Monday, April 15, 2013

Why hire a personal trainer for weight loss?

Really though. That's not a rhetorical question.

I know a few trainers (good ones at that) who refuse to make any recommendations on nutrition, because as far as they're concerned their job is to teach movement, correct imbalances, and get people lifting some heavy ass weights. Quite correctly, really.

Regardless though, the majority of Personal Training clients are looking for a weight loss solution, and weight loss is a huge part of the industry. Why though? Let's speculate.

On the one hand, getting fit and active goes hand in hand with getting into shape and losing weight. On the other hand though, there is a well known adage about success in getting into shape being 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. "You can't out train a bad diet" is another one.

So... if diet and nutrition is so crucial, shouldn't people be seeking out a dietician or a nutritionist? That's the advice my respected colleagues referred to in the first paragraph would give: if you want a meal plan go to a nutritionist, not a trainer. I'm inclined to agree... however I also understand why people don't. From a real nutritionist, you'd expect quite a strict meal plan based on only the most nutritious and healthy foods.

That's hard to argue against, but I'd speculate that people don't really want to completely change their eating habits to that extent. Don't want to, or just know that they won't be able to. I'd say this is a big part of the success of fad diets that tell people "just cut out bread" or whatever... it's the promise of a seemingly minor change solving all your problems.

So what are your other options? You might think "how about a doctor" but it seems like doctors give terrible advice about weight loss. You know, surgery and starvation. If you look at some of the diet programs put out by actual doctors, it is frightening how poor a grasp they seem to have on nutrition for weight management. Read my call out post about "The Five Bite Diet" if you doubt me. It's the worst thing I ever heard of. Which is not to be disrespectful to doctors in general, just the ones who put out bullshit diet programs... oh and bariatric surgery as well. None of that stuff is necessary, healthy or good.

So doctors... not so helpful. Nutritionists... falls into the too hard basket. Forget about fad diets, meal replacement products and all of the other scams... people have tried and failed with those too, because they simply don't work. So it is down to Personal Trainers to fill in the void and provide a solution.

Can it work though? Well it depends.

You could be overweight due to a relatively slight excess in calorie intake, and exercising regularly could be enough to create a calorific deficit suitable for weight loss. To my way of thinking though, that is still leaving things to chance.

So what makes for a good choice in a Personal Trainer for weight loss?

Well... simply put, they need to have an understanding of calorific and macronutrient requirements in human beings of different sex, height and age, suitable to fuel, adapt and recover from training and to maintain a normal healthy weight. These days we know that with the IIFYM strategy, we can produce the desired results without requiring an ultra strict or restrictive diet. Simply put, with some planning you can meet your macronutritional requirements with your own choice of foods.

However, not all trainers know about this. Many are still pushing the same fad diets and urban myths that your average unsuccessful weight loss candidate might adopt. Some might be excellent fitness coaches, others are... not so great. Either way, if they don't know and understand this stuff about macronutrition, they're not a good choice for a weight loss plan. And most don't know it.

The ones who do know it have learned it the way I did, not from registered training providers within the fitness industry (again, they're more interested in the latest fads than simple stuff that works) but by reading and listening to body builders, who are the experts in maintaining a particular weight with relatively low body fat.

So in my opinion, a weight loss coach should know this stuff, and should have experience actually applying it personally and to clients, with a proven track record of success.