How many diets have you tried but failed at achieving your goal? Did you achieve the goal but backtrack afterwards? And my last question is… did you have a nutrition coach during that process? If not, I have some information I’d like to share with you that I think will help. If you did, you’ll probably still learn a thing or two in this post, so read on.
Today, I’m going to discuss templated nutritional programs and individualized ones. The positives, the negatives, and a few examples along the way.
The Templated Nutrition Program
A templated program is just that. A template. Typically when starting with one, you’ll either take it out of a book, article on a website, or enter your characteristics and goal into someone’s “calculator” and vuala, there’s your plan. Some will tell you when and how much to eat, some will tell you to avoid certain foods, and some won’t tell you anything at all. I smell a problem brewin’.
To be honest, I really don’t agree with the whole idea of templated nutrition programs because of the fact that every single person is so different. Genetics, how you were raised, environment, metabolic history, current intake, age, gender, activity level, and so on are MAJOR factors that go into developing a nutritional prescription for someone, so choosing a program that doesn’t consider those is just short-sighted in my opinion. All too often these days people will go for the fast fix without taking the long term consequences into account. Templated nutrition programs are the perfect example. Sure, you may get very lean eating 1000 calories a day on the “fat loss track”, but what do you think will happen when you go back to your normal habits? Most likely putting all that weight back on, plus more! Not to mention that you’ll probably damage your metabolism permanently!
Other than the inter-personal differences, templated programs don’t allow changes to be made based on the body’s response. For example: let’s take two 180 pound male recreational Crossfitters who both want to lose weight. A templated program might tell them to eat 2500 calories per day. After a week of eating that amount, one of them loses three pounds and the other gains three. That’s great for the guy who lost weight but what about the other? Should he continue to eat 2500 cal and hope that the scale turns around? This is the problem with a templated approach, there is no way to re-direct.
Having no one to be accountable to is another pitfall of most templated programs. We all know it’s much easier to not eat that cookie when you know you’ll have to answer to someone about it when you mess up your macros that day. I find that this reason ALONE can determine success or failure on a templated based approach, not to mention all the other negatives I’ve mentioned above.
With all of that being said, I will say that templated programs are generally cheaper (or free) than using an individualized approach, so it may be a viable option for some who would like some sort of nutritional intervention without having to break the bank.
The Individualized Approach
On the flip side of the coin, we have the individualized nutritional program. Typically you will go through an intake questionnaire to lay the groundwork for a coach. This will include things like: height, weight, age, goal, job, activity level, stress, food allergies, injuries, current supplements, etc. Also normally included is a food log of your current intake. The coach will then take this information and create an individualized prescription for you and only you.
The benefits of an individualized approach are one in the same as the hindrances of the templated approach. I think any human with some level of common sense can agree that following a plan that is specifically designed for you is the right way to go. Knowing your past metabolic history and connecting it with your goal is an imperative part of the this process. We can punch your information into a total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) formula and we’ll get a number, but should you start eating that amount tomorrow if you’ve been chronically undereating by 500 calories? No way, your metabolism has adapted to remain steady at that amount and an immediate increase by 500 calories per day will yield a huge fat gain. This is where having a knowledgeable coach becomes so important. They’ll know that an incremental build up to your maintenance level is needed to ensure you don’t put on a bunch of fat. No template can know that information. That is just one example of why the coaching process is so important, there are many others of course.
In sharp contrast to the templated approach, having a coach who you know is checking up on you is going to make you eat better, period. Even if it’s subconsciously, you know you don’t want to report eating a crappy diet to your coach, so the decision of “should I eat this pint of ice cream or just have a protein shake and some peanut butter?” becomes a lot easier. Compliance to a healthier way of eating increases when you follow the individualized approach.
Again, with all that being said, individualized nutrition programs tend to be more expense than their templated nemeses. But from my point of view, you get what you pay for. In this example, you pay for a coach who will mentor and guide you to your goal, and you get a healthier life, better habits, and irreplaceable knowledge about your body and mind.
The fact that people are taking steps to a healthier life is great, whether it be through a template or individualized. I just want to create awareness around the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches. You are an adult and I applaud you for getting this far, it means you care about your health to some degree.
The reason I wrote this post is the same reason why we created Outbreak Nutrition. It is an individualized approach that follows the guidelines of what was described above. We create a plan for you and work with you to find the right path to your goal. Let us help you! If you’re interested, please email me at Paul@crossfitoutbreak.com and we can talk about details and get started!
The pricing page for Outbreak Nutrition can be found here.