2013 (most recent data available) intake of added sugar has actually declined by 18% (or as much as 22%, depending on the data).

This drop has brought Americans’ current added sugar intake back down to 1987 levels.

And during this time, total carbohydrate intake has dropped as well. (Makes sense, as this was the dawn of the low-carb phenomenon.)

Nevertheless, though sugar and carb intake have declined over those 14 years, adult obesity has continued to climb—from 31% of the American population in 1999 to 38% as of 2013.

(Diabetes diagnoses have continued to climb as well, which we’ll address in a moment.)

US Sugar Intake vs Obesity Prevalence - 1980-2013

So, despite lowering sugar intake by nearly 20% over a 14 year period, obesity (and diabetes) rates have continued to climb.

Along with sex, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences in obesity rates, this suggests that changing body sizes and compositions is probably a complex, multi-factored phenomenon.

Bottom line here: No single thing—including sugar—causes obesity.

Many factors work together to contribute to a consistent energy (calorie) surplus, which ultimately leads to fat gain. One of those things is often sugar, but not always, and not alone.

Question #2:
Does sugar cause us to gain weight / fat?

So, we can’t unequivocally blame sugar for increased obesity rates.

But many of us are still wondering whether sugar is a gateway to fat gain.

It seems logical. Carb and sugar consumption are the main drivers of insulin release. Insulin’s job is to help store nutrients, including fat.

Therefore, it seems obvious. Carbs and sugar cause fat gain, right?

Once again, our scientist friends reveal that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Let’s take a look at a couple of studies that explore this question.

Study 1: How do carbs, sugar, and/or insulin release affect body fat?

In 2015, a small pilot study was conducted by Dr. Kevin Hall to investigate the carb/sugar/insulin model of obesity.

What happens if we keep calories and protein the same, but play with dietary sugar and fat levels?

Here’s how the study worked.

  • 19 participants had to live in a metabolic ward, where the researchers controlled virtually everything about how they lived, what they ate, etc.
  • The participants tried both lower carbohydrate (LC) and lower fat (LF) diets.
  • They followed each diet for two weeks, separated by a 2-4 week period during which they returned to normal eating.
  • All participants spent the first five days of either the low-carb or low-fat diets following a baseline plan of 50% carbs, 35% fat, and 15% protein. This was done so that all participants started on an even playing field with an intake that virtually matches what the average American eats.
  • Each participant had to exercise on a treadmill for one hour every day for the full two weeks, to make sure physical activity levels were consistent and equal.
  • After the first five days, both groups had their calories reduced by 30% from the baseline diet (1918 calories vs 2740 calories). They then ate the lower calorie diet for six days.
  • With both diets, energy intake (i.e. calories) and protein were kept the same. Only carbs and fat went up or down.

Lower carbohydrate:

  • 101 g protein (21% of cals).
  • 108 g fat (50% of cals).
  • 140 g carbohydrate (29% of cals).

Lower fat:

  • 105 g protein (21% of calories).
  • 17 g of fat (8% of calories).
  • 352 g carbohydrate (71% of calories).

Lower carbohydrate and lower fat diets - comparison

Let’s take a closer look at how much the study participants actually ate.

On the lower carbohydrate diet:

  • Of their carbohydrates, 37 g was sugar. This means that 8% of all calories were coming from sugar.
  • This is much less than the average American eats.

On the lower fat diet:

  • Of their carbohydrates, 170 g was sugar. This means that 35% of all their calories were coming from sugar. That is a lot of sugar.

Chart showing the sugar intake compared to typical American consumption (based on a study)

So what happened?

Insulin production:

  • On the Lower Carbohydrate diet, people produced 22% less insulin throughout the day.
  • The Lower Fat diet didn’t change insulin output at all, since it had the same total carbs, and even slightly more sugar than the baseline diet.

Body weight:

  • People on the Lower Carbohydrate diet lost 4 lbs (1.81 kg) of body weight, and 1.16 lbs (0.53 kg) of body fat.
  • People on the Lower Fat diet lost 3 lbs (1.36 kg) of body weight, which included 1.29 lbs (0.59 kg) of body fat.

Note that body weight loss doesn’t necessarily equal body fat loss.

We can also lose body weight from losing glycogen, water, and/or body protein—and that’s exactly what happened to the people on the Lower Carb diet.

They lost more overall body weight, but actually lost less fat. (Though a difference of 0.13 lbs is irrelevant in the big picture. Who would notice that?)

Meanwhile, the folks on the Lower Fat diet lost more body fat but less total weight because their body was busy burning fat (rather than glycogen or lean body mass) to meet its calorie needs.

After these results were in, the researchers then ran validated mathematical models that showed over longer periods of time (say, longer than 6 months), the fat loss between the two groups would be roughly equal.

In other words, there was no particular physiological advantage to either diet in terms of body weight, nor body fat loss, over the longer term.

Study 2: Fine, let’s go lower.

For this second study, the game got hardcore: Drop the carbs and sugar much lower for the Lower Carbohydrate group, just to make sure the minimal differences found in the first study hadn’t been because the carbs and sugar weren’t low enough.

Here’s how this second study worked:

  • 17 overweight or obese people participated.
  • First, they followed a high-carb but calorically-restricted baseline diet for 4 weeks (with 25% of calories from sugar).
  • Then, they spent 4 weeks on a very-low-carb ketogenic diet (with 2% of calories from sugar), with equal calories to the baseline diet.

So what happened?

The researchers found that everyone lost weight and fat throughout the study.

However, when subjects switched from the high-carb, 25%-sugar baseline diet to the ketogenic, 2%-sugar diet, fat loss actually slowed down for the first few weeks.

Much like the previous study, this happened because as people’s bodies adapted to the ketogenic diet, they were more likely to break down fat-free mass and protein stores (e.g. muscle).

Thus:

  • Weight loss went faster during the ketogenic phase, thanks to losing glycogen and water.
  • But body fat loss was actually less during this phase (though not tremendously so, and it likely wouldn’t make any significant difference over time).

Overall, the researchers stated that based on the current evidence, as well as their validated mathematical models, long-term body fat loss would likely be very similar between the high sugar (high-carb) diet and the low sugar (low-carb) diet.

In other words, the amount of sugar didn’t seem to influence the results.

In the end, these, plus other studies, seem to support the idea that:

Sugar, carbohydrate intake, and/or insulin alone probably aren’t the main drivers of weight gain.

Other research comparing low-carb diets to low-fat diets has found similar results. The same results have also been found with:

  • Meta-analyses: Big reviews of other studies. These types of data are considered among the most robust as they explore a lot of experiments from a much broader perspective, pulling in evidence from dozens or even hundreds of studies to try to draw conclusions.
  • Systematic reviews: Methodologically rigorous comparisons and critical analyses of other studies. These type of reviews are also considered useful, because they take a skeptical perspective, looking for errors.

There have been at least 20 controlled in-patient feeding studies where protein and calories are kept equal, but carbs are varied from 20% to 75% of total calories (and sugar intakes ranged significantly as well).

Of all these studies, none of them found any truly significant differences in body fat levels when people were eating either high carb (and high sugar) or low carb (and low sugar) diets.

In other words, as long as protein and calories were equal, the amount of sugar people ate didn’t make a difference.

There have been at least 12 other systematic reviews and meta-analyses published over the past 10+ years on long-term low-carb diets (which are invariably also low-sugar diets).

Of these 12 reviews:

  • 3 were in favor of low-carb
  • 3 were in favor of non-low-carb comparisons (e.g. low fat, Mediterranean, vegan, low glycemic index, etc.)
  • 6 were neutral, meaning they concluded that various approaches can be equally valid and effective.

Yes, but how might sugar play a role?

Sweet foods may increase energy intake.

In 2013, a review commissioned by the World Health Organization investigated how sugar affected fat gain.

It found that increasing sugar intake can increase body weight, and lowering sugar intake can decrease body weight… but only by changing energy balance, not by any physiological or metabolic effect of sugar itself.

In other words, if we eat more sugary foods, we might be eating more energy (i.e. calories) overall.

Sweet foods are often processed and highly palatable.

This is especially true because most high-sugar foods are refined, tasty, and hard to stop eating. We digest and absorb the energy they contain quickly and easily, they overstimulate the reward/pleasure centers in our brain, and we tend to overeat them.

Plus, hidden sugars in processed foods (like yogurt, granola, juice) or even so-called “health foods” / “fitness foods” can add up fast without us even realizing.

These foods and our brain’s response to them, not the sugar by itself, can often lead to overconsumption.

So the sugar itself may be less of a culprit than the fact that many of us just can’t quit at just one gummi bear or sip of soda.

What else is going on, besides sugar consumption?

Most of our clients who struggle with their weight, body fat, eating habits, and health tell us: It’s not just about the food. There are many factors involved: stress, sleep, metabolic health, lifestyle, social environment, and so forth.

Sugar alone does not explain the complexity of our bodies’ health, function, fat percentage, nor weight. Metabolism is complicated.

And, as always, remember that people vary in response to particular diets.

Some people do better with higher carbohydrates and lower fats. Some do better the other way round.

This is likely due to genetic differences, individual satiety differences from fats vs carbs, personal preferences, and possibly even differences in the bacterial populations in our GI tracts.

The above studies don’t provide hard and fast rules that will always apply to everyone.

This is especially true given that many study populations were small and probably similar in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, and other important factors that can affect our physiological response to a given diet.

But they do indicate that sugar is not some kind of unusually evil substance that causes weight gain or prevents fat loss.

Question #3:
Does sugar cause diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease where we can’t properly regulate the sugar in our blood.

It seems logical, then, that eating more sugar might increase our risk for diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which typically starts in childhood and is considered an autoimmune disease (in which our own bodies attack healthy cells of our pancreas, which normally produces insulin), Type 2 diabetes typically starts later in life and (among other factors) is linked to long-term food and exercise behaviors.

Type 2 diabetes generally starts with insulin resistance, or impaired glucose control.

This means that over time, insulin is less and less able to do its job of moving glucose into our cells for safe storage. Your doctor might test this with various blood tests, such as an A1c test, which measures how much sugar is being carried around on hemoglobin, a blood protein.

Type 2 diabetes (as well as other metabolic diseases) are also related to how much fat we have in our livers and in or around other organs (such as our hearts and kidneys).

There does seem to be a link between how much refined sugar we eat and insulin resistance. Eating too much sugar can also increase fat accumulation in the liver.

For example, a recent study found that for every 150 calorie increase in daily sugar intake (essentially a 12 oz soda, or ~37 g) corresponded with a 1.1% increased risk for diabetes.

Other factors shape our disease risk, too.

That risk above might sound scary, but it’s important to keep it in perspective.

Other research has shown that losing 7% body weight and doing about 20 minutes of daily physical activity decreased diabetes risk by 58%.

And many other studies have corroborated those findings, telling us that losing a little weight / fat and doing a little more exercise, consistently, will significantly lower our diabetes risk.

In fact, a recent meta-analysis provided some compelling information on diabetes risk:

  • ~60-90% of Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity or weight gain, not sugar intake.
  • Having a significant amount of excess body fat / weight can increase diabetes risk by 90 times.
  • If people who are in the obese category lose about 10% of their initial body weight, they dramatically improve their blood glucose control.
  • Weight management (not sugar reduction) appears to be the most important therapeutic target for most individuals with Type 2 diabetes.

This makes sense if we understand how adipose (fat) tissue works: It’s a biologically active tissue that secretes hormones and other cell signals.

If we have too much of it, adipose tissue can disrupt metabolic health, including how we regulate and store blood sugar.

Does fructose contribute?

Some researchers have suggested that fructose, a particular type of simple sugar (aka monosaccharide) found in fruit as well as many processed foods, might play a special role in diabetes.

We know that fructose is digested, absorbed, and used in specific ways in our bodies.

Does that mean that fructose might have unique properties that could increase our diabetes risk?

Let’s take a look.

One meta-analysis looked at 64 substitution trials (in which fructose replaced another carbohydrate with no change in total calories), and 16 addition trials (where fructose was added to normal intake).

  • In the trials where fructose was substituted for another carbohydrate, the average fructose intake was 102 g per day.
  • In the trials where fructose was added on top of the participants’ normal intake, the average fructose intake was 187 g per day.

Compared to the average American fructose consumption of ~49 g per day, these are extraordinary intakes. To achieve those kinds of intakes would require up to 13 cups of ice cream, or consumption of 10 cans of soda.

Possible? Yes.

Daily norm? Sure hope not.

Diagram showing the comparison of experimental fructose intake in grams per day

A recent review paper summed up the state of the evidence on fructose nicely, essentially stating:

The best-quality evidence to date does not support the theory that fructose intake directly causes cardiometabolic diseases.

The review added that fructose-containing sugars can lead to weight gain, along with increases in cardiometabolic risk factors and disease, but only if those fructose-laden foods provide excess calories.

Overall, research does suggest that a high intake of all sugar (including fructose) might slightly increase the risk of diabetes development by itself.

However, this research also indicates that most of this risk is due to the high sugar intake leading to excess calorie intake, and therefore increased body fat (which leads to inflammation, and ultimately insulin resistance).

An absolutely immense amount of research consistently and strongly indicates that the main causes of diabetes are:

  • excess body fat,
  • inadequate physical activity, and
  • genetic predisposition.

On that last point, we know that diabetes risk, as well as risk of metabolic diseases and propensity to gain body fat, differs significantly by ethnic group or genetic subgroup. For instance, many groups of indigenous people are vastly more likely to struggle with these issues, as are people of African ancestry living in North America, or people of South Asian ancestry.

So your personal risk of these diseases also depends on where your ancestors came from, what genetic makeup they gave you, and/or how that genetic makeup interacts with your environment.

The bottom line here: Managing your sugar intake is just one small tool in your diabetes-fightin’ toolbox. However, far and away, the most useful tool is weight (and body fat) management, however you manage to accomplish it.

Question #4:
Does sugar cause cardiovascular disease?

The term “cardiometabolic disease” refers to a broad group of related diseases, like the Type 2 diabetes we mention above, along with other diseases related to the complex phenomenon of:

  • metabolic disruption,
  • changes in hormonal and cell signaling,
  • inflammation, and
  • an inability to regulate normal physiological processes (like DNA repair).

These diseases can appear in many organs or organ systems. When they hit the heart and/or circulatory system of blood vessels, we call them “cardiovascular disease”. They show up as things like heart attacks, strokes, clogged arteries, and so forth.

A heart attack, or heart disease, used to be a death sentence. With better treatment and new medications, people are surviving longer and living better with cardiovascular disease.

Over the past 50 years or so, deaths from heart disease have declined by over 60% despite sugar intake increasing by about 20 lbs per person per year over that time (and by more than 30 lbs per person per year at the 1999 peak intake).

Researchers estimate that about half of that 60% decrease might be from better medical care. The other half likely comes from reducing the risk factors, such as:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • smoking less
  • lowering blood cholesterol levels

Of course, as we’ve seen, consuming more energy in the form of sugar can increase body fat. And, because of its chemically active nature, more body fat definitely increases cardiovascular disease risk.

So eating a lot of sugar can certainly play a role.

But cardiovascular disease, as with other metabolic diseases, is complex.

It’s not just one thing.

It’s all the things.

It’s how we live, how we work, how active we are, how stressed we are, what’s in our environment, and the various other factors that influence our health.

There are other factors besides sugar in metabolic disease.

Indeed, if we look at factors that we know for sure are related to the risk of metabolic disease, only about 3% of Americans uphold four essential healthy lifestyle behaviors consistently:

  • Not smoking.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Being physically active at least 30 minutes a day 5 times a week at a moderate intensity.

On top of that, let’s consider two other known preventative methods for metabolic disease…

  • Keeping stress levels moderate.
  • Sleeping well, 7-9 hours per night, consistently.

…now we’re probably at 1% of Americans.

Once again, sugar intake is probably one piece of the puzzle. But it’s just one piece—and probably a very small one.

Question #5:
How much sugar is OK to eat?

Let’s get real here.

Sugar is not a health food.

It doesn’t nourish us.

It doesn’t add a lot of nutrient value: It doesn’t give us any vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, or water.

Eating a lot of sugar doesn’t make our bodies better, stronger, healthier, or more functional.

Sugar doesn’t add value, certainly not when compared to other foods or macronutrients like protein or omega-3 fatty acids.

But biology is complex.

Diseases are complex too.

We can’t blame one chemical for all the health problems we have.

Good health is neither created nor destroyed by a single food.

Again, human beings are diverse.

We vary widely in all kinds of ways, including:

  • How much carbohydrates we need to thrive or perform well.
  • How well we digest, absorb, and use sugars, as well as how effectively and safely we store or dispose of the excess.
  • How sugar affects our appetite, hunger, fullness, ability to stop eating it.
  • How we feel about and behave around sugar.
  • How sugar “spins our brain dials” and gives us a sense of reward.

So we can’t say that “X amount of sugar is always best for everyone, all the time” or that “People should never eat any sugar.” It just doesn’t work that way.

  • Some people might choose to cut out sugar completely.
  • Some people might try to micromanage their intake down to the gram.
  • Some people can just roll with a general “eat less-processed foods” guideline, and be fine.
  • Some people do find that a low-sugar, low-carb or even a ketogenic diet works for them. While others thrive on high-carb diets.

That said, being aware of your sugar intake is probably a good idea.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sugar to 10% of your intake. So, for example, if you’re consuming 2000 calories per day, that would be approximately 200 calories from sugar, or 50 grams.

What does this all mean?

Let’s sum up what the science suggests:

  • Sugars are basic biological molecules that our bodies use in many ways.
  • Each person’s response to sugar (whether physiological or behavioral) will be a little different. This goes for carbohydrates in general too.
  • Sugar is not a health food. But sugar alone doesn’t necessarily cause most chronic health problems like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, which are multifactorial.
  • Sugar is energy dense. If eaten in excess (like most foods), sugar can contribute to weight / fat gain.
  • This weight / fat gain is probably mostly from the extra calories, not some special properties of sugars (or carbohydrates in general, or insulin).
  • Some people find it hard to stop eating sugar / sweet foods. This may also contribute to weight / fat gain—again, because of the extra energy intake.
  • We likely eat more sugar than we realize, since it’s hidden in so many food products.

Yet, after working with thousands of clients:

For most people, cutting out sugar completely, trying to abide by rigid rules, or basing dietary decisions on fear, probably isn’t sustainable or realistic.

That’s why, at Precision Nutrition, we prefer a more balanced approach.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition.

1. Recognize that health concerns are more complex than a single smoking gun.

The fitness and nutrition industry loves to say that one factor is responsible for everything (or that one magical food / workout / mantra will cure everything). It also loves to over-simplify and moralize (e.g. this is “bad”, this is “good”).

You don’t have to understand physiology to grasp the idea that things are complex.

There are many factors that go into good health, athletic performance, physical function, and wellbeing.

This means you should…

2. Begin with fundamental behaviors.

Sugar is one part in a much bigger puzzle.

Review this checklist and see how many of these fundamental behaviors you do well and consistently. That means every day, or most days:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep your alcohol intake moderate.
  • Eat slowly and mindfully.
  • Eat enough lean protein.
  • Eat 5+ servings of fruit and/or veggies per day, ideally colorful ones.
  • Eat some healthy fats.
  • Get some movement for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
  • Get 7-9 hours of good-quality sleep every night.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Spend time with people you love, and/or who support you.
  • Do things that are meaningful and purposeful to you.

These are all behaviors that we know for sure are health-promoting and disease-preventing.

3. Become aware of your overall energy balance.

Take a clear-headed look at how much food you’re eating for your body’s needs, and how much activity you’re doing.

Are you eating the right amount for your physiological requirements?

If you’re heavier or carrying more body fat than you’d prefer, you may need to adjust how much you are eating and/or exercising.

This may mean lowering your sugar intake, and/or it may mean eating a little less of other foods overall.

4. Become aware of what’s in your food.

Read labels. Sugar lives in processed foods, even foods you wouldn’t expect (like salad dressings or frozen dinners).

Better than reading labels, ask how you can eat more foods without labels. (Like fruits and veggies, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, meats and seafood, etc.)

Transitioning to less-processed and less-sweetened versions of various foods is a simple way to lower your sugar intake and get the benefits of a better nutrient intake. Double win!

5. Maintain a healthy weight.

There is no single “healthy” weight. Your weight may be higher than average, or it may be within a “normal” range.

What is most important is that this weight is healthy for you (which you’ll know because all your indicators like blood work or athletic performance and recovery look good).

If you think you need to lose a little weight/fat to look, feel, and/or perform better, the good news is that you often don’t need to lose very much to see metabolic benefits.

You don’t have to be super-lean… and in fact, many people won’t benefit from trying to do that anyway.

6. Be mindful of your overall eating patterns, habits, and perspectives.

Consider…

  • Are you eating slowly and mindfully? Can you stop when you’re satisfied?
  • Are you using sugar-rich foods as a “treat”? How often?
  • Do you feel “deprived” if you don’t “get” to have sugar?
  • If you have a sugary food, can you stop eating it when you’ve had “enough”? Is there an “enough” with some foods?
  • How does sugar fit into your life and overall habits? Is that working for you?

7. Keep it in perspective. Add “treats” in moderation.

Around here, we keep it real.

We like “treats”, “junk food” and tasty stuff just as much as anyone else, whether that’s a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, or a hot dog at the ball game.

We just keep the portions moderate and don’t have “treats” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

For most people, a little bit of sugar fits just fine into an overall healthy diet pattern.

If you’re looking for numbers, we suggest you shoot for including “treats” or other discretionary indulgences at 10-20% of your meals. If you eat 3 meals a day for a week, that means about 2-4 of those 21 meals might include something fun or “less nutritious”.

8. Ask yourself what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you struggle with sugar (for instance, if it makes you feel ill, or you feel like you can’t eat sweet foods in appropriate amounts), then it’s probably not a good food for YOU.

Try experimenting with lowering your sugar intake gradually (for instance, by making simple substitutions like drinking water or seltzer instead of soda), and see what happens.

Look for foods that you love, and that love you back—that make you feel good and perform well, that give you sustained and long-lasting energy, that keep your moods level, and that keep you feeling “normal” as an eater.

9. If you’re a coach, keep it real and positive.

Don’t scare your clients. Don’t lecture them. Don’t moralize.

Help them. Learn about them. Understand them.

Although research may say that on average low-carb is no more effective than other dietary strategies long-term, or that sugar by itself is not addictive, or any other innumerable statistics, your clients are real people. They are not averages.

Each individual’s preferred approach, unique circumstances, and personal experiences have to be carefully considered and taken into account when working together.

Go slowly, step by step. Make sure your client can actually do what needs to be done.

Fit the dietary strategy to the client, not the client to the dietary strategy.

10. Use data.

Track your health and physical performance indicators.

Schedule regular medical checkups.

Look at stuff like how you feel, how your mood is, how you sleep, how your bloodwork looks, how well you recover from workouts (and life in general), etc.

Follow the evidence. If everything looks stellar, keep doing whatever you’re doing.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s evidence-based, practical, and individualized for each person’s lifestyle, preferences, and goals—is both an art and a science.

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

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The post Level 1: The surprising truth about sugar. Here’s everything you need to know about what it does to your body. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: Frequently Asked Questions.

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: Frequently Asked Questions.

On Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, we’re opening registration for the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, the world’s most respected nutrition education program.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.  It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel both confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

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

For more about the program, check out the frequently asked questions below.

But, first, watch this short video; it provides a full breakdown of the program, including interviews with renowned coaches like Eric Cressey, Molly Galbraith, Adam Lloyd, and Jon Goodman:

Precision Nutrition co-founder Dr. John Berardi gives you a sneak peek at the Level 1 Certification.
(Plus, industry leaders share their thoughts on the program).

 

 

As we’re about to open the program—and last time we sold out in hours—we’re getting lots of questions. Here we’ll answer the most common ones so you can decide if it’s a good choice for you.

  • What is the Precision Nutrition Certification?
  • What will the Precision Nutrition Certification do for me?
  • How was the Precision Nutrition Certification developed?
  • What happens after I get certified?
  • How do I sign up?

What is the Precision Nutrition Certification?

Q: What’s the program all about?
A:

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition 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.

This means you’ll feel qualified to offer nutrition advice and confident in your ability to coach anyone to better health and fitness.

But, here’s the thing:

You don’t have to currently work in, or operate, a health and fitness practice to benefit from the Precision Nutrition Certification.

Many people who join the program see it as their first major step toward becoming a health and fitness professional. (Often they’re still in the job they plan to leave for this new career).

Yet others complete our certification program simply to learn more about how nutrition influences a person’s health and fitness… so they can eat better themselves and help others do the same.

Q: I heard the Level 1 Certification was recently updated. Is that true?
A:

Yes, it’s a brand-new, completely updated 4th edition.

Since we first launched the Precision Nutrition Certification, we’ve been the definitive source of nutrition education for health and fitness professionals who want to catapult their careers and make a difference in people’s lives. Yet we’re never satisfied with yesterday’s success.

Nutrition science is dynamic, new discoveries are made almost daily. And that’s just on the research side. As we continue to coach our own clients (over 100,000 and counting), we’re discovering new methods of helping them achieve real, lasting behavior change.

As we train and certify health and fitness professionals (over 70,000 and counting), we’re also uncovering the best ways to help our Certification students learn, retain, and apply the material.

That’s why we’ve spent the better part of this year re-envisioning and redesigning the program from the ground up.

Here’s what’s new…

New “skills, practice, and action” framework

It’s one thing to read and retain information. It’s an entirely different thing to actually apply what you’re learning and start getting results right away.

This was our focus in this 4th edition: To teach you the theory and to help you practice what you’re learning, so that you can start getting life-changing results with your clients from Day One of the program.

We’ve designed the entire curriculum in a way that helps you immediately apply your new knowledge.

  • Practice-based approach. Along with reading the textbooks, watching the videos, and answering your workbook questions, you’ll also get the opportunity to practice what you’re learning throughout the entire program. By the end, your nutrition coaching skills will be second nature to you.
  • Step-by-step learning process, for immediate results. You can read a chapter in the morning, and use what you learned in your afternoon sessions.
  • Active learning tools. From case studies, to “try it now” exercises, to your own “Learner’s Manual,” we’ll give you all the tools you need to use what you’re learning in the real world, right away.

Newly updated 4th edition of the Precision Nutrition
Level 1 Certification

This latest version of the program is more valuable and practical than ever. Inside you’ll find:

  • 3 unit textbooks, beautifully packaged in a box set—to give you everything you need to know about nutrition, behavior-change psychology, and coaching practice (click here to download the table of contents). Plus, it’s easy to carry from your house, to the car, to the gym, so you can study anywhere!
  • 20 animated instructional video seminars, to help you better understand each chapter (check out a sample video below).
  • Workbook and study guide, with exercises and thought experiments to help prepare you for the end-of-chapter exams.
  • Real-world case studies, drawn from our work with over 100,000 clients, to help you practice and retain the powerful new concepts you’re learning.
  • Over 40 premium coaching tools, including assessment forms and questionnaires, to help you learn more about your clients and unlock their full potential (click here to download an overview of the questionnaires and assessments).

The brand-new 4th Edition of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is beautifully packaged in a box set and packed with the latest research and proven coaching practices.

As promised, here’s “What is a great coach?”—which supplements Chapter 3 of the text. (Remember, every chapter has a video like this, to go along with the text.)

 

 

With the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, you’ll learn nutrition coaching the right way, from the company that Nike, Equinox, Titleist, and professional athletes worldwide turn to for advice and expertise.

Now, more than ever, our certification is guaranteed to give you a one-of-a-kind education experience—plus the knowledge and confidence to coach nutrition with anyone who comes to you for help.

That’s why top organizations like this come to us for help:

And companies like:

And major media outlets like:

Extremely successful launch of ProCoach

In addition to releasing the 4th edition of our Certification materials, we’ve also launched ProCoach. This cutting-edge nutrition coaching software allows Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification students and grads to use our proven methods with the people they coach in an easy and scalable way.

Precision Nutrition ProCoach

Tested with over 100,000 clients, ProCoach makes it easy to deliver world-class nutrition coaching to clients. Now you can grow your practice while working less and getting better results.

We knew our system was in high demand, but the response to ProCoach—and the results health and fitness professionals are already seeing with their clients—far exceeded our expectations. Once you begin the Level 1 Certification program, ProCoach will be available to you and the people you help, too.

The PN Method validated in scientific journals

The Precision Nutrition method, which drives our Certification and ProCoach programs, was recently validated in 3 peer-reviewed studies. This means that the system you’ll learn in the Level 1 program is truly “evidence-based.” In fact, we’re the only nutrition certification company in the world that successfully coaches real clients every single day. 

Our method was recently validated in peer-reviewed studies, which were published in Internet Interventions, the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, and Obesity Science and Practice.

Having tested it with over 100,000 clients, we know our system is highly effective at helping people lose fat, build strength, and make big health improvements. Now the medical and scientific communities know it too.

Community of like-minded people + top experts

As a PN Level 1 student, you’ll get instant access to our private Facebook community. Now you’ll be able to learn alongside an extremely supportive group of over 35,000 coaches, physicians, trainers, nutritionists, researchers, therapists, yoga teachers, and other health and fitness professionals from all over the world.

You’ll also get daily access to some of our revered expert coaches like Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon, Adam Feit, PhD(c), Dr. Helen Kollias, Kate Solovieva, MA Pscyh, and more.

As part of the Precision Nutrition Certification community you can: Ask questions. Get feedback and advice. Nerd out on all things fitness, nutrition, and health.

What will the Precision Nutrition Certification do for me?

Q: Why offer a certification like this?
A:

Because an effective nutrition coaching system is the missing component in the health and fitness industry today.

If a health intervention or exercise program isn’t accompanied by an effective nutrition system, you’ll get mediocre results—no matter how badly the client or patient “wants it.”

The fact is this: Many very good coaches, in a variety of health and fitness fields, see their efforts go to waste because their excellent programs aren’t accompanied by a proper nutrition intervention. And that’s not merely our opinion.

To give you a very specific example: There’s ample research demonstrating that in the absence of nutrition change, even very intense exercise programs with experienced trainers, will yield an average of merely 3 to 6 pounds of fat loss in 6 months’ time.

Think about that: A client would spend $3,000-$5,000 for 6 months with a personal trainer, only to lose a few measly, unnoticeable pounds of body fat. That’s not good.

To give you a counter example, in our Precision Nutrition Coaching program, clients average around 15 pounds of fat loss in the first 6 months. That’s nearly 3 times as effective.

In Precision Nutrition Coaching, we provide both exercise and nutrition coaching, and that’s the difference.

But keep in mind: Our coaching is 100 percent online. They get those results without ever meeting us in person.

If they work with a coach or trainer while doing Precision Nutrition Coaching (which can help them work harder in the gym and stay accountable locally), they lose closer to 25 pounds of fat in 6 months. That’s over 4 times as effective.

(Of course, nutrition coaching isn’t just about fat loss. It’s also about building strength, improving health, feeling energetic, and more. We’re just using fat loss as an example.)

So something is missing, and that something is nutrition coaching.

That’s why we developed the certification program: To teach health and fitness professionals both the science of nutrition and the art of coaching. Because once you really understand both, on a deep level, you can deliver results that are impossible with exercise alone.

Equally rooted in the latest nutrition science and behavior-change psychology, the Certification offers a proven and practical coaching system that shows you exactly what to do at every stage of the nutrition coaching process—from the very first time you meet with a client, until they reach all of their goals.

Precision Nutrition Certification

 

 

Q: What do you mean when you say, “Exercise alone doesn’t work”?
A:

We mean exactly that: Exercise alone doesn’t work.

If a person doesn’t change their nutrition, nothing else they do will matter much when it comes to body composition change (fat loss, muscle gain) and the associated health improvements.

And that’s what 95 percent of people are looking for, isn’t it?

Simply put, the past 25 years of published scientific research show that while exercise alone can promote very small changes in body fat, lean mass, and the associated health markers, those changes are almost negligible.

In fact, one published review, a meta-analysis of more than 700 previous exercise studies done over 25 years, showed that about 6 months of supervised exercise programming will produce only 9 pounds of weight lost.

If we assume 50 percent of that weight lost is fat (which is a safe assumption, based on the research), that means that clients can expect to lose around 4.5 pounds of fat during a 6-month training program.

So, let’s assume a client meets with their trainer four times a week at $50 an hour. That’s $200 per week, $800 per month, and $4,800 for 6 months. All for 4.5 pounds of fat lost? That’s a cost of $1,000 per pound of fat lost.

After all that time and money spent, would an overweight client even notice 4.5 pounds fat loss? Would their cholesterol be significantly lower? Would they feel like they got their money’s worth?

Not likely.

Q: What results can I expect when I integrate nutrition coaching into my current practice?
A:

Again, let’s look at one comparator, Precision Nutrition Coaching, which incorporates both exercise and nutrition.

During the first 6 months of the online-only program, the average fat loss is around 15 pounds. In addition, we see hundreds of reports of clients being taken off blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes medications.

If that client uses our exercise and nutrition system while working with a trainer in-person, they’ll see an average of 25 pounds of fat loss over the course of 6 months.

And the best performers are losing up to 100 pounds in 12 months. It’s quite amazing.

So with the right exercise and the right nutrition programming, supervised by an in-person coach, the cost per pound of fat loss can go down from $1000 per pound to $100 per pound. That’s nearly 5 times the fat loss and 10 times the cost-effectiveness.

If you’re a health and fitness professional, imagine how in-demand you’d be if you could regularly deliver results like that.

It’s absolutely possible. In fact, it’s what we should expect. But no one is teaching this stuff.

Nothing out there covers the specific problem: How to deliver nutrition coaching in an exercise, personal training, health, rehab, or sport coaching environment. And that’s why we created this certification.

We wanted to create a new kind of program: one that helps professionals become body (and health) transformation experts, and one that helps clients get the kind of results they deserve.

The Precision Nutrition Certification is a massive step in that direction.

For more on the kinds of results you can expect, check out this video:

 

 

Q: Would nutritionists and dietitians benefit from this program as well?
A:

Absolutely. In fact, we wish every dietitian would find their way to this program and get involved.

Although RDs have excellent training in all aspects of clinical nutrition, most dietetics programs don’t even offer a sport and exercise nutrition course. If they do, the course is usually too general to be of any use in the field.

Trust us. We know because we’ve taught in dietetics departments. Just because someone has earned an RD or LD credential doesn’t mean they’re done learning. The best dietitians, physicians, trainers, and coaches make lifelong education an important priority.

The Precision Nutrition Certification program would be an asset for every dietitian.

Q: Can I earn CEUs from my training or dietetics organization with this program?
A:

Most likely. The curriculum is pre-qualified for CEUs with the following organizations:

  • ACE (2.0 CECs)
  • ACSM (20 CECs)
  • CDR (16 CPEUs)
  • CPTN (14 CECs)
  • CrossFit® (20 CEUs)
  • NASM (1.9 CEUs)
  • PTA Global (24 CECs)
  • REPs UK (16 CPDs)
  • USA Cycling (15 CEUs)

This means that, if you are certified by any of the groups listed above, CEUs are guaranteed upon successful completion of the course.

We should also note that a host of additional organizations accept our course on a one-off basis. For these, graduates from our program submit a summary of the course and their certificate for review.

How was the Precision Nutrition Certification developed?

Q: What qualifies you to teach a course / offer a certification like this?
A:

First and foremost, we’re practitioners, not just theorists. In fact, we’re the only nutrition certification company in the world that coaches our own clients, in addition to educating health and fitness professionals.

We’re in the trenches every day, coaching thousands of people around the world, from all walks of life. We’re constantly improving our coaching process based on our own learnings from the field, along with the latest research in nutrition science, exercise physiology, and behavior-change psychology.

Our team includes some of the best nutritionists, PhDs, dietitians, and specialists in the industry.

For example, Dr. John Berardi, Precision Nutrition’s co-founder and co-author of the Level 1 program, has had vast exposure to almost every aspect of health, fitness, and nutrition. He’s been:

  • A student of nutrition, completing his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and Nutrient Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario.
  • A teacher of nutrition at multiple universities, including the University of Texas, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Western Ontario.
  • A competitive physique athlete, winning Mr. Jr. USA in 1995.
  • A personal trainer, running a successful training business in Miami.
  • A researcher who has published studies in peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • An author of over half a dozen nutrition books and hundreds of articles in magazines like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and many more.
  • A consultant to companies like Nike, Equinox and Titleist.
  • A nutrition coach to thousands of everyday people and quite a few pro athletes and Olympic gold medalists.

So apart from being qualified academically, he has a pretty unique perspective—one that’s very well-suited to teaching this material, especially to professionals.

Dr. Berardi has seen the field of nutrition from more angles, both personally and professionally, than almost anyone else teaching nutrition today.

In addition, he’s written chapters for other nutrition textbooks, he’s created Masters-level university courses on sport nutrition, and he’s created nutrition certification material for other certifying bodies.

So he has extensive experience creating academic course material.

But most of all, we think our team is qualified to teach this because we’ve used and tested this very system extensively with our own clients here at Precision Nutrition.

Remember: Precision Nutrition isn’t just a certification company.

Over the past 15 years, through our Precision Nutrition Coaching system, we’ve been quietly conducting the largest body transformation research project in the world.

We’ve had over 100,000 clients go through our nutrition coaching curriculum, doing what is essentially a total exercise, nutrition and lifestyle intervention.

The purpose of this coaching is simple: to help people lose fat, gain lean mass, and completely transform their bodies (and lives).

Now, here’s the thing: Since the entire program is online, we’re able to collect data on everything. And we mean everything.

Because we don’t see clients in person, we can’t “eyeball” things. We need data. So we have detailed psychometric (personality) profiles on our clients. We track compliance and every measurable and relevant behavior. And, of course, we regularly collect photos and monitor body composition and performance outcomes.

As a result of this rigorous data collection, we’re guessing we here at Precision Nutrition know, better than almost anyone else in the world, which variables are most important to body transformation success.

Now, remember, we’re not talking about what we think is correlated to success. We’re talking about what we absolutely know is correlated with success. Success here means compliance, consistency, and ultimately, fat loss, muscle gain, and life-changing health improvements.

It takes a long time to gather this kind of information, especially since no one in the health or fitness industry has ever done anything like it before. But now that it’s been gathered, analyzed, and tested, we believe it’s time to share it.

From there, the Precision Nutrition Certification was born.

Precision Nutrition Certification

 

 

Q: How does the Precision Nutrition Certification compare to other nutrition education options?
A:

First, it’s based on real client data and our own coaching experience.

We’re not really a certification organization. We’re coaches. So this is coming from first-hand knowledge that we use ourselves every day.

This certification is based on real client results, and a reliable and reproducible system for monitoring and achieving those results. That’s what you learn when you become Precision Nutrition Certified.

Second, it’s designed specifically for people passionate about nutrition and fitness—including health and fitness professionals. Many of our students are coaches, therapists, physicians, dietitians, and nutritionists working with people who exercise.

That’s very important, because most nutrition courses suffer from at least one of two big problems.

Problem 1: They have little or nothing to do with exercising clients looking for health or body transformation.

Most credible nutrition education today is meant for people looking to become professors, researchers (people who work at universities), or clinical dietitians (people who work at hospitals). If you want to do any of that, you go to college, study for years and get a Ph.D. or an R.D. Both noble professions.

Our co-founder John Berardi got a Ph.D. in the field, so we’re not knocking it. Brian St. Pierre, who co-wrote the textbooks for the Precision Nutrition Certification, earned both a master’s degree and R.D. and worked at prestigious hospitals and research institutes. And both Krista Scott-Dixon and Helen Kollias, our other co-authors, earned Ph.D.s at respected universities.

But neither of those roads teach you how to actually coach an exercising client through a health and body transformation. That’s a very specific skill set, requiring both an understanding of the science of nutrition and—this is critical—a reliable system for coaching it.

So unlike anything else out there right now, the Precision Nutrition Certification does both of those things. It was designed from the ground up, specifically for people who work with, or are looking to work with, clients.

Problem 2: Most of the nutrition certification programs out there are, well, kind of a joke.

We just Googled “nutrition certification” and found thousands of results. Yikes. The situation is bleak.

Of the non-university level nutrition certifications out there, we see plenty of garbage, quite frankly. Weekend seminars, no exams, no studying. Lots of rubber stamping.

Some are more challenging, for sure, and probably a few are even worth the money. We don’t know—we can’t look at the Google results for very long before getting depressed.

We’d like to sum it up this way: If you’re here, reading this, you’ve probably followed us for some time and you probably think a lot like us. And so we suspect you will probably benefit more from the Precision Nutrition Certification than from any other non-university level nutrition education you’re likely to find.

That’s just our gut feeling, so take it for what it’s worth.

But here’s something that’s not a gut feeling, but rather a fact from our own customer-purchase data: A good number of the CEOs and staff of other nutrition companies are Precision Nutrition Certified. We’re not kidding when we say this: We’re the experts that other experts come to for help.

Ron_PN_Team_Member

 

 

Q: Will there be multiple levels of certification?
A:

Yes, two.

This is the first, the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification, and includes the textbooks, the online material, and the online exam.

Essentially, Level 1 certifies that you have a solid understanding of nutrition science and coaching. Once you pass the exam, you get a Level 1 certificate acknowledging your completion of that part of the certification program.

Some people will stop there. And that’s cool with us. With the Level 1 certificate, they’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to help people improve their bodies and health through better nutrition.

The Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Class is only open to students and graduates of the Level 1 program.

The Level 2 student is required to do an online mentorship, perform regular research reviews, and produce client case studies showing that they can actually deliver results. Level 2 certifies that you can take the theory and apply it with your clients all the way through a successful health and body transformation.

So, unlike other nutrition certification programs, the Precision Nutrition Certification has both a self-paced component where you learn the material (Level 1) and a mentorship component where you practice under the watchful eye of a world-class coach (Level 2).

Those who complete both levels will be among the best in the world at getting results.

Q: How long does it take to complete the Level 1 program?
A:

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is entirely self-paced, so there’s no deadline. You can take as much or as little time as you like.

The pace that seems to work best for most of our students is completing one chapter per week. That means reading the chapter, reviewing the online video, answering the workbook questions, and writing the 10-question exam.

If you follow that structure, you can expect to spend 3-5 hours per week on the certification materials. Since there are 20 total chapters, you’d earn your Precision Nutrition Certification in a little over four and a half months.

But here’s the best part: You don’t need to wait to get certified in order to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition. Since you’ll be learning and practicing from Day One, you’ll be in a perfect position to start helping your clients immediately.

Q: How do I stay committed and on track if the program is self-paced?
A:

That part is easy.

In addition to the printed materials you’ll receive (i.e. textbooks, workbook, client assessment forms), you’ll also get access to our online course platform.

The platform hosts our educational videos, case studies, online quizzes (one per chapter), and innovative learning tools to help you practice and retain the material. It also encourages (and tracks) your progress.

In the end, we built the online platform ourselves based on the best practices of distance-based education. Most students find it the perfect blend of flexibility and accountability. And the proof is in our graduation rate, which is well above the industry standard.

Q: How about Level 2?
A:

The Level 2 program is an in-depth online mentorship that takes 12 months to complete.

And, as discussed above, it’s only available to Precision Nutrition Level 1 students and graduates.

Q: Do I need to have a science degree to become certified?
A:

No. We assume no prior knowledge of biology, chemistry, etc., and so we don’t require a university degree.

Now, if you were terrible in science, you can expect some parts of this certification to be semi-challenging. But if you’re willing to read and understand new concepts, you can definitely learn the material.

Q: Is this program accredited by a national education board?
A:

No, it’s not accredited by any of the national education boards.

If you want letters and a rubber stamp, there are organizations for that. At Precision Nutrition, we’re all about passing on important and life-changing knowledge. We’ll leave all the bureaucratic hoops to other organizations.

However, we should mention that we are recognized as a continuing education provider by the top fitness and nutrition organizations in the world (see below). In addition, as mentioned above, our course material is approved for teaching at the master’s level.

What happens after I get certified?

Q: Once I’m Precision Nutrition Certified, will I be listed on your site?
A:

Yes. And given our exposure online, that’s a big advantage for Precision Nutrition Certified professionals. As we grow our online coaching programs, that advantage will grow with it.

For example: Our coaching clients are often interested in finding a local coach, one who actually knows what the heck they’re doing, to help them out with their new exercise movements, etc.

In the past, we had no one to send them to.

We can’t just send them blindly into the local fitness club with their Precision Nutrition exercise and nutrition program in hand. It would be a disaster.

So with the Precision Nutrition Certification we’re creating an army of health and fitness coaches who actually get it. Coaches who our readers, clients, and customers can trust.

What’s more, by being Precision Nutrition Certified, coaches will be part of a network of local professionals that we trust and that we can refer our own clients to.

Once you’re certified, you’ll have a professional profile in our new online directory of Precision Nutrition Certified Professionals, so you’ll be easy to find when people are looking for local help.

Precision Nutrition Certification

 

 

Q: Are there any requirements to maintain my certification?
A:

As a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified professional, you’re required to re-write an exam every two years from your date of course completion to keep your certification current.

Taking an exam every two years will ensure your knowledge is up-to-date, and you’re still practicing at the top of your field.

If you take the recertification exam before your Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification expires, you’ll maintain your status as “certified” in the PN Directory of Certified Professionals. And we’ll send you a new certificate.

Precision Nutrition Certification

 

 

Q: What about those people specifically looking for national accreditation?
A:

People come to Precision Nutrition to get certified because they want the best possible exercise and sport nutrition training—from one of the world’s most recognizable exercise and sport nutrition companies.

For those of you looking for some other end, like national accreditation (which often means that the program has been reviewed by your government; and we all know how awesome they are at offering nutrition information), give us a shout at info@precisionnutrition.com.

There are other programs for that and we’ll be happy to point you to those types of certification programs.

Q: What advice will someone be able to offer clients or after completing the course?
A:

That’s a great question and one we cover in-depth in the course.

Most health and fitness professionals are allowed to make nutrition recommendations to otherwise healthy clients. So even without the Precision Nutrition Certification, most folks can make nutrition recommendations. What we’re offering is a much better system for making those recommendations.

The only scope of practice that’s restricted is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), which means giving nutrition advice to treat or cure disease. You won’t be qualified to do this, and you should never try, unless you’re specifically MNT-accredited.

Q: What are other people saying about the program?
A:

The feedback on the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification has been overwhelmingly positive.

In the past 7 years we’ve enrolled over 70,000 students in the course. And student satisfaction ratings exceed 99 percent, meaning nearly 100 percent of our students rate the course as “excellent.”

And, in case you missed the video above, here are some thoughts from a few of the top coaches in the industry:

Precision Nutrition co-founder Dr. John Berardi gives you a sneak peek at the Level 1 Certification.
(Plus, industry leaders share their thoughts on the program).

 

 

 

How do I sign up?

Q: When does the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program begin?
A:

The next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification Program begins on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019. And there won’t be another one until October 2020.

We’re using a cohort (group) model to accept registrations: Registration is limited to a specific period and group size is limited. This ensures we can support you in your learning.

Q: How do I increase my chances of getting a spot in the next Level 1 group?
A:

To get an early bird chance at registration—because the program really does usually sell out within 24 hours—please sign up for the presale list below.

We’ll send you a special link 24 hours before the general public and that’ll increase your chances of getting a spot.

Q: What’s the special discount I’ve heard about?
A:

If you’re on the presale list below and enroll for the program before the general registration opens, you’ll save up to 30% off the cost of the Level 1 Certification program.

The general public price of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is $119 USD per month for 12 months. However, if you’re on the presale list and sign up on the presale day, you’ll get the opportunity to get it for only $99 USD per month or a one time payment of $999 USD—up to 30% savings.

Q: How can people find out more?
A:

To learn more about the course, and to get on the Level 1 Certification presale list, which gives you a chance to register early, 24 hours before the general public, sign up below.

Once you’re on the list, we’ll follow up with more information about our Level 1 Certification program.

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, December 4th, 2019.

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

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 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 Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification: Frequently Asked Questions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

The Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class: Frequently Asked Questions.

The Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class: Frequently Asked Questions.

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 we’re opening registration for the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification, designed specifically for Level 1 students and graduates who realize that knowing how to coach isn’t enough.

Part master class, part grad program, part mentorship, it’s the only course in the world designed to help you master the art of nutrition coaching, meaning better results for your clients and a better business for you.

Want to achieve total confidence in your coaching skills? Get (and keep) more clients? Grow and strengthen your business? If so, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is definitely for you.

For more about the program, check the frequently asked questions below.

But, first, watch this short video; it provides a full breakdown of the program, including interviews with superstar coaches, physicians, and trainers like Adam Feit, Spencer Nadolsky, Adam Lloyd, Mary Kate Feit, and Will Boggs:

Precision Nutrition co-founder Dr. John Berardi gives you a sneak peek at the Level 2 Certification.
(Plus, industry leaders share their thoughts on the program).

 

 

Q: So what’s the program all about?
A:

Our highest rated (and most revered) program, the Level 2 Certification provides exclusive training, mentorship, and coaching practice under the guidance of the Precision Nutrition team—resulting in a more rewarding, sustainable, and profitable business for you.

By working closely with a PN Master Coach, you’ll become truly elite, capable of solving complex coaching challenges, delivering unparalleled results to every person who comes to you for help, and standing out from the pack as a genuine client whisperer.

Level 2 also positions you to truly catapult your career with ProCoach, our cutting-edge software that makes it easy to implement and scale the nutrition coaching method you’ve mastered.

What does this mean for you and your business?

Well, aside from the deep satisfaction that comes with mastering your craft, our research also suggests that the average Level 2 coach:

  • gets more clients than the average Level 1 coach,
  • retains more clients than the average Level 1 coach,
  • gets better results with those clients, and
  • reports more fun and enjoyment in their coaching practice.

Indeed, as amazing as our Level 1 certified coaches are, recent ProCoach data with over 100,000 clients shows that Level 2 certified coaches have 10 times (!) the retention vs. Level 1 coaches.

Q: Can you tell me a little more about the program?
A:

At its basic level, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class is a hands-on, practice-based, mentored program that covers both the art and the science of nutrition coaching at the elite level.

It synthesizes everything we’ve learned over the past 15 years of coaching and research in the nutrition field.

That means:

  • We’ve reviewed thousands of academic and clinical studies.
  • We’ve used our system to help (and learn from) over 100,000 clients and patients.
  • We’ve trained and mentored thousands of students.
  • And we’ve collaborated with experts in a variety of fields from psychology to business strategy.

From there, we turned all this education and experience into the comprehensive year-long Level 2 Master Class curriculum.

 

 

Q: Who is the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class for?
A:

We’ve designed this intensive, year-long program to meet the needs of health, fitness, medical, strength, and rehab professionals working to improve the lifestyles, nutrition, and wellbeing of clients and patients.

But you don’t have to work in, or operate, a health and fitness business to benefit from the Level 2 Master Class.

Some students complete it (Level 1 first, followed by Level 2) as their next step to becoming an elite coach because they’re still in a job they hope to eventually leave so they can start working in health and fitness.

Others simply go through the training to be able to help family and friends… or anyone who turns to them for help.

Regardless of your goals, the Level 2 Master Class is designed around “learning relationships”—an instruction method proven to maximize knowledge transfer from mentor to student and help anyone, from any background, leverage their own unique strengths in this field.

Check out this short video to learn more about how the Master Class works, and who it’s for.

People come to Level 2 to develop mastery in (and derive more satisfaction from) their coaching.
They also end up getting more clients, retaining them longer, and producing better results.

 

 

Q: Why offer a certification like this?
A:

Health, fitness, and nutrition are growing rapidly; many people are looking here for interesting career options.

Unfortunately, most health, fitness, strength, and rehab professionals feel they’re missing one or more of the following in their practice:

  • A broad base of nutrition knowledge that reflects the most up-to-date research and practice in the field.
  • A broad base of applied psychology knowledge that helps them understand client/patient motivation and behavior (yes, even the “illogical” stuff!).
  • An ability to deliver and communicate all that great nutrition and psychology knowledge to actually improve people’s lives.
  • An understanding of specific populations (such as athletes or folks recovering from injury) or life stages (such as youth / aging or pregnancy) and how to tailor programs precisely for their needs.
  • The confidence and clarity that comes from having practiced foundational skills consistently, under the direction of qualified and caring mentors.
  • An understanding of how to position their coaching business within a competitive market, and how to run it effectively.

The Level 2 Master Class covers each of these, giving graduates new knowledge, skills, and confidence, which is why we developed the program. It’s for those coaches (or coaches-in-training) who want next-level professional development.

 

 

Q: Is this how you train your own coaches at Precision Nutrition?
A:

Yes, this program started out as our own in-house training program for newly hired Precision Nutrition coaches.

You see, as talented as some of our applicants were, almost none had the training or skills required to coach at the highest possible level, to the Precision Nutrition standard.

So we created an intensive, year-long coaching curriculum for our new recruits and paired them up with one of our Precision Nutrition Master Coaches to form a practice-based mentorship.

We were absolutely blown away by the results. After completing the training, already great coaches were ten times better at creating connection, navigating challenges, and helping people achieve their goals.

Q: How is the Level 2 Certification different from Level 1?
A:

The Level 1 Certification gave you a broad base of nutrition and coaching knowledge, a strong foundation on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Now it’s time to refine this knowledge, tailor it to your needs, and apply it every day.

There are a few major differences between Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 2 is an intensive, highly structured, year-long program.

While Level 1 is a self-paced program, Level 2 is a highly structured, year-long program with daily lessons and regular assignments.

I won’t lie: Level 2 is serious stuff. You’re thinking, reflecting, researching, practicing, and/or interacting every single day. We push you to grow and develop, and challenge all your coaching skills.

When you graduate Level 2, you’ll really feel like you earned it. Anyone can do it, but it takes hard work and dedication.

Level 2 is practice-based and hands-on.

Level 1 is more like a university course, with textbooks, course materials, practice exercises, and exams. Level 2 is more like a graduate-level practicum or apprenticeship with mentoring.

Every day we ask you to practice a Level 2 coaching skill and figure out how to apply what you’re learning in real life.

You also work through real coaching scenarios, step by step; this is real-world problem solving and consists of on-the-ground challenges.

In essence, this isn’t a learning program. It’s a doing program.

As you already know: Clients and patients don’t get healthy by learning about nutrition and exercise. They get healthy by practicing good nutrition and exercise, consistently. (And, often, by seeking out guidance from a skilled coach).

Likewise, you don’t become an expert coach by learning about coaching. You become an expert coach by practicing excellent coaching, consistently (under the guidance of your own coach).

Level 2 goes deeper into the art and science of coaching.

It’s not just a big pile of nutrition science (though we give you plenty of that too).

Fundamentally, Level 2 helps you master the art of nutrition coaching.

(And anything else you might want to coach. The skills are nicely transferable.)

Here’s a quick comparison.

Level 1 Certification Level 2 Certification
Duration Self-paced 1 year, with daily lessons and oversight
Difficulty level Equivalent to upper-level university undergraduate program Equivalent to master’s or Ph.D. program
Ideal for People in the field of health, fitness, nutrition and rehab who want to offer nutrition coaching

People who are not (yet) in the field but who are considering (or making) a career change

Anyone with an interest in nutrition coaching generally

People in the field of health, fitness, nutrition and rehab who want to become elite professional coaches

People who are either working in the field or ready to make the jump immediately

Professionals focused on increasing client/patient retention and results

Structured curriculum Yes Yes
Coaching / mentorship No; self-directed Yes
Evaluated by Exams Completion of lessons

Completion of daily practices

Case studies

Quizzes

Course covers See here for L1 table of contents See here for full L2 syllabus
Textbook / print materials? Yes No; all online
Time commitment Self-paced About 5 hours per week

And, as mentioned above, the average Precision Nutrition Level 2 coach:

  • gets more clients than the average Level 1 coach,
  • retains more clients than the average Level 1 coach,
  • gets better results with those clients, and
  • reports more fun and enjoyment in their coaching practice.

Indeed, as amazing as our Level 1 certified coaches are, recent ProCoach data with over 100,000 clients shows that Level 2 certified coaches have 10 times (!) the retention vs. Level 1 coaches.

Q: What topics does the Level 2 Certification cover?
A:

See here for our course overview and detailed syllabus, week by week.

Like our Level 1 Certification, you can think of the Level 2 Master Class as “half nutrition, half coaching”.

Many of our students are already highly trained nutrition or health professionals (such as physicians, rehab specialists, movement coaches). Many are already working in fitness or health care, and already have professional qualifications.

Yet these highly educated professionals are still finding it very challenging (and in some cases anxiety-provoking) to develop effective intervention programs and keep clients and patients engaged, motivated, and on track.

Coaching is the missing piece that links what you know and what your clients can and will do.

So the Level 2 Certification covers things like:

  • Assessing research quality and reviewing clinical studies
  • Body composition
  • Psychoneuroimmunology / psychoneuroendocrinology and the biology of stress
  • GI structure, function, and health (including microbiome)
  • Differences by age; sex/gender; ethnicity/genetic ancestry; sociocultural and demographic variation
  • Male and female fertility / hormonal health
  • Chronic illnesses and disabilities
  • Performance / athletic nutrition
  • Disordered eating and cognitive dietary restraint
  • Appetite, hunger, and environmental cueing of eating behaviors
  • Meal planning and food prep strategies
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Supplementation and medication interactions
  • Sleep and recovery
Q: What if I already know all this stuff?
A:

Then you must run a fantastically successful nutrition coaching business!

Seriously…

The truth is that you may “know” many of the skills we teach, but don’t implement them as well or as consistently as you would like.

And that’s OK.

That’s why we practice, every day.

We only ask that you have a growth mindset. Be open to learning, challenge, experimentation, development and feedback.

Be coachable. Learn what it’s like to be in the client’s shoes.

Show up with an open mind, be receptive, and entertain the possibility that you may not be a rockstar just yet. (Or that you are a rockstar but, that rockstars still have room for improvement too).

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Q: What qualifies you to teach a course / offer a certification like this?
A:

Well, for one, I have pretty vast exposure to almost every aspect of fitness and nutrition. I’ve been:

  • A student of nutrition, going on to complete my Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology and Nutrient Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario.
  • A teacher of nutrition at the University of Texas, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Western Ontario.
  • A competitive physique athlete, winning the Mr. Jr. USA title in 1995.
  • A personal trainer, running a successful training business in Miami.
  • A researcher with studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • An author of over half a dozen nutrition books and hundreds of articles in magazines like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and more.
  • A consultant to companies like Nike, Equinox and Titleist.
  • A nutrition coach to thousands of everyday people and quite a few pro athletes and Olympic gold medalists.

So apart from being qualified academically, I think I have a pretty unique perspective—one that’s very well-suited to teaching this material, especially to coaches.

I’ve seen the field of nutrition from more angles, both personally and professionally, than almost anyone else teaching nutrition today.

In addition, I’ve written chapters for other nutrition textbooks, I’ve created Masters-level university courses on sport nutrition, and I’ve created nutrition certification material for other certifying bodies.

So I have quite a bit of experience creating academic course material.

And I’m just one person. Our Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification program was created by a team of experts, including:

  • Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon, a specialist in adult education / curriculum design and creator of our Precision Nutrition Coaching program.
  • Brian St. Pierre, RD, MSc, a specialist in performance nutrition and consultant to pro athletes.

Most of all, we’re qualified to teach this because we’ve used and tested this very system extensively with our own clients and coaches here at Precision Nutrition.

Remember: Precision Nutrition isn’t just a certification company.

Over the past 15 years, through our Precision Nutrition Coaching system, we’ve been quietly conducting the largest body transformation research project in the world.

We’ve had over 100,000 clients go through our nutrition coaching curriculum, doing what is essentially a total exercise, nutrition and lifestyle intervention.

The purpose of this coaching is simple: to help people lose fat, gain lean mass where needed, and completely transform their bodies, health, and lives.

Now, here’s the thing: Since the entire program is online, we’re able to collect data on everything. And I mean everything.

Because we don’t see clients in person, we can’t “eyeball” things. We need data. So we have detailed psychometric (personality) profiles on our clients. We track compliance and every measurable and relevant behavior. And, of course, we regularly collect photos and monitor body composition and performance outcomes.

And as a result of this rigorous data collection, I’m guessing that we know, better than almost anyone else in the world, what makes great coaches, and what helps clients change their bodies and lives.

Now, remember, I’m not talking about what we think is correlated to success. I’m talking about what we absolutely know is correlated with success. Success here meaning our clients know and understand what to do. And they do it. Consistently. They improve their body composition, health, performance, and quality of life.

Success here also means our coaches perform at a high level. It means they’re continually training themselves, developing professionally, and refining their coaching skills.

Q: Why is coaching psychology such a big deal to you guys?
A:

Quite simply: The body follows what the mind and emotions do.

Imagine a client who feels:

  • motivated
  • empowered and inspired
  • action-oriented and able to keep moving forward
  • clear on next steps
  • relaxed and confident
  • committed to and fully aligned with the goals of the program
  • flexible, creative, and problem-solving
  • open and receptive to growth and development
  • self-compassionate and self-encouraging
  • proactive and strategic
  • focused and able to prioritize
  • calm, trusting and relaxed
  • positive

Heck, imagine being a coach who feels that way!

This is what sports psychologists have sometimes called “the inner game”.

Change the mind and emotions, change the body.

Coaching psychology gives us specific tools and techniques for helping our clients change… and feel great about it.

This isn’t your Freud or lab-rat-running-mazes psychology though. It’s real-world stuff.

No matter who or what you encounter in your coaching practice, wouldn’t it be nice to feel like you have a clear plan and a system for working with it?

(And ideally, that you yourself feel calm and confident in the process?)

That’s the power of practicing coaching psychology.

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Q: Do I need to have a university degree to become certified?
A:

No. We assume no prior knowledge of biology, chemistry, psychology etc., and so we don’t require a university degree.

Now, if you struggled in school, expect this certification to be challenging.

We ask that you be willing to work on your basic skills of reading, writing, communication, self-organization, and time management.

We’ll also ask you to stretch your learning comfort zone. You’ll probably feel a bit challenged at some point in this program.

However, we offer mentorship and guidance. If you’re willing to show up and give it your best shot and work hard, then we’re here to help.

Q: What’s the time commitment?
A:

We ask that students consistently set aside about 5 hours per week for Level 2 coursework.

You won’t always use that much time, and to some degree the schedule is flexible (i.e. you don’t have to show up for class at 9am), but you definitely won’t want to rush through your daily lessons and practices.

Plus, you’ll be working through some complex case studies, doing research, studying for quizzes, and reflecting on feedback from your coach.

These things take focus, cognitive work, and mental presence.

We suggest you give them the time, energy, and attention they—and you—deserve.

And we suggest you think of this time as an investment in you and your professional development, rather than a “cost”.

Q: What results can I expect when applying what I learn in the Master Class?
A:

For more on the kinds of results you can expect, check out this video:

 

 

Q: What advice will someone be able to offer clients after completing the course?
A:

That’s a great question and one we cover in depth in the course.

Health and fitness professionals are allowed to make nutrition recommendations to otherwise healthy clients. So even without the Precision Nutrition Level 1 or Level 2 Certification, you can make nutrition recommendations.

What we’re offering is a much better system for making those recommendations.

At the same time, while Level 2 explores many topics related to health and physiology, it doesn’t give you the credentials to give nutrition advice to treat or cure disease. That’s Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT—and you have to be a registered dietitian or medical doctor to offer it.

Q: Will you also give me business advice?
A:

This is not a business development course.

We won’t talk about specifics like which software is best for managing clients, how to resolve employee disputes, or how to do your bookkeeping.

However, we do help you explore how to tailor your professional services and business so that they match your unique coaching superpowers, values, and priorities.

We also give you access to a group of other Level 2 students who are going through the program with you. This is unprecedented access to a network of engaged, like-minded elite coaches from all over the world.

No matter how clever you are at marketing or accounting, fundamentally you have to offer a great product: your coaching services.

And of course, you’ll continue to be listed on Precision Nutrition’s Certified Professionals directory page.

Q: Am I guaranteed to make money? What’s my ROI?
A:

We guarantee that the Level 2 Master Class will be one of the best coaching experiences of your life. Which is why we offer such a generous refund policy. But there’s no guarantee that the Level 2 Certification program will make you money.

Of course, many people do make more money after graduating from the Level 2 Certification, because they put what they learn into practice, every day, over and over and over.

In fact, our research has shown that the average Precision Nutrition Level 2 coach:

  • gets more clients vs. the average Level 1 coach,
  • retains more clients vs. the average Level 1 coach,
  • gets better results with those clients, and
  • reports more satisfaction in their coaching practice.

Indeed, as amazing as our Level 1 certified coaches are, recent ProCoach data with over 100,000 clients shows that Level 2 certified coaches have 10 times (!) the retention vs. Level 1 coaches.

Commit to coaching mastery and you’ll become a better coach who attracts more clients, keeps the clients you do have, and encourages those clients to refer their friends.

Q: What are other people saying about the program?
A:

The feedback on the Level 2 Certification has been overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a sampling:

“I find that I am becoming equipped to coach clients from all different walks of life. This isn’t ‘surface’ coaching, it gets to the core of human nature, habits, and emotion. Best thing I’ve done for myself as a coach thus far.” —Michelle Mobley Simpson

“PN2 will teach you how to mobilize your personal strengths in ways that will place you among the elite in your field. The program’s coaches are fantastic resources, providing spot-on insights, valuable information, and just the right touch of supportive mentoring.” —Zoe Georgas Johnson

“This course has made me realize that there is no end to the skills and knowledge that can be acquired to make yourself better. These concepts are ones that you can read in the morning and use them in the afternoon.” —Keith Countess

“With 9 years under my belt as a coach, I expected to learn from this course, but not to the extent I have. I have had long-held beliefs challenged and had to reexamine some of my own priorities, making me a better coach and person through increased knowledge and a supportive system.” —Bronwyn Adams-Hooper

And, in case you missed the video above:

Precision Nutrition co-founder Dr. John Berardi gives you a sneak peek at the Level 2 Certification.
(Plus, industry leaders share their thoughts on the program).

 

 

Q: When does the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class begin?
A:

The next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Program begins on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020. And there won’t be another one until October 2020.

We’re using a cohort (group) model to accept registrations: The program begins on a specific day, everyone starts at the same time, and group size is limited.

Q: How do I increase my chances of getting a spot in the next Level 2 Master Class group?
A:

To get an early bird chance at registration—because the program does usually sell out within 24 hours—please sign up for the VIP list below.

We’ll send you a special link 24 hours before the general public and that’ll increase your chances of getting a spot.

Q: What’s the special discount I’ve heard about?
A:

If you’re on the VIP list below and enroll for the program before the general registration opens, you’ll save up to 37% off the cost of the Level 2 Certification program.

The general public price is $349 USD per month for 12 months. However, if you’re on the VIP list and sign up on the presale day, you’ll get the chance to register for only $262.50 USD per month or a one-time payment of $2,625 USD – up to 37% savings.

Q: Is there a guarantee?
A:

Yes there is, and it’s simple.

This coaching program will change your business and possibly your life. If it doesn’t, it’s free.

Here’s how it works.

  • Show up and do your lessons/practices at least 75% of the time.
  • Complete at least 75% of the case studies and quizzes.
  • Finish out the full year of coaching.

At the end, if you don’t think it was hands down, the best coaching experience of your life, we’ll write you a check for every penny you spent and you’ll be on your way, no questions asked.

In short, do what we ask. Follow the program. And, when it’s done, you get to decide whether we did a good job. Simple as that.

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Q: What about recertification?
A:

Once you’ve finished the Level 2 Certification Master Class, you’re a PN’er for life. That means two things.

  • You’ll never need to re-certify for the PN Level 2 Certification.
  • You’ll never need to re-certify for the PN Level 1 Certification.
Q: I’m currently enrolled in L1 but haven’t completed it yet. Can I still sign up for L2?
A:

Yes, you can. Although, we do prefer you complete the Level 1 program before enrolling in Level 2. With that said, it’s ultimately up to you.

Q: Can I earn CEUs from my personal training organization with this program?
A:

Most likely. The curriculum is pre-qualified for CEUs with the following organizations:

  • ACE (2.0 CECs)
  • ACSM (20 CECs)
  • AFAA (1.9 CEUs)
  • CDR (20 CEPUs)
  • CPTN (14 CECs)
  • NASM (1.9 CEUs)
  • PTA Global (24 CECs)

This means that, if you are certified by any of the groups listed above, CEUs are guaranteed upon successful completion of the course.

I should also note that a host of additional organizations accept our course on a one-off basis. For these, graduates from our program submit a summary of the course and their certificate for review.

Note: We’re also in the process of qualifying for CEUs with a select number of other international organizations.

Q: How can people find out more?
A:

To learn more about the course, and to get on the Level 2 Certification VIP list, which gives you a chance to register early, 24 hours before the general public, sign up below.

Once you’re on the list, we’ll follow up with more information about the program.

Interested? Add your name to the VIP list. You’ll save up to 37% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class on Wednesday, April 8th.

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

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to get started and ready to gain mastery in their coaching practice. So we’re offering a discount of up to 37% off the general price when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the PN Master Class twice per year. Due to high demand and a very limited number of spots, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a world-class coach, we’re ready to share our knowledge and help you master the art of coaching.

The post The Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class: Frequently Asked Questions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold.

Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold.

“Get rock hard abs in 30 days!” “Drop a dress size in three weeks!” “Detox your body with juice!” As a coach, you know these promises often fall short. So what do you do when a client wants a quick fix? In this article, we’ll show you five strategies to turn your client’s short-term diet into lasting results. 

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“A friend of mine just lost 25 pounds on a 30-day diet challenge. I’m going to try it!”

Sharon was by no means my first client to gleefully skip into a training session and announce she’d found a quick-fix solution.

I understood her excitement. After all, who wouldn’t want such fast results?

But I felt concerned for Sharon. I’ve seen lots of these “overnight” diet challenges and any changes are usually short-lived.

It’s painful to watch clients go through this predictable cycle (see below).

They often wind up right where they started, if not worse off. So as coaches, isn’t our job to put an end to 7-day detoxes, 14-day juice cleanses, and 21-day metabolism makeovers?

Maybe not.

Though every instinct might tell you to coach that “quick fix” mentality right out of your client, there’s a better way.

The best coaches can turn even the worst diet ideas into long-term success.

How? By being open, creative, and strategic.

In this article, we’ll show you five ways to transform your clients’ enthusiasm for diet and fitness “challenges” into rocket fuel for sustainable change.

Strategy #1: Celebrate their effort.

“I see a lot of people wanting to do the Whole30 or a juice cleanse or go sugar- or alcohol-free for a month,” says Jennifer Broxterman, R.D., a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach in London, Ontario.

And while these types of challenges have high failure rates, says Broxterman, don’t discourage them: “That’s a judgmental approach, and it creates a ‘me versus you’ mentality, which isn’t very good for building rapport.”

Instead, focus on the positives… even if it requires you to take a nice, deep breath first.

For example: “A challenge can be really useful if it gets your client excited about eating healthy and feeling good about the food choices in their cupboard,” says Broxterman.

It also shows they’re willing to make changes.

And with your help, clients can gain valuable insights that’ll help them achieve better results moving forward.

By supporting their efforts—instead of shutting them down—you’ll foster trust with your client and strengthen your coaching relationship. 

For a three-step process to help you reframe your coaching perspective and respect your clients’ goals, check out this PN coaching worksheet: Meet your clients where they’re at.

Strategy #2: Learn what drives them.

Your client’s challenge offers you a great opportunity: To better understand their health and fitness goals, their frustrations, and what really makes them tick, says Broxterman.

With non-judgemental curiosity, ask:

“How have diet challenges worked for you in the past?” 

This not only gives you background, it can also better set your client’s expectations (without you having to do so).

“Sometimes, they start telling you how they lost some weight, but not as much as they hoped, and that they gained it back right after,” says Broxterman.

Next, you might ask (in order):

  • “Why do you want to do this challenge?”
  • “What do you hope to get out of it?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”
  • “And why is that important to you?”

The goal is to understand your client’s pain points and true motivation.

That way, you’ll be better equipped to help them—not just during the challenge, but after it’s over, too.

What’s more, these questions might help your client discover a deeper purpose for change. One they weren’t even aware of. This can lead to much greater success, in the short-term… and the long-term.

To help your clients dig deep and find their real reasons for wanting to change, use our “5 whys” worksheet.

Strategy #3: Create a plan.

With any short-term challenge, your client is likely to make a lot of changes—all at once.

And in most cases, those changes aren’t meant to last. After all, people don’t go into a “cleanse” expecting to drink only juice for the rest of their lives.

This is where you, the coach, can really shine.

Help your client identify healthy habits that complement and intersect with the challenge they’re doing. 

That way, you can bridge the gap between the “challenge” and the rest of their life. The idea: to not only improve their likelihood of success during the challenge—but also in days, weeks, and months to follow.

Keep these habits small, simple, and behavior-focused. (Read: “Lose 10 pounds” is an outcome, not a behavior.)

Let’s say your client is committed to only eating whole foods for 30 days. A good habit to practice might be packing their lunch and afternoon snack every morning, to help ensure they stay on track.

Or perhaps they’re attempting a “no dessert” challenge. In this case, you might suggest they practice eating slowly and mindfully, and/or eat lean protein at each meal, both of which can help them feel more satisfied after eating.

And what about a 14-day juice cleanse? That’s a tougher one, to be sure. So get creative. You might suggest they:

  • Plan a social activity once or twice a week that isn’t centered around food and drink. (This is a highly underrated strategy for helping people adjust to a healthy eating lifestyle.)
  • Take 15 minutes each day to walk, foam roll, or stretch. A juice cleanse is not the time to start exercising intensely, but it can be used to establish a baseline daily movement habit.
  • Consciously recognize the feelings that come up when they’re hungry. It can even help to write them down. (Are they sad? Bored? Tired? See more ideas here.) Plus, they can learn to “sit with it,” too. Hunger is inevitable on a juice cleanse, which means it’s the perfect time to learn that “hunger is not an emergency.”

Ideally, by the end of the challenge, these habits are so ingrained it feels natural to continue them.

Bonus: If you and your client brainstorm more practices than can fit into the challenge timeframe, you have a built-in roadmap for what to work on once the challenge is over.

Use our “Outcome goals into behavior goals” worksheet to collaborate with your client on habits that will help get them closer to their targets. 

Strategy #4: Turn “failures” into feedback.

Imagine your client signs up for a Dunkin Do-Not Challenge (a.k.a. thirty days without donuts).

But just four days in, they come to you, shamefully admitting they had a Boston cream breakdown in the office breakroom.

Broxterman recommends using a three-pronged coaching approach: curiosity, compassion, and radical honesty.

Curiosity: Talk to your client about what led to their decision to eat the donut. For example, maybe they worked late the night before and skipped breakfast or didn’t prepare their lunch.

Compassion: Emphasize that they shouldn’t beat themselves up. Encourage them to treat themselves the same way they’d treat a friend or loved one in a similar situation.

Radical honesty: Give your client a chance to be completely upfront about what was going on when the “failure” happened. Maybe they were feeling:

  • a little stressed at the time
  • deprived of the foods they love
  • a bit like they “deserved” a treat

Now show them the upside: Perhaps the donut “failure” provides feedback about the importance of meal prepping lunches. That way, they don’t end up making less-than-optimal food choices.

It may also hint that completely eliminating food—especially ones they love—isn’t the best approach.

By reframing your client’s “failure” into a learning experience, you’ll prep them for future success (and minimize their guilt). 

Here’s another example: Suppose your client is trying to avoid sugar for 30 days, but they’re really struggling. Help them identify their roadblocks.

For instance, perhaps their partner keeps stocking the kitchen with cookies and ice cream. This crystallizes two frequent problems: Their environment is full of tempting foods, and their partner is showing a lack of support.

Together, brainstorm what might they do to improve their environment and/or strengthen their support system. This is how you coach them through obstacles, and keep the momentum going long after the challenge ends.

For a hands-on way to teach clients what it means to be resilient, sit down together and fill out this worksheet on “turning failure into feedback.”

Strategy #5: Explore their results

When a client completes a challenge, it’s likely they’ll have some positive outcomes. Maybe they lose a few pounds, stop craving sweets so much, or are sleeping better.

Naturally, they’ll want to maintain these results. But that rarely happens.

People tend to gravitate toward short-term diets is because it’s hard to fathom changing their eating and lifestyle habits for good. For a few weeks, though? That sounds doable

Here’s the problem: This line of thinking encourages all-or-nothing-ism. You’re either doing the most you possibly can to be healthy (an extreme diet challenge), or you’re doing nothing at all (back to your old ways).

But based on working with over 100,000 clients, we can confidently say this: The middle ground is usually where the magic happens.

Your client doesn’t have to keep all the habits they practiced during the challenge—just the ones that worked for them. 

Find out what those are, and discuss how they might continue them. Even if it’s not all the time.

For example, maybe they’ve discovered they really do feel better when they don’t drink alcohol every night but miss having drinks with their partner.

The middle ground might be limiting their alcohol intake to just one or two nights a week.

Or perhaps they love getting to the gym more frequently, but they don’t find cooking all their own meals practical.

The middle ground: They keep their gym habit, but only prepare dinner three or four days a week, which they feel confident they can do.

Here at Precision Nutrition, we call this “always something”—and use it to effectively combat all-or-nothing-ism. 

If practicing a habit at every daily meal is too much, how about at two meals? Or even one? Find out what feels doable for your client, and start there.

Instead of following through 100 percent of the time, what about 80 percent? Or 60 percent? We’ve even found that people can make real progress by being consistent just 50 percent of the time (or less).

Bottom line: Just because your client went all-in on the challenge, doesn’t mean they have to shut down entirely afterwards. Instead, show them how to “adjust the dial,” and keep benefiting from their positive actions.

Help your clients carry over their challenge changes in a way that’s sustainable, with our worksheet on “finding the middle ground.”

Leave your assumptions at the door.

The desire to embark on short-term diets, challenges, or cleanses isn’t going away anytime soon. Are they the best way to improve health and fitness? Probably not. But that won’t stop your clients from wanting to do them.

Truth is, short-term challenges aren’t useless. They don’t doom folks to failure. But most of the time, people start them with the wrong mindset—and without the right support network in place.

Meet your challenge-curious clients with compassion instead of judgement, and you might just be able to use their “summer body slim down” as a launchpad for meaningful change.

Not just for a month… but for a lifetime.

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

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition, especially in a way that helps clients develop highly-effective and sustainable habits.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The post Detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day challenges: How to turn a quick-fix diet into transformation gold. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions.

11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions.

Precision Nutrition’s work coaching elite and professional athletes contributes to every innovation we bring to nutrition and fitness. Here are our 11 favorite learnings; ones you can use with any client, with any goal.

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At Precision Nutrition, it’s our mission to improve the lives of, and get results for, every single type of client, including our most elite ones (like NFL, NHL, NBA teams, individual pros and Olympians, top-ranked junior prospects, and more).

Interestingly, coaching elite and pro athletes has taught us a lot.

I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty cool to work with some of the most respected athletes in the world. But here’s what’s surprising: In a lot of ways, elite athletes are just like us “regular” folks.

For example: I’ve learned that certain coaching principles apply across the board, no matter who you are and what you do.

(Yep, middle-aged clients just trying to lose belly fat do have something in common with UFC legend Georges St. Pierre).

So, in this article, I’d like to share 11 of our favorite coaching lessons and stories, taken directly from our work with some of the top athletes in the world.

If you’re a health and fitness pro, these can be applied to your coaching clients, whether they’re athletes or they’re just getting started with fitness.

And, hey, if you’re just here as a sports fan—enjoy the inside scoop.

1. Shape the environment and you can get great results, even without intensive one-on-one coaching.

Coaching one-on-one is great. But sometimes it’s not possible. Like when you’re trying to improve the nutritional habits of an entire basketball team in a short period of time.

Precision Nutrition coach Brian St. Pierre has been a nutrition consultant for the San Antonio Spurs since 2014. And he’s seen the team thrive (in fact, they won the NBA championship the year he started working with them).

But when Brian started working with the Spurs, he was a bit concerned about whether he’d be able to help.

With the team’s crazy schedule, he’d have next to zero one-on-one time with each player. Would he still be able to get results?

After careful consideration, Brian realized that he could have the biggest impact by focusing his efforts, not on each individual, but on the environment they all shared.

Brian’s tactics included:

  • Start with a template. After meeting with the players and coaching staff, he developed a meal plan template — focussing on meat, seafood, cooked starch, cooked vegetables, salad, fruit, and nuts — for the chefs/caterers at the training facility, where players eat breakfast and lunch.
  • Make it tasty. He ensured that players’ favorite foods were included in the provided meals. (Brian advised the team’s coaches not to take away Tim Duncan’s beloved Cajun chicken and mashed sweet potatoes.) After all, if the players don’t like the food they’re being offered, regardless of how good it is for them, they’ll just sneak out to Chick fil A.
  • Keep it convenient. He gave the strength and conditioning interns some Super Shake recipes so they could whip up personalized shakes (specific to each player’s needs and personal preferences) and hand them out after training and practice. 
  • Make arrangements for travel. He provided healthy meal ideas for plane rides. (Sometimes coaches insisted on soda and cookies for the ride — for themselves — so Brian gave suggestions on where to hide their personal stash so the players wouldn’t be tempted.)
  • Have a plan for non-practice hours. He recommended meal delivery services as options for dinner. For married players with a spouse who cooks for them, he provided recipes and meal ideas to take home.

These kinds of tactics are pretty simple, and none of them require in-depth, involved one-on-one coaching. Nor do they require any player to engage in some heroic, individual project of personal change.

Whether it’s at a training camp, at home, or in the office, our environment has a huge influence on what we eat.

Shape the environment, and you shape the path toward change.

2. Skill in the gym (or on the field) does not equal skill in the kitchen.

Elite athletes put everything they’ve got into their physical performance. You might assume they bring the same passion for detail, refinement, and mastery to the food they eat.

Some do. But most don’t.

I first learned this in the early 2000s when I went to work with the U.S. National Bobsled team as nutrition consultant. The team asked me to kick off their training camp with a seminar.

Back then I had the notion that, as top-level athletes, these guys must give the same attention to their nutrition as they do to their sport. As a result, I built a full day of seminars on advanced nutrition topics and high-level supplement strategies.

I was all ready to go.

Then the group filed in late, holding bags of McDonalds.

I knew immediately I would have to change my presentation on the fly.

As I asked questions and listened, I realized these athletes still needed to learn the basics. They may have been advanced in their sport, but they were still, for the most part, nutrition beginners.

This is a good lesson for anyone doing nutrition coaching.

Imagine you’re coaching a middle-aged man who’s 50 lbs overweight and has never given nutrition a second thought. Then imagine a 25-year-old who’s 225 lb and 8% body fat training for the Olympics.

Yes, they might be very different physically. But they might also have the exact same nutritional skill level.

(In the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification we classify clients as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 eaters and have different recommendations for each level. In this case, both individuals would get recommendations for Level 1 eaters.)

So don’t make too many assumptions about your clients. Talk to them, test them, and find out where they’re actually at.

3. If you can’t make it better, make it less-worse.

Recently tasked with helping NBA team the Brooklyn Nets improve their nutrition, Precision Nutrition coaches Adam Feit and Brian St. Pierre worked together to create an optimal nutritional environment at the team’s practice facility.

Seriously, they’re making that dining room a work of art. Beautiful infographics demonstrating hand-size portions and Super Shake infographics; healthy, perfectly balanced menus. Great stuff.

But after training, it’s time to compete. And that’s when the team hits the road. They travel constantly.

Adam and Brian realized the biggest obstacle to maintaining the team’s nutrition was dealing with hotel food. Especially late-night room service menus offering pizza, wings, burgers, and so on.

Adam and Brian couldn’t exactly customize the menus of hundreds of hotels. But they could change the menus the players saw.

So they got ahold of the hotel menus in advance and created pared down versions of each menu — a customized version with some of the best available options.

This smaller, more selective version of the menu is what the guys would see in their rooms or get when the team sat down for dinner.

Sure, it might not be perfect, but it was still a huge improvement. And it made it easier for the players to choose a healthier option without even thinking about it.

One of our coaching mantras at Precision Nutrition is “a little bit better”. We encourage clients to abandon all-or-nothing thinking and look for ways to make even slight improvements to each meal or each workout.

Of course, you don’t have to be an NBA champion to realize that small improvements really do add up.

4. The best meal plan is worthless if your client doesn’t like the food.

A pro tennis standout contacted PN for some help with energy levels, performance, and general nutrition. Of course, we were happy to help.

Brian St. Pierre met with the athlete, discussed goals, taste preferences and other details, and then put together some guidelines including a meal plan template complete with recipe ideas.

The problem: The athlete didn’t like any of it.

Even in the pro sports world, there are self-professed picky eaters.

That’s when we realized that all of Brian’s nutritional expertise wasn’t enough. It was time to bring in the big guns. So we sent our full-time super-chef, Jen Nickle, to help.

Jen and Brian put together a taste-test session with the tennis star. They tried out all kinds of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They explored food combinations, preparation options, flavors, and so on.

Turns out, the taste-test day was fun. Jen and Brian were able to build rapport with the client and demonstrate our commitment to helping her. Best of all, Chef Jen could make food her client would really enjoy—and actually eat.

(Jen now travels with this athlete to big-time events like the U.S. Open to ensure the best nutrition during competition.)

While not everyone can afford a personal chef, customizing nutritional guidance (and meal plans, if you use them) to a client’s tastes is essential.

If your client is picky, don’t try to insist that they develop a taste for quinoa or sweet potatoes; find out what they do like and work with that.

5. You have to work the way your client works.

Health and fitness coaches: Think about online coaching for a moment. How do you get started?

Chances are you compose a nice email, and you attach an assessment form, maybe a food log for them to fill out, and maybe link to an article for them to read.

What if your client doesn’t have a computer?

In 2014, Brian St. Pierre started working with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Some of the guys on the team didn’t own computers. And if they did, they never used email.

And why should they? Their lives are spent on the field, in the gym, in film sessions, or enjoying some precious recovery time.

Since, nowadays, people can do almost anything on their phone that they can do on on a computer, they were usually only reachable via text.

At first, Brian admits he felt resistant. He’d been coaching using email for years. Now he had to relearn a new style of communicating and coaching.

But, using his client-centered coaching skills, Brian adapted his methods to his clients. He got over his personal bias, stopped emailing, and started texting.

Interestingly, the texting experience made Brian think more critically about what he was asking clients in the first place. He became more focused, narrowing down his assessments to the bare essentials.

Most importantly, his clients got what they needed.

How to be client-centered is one of the best lessons any coach can ever learn. As coaches, we always have to remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter what works for us.

What matters is what works for our clients.

6. Perfection is not required.

Since 2009, I’ve been helping MMA star / UFC legend Georges St-Pierre with his nutrition. Before I began putting together Georges’ eating strategy, I knew two things.

One, that he had a soft spot for McDonald’s and Subway.

Two, if you tell a client they can’t have their favorite foods, they might end up ignoring you completely.

Think about it. How well could putting my foot down and bossing around a professional fighter (and Welterweight champion of the world) possibly go?

So I gave Georges some suggested meals. These included a few main meals and a few Super Shakes each day. These would cover his nutritional bases.

Beyond that, I told him he could eat whatever he wanted if he was still hungry. I even suggested eating McDonald’s or Subway every few days. Daily, if he liked.

Georges was shocked. And delighted. He couldn’t believe his nutrition coach was basically inviting him to eat at McDonald’s.

Let’s face it: With Georges’ energy expenditure, one meal a day off-script isn’t going to tank his results. It also fit his goals: gaining muscle mass to fight competitors who were getting bigger all the time.

Of course, Georges is not your typical client, and this was not your typical eating strategy. But there is an important lesson here.

Perfection isn’t required for elite athletes—or for “regular” people.

For most people, aiming to get 80% of your meals on-point is an effective goal.

7. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

Dietary trends tend to go in cycles. Ketogenic diets are among them, resurfacing now and then to grab media headlines. These can get the attention of top athletes who are looking for an edge—with varying results.

Here’s an example. For a while, there was a trainer who made a big splash putting NFL linemen on a strict ketogenic diet paired with high doses of certain supplements. Players/clients would come to his “camp” for about four weeks to learn how to eat this way.

One of these players was an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons.

He heard about other NFL guys getting great results on the program, so he decided to give it a try himself. Within those four weeks, he saw immediate improvement: He got bigger, faster, stronger, leaner—all the things a lineman would want to see.

By the end of the four weeks, though, he started to feel a lot less awesome.

He was experiencing some major symptoms: everything from glucose control issues to hypoglycemia to brain fog to vertigo to anxiety and depressive moods. He even confessed to having suicidal thoughts.

But he had been so impressed by the initial results of the diet, he wanted to keep trying. He tried tinkering with it, cycling his keto days, but nothing worked.

So he called us.

We reintroduced carbs into his diet, recommending he eat 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbs at each meal (five times a day). At the same time, we decreased his fat intake a bit, which helped counter-balance the increase in carbs, calorie-wise.

Within 2-3 weeks, his blood glucose evened out, his anxiety went away, and his performance improved. Plus, the body composition changes he liked about the keto diet stayed the same: He maintained his leanness and his mass.

We found that he needs to be really consistent with his carbs in order to perform and feel his best.

That’s the thing about diets, protocols, and specific methods. Just because it works for one client doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another—even if they share the same goals, athletic ability and body type.

Plus, just because a particular approach can “work” (according to very specific metrics like body weight, for some period of time) doesn’t mean it’s going to work for every goal, indefinitely.

Individual needs should come before trends every time.

And outcome-based decision making should trump “this worked for some other guy” or “this should theoretically work for me”.

8. Bring important influencers (like family members) into the process.

For several years I provided nutrition consultation to Junior A hockey players.

(Here in Canada, Junior A is essentially one level below the NHL. These are the guys already drafted, or looking to get drafted, and become the next great NHL stars.)

While these players are already amazing athletes, they’re also young, usually teenagers. They still live with families, either their own or those they are staying with while playing for a team outside their home town.

When working with these future NHLers, I did some basic education, giving seminars and offering kitchen demos showing how to prepare basic healthy foods.

But I knew that wasn’t enough.

It didn’t matter much what I told the athletes. Because they weren’t the ones making the meals, or doing the shopping, or buying the food.

I had to get the family involved. So I would find out who prepared the meals at the homes where they were staying, then concentrate my efforts on them.

I gave them everything they needed, including:

  • Education about the needs of a young teenage hockey player
  • Cooking demos
  • Recipes and meal ideas
  • Grocery shopping guides
  • And more.

The more I could equip the family to cook well, the better the nutritional results would be for the athlete.

This relates to all kinds of clients, of all ages. Clients often tell us their biggest obstacle to eating better is other people: colleagues, friends, and most of all, family members such as spouses and kids.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Acknowledge the other influences in your clients’ lives. Help them work with loved ones and address any roadblocks together.

9. Intense training and strict eating will mess with your body. (But that’s OK for a little while.)

Precision Nutrition offers an elite athlete testing and coaching program which includes a battery of research-based physiological tests and assessments. These are designed to help athletes optimize their nutrition.

The tests include genetic, blood chemistry, food sensitivity, and microbiome analyses. To gather these data, we send a nurse to the athlete’s house or training facility, collect samples, and analyze them.

Then an interdisciplinary team (including our sports nutrition experts, our molecular genetics experts, and our physician) review and interpret the results.

We give the athletes a really comprehensive report of the findings. And then we use the findings to personally coach the athletes for the next six months.

A few months back, we tested a dozen track and field stars — some of whom just competed at the Rio Olympic Games — from the world-renowned Altis facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

In their lead-up to the games, we found something interesting.

Every one of the athletes had suboptimal sex hormone (testosterone, estrogen) levels and white blood cell counts. We discovered a host of other, more individual, things too. But this one was most interesting for two reasons.

First, it applied to both men and women.

Second, a few years back, when doing a pre-season training camp with NFL athletes at Nike HQ, we discovered some of the same things.

Of course, the results aren’t completely surprising. High intensity training has predictable consequences. It’s hard to get adequate calories, sleep, and stress management when you’re in an intense training block.

People who are training for the Olympics or for an NFL season are OK to make that trade-off. They know it’s temporary. And for most people, this kind of physical disruption isn’t dangerous if it’s for a short time.

However, it can become dangerous if you keep going at that level.

Most elite athletes take breaks after a training season, which provides a chance to rest, recover, and normalize. Its no surprise that many NHL athletes spend most of their off-season doing little more than lifting a fishing rod.

But many “regular” exercisers don’t respect the seasonality of sport. Which means, ironically, many of them are as much at risk of damaging their bodies through undereating and under recovery as Olympians.

So keep the long game in mind.

If a client is overtraining, bring the risks to their attention. If they’re making a sacrifice for an important goal, be clear about the tradeoffs.

And always be asking: What’s the goal? How do we get you there as safely as possible? When’s it time to back off and rest?

10. Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.

One client from our elite athlete program is Mikel Thomas, a hurdler from Trinidad and Tobago. Mikel was preparing for the Rio Olympics but was having some issues with recovery.

We conducted our usual battery of tests. In reviewing the data, we noticed he had a high iron saturation, and his UIBC (Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity) was low. Both factors pointed to an excessive iron intake.

Pretty unusual for a vegetarian.

We also did a food sensitivities test, and noticed an intolerance to chickpeas.

(Note: While food sensitivities tests aren’t 100% reliable on their own, when used in the context of a full spectrum of tests and assessments, they can help give us extra clues about what’s going on.)

When we looked at Mikel’s food log we noticed that most of his meals were based around chickpeas. Giving thought to the data as a whole, we hypothesized that this dietary staple (typical for someone from Trinidad and Tobago, especially for a vegetarian) was actually causing a negative reaction in his body.

Fortunately, when we had Mikel replace chickpeas with alternative protein and carbohydrate sources such as quinoa, his recovery got better.

The moral of this story is not that chickpeas are bad. They offer carbohydrates, some protein, and various vitamins and minerals. They are a nutritious food.

But just because a food is considered “healthy”—or even a “superfood”—doesn’t mean it’s optimal for your client. Especially if it’s over-consumed.

11. Physiological markers don’t tell the whole story.

In 2011 and 2012, as mentioned above, I participated in Nike’s NFL Football Training Camp Pro. This camp brings together 10-15 high-level NFL athletes for a week-long camp of testing, training, eating, and learning experience on Nike’s campus.

The camp included athletes like Ndamukong Suh, Kam Chancellor, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Stewart, Steven Jackson, Greg Jennings, and more. And, at the camp, I delivered nutritional seminars and education to the athletes. I also ran some physiological testing for them.

Interestingly, I tested better than all the guys there on a host of standard markers of health such as sex hormone levels (testosterone, DHEA, etc), vitamin D levels, Omega 3 levels, and more.

Yep, when it came to these health markers, I dominated the NFL stars.

But you know what I wasn’t better at?

Playing football.

This was a great reminder that while physiological markers can be useful, they don’t give us the whole picture. And that putting too much focus on any particular non-sport performance indicator can lead you down a dangerous path.

At Precision Nutrition, we’re proud to be data-driven. We like numbers and tests and metrics of all kinds. But we also know it’s not the complete picture.

You have to look at the whole person to a real sense of what’s going on.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition

1. Don’t make assumptions.

Appearances can be deceiving. Just because someone is a star in their sport or looks the part doesn’t mean they have advanced nutrition skills.

Instead of making assumptions or guesses about where your client is at, ask questions. Listen. Observe.

Seek to understand rather than to prove yourself right.

2. Remember that in many ways, we’re all the same.

Elite athletes—they’re just like us!

Our lives may be very different but, in the end, we’re all human. We all want to enjoy our food and have some fun. We all have our favorite indulgences and the foods that make us curl up our lips in disgust.

Whether you’re working with celebrities, top athletes, busy executives or just neighborhood folks in your local gym, remember that at the end of the day, you’re coaching people.

3. Remember that in other ways, we’re all completely different.

What works for one client might not work for another. No matter how “super” the food or how “killer” the diet, there is no one-size-fits-all.

And what works for you might not work for your clients, either.

You may have spent years perfecting your intake forms, for example, but what happens when a client doesn’t have a computer? Or is constantly on the go and never has time to look at it?

Your job as a coach is to focus on understanding and supporting the needs of each client. This takes work and practice and, believe me, it is humbling sometimes.

But that’s what it takes to be a client-centered coach.

4. Screw perfection. Help your clients get a tiny bit better.

An all-or-nothing mentality won’t help your clients get anywhere, even if they’re top athletes who are used to aiming for perfection.

Looking for small ways to improve is the best way to keep moving consistently toward change.

That might mean letting a client keep her weekly supersweet Frappucino monstrosity. Or helping her choose the best option on a hotel menu. Or packing her own snacks for the plane.

You don’t need to get rid of everything a client is doing and every indulgence they have. Nor should you.

Find ways of helping them move forward, one tiny little bit at a time.

5. Seek out and celebrate your clients’ superpowers.

Whether they’re a gold medalist or they’ve never set foot in a gym, every single client possesses their own special superpowers.

One of your jobs as a coach is to help them figure out what they’re already good at and put those abilities to use.

Maybe they’re a data junkie and they can use their spreadsheet nerdiness to track their food like a pro. Or maybe they appreciate nature and will enjoy discovering local farms and farmers markets.

Maybe they lack information at the moment but have a great ability to learn. Maybe they routinely fall off the wagon—but they always, always get back on.

Help your clients recognize their own superpowers, and then put them to use.

Celebrate the good stuff. Call out progress every chance you get.

They might never be an NFL star, but you can be their cheerleader.

You can help them become their own superstar.

Want strategies to level up your coaching?

It’s no secret that master coaches develop over time, through education and consistent practice, usually under the guidance of a mentor or coach.

Precision Nutrition is the only company in the world that both works with thousands of our own nutrition coaching clients and teaches health, fitness, and wellness professionals our real-world methods for getting results.

And here’s some great news: Our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class kicks off on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

Want to achieve total confidence in your coaching skills? Get (and keep) more clients? Grow and strengthen your practice? If so, the Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification is definitely for you.

It’s designed specifically for Level 1 students and grads who realize that knowing about the science of nutrition isn’t enough.

Part master class, part grad program, part mentorship, it’s the only course in the world designed to help you master the art of coaching, meaning better results for your clients and a better practice for you.

Since we only take a limited number of professionals, and since the program sells out every time, I strongly recommend you add your name to our VIP List below. When you do, you get the chance to sign up 24 hours before everyone else. Even better, you get a huge discount off the general price of the program.

[Note: The Level 2 Master Class is only for students and grads of our Level 1 Certification. So if you haven’t yet enrolled in that program, please begin there.]

Interested? Add your name to the VIP list. You’ll save up to 37% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certification Master Class on Wednesday, April 8th.

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

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to get started and ready to gain mastery in their coaching practice. So we’re offering a discount of up to 37% off the general price when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the PN Master Class twice per year. Due to high demand and a very limited number of spots, we expect it to sell out fast. But when you sign up for the Master Class VIP list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming a world-class coach, we’re ready to share our knowledge and help you master the art of coaching.

The post 11 things I’ve learned coaching elite and professional athletes. Lessons from our work with NFL, NBA, UFC, & Olympic champions. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.