Nutrition

How Your Diet Coach Is Ruining Your Metabolism


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It’s the same awful story over and over again:

Girl wants to lose fat and gain confidence.
Girl finds “Diet Guru” online and hires him.
Diet Guru practically starves girl to death, putting on her on some ridiculous 900 calorie per day diet, and cutting out all carbs and sometimes – yes sometimes – even all dietary fat.
Girl is dropping bodyfat and looks bangin’, but feels like total hell.
Diet Guru tells her “this is normal”, suck it up and stick with it.
Girl continues on the plan for a few months until she finally cannonballs off the deep end, directly into a multi-layered carrot cake and eats her way out.
Girl immediately gains back all of the weight she lost and then some, and still some more.
Girl tries dieting again on her own, but to no avail.
She is exhausted, freezing cold regardless of the temperature, foggy headed, and is still gaining weight.

The metabolic process is critical to health and life and the extremely aggressive nutrition protocols being pushed by some diet 'gurus' are doing serious damage to the system in many people.
The metabolic process is critical to health and life and the extremely aggressive nutrition protocols being pushed by some diet ‘gurus’ are doing serious damage to the system in many people.

Hello, metabolic damage.

My husband and I are nutrition coaches and we are horrified at what girls tell us – in great detail, and nearly weekly – what some of these “Diet coaches” are having them do.

“When I told him how tired I was he would tell me to pop more fat burners. I think I was taking 4 a day… on top of energy drinks… and was still a ZOMBIE.”

“I was absolutely frozen 24/7. Walking around in the 115 degree heat with a hoodie on. I was starving ALL THE TIME! I wasn’t myself.”

“… 1080 on a lifting day, and 980 on a non-lifting day. I remember commenting on how little food this felt and his response was, “It’s actually a lot compared to these fitness models”, and showed me sample diets which were around 600 calories.”

“For the next 12 weeks it was hell. I couldn’t focus in school. I gained 5lbs immediately, lost it, and then never got any leaner during those 12 weeks no matter how many times he tried doing weird things like just protein one day with no fats or carbs.

“The macros he gave me were 145g protein, 40 grams carbohydrate and 7 grams of fat.”

**I actually emailed this woman back, asking her if she had made a typo. No typo. Those were actually the macros she was expected to hit. 7 grams of fat?? I can surpass that just by licking off my homemade hemp oil lip balm! I should also mention that those whopping 7 grams of fat were supposed to come from fish oil. Because that makes everything better. Sarcasm.

Lets be clear about something. If you compete in physique competitions, there is inevitably going to be some discomfort that comes along with the stringent dieting that is required to get stage lean, however none of the snippets above are from competitors – they are from your everyday girl, looking to drop a few pounds to boost her confidence.

Furthermore, we have prepped plenty of girls for Figure, Fitness, and Bikini shows (very successfully, I might add) and not one of them has been taken down the scary paths that the girls mention above.

Listen up and write this down because this is important:

If your “coach” can’t get you lean without slashing out entire macronutrient groups, dropping your calories to downright scary levels, or having you hammer out hours and hours of cardio per day, they do not know what the hell they are doing. Period. No exceptions.

I don’t care what pics he posts on the internet, which fancy website he writes for, or how many ‘Likes’ his “trying-to-be-inspirational-but-is-really-total-bullshit quotes” gets on Facebook.

Of course his clients are getting lean. Anybody can get lean on 600-900 calories per day, or by consuming protein only. But here is an important question for his clients: how do they feel? Also, what happened to their body composition once they finally got lean, and tried to introduce more food because they felt like they might actually die subsisting on his ridiculous plan?
Get past his pretty pictures, it’s a very scary story, time and time again.

This subject is near and dear to my heart, because as you’ve probably heard, I was the victim of a coach that had me on far too of a restrictive diet, which resulted in some serious metabolic damage. It took me a long time to bounce back after rebounding with a vicious 30 pound weight gain. It was brutal on my body, and murder on my self- esteem.

Despite how great she looked at her competition, Jen's overly restrictive diet left her feeling terrible and still dealing with health repercussions today.
Despite how great she looked at her competition, Jen’s overly restrictive diet left her feeling terrible and still dealing with health repercussions today.

With the prevalence of social media, “Diet gurus” are on the hunt, just waiting to prey on innocent people (mostly women) that want to shed a few pounds for bikini season.
Lets go through a list of what is not normal when hiring or working with a nutrition coach:

• If they want to take your money or invoice you before they know anything about you or your goals – MAYDAY! Run the other direction!

  • Cutting out entire macronutrients, which will likely be all carbs or dietary fat, or (God forbid) both.
  • Disregarding or brushing off any concerns you have. This includes, but is not limited to, concerns over energy levels, hunger, simply feeling terrible, digestive issues, performance issues in the gym, ability to sleep, body temperature problems such as being cold all of the time, libido problems.
  • Getting annoyed that you are asking questions or that you are concerned.
  • Making you feel bad about your inability to stick to their ridiculous starvation plan.Beware: Don’t hire a nutrition coach without conducting an extensive interview.

Yes, you are going to interview them, and if they don’t like it, well, as my father-in-law says, “NEXT!!” After all, you are hiring them to do a job, not the other way around. As a nutrition coach myself, it is an honor to have a prospective client want to work with us and we will answer all of the questions that they have, and do so happily and with full disclosure! In addition to us answering all of their questions, every client that we bring on board has to fill out an extensive questionnaire, because we want to make sure that we understand the individual’s goals and feel confident that we can get them there, along with being the right fit for each other.
We do not take just any client that approaches us! We’ve had people reach out to us that, while I’m sure they are wonderful people, simply aren’t the right fit for our services, and it’s only fair that we tell them that. “You want to lose 45 pounds in 6 weeks? Well, that is great, but I’m not the coach for you, because I can’t get you there in a safe and healthy way.”
We will not compromise our integrity – ever, with anything – just to make a buck, and your coach shouldn’t either.

Be prepared for a good nutrition coach to ask you about:

• Your goals and the timeline in which you’d like to achieve them • Specifics on your current food intake and activity levels
• Supplements you are taking
• Medication you are taking

• Your stress levels

• Your sleep quality

• Food preferences and allergies

If a nutrition coach wants to take your money before they do any due diligence on who you are or what your goals are, you need to run the other direction – I don’t care who they are!

What should you ask a nutrition coach that you are thinking of working with?

  • How long will their program run?
  • Will they provide references of both current clients and past clients? (Past clients are important, because they don’t have any ties to the coach any longer!)
  • Are their programs customized to each person?
  • Will they give you specific meals to eat or just recommend macros to hit?
  • How often is the diet adjusted?
  • How often is the coach available for communication? Phone, email, or Skype?
  • If they are only available through email, what is the turnaround time on their correspondence?

Ask all of the questions that your heart desires, and if the coach doesn’t answer them all thoroughly and enthusiastically then find somebody else.

Losing bodyfat isn’t always a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be extremely restrictive or downright miserable. As a nutrition coach, I have the responsibility of my client’s health in my hands and that is something I take very seriously – something I can’t say for some of these other “coaches”.
Listen to your gut.

If you think something is wrong with the way your coach is having you eat, then you’re probably right. Our intuition rarely leads us astray.

Your health is more important than a quick fix or a crash diet. You can get results without starving or being relegated to egg whites, oats and broccoli, with your only dietary fat coming from a measly few fish oil pills. I promise!

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Jen Comas Keck is a nutrition expert and NASM certified trainer. Keck has a very diverse fitness journey, from cardio queen, group fitness instructor to figure competitor. This range of experience allows her to speak on a variety of topics facing people. In addtion to the mergers and acquisitions company Jen owns with her husband, she also operates a successful nutrition coaching business.
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