During my time as a personal trainer and coach, one of the most common questions people ask me on calls or over message is “can you write me a meal plan?”It makes total sense as to why people would want this. It’s much easier having a fixed plan to follow and it’s much more convenient having the thought all taken out for you.
But there’s a whole host of issues with relying on a meal plan:
1. The person writing them often isn’t qualified
In order to write a personalised meal plan you need to be a registered dietician. Just let this sink in for a moment and have a look at how many people try to sell you a meal plan. I’m not a gambler, but I can safely bet the VAST majority of people selling meal plans aren’t dieticians.
Anyone can go into myfitness pal and work out what foods can add up to a certain amount of calories. And anyone can create a pdf of a 1200 calorie diet and send it over to you in exchange for cash. YOU could sell a meal plan tomorrow if you know how to present and market it. But very often there’s no actual coaching involved for people who use these meal plans.
The fitness industry is widely unregulated and it’s worrying how many times I’ve seen people spend hundreds of pounds on meal plans from “fitness influencers” only to regain the weight they lost shortly after stopping the plan. Which brings me onto my next point…
2. They don’t work long term because you don’t learn anything
“Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for the rest of his life.” A very familiar phrase and it’s still true today! One of my jobs as a personal trainer and online coach is to help my clients learn about nutrition as they practice it. That way, they can be confident in their understanding of nutrition, practice it for life and most importantly, not get sucked into any fad diets that they see.
A meal plan can help you lose weight, but so can lots of other things. Anyone can lose weight; it’s keeping it off that’s the hard part! And meal plans cannot prepare people for what to do after they stop using them. Because they don’t teach people how to eat, what food choices or habits they could make or why they’re doing them. They just give them a set list of what to eat. So when people use them and lose weight thing look like they’re going well!
But then after that, the weight just creeps back up again. Because after people finish with a meal plan they don’t know where to go from there. And they often fall back into their old habits. Which beings us on to the last point….
3. They don’t address the reasons why people needed a plan in the first place.
Very often people put on weight due to life circumstances. Whether it’s a busy workload, lack of knowledge around nutrition or other life factors, it’s not a case of people gaining weight overnight. It’s often a gradual process that happens overtime. And as a result, reversing that process takes time.
Helping someone figure out how to manage their nutrition around their individual lifestyle will do far more good long term than throwing a meal plan at them and leaving them to it. If you’ve struggled with healthy eating due to things like a lack of knowledge, lack of time or an unhealthy relationship with food then would it not be more beneficial to tackle that instead of relying on a meal plan.
Whether my 1-1 clients are in person or online, the main takeaway that I want anyone who works with me to have is a better understanding of nutrition and a better relationship with food and how they can tweak it to suit their individual lifestyle. It’s much better to empower people than it is to just lead them by the hand. So to anyone who wants a meal plan from me I’m afraid I can’t help you (and neither should other non-dieticians be!) but I can give you something much better. A better relationship with food and a better understanding of how to take control of your nutrition without sacrificing your social life.
And if that sounds good to you, then click the button below to book a call!