Why Nutrition is Essential for Fitness Coaching (+ How To Create a Nutrition Plan for Your Clients)

Why Nutrition is Essential for Fitness Coaching (+ How To Create a Nutrition Plan for Your Clients)

In today's world, fitness coaching is no longer just about hitting the gym and working out. It's also about nutrition. Proper nutrition is essential for optimal health and function, both in and out of the gym. 

Without including nutrition in your program designs, exercise is just a bandaid. You can’t build fitness on a shaky foundation of poor nutrition behaviors.

In this blog, we'll explore why nutrition is essential for fitness coaching and how to create a simple but sustainable nutrition plan for your clients.


Why Nutrition is Essential for Fitness Coaching

When it comes to fitness coaching, nutrition is just as important as exercise. Proper nutrition can help clients reach their fitness goals faster, improve their overall health and wellbeing, and even enhance their mood and cognitive function.

Here are some of the key reasons why nutrition is essential for fitness coaching:

  1. Fueling Daily Function: Nutrition provides the body with the fuel it needs to perform at its best. By eating the right foods, clients can optimize their energy levels, endurance, and strength, which will help them perform better during workouts and in their daily lives.
  2. Supporting Recovery: Nutrition is essential for recovery, which is essential for preventing injury and maintaining consistent progress. Proper nutrition can help clients recover faster from workouts, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep quality, all of which are crucial for overall health and wellbeing.
  3. Promoting Optimal Health: Proper nutrition can help clients prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also boost the immune system, improve gut health, and enhance cognitive function.

So, Why Do So Many Coaches Skip Nutrition?

Exercise and nutrition go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t have a conversation about health without including both.

We all know that nutrition matters. It’s even become cliche to say that “what you do outside the gym matters more than the hour you spend working out.” But although we all know how true this is, we tend to focus too much energy program design and not enough on lifestyle and nutrition.

As fitness coaches, it’s our job to help our clients get healthier. It’s a responsibility we should take very seriously. So why do so many coaches limit themselves to just delivering workouts?

There are three big reasons why coaches stop at exercise:

  1. A lack of knowledge and confidence. Exercise is their bread and butter while nutrition and lifestyle aren’t covered by most coaching education.
  2. Behaviors outside the gym are harder to implement! Coaches have control over what their clients do in their sessions, but typically don’t have a great system to manage nutrition and lifestyle. 
  3. Just like exercise, nutrition gets overcomplicated. Clients think they need to try keto and coaches feel the pressure to jump to macro prescriptions and fasting protocols. As well as being unsustainable, in some areas these types of prescriptions can be outside the scope of coaches. 

If you’re serious about being a fitness professional—both delivering exceptional results to your clients and offering a high-value coaching service that provides you with a sustainable career—then you have to overcome these challenges.

In the next section, we’ll share a simple approach to coaching nutrition so you can deliver a high-value and complete coaching service. 


Creating a Nutrition Plan for Your Clients

Now that we've established why nutrition is essential for fitness coaching, let's dive into how to create a nutrition plan for your clients.

Keep it Simple and Start with the Basic Lifestyle Guidelines

Fitness coaches should start with simple lifestyle behaviors before trying to prescribe complex nutrition protocols because building a strong foundation of healthy habits is crucial for long-term success. 

Starting with small, achievable changes such as drinking more water, getting enough sleep, and increasing daily activity can create a positive momentum and help clients feel empowered and motivated to make further improvements. Simple lifestyle behaviors also have a significant impact on overall health and well-being, and can often lead to better food choices and more mindful eating habits without the need for complex nutrition plans. 

By starting with the basics and gradually building upon them, fitness coaches can help their clients create sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes that promote health and fitness.

In the OPEX Method, we refer to these behaviors as the Basic Lifestyle Guidelines, or BLGs. You can read more about the BLGs in this blog. We also have a simple checklist that coaches can incorporate into their coaching process to ensure basic standards are met across the 8 BLGs.


  • Are intentions (goals) clear?


  • Is a consistent daily rhythm set?


  • Is food quality good enough?*
  • Are they at a rested state and chewing their food fully per meal?


*Learn how OPEX coaches assess food logs using a tiered system from lower order to higher order in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program.



  • Are they getting at least 50% of body weight in ounces per day in water?


  • Are they moving at least 30 min per day?


  • Are they getting at least 15 min of sun per day with 50%+ skin exposed?


  • Are they sleeping at least 7 hours per day?



Creating a Nutrition Plan

While 95% of your clients will see great success without specific nutrition plans if they follow the BLGs, you may find that it’s necessary to 

  1. Set Goals: The first step in creating a nutrition plan is to set goals with your clients. Use the consultation to determine what their fitness goals are and how nutrition can help them achieve those goals.
  2. Assess Their Current Diet: Next, assess your clients' current diet to identify areas for improvement. Ask them to keep a food log for 3 days to get an idea of what they're eating.
  3. Create a Nutrition Rx: Once you've identified areas for improvement, create a meal plan that includes nutrient-dense whole foods. The meal plan should be personalized to meet your clients' specific needs and preferences. In the OPEX Method, we utilize macronutrient prescriptions for clients who need to focus on food quantity and including adequate protein, carbs and fats into their diet. Download this free guide to learn how to develop personalized macronutrient plans. 
  4. Provide Education: It's important to educate your clients on the importance of proper nutrition and how it can help them reach their goals. Providing them with resources such as articles, recipes, and cooking tips can help them be successful in complying with the nutrition plan. 
  5. Monitor Progress: Monitor your clients' progress and adjust their nutrition plan as needed. Encourage them to provide feedback and make adjustments accordingly. We recommend utilizing the Lifestyle Rx feature in CoachRx to deliver nutrition plans and monitor compliance. The client receives a daily nutrition to-do that they can mark complete (or not) and record any additional comments and photos for reference. 


Sustainable Results, Sustainable Career

Nutrition is an essential component of fitness coaching. It provides the body with the fuel it needs to perform at its best, supports recovery, and promotes optimal health. 

By creating a personalized nutrition plan for your clients, you can help them reach their fitness goals faster, improve their overall health and wellbeing, and enhance their mood and cognitive function. 

In turn, this increases your value as a coach and will help you create a sustainable career doing what you love. 

If you're looking for a complete system for coaching your clients, then start with our Free Fitness Coaching Course and get an introduction to the OPEX method of coaching.

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Fitness Assessments for New Clients