Protein in the real world… how much is enough for a normal client
In recent years, personal trainers around the world have turned to one macronutrient in particular, and hailed it as the Michael Jordan of the nutrition world.
It can speed up our clients' recovery from training sessions, prevent muscle loss as they diet and age and keep them ‘fuller for longer’ between meals.
In fact, here’s a list of many more benefits of protein intake you may not even have known about:
A pretty powerful macronutrient, i’m sure you’ll agree.
Let’s quickly turn to the scientific research in the area. Across the studies, you’ll find recommendations of anywhere from 1.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (1.2 g/kg/d) up to (& beyond) 3.3 g/kg/d. Better yet, the research shows that there aren’t many negative effects in the short- or medium- term of having protein intakes that high.
Therefore, should every trainer get their clients to consume as much protein as possible, because nothing bad could happen?
This is the part where you now separate yourself from the pack and become better than the rest.
We cannot deny that the research into protein is great, and promising for all of the benefits we’d love to see in clients. But the research doesn’t take into account one EXTREMELY important thing:
The people they study are NOT our clients.
Now, the average client - works 8am - 6pm, ‘wants to lose weight and be more toned’, whilst exercising 2-4 times a week. If you can make that happen for your client, you’ve won.
The truth is, your client (more than likely), couldn’t care less how many grams of protein they have per day. They just want to be told what they can eat to reach their goals.
[Pro tip… they won’t be eating 3.3 g/kg/day, ESPECIALLY when in an energy deficit]
So here’s where you can start with your client
First, meet them where they are at (because if you don’t and you just give them a target of 3-4 x their current intake, you’ll be setting them up for failure, they’ll feel like a failure, and they’ll wonder what’s the point)
Find out how much protein they’re having already. You can get them to track their foods for a couple of days via an app such as MyFitnessPal, or get them to send you photographs of every meal they have for 3 days. These aren’t foolproof of course, but they’ll at least give you a rough idea at the very least.
With this information, you can calculate their estimated protein intake per day.
For example your 70 kg female is eating 60 grams of protein per day. 60 (grams) divided by 70 (kg) = 0.86 g/kg/day.
0.86 g/kg/day is lower than the recommended 1.2 - 3.3 g/kg/day. So yes, your client will need to increase their protein. But seeing something lower than 1.2 g/kg/d doesn’t mean you have to hit the panic button straight away and have a meltdown.
Now, the next task is to fit an improved protein intake into their daily routine, without changing too much at once. One thing at a time makes the transition smoother, and much easier for your client.
If your client is creative in the kitchen, you can offer suggestions to the types of foods they can purchase from the supermarkets that are higher in protein (some examples are below for you).
For clients that aren’t so creative in the kitchen, and love to follow recipes, then supplying them with easy-to-follow, great tasting recipes (like the one below) can be a game-changer for them!
Providing your clients are adhering to their energy deficit (ideally through a combination of their resistance/cardiovascular training & their nutrition), then they’ll be on their road to results.
If this routine means your client is now happy with their lifestyle and the results they are getting. Fantastic news - you can start to focus on other aspects of their training, nutrition or lifestyle to keep their journey fun, inspiring and habitual. You don’t NEED to be looking for new ways to bump their protein intakes up, just because it’s not much higher than 1.2 g/kg/day.
Your client is HAPPY, and GETTING RESULTS. That’s what they pay you for.
Of course, if your client still isn’t quite happy with their routine, and wants to increase their protein intake - then help them do that until they are.
Work with them over time to change their habits to get to a point where everything seems easy and automatic, and they don’t have to think about how much protein they’re having every day. Nobody wants to have to track every meal, every day, for the rest of their lives.
If you’re a trainer who is looking to take their nutrition service to the next level, providing their clients with hundreds of great-tasting, easy-to-follow recipes that are high in protein then you may want to consider Fit Pro Cookbooks
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