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Commonly Asked Nutrition Questions with Frustratingly Ambiguous Answers

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By Coach Emily 

 

Every nutrition client is very unique and their nutrition journey reflects that. However, most of my nutrition clients tend to ask the same questions. Anyone I talk to that knows I am a nutrition coach, including family, friends, and people on the street, ask the same general questions. 

Everyone is exposed to similar media depicting fad diets and healthy solutions which are supposed to solve all their problems. When people finally get to talk to a real person, specifically a nutrition coach, it seems my answers usually disappoint them. When most people ask a question, they want a definitive answer: either a yes or no followed by an explanation why. More often than not a link on the internet will give them the answer they’re looking for. For most people, they believe the link to be true until they try it and it doesn’t work, doesn’t stick, or they have a particular aversion to bacon but the link they clicked said to eat a ton of bacon. 

As a nutrition coach and a person who has tried numerous diets and solutions found on the internet, I can tell you the answers to your questions usually come with months or years of experimenting and developing mindfulness around what YOU put into your body. 

 

Potential client: “What you are saying is I have to pay attention to what I eat for a year!? I think I will try this fasting thing for a month and see if I lose some weight. Thank you for your time. Bye!”

 

My coaching response in my head as they walk out the door: “Fasting is a great tool to try to bring awareness to hunger cues, to learn to plan your meals for your eating window, to learn what times of day you are making unhealthy choices and to correct it, and more. Throughout the next month of your fasting experimentation try to keep a journal documenting your hunger and cravings, energy levels, how you sleep and shifts in your structure for planning meals and anything else.” Unfortunately, at this point they are already gone.

 

The question I wish they would have asked before leaving: What is your opinion of fasting?

 

Additional thoughts on fasting:

Fasting is a tool, and if it is used correctly at the right time in your nutrition journey it can bring about great change and can help you gain knowledge about yourself. However, fasting is just that: a tool. I would not recommend it as a lifestyle/long term diet plan and a time frame should be set for the length of your use of this tool and an exit strategy in place so the success you had is not undone quicker than it happened.

 

Here are a couple more questions with frustratingly ambiguous answers (FAA):

 

Q: Should I be taking supplements?

FAA: My favorite answers to give are more questions! What do you eat? How much do you eat and how often? Why do you think you might need to take supplements? Do you find yourself tired often? If so, how is your sleep? What is your fitness routine like? How much fresh, whole foods do you consume? 

At this point the client might say, “Nevermind.” This tells me a lot about how the rest of the nutrition coaching is going to go. The truth is, supplements can be a great opportunity to assist an already nutritious diet. 

A lot of clients have aversions or allergies to certain foods which then causes them to lack that nutrient in their body. For example, lactose intolerant clients may need a calcium supplement. As a nutrition coach I cannot prescribe them to take a calcium supplement but I can suggest it may be a good idea to try it. 

Before suggesting to anyone to take a supplement, I would first get the answers to my questions. More often than not, when you clean up your diet, develop a sleep routine that increases the hours of quality sleep you get, and start an exercise routine, the need for a supplement may go away and hundreds of dollars could be saved. Also, what might happen is the client will develop mindfulness around how they feel throughout the day which could lead to an awareness of what could be missing from their diet (insert suggestion for a particular supplement). 

Supplements can be good for an individual IF they know why they are taking them, IF they are aware of a positive change after taking the supplement AND they have a nutritionally rich diet of whole foods. 

Client example: 

I had a nutrition client who added MCT oil and collagen to their coffee. I asked them why and they had no idea. There was a sale on them at the store and they heard somewhere that you should put MCT oil and collagen in your coffee. Now this was part of their morning routine and had been for awhile, but they had no idea why and could not explain what the positive benefits were, if any. I simply asked if they would be willing to stop putting them in their coffee and to note each day for a month if there were any significant changes. They gladly agreed and said, “It would be nice to not have to buy that stuff any more, it is ridiculously expensive!” After three months of nutrition coaching they no longer had to buy MCT oil and collagen supplements and had increased whole sources of protein in their diet along with learning to eat more fatty foods in the morning to help with brain function (a potential benefit of MCT oil).

 

 

Q: What should I eat before I work out? 

FAA: It depends. What time do you work out? What have you eaten already throughout the day? What does your current diet consist of? What kind of exercise do you do? What are your goals with exercise? What do you eat after you exercise? Why do you think you should eat before a workout?

I will keep this one a little short because the answer is really the same as the supplement answer. If my client asked me this question (which they all do), I would tell them to focus on what they are eating as a whole throughout the day. If you have fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner containing all highly processed ingredients, what you eat before you workout will not make a bit of difference. First, focus on improving your nutrition as a whole and with that you will most likely notice a difference in your workouts. 

Second, once your nutrition as a whole has improved, it’s time to consider your fitness goals. Are you a competitive athlete? Are you looking to improve longevity and move better each day? My answer would reflect your fitness goals. The more intense and serious your fitness goals, the more intense answer I would give.  

 

Most of the questions a nutrition client asks are followed by at least a month of mindfulness around the topic, followed by experimenting to see what works best for them. This is done by meeting in person once a month, weekly online check ins, and daily accountability during the experimentation process to discuss struggles, challenges, and successes. 

 

If you have any questions you would like me to answer with frustratingly ambiguous answers in my next blog, feel free to submit them through our website in the little chat button in the bottom right corner. (www.crossfitlincoln.com)

If you would like to dive in and experiment with what works best for you on your nutrition journey by working with a coach to bring mindfulness to what you put in your month…click to schedule a meeting with me or talk to me in the little chat bubble on our website!

Thank you for reading, 

Coach Emily 

 

Lincoln Crossfit 9006