Early this month I completed the Precision Nutrition program and I am now a certified coach in Sports and Exercise Nutrition. In today's article I will summarize the pro's and con's of this program, my most important learnings and what's going to be next.
Why was I looking to do an education in nutrition coaching?
Very generally I aim to never stand still. I simply like to always keep developing and improving myself. I aim to follow Bruce Lee's famous quote to try to always "be happy, but never satisfied." This is not just important for physical development, training and improvement but also mentally to keep life fresh and interesting.
I want to constantly refine and improve the 4 Legs Fitness model of which nutrition in one of the four essential elements. After extensive research for programs that are very practical, not too expensive, easily accessible and with a lot of flexibility I eventually found Precision Nutrition.
Precision Nutrition FTW
The Sports and Exercise Nutrition program and certificate by Precision Nutrition is first and foremost a very solid education that is offered in a very flexible way. Once you paid, you basically have as much time as you want to complete it. It took me about 10 months to complete all the 17 modules. They have an excellent (huge 626 page) text book and a lot of additional resources like videos, questionnaires for re-use and a rich database of free nutrition and training articles.
The Precision Nutrition education is not just about nutrition "hard skills." The first half does dive into these topics such as what our cells do in our bodies and what they need, how energy is transformed, metabolism, and how we process macro- and micro nutrient. But then the second part also covers the soft skills about nutrition coaching, which means working with real people. Especially this part was very inspirational. Towards the end, several business models about how nutrition knowledge and coaching expertise can be leveraged via various business models, which gave me many ideas.
There are two things that could be improved. First, a few times especially in the first part of the program some (complex) concepts are introduced but then not explained in enough detail. I would prefer to either simplify the concept, point to supplementary materials, or simply leave it out entirely.
Second, the text book is just huge, heavy and basically impossible to bring with you on travels. Maybe this text book can be split up into various smaller, or simply provided as an ebook or Kindle version.
Some of my key learnings
One of my key take-aways is that our human bodies are a masterpiece and incredibly complex. But successful transformations towards your goal -- what ever that is -- does not necessarily have to be complex or complicated. Best is to always start with simple. Always come back to the main and most important principle of weight loss or performance improvement, which is all about calorie in vs calorie out.
Diet protocols or programs such as Intermittent Fasting, Keto, low-carb, Atkins, Paleo etc. are just ways to implement this principle and make it easier for people to follow and achieve a negative energy balance. For some people some diets are more appropriate and helps them to achieve their goals. This is all about personal preference because the most important thing about a diet is to be able to stick to it consistently and long term. No point in forcing yourself to do something which is hard and which you hate. You won't do it for long and you won't be happy. A successful diet is a habit that you manage to introduce because you like it. Examples include drinking a glass of water in the morning, swapping white bread for dark bread, or swapping soft drinks for fresh juices.
In line with this idea of simplicity, Precision Nutrition also offers a very "handy" method that allows to avoid exact calorie counting, which can be very tedious. In their article "Forget calorie counting: Try this calorie control guide for men and women" Precision Nutrition offers to simply use your hand to compare and determine how to size to portions on your plate. It is only an estimation but in most cases it is accurate enough but so much more convenient and faster than getting out your kitchen scale and your calorie counting app.
Now that I have completed this program and certification, we have big plans and a lot of interesting projects will be coming up to put knowledge into action. I am currently working on an effective but simple nutrition and training program, which I will publish before the end of the year.
Apart from that, I am looking at the next development and education options to improve 4 Legs Fitness and to further grow my knowledge in this field. I came across the Functional Movement System (FMS) which seems to be in line and an excellent addition to 4 Legs Fitness.
For more details about our broader and more holistic concept of the 4 Legs of Fitness including resistance training, cardio, nutrition and recovery, check out our book From Healthy to Athletic: How to Master the 4 Ingredients to Superior Fitness.