Fitness: Is your trainer qualified to give diet advice?

Just because a fitness trainer can help you lift weights, that doesn’t mean they can help you prepare a diet plan, Jill Barker writes.

Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette files

Qualified fitness trainers know all about the right way to do a workout. But do they know the right way to eat?

Despite the seemingly natural link between diet and exercise, most trainers have no more than a few hours of nutrition education. Yet even with this limited knowledge base, they often assume the role of diet guru to their clients.

“Gym members like the idea of one-stop shopping,” said Lisa Rutledge, a Montreal-area dietitian. “But I don’t advise people on how to squat, and trainers shouldn’t give advice on how to eat.”

Rutledge says gym culture perpetuates a diet culture, largely due to the number of people who equate exercise with weight loss. Other diets popular with the gym crowd come with promises of bigger muscles or improved athletic performance. Yet despite the tendency for trainers to feel confident in their ability to provide diet advice, there’s little to suggest they have the appropriate training and knowledge to counsel clients about what to eat, much less reach lofty goals by changing their diet.

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