Here’s an unpopular opinion …
Macro style food logging and tracking (think of: MyFitnessPal) is NOT the best way to coach your clients on nutrition.
That’s when I said it. Now listen to me …
I was Nutrition coach for over 10 years and have worked with 1,000+ clients. Now I am using my knowledge and skills to help gym owners and trainers build and systematize their own businesses so I can see how coaching methodologies work on a large scale.
I’ve tried many different styles of nutrition coaching over the past decade: Completely Macro-Based Habitual Coaching with Food tracking and completely habits based with no macros.
What if i tell you this? when I stopped making clients count macros They experienced:
- Better results
- Greater compliance
- A happier trip
- Less stress
- Better eating intuition
- A longer coach / client relationship
Well, that’s exactly what happened.
Make no mistake: I don’t hate macros. They definitely have their place.
(Related: The complete guide to using – and coaching – macros.)
But for 99 percent of customers, I think there is a better way.
So what is it
Photos, people. Photos.
I let customers keep track of what they are eating by taking a picture of their meal.
It’s simple, easy, and effective – and the result is high compliance.
But the best thing about it? It offers far more information and coaching options than conventional tracking.
I know what some of you are saying:
“You can’t determine calories or macros with photos!”
It does not matter.
When it comes to food, there are more important details to consider than WHAT customers eat.
And photos help you see what macro tracking can’t: the full picture.
However, to get the most out of them, you need to know what to look for.
I have a method for that.
I call this method the 5 Ws.
Who, when, where, why and what.
Let me explain each one, along with the coaching opportunities they offer.
(And for more advice on nutrition, health, and coaching, sign up for PN’s FREE weekly newsletter. The smartest coach in the room.)
1. Who do you eat with?
Who someone eats with can affect the food choices they make as well as the amount of foods they consume.
Have you ever had a friend who eats a super healthy diet? Have you ever made healthier choices while dining with this person?
The reverse is also true. It’s more tempting to let off steam on a Friday night when your friend, partner, or colleague is spoiling themselves as well.
Sometimes helping your customer become aware that they have a tendency to overeat around a certain person can be groundbreaking. (And no, I’m not suggesting they end the relationship.)
2. When do you eat?
Did your customer (unintentionally) wait until 3 p.m. to have lunch because they were busy or didn’t plan properly?
Here is an example of when this type of information can be very useful. If you uncover a pattern of missed meals, you can see why this is happening and either:
- Option 1: Help your customers to structure their day in order to avoid missing meals
- Option 2: Think of “if-then” scenarios in case it happens. Example: “IF I miss my lunch, THEN I will get an XYZ meal / snack”
3. Where do you eat?
You can learn a lot from looking at your customers’ eating environments.
➤ Are you sitting at your desk in front of your keyboard and working through lunch? They may not take the time to thoroughly chew their food, which can lead to overeating.
Here, in the next step, you could work on being 80 percent full.
(Learn more: How to Eat Until 80% Full)
➤ Are you sitting on the couch and watching TV? You might chew mindlessly, another reason people overeat.
In this case, you could focus on eating slowly.
(See: The 30-day slow-eating challenge.)
➤ Do you eat at a dining table? That’s great! They seem to make time to eat and develop great habits here. (Can you say bright spots?)
➤ Does your food seem to come from your own kitchen or is it in takeaway containers? If your customer is logging chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes to a traditional food tracking log, then you won’t know if it’s homemade or picked up from a local fast-casual restaurant, possibly with hidden oils and lots of sodium.
This could be an opportunity to educate them about different food preparation techniques and explain why a homemade meal might be a better choice for their goals.
4. Why do you eat?
As coaches, we would really benefit from asking this question more often.
Do people always eat out of hunger? Barely.
People eat for a variety of reasons, and hunger is often not the driving force. For example, people often eat because they are happy, sad, stressed, tired, thirsty, or bored, or it may be due to the environment, habit, culture, or tradition.
When you find that a customer Eat stress, you can help them find ways to better manage their stress, such as: B. Meditation and Movement.
Or maybe they’re a social butterfly, and for them, Eating is part of the social experience.
You can work with your clients to make the best decisions possible while partying with their friends and family – instead of feeling like they have to stay home.
Ignoring the many reasons your customer is eating can make them feel like there is something wrong with them. Instead, help them develop the tools to base themselves positively on their WHY.
5. What do you eat?
For me that is the least important question. Because in my opinion there is no great coaching opportunity here.
If your client isn’t making good decisions, then most likely one of the other 5 Ws is at stake.
How exactly does it work?
Here are some practical tips for implementing this strategy.
➤ Use photo logging when onboarding customers. For the first two weeks of working together, I have customers take photos of their meals every day.
Then they upload the photos to folders sorted by food: for example breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.
After the first two weeks, I let the customer decide whether they want to continue taking photos.
➤ Look for patterns. You may find that your customer often skips breakfast or snacks while they are hungry throughout the day.
These patterns provide a good starting point for your coaching.
(You can encourage your customer to look for patterns while eating by using resources like those from Precision Nutrition Eating Behavior Diary and How food feels like Journal.)
➤ Make it collaborative. I usually don’t do any official “reviews” of customer photo logs.
You never want your client to feel like they are being graded.
Instead, try asking questions about their photos rather than making statements about what you see.
For example, you might be asking yourself, how did this breakfast work for you? How did you feel a few hours later?
➤ Let your customers suggest the next steps. Now that you’ve identified some areas for improvement together, ask your customer what they think they could change with confidence.
Here you decide on a new action to practice.
My goal is not to convince you to give up macros.
(Especially if this approach works well for you.)
Rather, I want to share an alternative tool that has profoundly influenced the way I coach.
I know it can be scary, but in my experience with over a thousand people, you will end up with better results and much happier, more balanced customers.
If you are or would like to become a trainer …
Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes – in ways that are tailored to their unique bodies, preferences, and circumstances – is both an art and a science.
If you want to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.
Thank You For Reading!