Ok…so sometime last year I decided to bite the bullet and start a very slippery slope of getting qualifications for being a personal trainer in the UK. Typically one needs to be insured via Public Liability Insurance, which doesn’t happen easily unless you’ve got qualifications from either REPs, CYQ (Central YMCA Qualifications), FIA, NRPT etc. etc.
There’s no *one* governing body for fitness professionals, though obviously some are seen in a better light than others for a gazillion and one reasons. But this isn’t the point of this
I decided to get my quals from Future Fit training and I’ve been slowly going through the modules. Mostly having to disregard what I know from my own background and up bringing, and reading out of books/journals. What’s really gotten frustrating is going through part 1 of 2 nutrition modules. A LOT of what is written is obviously from “guidelines” from the government and we all know that those guidelines are archaic at best.
The nation’s activity has on average plummeted whilst caloric intake has increased steadily over the years. The importance of balanced diets seem to only be made available to those on a decent wage and junk food in huge quantities available to those who can only rub a couple quid together…
But I digress.
In the run up to (another) experiment on myself I’ve been heavily utilising the nutrition module to set up my caloric and macro requirements. However the classic “Eatwell Plate” leaves little to be desired.
If you clicked the Eatwell link, and scrolled down to the comments at the bottom of that NHS (National Health Service) page, you’ll see that it’s not only me who doesn’t agree with this information that’s been agreed by the Food Standards Agency. Still, I’d personally not advocate this but it would certainly be down to individual requirements. I think the typically recommended macro nutrient percentage split sits around 60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat.
Again, another issue for another post if I feel ranty about it.
So the main issue I have showed its ugly head when I was looking for something suitable online to log food and either work out the macros myself or have the site do it. Cue a plethora of American sites that have access to an entire database of nutrition facts from individual raw foods to food found in larger chain restaurants. Still, I’m not mad until I try finding Aberdeen Angus rump steak. Nothing. Nadda. Zilch.
Then there’s a quick Google hunt for a national nutrition database for the UK. As far as I can see this doesn’t exist. The closest I’ve gotten to is discovering the GDA campaign to try and normalize labeling across the board. Awesome! 50% of all UK food and drinks packaging is covered. Next is the FSA and their “Traffic light” labeling system which is…oh I don’t know. But, is the nutritional value being stored anywhere? No…not as far as I can see. There are sites that claim to have thousands of logged nutrition facts behind pay-walls and as far as I can tell there’s no verification from a governing body.
A site I use when I’m too lazy to go to the supermarket, has nutrition details of all food logged on their site from the “Big 5″ super markets: ASDA, Tescos, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Waitrose. So you see something like this:
A commendable effort and I do wonder if they’ve thought about approaching the FSA to create a national nutrition fact database? Like that of the USDA (have a noodle over the nutrient data here). Of course even with these being up there are many things that are omitted as manufacturers seem to have the freedom to decide what exactly they do and don’t want to be on the label. As an example, it’s relatively easy to figure out the trans fats if you have at the very minimum saturated fats in there under the total fats. But sometimes you don’t even get that, just “total fats”. For the average Joe they’d probably look at that and think it’s too high and avoid the food in question when it actually has a good percentage of “good fats” and the trans fats are minimal at best.
On the flip side, I’ve noticed an influx of showing protein on labels, some of which show >0.1g….really, REALLY?!!! Just to fool the small amount of people who’d look at that and not actually read it thinking, “oh there’s protein in this, it must be good” when almost 40% of that food is processed fats and sugars.
So when the Future Fit course database is up and running again, I’ll carry on (begrudgingly) going through the modules to the eventual 8-week nutrition coursework I need to hand in. But, I’m going to make it super awesome and do a 10-week report based on myself and log it online with what I’d do if I was my own PT…and call it Project 10. Because I’m so damn original. Of course barely any of this online stuff will feature in my coursework because I’d be marked down or something. It’s a massive case of jumping through hoops.
I won’t even start on what I had to do during my Fitness Instructor workshop and assessment. Having a journo from Men’s Health on the same course who does Oly lifting saved those 2 weekends for sure!