The Benefits of Nutritional Assessment - Part 1

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The Benefits of Nutritional Assessment - Part 1

06th Feb 2014

The Diet Test - Benefits of Nutritional Assessment (Part III)

The long awaited third part in the trilogy where we will look at the best way to present your assessment. In the first part we looked at why you would do this and in the second we looked at different ways you can assess a food diary. The trouble is as trainers we love the numbers, researching and the detailed breakdown of what we consume but to be honest your client most of the time doesn't. What they want is results, something easy to follow and something they are happy to do long term.

So what is the best thing you can do with your results? Present something that they will understand and use. If its not practical enough or tangible then clients sometimes don't absorb the information you give them. If they don't understand it then clients can't use it. Sounds simple but I hear personal trainers say that "the carbohydrate in your diet is 50% and you need to consume 25g less sugar" (not really practical information). Here are a few ideas of what you could do:

#1 Portion Coding: This is a simple and effective tool that works really well for people starting out. Group your foods into subheadings they can be large like macronutrients or create a few more sections like meat, fish & poultry, other vegetables, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy etc... Assign a portion size to each group (use a visual representation like palm shaped piece of meat) and give them daily targets like 3-4 portions of meat, fish and poultry per day. You can analyse their current diet based on this advice and compare daily intakes every week. The drawback is when you need to fine tune what they eat and drink to maximise health and results this is a limited tool.

#2 Visual Grams: If you work out the percentage and grams of what they consume of each macronutrient you can also set targets and compare like the portion coding system. To make this understandable and practical I would use a visual gram food list where each food is given an example like serving of broccoli is 20g of carbohydrate. This allows them to select food visually based on a scoring system they understand. The drawback is that to have a varied diet you need an extensive food list but this is something you can build over time and start it with common foods.

#3 Food List and Meal Plan: An easy way to demonstrate this is having an approved food list of foods to follow. You can then compare current diet and suggest alternatives with the aim to get the strongest eating pattern. You could combine this in an example meal plan to follow as they have an idea of what to do and can still switch out ingredients but still meet their goals. This requires you to have some cooking skills and advanced understanding on nutrition but is a guarantee results getter if followed completely. 

Often what you select will be decided by two common factors your clients goal and what they need to achieve it. Try some different techniques and see what works best for you.