Let’s define “diet coach” as someone you are leaning on or working with to help you with your eating and weight loss. Throughout the years of performing in-person and also online nutrition coaching services, I have come across stories about diet coaches that just make my head spin. What makes it worse is when sometimes the client working with this particular diet coach does not see the wrong doing or mistakes that his or her coach is making. It is hard not to get upset when a devoted client is usually PAYING someone for advice and guidance and they are being fed a bunch of non-realistic or even safe information. I am certain there are always good intentions, but what needs to be realized is that you are dealing with people’s health, time, and money, things that hold a lot value to pretty much everyone. As the client, you don’t know what you don’t know. How would you know if the diet coach you are leaning on isn’t competent or the right fit for you? (Sound of curtain opening to today’s blog post discussion…). If you’re on a weight loss journey and working with a diet coach, I’ve gathered some “red flag” signs to beware of to ensure you’re not wasting your time, and money!
1. Your Diet is the Same as What your Coach is Following
He’s a male, 72 inches, 225lbs, and you’re female, 65 inches, and 180lbs. There’s no way you should be following the same diet plan! This shows there is no knowledge base present to be able to customize your dietary needs. You’re trainer or coach may be in great shape, but it doesn’t mean that he or she is competent to help people with their diet. There is a huge world of difference from being able to eat healthy yourself and educating others on nutrition AND getting them to apply it. There is so much you have to take in consideration when creating meal plans for individuals: gender, weight, activity level, food allergies or limitations, past history with dieting, lifestyle, medications, medical conditions, and cooking skills just to name a few!!
2. Your Diet Coach has No Credentials
Is the person you are leaning on for diet support someone who has a degree, license, or certification(s)? Or is he or she simply trying to help people after they themselves lost weight? Or perhaps they are simply in great shape and eat healthy themselves? What happens here is without proper training, this particular person can only share what he or she has read about or experienced themselves. That can become dangerous, biased, and usually ends unsuccessfully. Just because they are in great shape and eat healthy does NOT make them an expert! This particular kind of person would be great to have in your corner for encouragement and for motivation, but not to be the core of your diet planning. It’s important that you do not hesitate to ask a potential diet coach for his or her credentials and working experience when it comes to nutrition.
3. Your Diet is Written on a Piece of Notebook Paper
I have truly seen this before, my goodness! This is a huge red flag that they have no real plan for you. It’s more of a “let me jot down some examples of healthy meals” plan. What does that lead to?! There’s no rhyme or reason usually to this madness. It also shows that there are no systems in place in the future for your diet. Where is the flexibility? What is the next step 2 weeks from now? 6 weeks from now? It also shows that this person is not professional or in high demand at what they do when it comes to eating. If they had a lot of clients lining up to work with this individual to help them with your diet, writing down diets on pieced of notebook paper isn’t efficient, so it’s a sign this person does not write diet plans often. Beware!
4. You are Charged $0 for a Diet Plan
You get what you pay for on this one. Do want someone who is doing you a favor or someone who is really going to help you in the long-haul with your weight loss? You are walking yourself into a dead end here. This happens often with personal trainers who want the best for their clients so they throw them a free plan. Perhaps it will spark interest and motivation, but if a trainer really wants to help their client see results, they should refer them to someone who does specialize in nutrition and weight loss. Being a personal trainer does not necessarily qualify them to give nutrition advise. There are laws that state you must hold a license or degree of certification to even talk to people about nutrition. As a trainer, your clients will appreciate you more and hang around longer if they know you truly care about their success, even if that means referring them elsewhere for diet support, trust me, they will stick with you!
5. You’ve Been Told “carbs make you fat”
Huge sign this person lacks training and knowledge. Period. Anything in excess can make you gain weight. There are also physiological reasons why the scale goes up and down with fluctuations in your carbohydrate intake. If you aren’t suppose to eat carbs, then that means you’re living off of protein and fats and that is very limiting and not sustainable for 99% of people. Are you wanting to eat slabs of meat all day like a caveman? Me either. There is a middle ground to everything. You don’t have to completely eliminate food groups to be successful.
6. Your Diet Coach Avoids your Questions or Cannot Answer your Questions
It is impossible to know literally EVERYTHING about diet and nutrition, but questions that pertain to you and your goals should absolutely be able to be answered. If not, drop everything and run! If your diet coach just simply ignores your questions or doesn’t respond in an email, text, or other, it is completely unprofessional and shows a lack of effort to help you. What kind of nutrition coaching program do you want? Someone who truly cares about your success or just partially cares whenever it is convenient for them?
7. Your diet is below 1200 calories
Oh boy. Majority of times any diet plan that falls below 1200 calories is usually monitored by a doctor or physician and is conducted for medical reasons. If you’re just trying to lose weight, anyone that has had a spectacle of nutrition training knows this is a huge no-no! You should not have to starve your body to lose weight. This a HUGE red flag that there is no competency here with your diet coach. You are asking to take a hit with energy levels, metabolism, and thyroid output. You’ll also take a huge hit in your ability to support your workouts and also KEEP the weight off!
8. Your Diet Coach is Overweight Themselves
I don’t care how much training they have, the person you rely on needs to walk the walk! What kind of example are they showing you? That eating healthy is pushed by the way side in seasons? There are many phases to eating, including the maintenance and relapse stage. If your diet coach cannot maintain their own healthy eating habits, how are they suppose to teach YOU how to do so also?
If you’re needing assistance with your weight loss, invest the time and do your research. Make sure you find a resource or program that will provide you sustainable results, not just for this week or next. You’ll be putting in the work, you want someone or something to support the process, not interrupt it. Take a peek at our “Weight Loss Programs Compared: Which Program is Best for You?” article to help with your research.