Five years ago, if I overhead someone at the gym mentioning that they had a nutrition coach I’d assume that a) they were some sort of elite or professional athlete b) they had a large amount of disposable income or c) both.
Now, nutrition coaching has hit the mainstream in powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit and everything in between. No longer reserved for the top one percent trying to gain an edge, you’d be hard-pressed to walk into any gym and not find someone who isn’t tracking their macros, following a template or working with a nutrition coach.
And while nutrition is a crucial component to any level of athletic performance, is it worth the financial investment? Does the average, non-elite athlete really need a nutrition coach? It depends.
IT WILL HELP YOU IF…
You struggle to stick to diets.
Change diets or macro numbers as often as your clothes? Having a nutrition coach provides accountability and gives you a direct line to someone to help keep you in check. The stress is mostly off of you. You don’t have to worry bout whether you are eating too much or too little, that’s your coaches job.
Having someone simplify your weekly goals while keeping your big picture goals in mind can be a great thing.
You compete in a sport with weight classes.
You lift in the 69kg weight class, but maybe you want to try to get down to 63kg. The problem is, most of us who aren’t well versed in nutrition have no clue how to lose weight without sapping all of our strength and energy. That’s where a coach comes in.
Not only can they take a lot of the stress off of you —as mentioned above— they’re going to be realistic about whether you can lose weight and lay out a plan to ensure you can still perform at a high-level come meet day.
You have specific body composition goals (lean out, add muscle etc.) and no clue how to get there.
If there was a way you could eat more and weigh less with no guilt, why wouldn’t you take it? A lot of athletes discover when they start working with a nutrition coach that they are majorly under-eating. Which means more food!
A good nutrition coach is going to work with you on a plan that meets your goals—whether your focus is on body composition changes or just fueling your performance. Effective nutrition coaching is not just about food. It’s about re-training your mindset towards food. A lot of people who come into strength sports are still afraid of carbs, or over-indulging. Working with a coach can help you break through some of those mental barriers.
You’re stuck in a rut.
Maybe you’ve hit a wall with your training lately. Or you’re tired all the time and constantly sick or rundown. Dialing in your nutrition can help you break through that and a good nutrition coach can spot some areas where you probably are (unknowingly!) doing more harm than good. Yes, you actually can eat your way to better performance and PRs.
IT MAY NOT BE FOR YOU IF…
Money is an issue.
Look, personal nutrition coaching is expensive. Think of it as having an personalized coach constantly tweaking your training and providing feedback. For a lot of people, it’s too much of an expense to justify.
Fortunately, there’s some cheaper options. Renaissance Periodization offers templates and Avatar Nutrition will generate your daily macro numbers and make adjustments each week for a nominal fee (Avatar’s membership costs a mere $9.99/month). This might require a bit more time and effort on your part than having a in person coach but you can still see some awesome results. Remember, you could have the best nutrition coach in the world— but if you don’t put the work in, it won’t matter.
You eat pretty clean already.
There are people who can eat intuitively without going completely overboard. Maybe you previously tracked macros or followed a diet template for a period of time, so you have a general idea of how much you need to eat. If that’s the case, and you’re happy with where you’re at, keep doing what you’re doing!
You don’t have any specific diet or training goals.
You lift so you can eat drink beer on the weekends? Go to CrossFit five days a week to cancel out your sweet tooth? While it’s not the best strategy from an overall health standpoint, there’s no need to overhaul things if you’re happy just training and letting your nutrition be lax. Just know though that 1) you are leaving gains on the table and 2) you can only out-work a bad diet for so long.