Simple Answer: Both
Most of my clients come to me with very little knowledge of food/portions. In addition, majority of my folks seeking weight loss have little strength training familiarity. Some haven’t even set foot in a gym.
With that being said, how do I approach this clinically and as a coach?
Well, I always start with a prescribed meal plan. I feel it is most important to first learn HOW to eat, healthy food choices, and portion control. Can you eat chocolate and ice-cream and still reach your goals? The answer is yes. But you have to learn moderation, and control first. Once these learned skills are acquired, I usually switch my clients over to a flexible eating plan based more on macronutrients -unless of course my client doesn’t want that.
Why do I do this? I personally have experienced that more of my clients are compliant when they have a flexible meal plan. Compliancy makes for a happy client and nutritionist/coach.
In my opinion, both have their pros/cons. You have to find what works for YOU and just stick with it. Consistency has been proven to be key. I find that some of my clients get incredibly bored with prescribed meal plans and end up creating poor relationships with food. I also find that some of my clients on a flexible meal plan become obsessed with tracking things and give up easier.
However, sometimes combining both types of plans is the perfect solution. Learn how and what to eat first….then become a little more exploitative with the guidance of your nutritionist. There really is no right or wrong…but one way isn’t always what’s best for everyone. Trust your nutritionist is recommending what is best all around for your specific needs.