There are a lot of people dishing out nutrition advice these days. There are influencers on every social media platform you can name, telling you what and when to eat. Low-carb, low-fat, keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, plant-based; look up any of these hashtags, and you’ll find many self-proclaimed experts telling you why each of these diets is the best thing since sliced bread.
We have covered some of these diets before (low-carb, low-fat, intermittent fasting), and in every case, there is a nuanced discussion to be had about the pros and cons of each of these approaches. There is no single best diet for everyone. Whether you are trying to burn some excess body fat or simply optimize your health, there is no universal approach to nutrition that will work best for everyone.
So then, why is there so much conflicting information out there? The pretty lady on TikTok with hundreds of thousands of followers swears that a plant-based diet solves all the world’s problems. Yet, another very fit-looking lady on Instagram with just as many followers says eating meat and skipping breakfast is the key.
There might be better places to get your nutrition information than social media. While some great accounts are sharing valuable and vetted information, many accounts will share a one-sided approach to nutrition because that is in line with a service or product they sell.
So if social media isn’t the best place for nutrition advice, who are the professionals and experts you can rely on for sound advice?
While some laws vary from state to state, Registered Dieticians (RDs) are the only nutrition professionals that can prescribe diets and supplements to treat medical and clinical conditions. They are also the only nutrition professionals that can interpret bloodwork to diagnose vitamin or mineral deficiencies or other more severe conditions like diabetes.
A registered dietician can help you cut through the noise and make a plan that will work
RDs complete a four-year degree program and log hundreds of hours in a rigorous internship. By earning their degree and passing a licensure exam, registered dieticians are qualified to offer medical nutritional therapy (MNT) to treat conditions such as diabetes through diet and close monitoring.
So, where does that leave the personal trainer, strength coach, nutrition coach, or health coach you might work with? Are they not allowed to give you nutrition advice simply because they do not have an ‘RD’ after their name?
As long as they are knowledgeable about nutrition, any professional in the fitness industry can talk to clients about what food to eat in more general terms. A good coach should encourage you to eat lean protein and nutrient-rich vegetables as well as be able to educate you on the benefits of protein, healthy fats, and carbs as an energy source. A good coach should be able to help you develop good food prep skills and let you know about evidence-based nutritional supplements that can support a healthy lifestyle but not replace healthy habits.
A coach also doesn’t need a four-year degree to suggest that their clients drink water to stay hydrated. That one is pretty obvious. As long as coaches and trainers aren’t diagnosing conditions or prescribing exact foods and meal plans, they are simply doing their job by offering nutrition advice to their clients.
The key takeaway? Getting the proper nutrition advice to support your specific goals can seem complicated, especially if you are trying to navigate the wild west of conflicting information on social media. Working with a reputable nutrition or fitness professional can be a great way to cut through the noise and help you develop a plan that is best suited for your needs and goals.
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