3 Easy Ways to Help Clients Eat More Protein
One of the biggest challenges you may face as a nutrition coach is helping your clients eat more protein.
If a client has never followed a macronutrient-based nutrition plan, the idea of hitting a specific ‘protein goal’ may be completely foreign to them. As a coach, you will need to educate your clients on the importance of protein, what their protein options are and how to eat enough protein in their day.
This article will help you do just that! And even if you’re not a coach, you can still apply these tips to your own nutrition journey.
1. Teach the importance of protein
Protein is the building block of muscles, tissues and organs. It helps the body maintain muscle mass and promotes muscle growth during strength training . Protein can even repair the body after injury.
Have you ever been told to do something and wondered why it was important? Learning that “why” likely helped you want to do it, right? Your client needs to understand that eating protein is critical for their health and is necessary for them to reach their fitness and nutrition goals.
Teaching your clients about the importance of protein in the body will help them understand the science behind what you are asking them to do.
2. Educate about protein options
When a client hears the word ‘protein’ their brain likely jumps right to meat. This might be overwhelming if they then assume that increasing meat consumption is the only way to hit their protein goal.
Here are other non-meat options you can recommend to help your client eat more protein:
- Peanut butter powder
- Eggs/egg whites
- Fish and
- High-protein grains and veggies
There are also some alternative/supplemental protein ideas you can share with your client:
- BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids)
- Whey protein
- Egg white protein
- Plant-based protein
- Insect protein
- Collagen peptides
If they want to explore any or all of these options, you can send them here. We break down every protein option listed above. Make sure your client knows to check with their doctor before adding any supplements!
Coaching pro tip: Keep in mind that drinking protein in the form of shakes can result in increased hunger. This is because liquid digests much faster than solid food and the body doesn’t have to work as hard to break it down . If you are noticing your client is hitting their protein goals but complaining of frequent hunger, you may want to review how often they are utilizing shakes and protein powders.
What if I have a vegan/vegetarian client?
Animal protein is the easiest for the body to assimilate but it is still possible to help your client eat more protein as a vegan or vegetarian . They’ll need to focus on hitting their protein goals through consuming legumes, nuts and seeds. This article includes an entire list of vegan protein food sources your client can use!
In general, whole food sources of protein are the most nutrient-dense. You should encourage your client to focus on mostly animal protein and/or plant-based options if they are vegan.
Processed options like protein bars, protein cookies and protein chips should not be considered a main protein source but can instead be thought of as an on-the-go or last-minute option.
3. Create a protein plan
After you have educated your client about protein’s importance and given them personalized protein suggestions, it’s time to make a plan!
Planning how and when to eat throughout the day is a critical component to helping your clients eat more protein. Without a plan, they may find themselves needing to eat a large amount at night to hit their goal. OR they could end up eating too much protein earlier in the day and have to adjust their end-of-day meals on the fly. Neither scenario is ideal and both can end in frustration and hunger.
When assisting your clients in creating their protein plan, encourage them to try the following:
- Include a substantial amount of protein first thing in the morning at breakfast if they find themselves consistently falling short at night.
- Incorporate protein at every meal/snack so it’s spread throughout the day.
- Meal prep! It allows them to pre-calculate the protein content in ALL of their meals and snacks so they don’t have to think about it when they go to eat.
- If they haven’t prepped ALL of their meals, encourage them to create a placeholder entry with what they are planning to cook later. Then, they can measure out what they’ve already allocated when it is time to serve themselves.
For more specific tips on how to incorporate protein throughout the day, check out this article.
While you’re helping your client to create a protein game plan, be sure to put an emphasis on their preferred protein sources. Someone who doesn’t enjoy eating ground beef is going to have a hard time hitting their protein goals if they think that’s all they can eat.
Spend time learning what their food preferences are and help them brainstorm a list of ALL of the protein options they have available to them. Then, make sure you have a system to remember what they like and don’t like so you can make personalized suggestions moving forward.
There are so many components of coaching nutrition clients and helping clients eat more protein is just ONE of them! If you’re looking to expand your knowledge on nutrition science and coaching strategies, check out the WAG Coach Certification!
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- 1. Szalay, J. (2015). What is protein? Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/53044-protein.html
2. Tiwari, A. (2021). How are water and other fluids digested in the human body? Science ABC. Retrieved from https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/how-are-water-and-other-fluids-digested-in-the-human-body.html
3. Johnson, J. (2018). What is the difference between animal and plant proteins? Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322827#plant-vs-animal-protein