In this article Im going to walk you through how I build macro-based nutrition programs for my clients.
The first steps include gathering a lot of data on my client. I won't get into the details here. Overall there is a lot more than just simple calculator doing the math. I'm looking at the whole picture. Where they are now, where they want to be, and what is realistic. That's where I can come up with a nutrition diagnosis. From there I can calculate the appropriate macronutrient prescription which in dietetics we would call the nutrition intervention.
I enter a person macronutrient prescription for 2-3 different types of activity days into na google spreadsheet that I share with my client. Both of us have access to the living document. Then I open up Macrokitchen.com which is a website I use to generate a library of recipes that fit the macronutrient prescription.
I'm giving a selection of recipes because the most important piece of nutrition advice I can make is to cook more of your meals at home. This is where you can fill your nutrition needs the mot accurately and there are a lot of benefits to eating as a family.
Establishing a cook at home habit is critical to the success of my clients because if they can start to learn what a healthy meal looks like at home they can transfer these skills into the public. I'm very keen on behavior change and know that cooking at home is a fundamental behavior. It's not easy, but it can look as simple as it needs to be to get my client on the right track.
Recipe Selection Process
With the macronutrients per meal, I enter that data into MacroKitchen.com as well as any allergies, dislikes, and preferences.
If someone wants a sheet pan meal, or is cooking more soups at home, or is looking for tacos to make for an upcoming party, I try to look for recipes similar to that. I want to make the process so easy for my clients so that they act on it.
Side note- One of the difficult parts of my job as a Registered Dietitian is that it lacks the instant gratification I know people want. I would love instant results! But I know after years of studying nutrition, and the years of research that nutrition scientists have done, changing our nutrition habits and making them stick takes a long time. That's why I onboard my clients onto a 12-month program. I know it's going to take at least 1 year to make the desired changes and make them stick.
Anyways, that's why I am building the nutrition program the way I do because it
Shows people the importance of cooking at home.
Allows people to see there are no "magic" weight loss or muscle gain foods.
Fosters self-efficacy so that they can in turn teach someone, like their children or relatives.
Empowers people to take control of their lifestyle choices.
Gives them the education and skills they need to succeed, not just in nutrition but everywhere in life.
After I select the recipes, I enter at least 2-3 for every macronutrient day and share with my client. why this number? Because what I'm hoping for is my client clicks the recipe, looks at the ingredients and makes a grocery shopping list. It would be overwhelming to do any more than 3 recipes a week. I know this from experience!
Also to generate a grocery list for more than 1 person requires some math and its easier / less time consuming to multiply servings and ingredients for 2-3 recipes rather than 10.
Another reason I select this number is because typically my clients are eating about 4-5 times a day. 3 meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack somewhere in between. 3 entree style recipes allows us to come up with custom snacks.
During the coaching process, we will discuss a lot of lifestyle factors, and incorporate many of the intuitive-like eating elements. Honoring hunger and fullness for example, is something I always discuss with clients. Macronutrient prescriptions can sometimes skew our hunger and fullness. For the most part though its educational, and can bring insight to what does hunger feel like for my clients. Some of my clients don't know what hunger feels like. That can happen after years of cyclic or yo-yo dieting.
When we are in the coaching process, we will talk about hunger and fullness and build snacks. I know what foods have macronutrient profiles faster and so it's easy for me to mentally come up with snacks that are considered "macro-friendly" to my client.
I will then build the recipe in Nutritionix , the food tracking app my clients use, and send it to them. It's usually via screen shot so that he or she can then enter it in to the app.
Once the recipes, snacks and other goals have been discussed and sent to my client, we keep in contact via text until our next session. We constantly revise the plan, develop new recipes and monitor goals!