Nutrition: The Key to Long-Term Health and Performance


Incorporating exercise improve your lifestyle. However, you do need to know another component that is important to health and fitness. Nutrition is essential to health as it will nourish your body and maintaining health. For personal trainers, this section is important to discuss with clients, but there is a limit on the scope of practice.

For instance, the scope of practice that personal trainers need to know is that you cannot develop or create a meal/diet plan to your clients because that job is mainly for registered dietitians. The recommendation for personal trainers to do to avoid the scope of practice limitation is refer your clients to a registered dietitian to plan meal/diet plan. It is good for personal trainers to establish a referral system or network for better communication with your clients.

*You can teach your clients the fundamentals of nutrition, but remember to not create or plan a meal/diet plan.*

There are 6 different types of nutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. No single nutrients are better than the others, therefore, balancing the six nutrients can result in better health and performance.

Photo by rawpixel from Unsplash

This section provided by ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer

First Nutrient: Carbohydrates

A single compound coming from different forms from complex to simple carbs. Glucose is a simple form of carbs while on the other hand, glycogen is the complex form of glucose. The main function of carbohydrates is providing energy and storing energy. There are two types of carbohydrates. One is simple carbohydrates, sugars, like glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, lactose, and maltose. The second type is polysaccharides, containing many molecules of sugars. Examples of polysaccharides are starch, dextrins, glycogen as digestible. Cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, gums, and mucilages are indigestible.

The glycemic index is a measurement of how foods containing carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. A high glycemic index like honey and raisins are bad for your blood sugar levels. Conversely, low glycemic index like apple and yogurt avoid excessive insulin response and maintain blood sugar level.

A recommendation for consumption of carbohydrates is 3-12 gram per kilogram body weight or 200-300 gram a day (800-1200 kcal). Consume fiber between 20-30 grams as a recommendation. Foods that are a good source of carbohydrates are grains, legumes, seeds, pasta, fruits, and vegetables.

Cooked Pasta on Brown Wooden Bowl
Photo by Eneida Nieves from Pexels

Second Nutrient: Fats

Fats should be familiar to most people. The function of fat is storing energy and carrying essential nutrients like vitamin A, D, E, and K due to these being fat-soluble vitamins. There are many different classifications of fat. Fats are solid at room temperature containing saturated fatty acids while oils are liquid at room temperature containing unsaturated fatty acids.

Triglycerides are the most common form of dietary fats and oils. Monoglycerides and diglycerides are less common that are present in the food supply.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are good for you since they lower blood cholesterol level and found by vitamin E from vegetable oil or corn oil. Monounsaturated fatty acids lower blood cholesterol level and maintaining high-density lipoprotein, which is good cholesterol. Saturated fatty acids increase serum cholesterol, which may limit blood flow and increase the risk of heart attack. Mostly found in meats and dairy products.

Low-density lipoprotein is bad because they carry cholesterol and other lipids in the blood, increasing the risk of heart attack. High-density lipoprotein is good because they carry away lipids and remove cholesterol.

Fat intake should be between 20%-35%. The essential fatty acid is linoleic acid found in corn, peanut, sunflower, and soy oil. Food source of fat includes oil, butter, fatty meats, fried foods, whole-milk dairy products, and prepared meats like bacon and sausage. Fat carries fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

sliced avocado
Picture of avocado, a healthy fat food, photo by Thought Catalog from Unsplash

*Remember high fat intake of saturated fat increase blood cholesterol levels and may lead to coronary heart disease.*

Third Nutrient: Proteins

Protein is a complex compound containing different amino acids. The function of the protein includes enzyme and protein synthesis, fluid balance, and hormone production. Food containing protein will have essential and nonessential amino acids. Having a high-quality protein is important and to determine it is the presence of a comprehensive set of essential amino acids.

In general, foods like eggs, meats, milk, cheese, and fish are high-quality protein because they contain essential amino acids. Nonessential amino acids are manufactured in the body, therefore, it is not a healthy protein food to eat.

Flat Lay Photography of Grilled Meat on Brown Chopping Board
Photo by Raw Pixels from Pexels

Here is the recommended intake of protein for each age group. For infants, 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for protein. Children should consume 1-1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight. Adults need to consume 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. Lastly, adult athletes should consume 1.2-1.7 g of protein per kg of body weight. 10%-35% of total calories represent recommended intake of protein. Good source of protein includes meat, poultry, fish, yogurt, eggs, milk, and legumes.

Sunny Side Up Eggs on Griddle
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Fourth Nutrient: Vitamins

There are two types of vitamins: Fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins:

We’ve mentioned this type of vitamins in the fat section of the blog. Vitamin A is known to improve vision and healthy skin. Fish liver oils, liver, butter, and milk with vitamin A+D are food sources of Vitamin A.

bread beside butter and milk
Photo by Whitney Wright from Unsplash

Vitamin D is known for absorbing calcium and mineralization of bone. Egg yolk, fortified milk, and canned salmon and sardines are food sources of Vitamin D.

Photo of Raw Fish on Grill
Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Vitamin E is known as an antioxidant and improves immune function and the food sources are nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and vegetable oils.

assorted-color nut on vase closeup photo
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying from Unsplash

Vitamin K is known for blood clotting and the food sources are green leafy vegetables and intestinal bacterial synthesis.

Green Broccoli
Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

Water-Soluble Vitamins:

There are Vitamin C, B1, B2, and Niacin. Vitamin C is the most common vitamin. It is known for being an antioxidant and forms collagen and the food source for Vitamin C are citrus fruits and cherries.

assorted color flower decor lot
Photo by Bruna Branco from Unsplash

Vitamin B1 or Thiamin provides oxidation of carbohydrates and use for nerve conduction. The food source for Thiamin are seeds, pork, and enriched/fortified cereals and grains.

Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin provides oxidation of carbohydrates and fats. In addition, Riboflavin improve normal eye function and healthy skin. The food source for Riboflavin is milk, liver, and enriched/whole grains and cereals.

Person Holding Bowl Full of Oats
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Niacin provides electron transport and oxidation of carbs and fats. The niacin food source is enriched grains and cereals.

Fifth Nutrient: Minerals

Calcium helps structure bones and teeth and help with blood coagulation. Milk and other dairy foods are food sources of calcium.

clear drinking glass with white liquid
Photo by Kim Gorga from Unsplash

-Phosphorus also helps structure bones and teeth, but also involve with acid-base control. Meats, cereals, and grains are food sources of phosphorus.

-Iron help transfers oxygen to cells and having meats, poultry, fish, and egg yolk as food sources.

-Zinc assist the immune function and heals wounds with seafood, meat, and yeast as food sources.

-Magnesium balance water and have energy metabolism of carbs and fats. Meats, whole-grain cereals, seeds, and legumes are food sources of magnesium.

*Be careful not to have deficiency and toxicity on each vitamin and mineral. Consequently, it will harm your body. Take certain amounts for optimal nutrition.*

Sixth Nutrient: Water

Water is important in everyday life because it carries nutrients to cells and provide hydration. Muscles and organs are 70% water and 60% water of total body weight. Staying hydrated is beneficial in athletic performance and living. In short, drink water whenever you feel thirsty and if your urine is dark yellow. Look at other websites or articles focusing on hydration.

Man Wearing Black Shirt Drinking Water
Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels


Make sure to know the basic fundamentals of the six nutrients. Balance these nutrients for optimal nutrition for your body. Having less or more of any nutrients will cause harmful effects on your body. Refer this to your dietician and have a meal/diet plan. Have a safe nutrition journey.


Battista, R., Mayol, M., Hargens, T., & Everett, K. L. (2018). ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *