By Manny Laris
Would you say that most of your clients are trying to lose weight?
If yes, did you know that the typical approach for most coaches is to put their clients on a caloric deficit? I don’t have to tell you that this just ends with some very unhappy, starving clients. The problem is that it’s not always obvious straight away. Why? Because many of these clients will lose some weight at the beginning but will eventually stop seeing results.
What happens then? The inexperienced coach will then often add more of a calorie deficit to induce further weight loss.
This is not a good plan!
Eventually this method will cease working and the client will be left feeling miserable, stressed, and undernourished. Prolonged underfeeding will set them up to fail resulting in a rebound in their weight.
How to Handle it
So, what should coaches be doing instead?
Simple. The experienced coaches implement PERIODIZATION.
The body, being an adaptive system, will quickly re-baseline itself around the stimulus we give it, which is why restrictive eating plans stop working. Experienced coaches are aware of this fact and will vary their approach regularly to avoid this.
Remember, the longer you stay in a caloric deficit, the more you attract the negative side effects of prolonged underfeeding. You decrease the body’s ability to build new muscle while at the same time triggering it to accelerate muscle protein breakdown.
Furthermore, thyroid function will start to downregulate, resulting in a lower metabolic rate. Energy and libido will start to crash. Hunger and cravings will go out of control. The bottom line? You can’t make your clients diet forever.
Overfeeding also comes with its risks. In the short term, a caloric surplus will result in:
- an increase in muscle protein synthesis
- A decrease of muscle protein breakdown
- the upregulation of the thyroid function
- improved libido
- better recovery
- more energy
But overfeed for too long and then you’re dealing with insulin resistance, inflammation, and excess baggage.
Periodization can help you to maximize the benefit your client will get from over or underfeeding while minimizing the costs. Spend too much time trying to get the benefits, and you will get negative results. It’s all about timing! This takes experience and understanding of the periodization process.
Spend just the right amount of time in either state – over and under feeding – and your clients can make progress without accruing too much damage.
Is Periodization the Same for Every Client?
No! Periodization will be different for every client. One client may do well on a particular deficit for weeks while another adapts quickly and needs a change in days.
So, if this is the case and it’s not straightforward and easily systematized to introduce short term periodization, how do you help your clients succeed? How do you go about making the day-to-day and week-to-week changes needed to keep your clients benefiting from the nutrition intervention?
You have to pay attention to how your clients go! This means individualised attention!
Why Do Clean Health Coaches Succeed?
CHFI-educated coaches get results. Why? Here are the top reasons why they are leaders in the fitness and nutrition industries.
- They collect weekly biofeedback from their clients
- They make changes according to the biofeedback results. If a client is not succeeding or not feeling great, then adjustments are made.
- They know how to periodize!
- Nutrition is a fundamental part of the plan.
This is where you really prove your value as a nutrition coach. Good coaches ask heaps of questions and adjust their approach based on the information they get back. Bad coaches pull out a premade template, email it to the client, and cross their fingers for a decent enough result. Don’t let this be you!
CHFI-educated coaches possess a myriad of periodization strategies that can be used once clients stop seeing results. Examples of these include the Zig Zag Cycle, the undulating cycle, the 5:2 cycle, and many more.
If you would like to develop your coaching skills and become an expert in nutrition periodization, check out our Performance Nutrition Coach Level 1 program today.