You would not be alone if on first impressions you thought Chris Hemsworth’s new Centr health and fitness program was just another celebrity program with plenty of hype but not necessarily substance. Celebrity programs have received much criticism for their lack of evidence-based content, however not all online health and well-being programs are the same…..some take their nutrition seriously - and they do it well.
Centr for example uses a range of ‘experts’ to provide varied nutrition content, including recipes, articles, cooking tips and meal plans. I know first hand that all of their nutrition content is carefully planned, created and reviewed by the experts and the team at Loup (a complete digital business that produces online health and fitness programs) which includes an Advanced Sports Dietitian. Loup are super passionate about health, nutrition, food (and food enjoyment), and provide ongoing support and expertise to the Centr program (in addition to other programs such as Tiffany Hall’s TiffXO). Great care is taken to provide nutrition content that is based on science, and approved by a dietitian for accuracy and consistency.
Centr DOES provide meal plans, but with significant flexibility built in, and a focus on food enjoyment and listening to your body rather than counting calories and macros. Recipes incorporate seasonal, nutrient-dense wholefoods, to help nourish our bodies and brain rather than promoting a ‘diet’ approach. Yes, there are some issues with prescriptive meal plans in general, but Centr provides meal plans as a starting guide - in fact many, if not most, members do not follow the meal plans to the letter, but use them for recipe ideas to suit their food preferences and lifestyle. The overall nutrition program aims to educate and empower individuals to actively change habits for a positive impact on both physical and mental health and well-being. Clear recommendations are provided to seek individualized advice from an Accredited Dietitian for those with specific needs.
Online programs and meal plans are often criticized, and I admit a few years back I was one of those criticizing, but the feedback from Centr speaks for itself – individuals making better lifestyle choices and creating new habits leading to improvements in health, well-being, body composition, energy levels, confidence and happiness. Thousands of individuals, from vegans (Centr has the most amazing vegan recipes!), to pescatarians to those who enjoy all foods. The potential benefits for participants seem to far outweigh any perceived negatives.
Of course online programs are not for everybody – there will always be an important role for individualized advice and private consultation with dietitians like myself. But if an online program can have a positive impact on individuals by providing credible and accurate nutrition information, delicious recipes, and practical meal ideas, this can only be a positive.