Saturday, April 12, 2014

Food, Nutrition, and Staying Healthy

By: Maggie

My mom is training for her first 5km race with a friend (go mom!) She took a class through the local college targeted at beginners. Unfortunately, the instructor sounds like he is used to more advanced clientele, and was largely dismissive and uber-technical in his training advice. The students are adult professionals with varying levels of fitness. Several dropped out because of the teaching style (hint-hint, buddy, if professional adults are dropping your "beginner" class, you're doing something wrong). The students were told not to worry about drinking water during exercise since they are "only walking a 5km." Grrrrr.....

While I feel terrible about the students' experiences in this class, it has been a great opportunity for me to talk to my mom about things that I love - RUNNING AND EATING! My mom and I got into a discussion about nutrition (apparently the instructor gave them "body types" and a restrictive diet based on those). I couldn't disagree more, and I sent my mom the following information. I realized it might be helpful for others to see, too.

*Note: These are just my opinions, based on my physical education & nutrition classes and my  exercise sciences classes in college and based on my personal experience in training and eating.

Portabello panini with sprouts, mustard, and veganaise.


There are two main aspects to diet:
     1. Quantity of Calories: How MUCH should you eat?
     2. Quality of Calories: Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats

These calculations are based on a "lightly active," what I would consider "average" day.

[655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)] x 1.3

[66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)] x 1.3

ADD 100 calories for every mile you run or walk 
*Note: This is roughly what the body burns per mile. Larger people will burn more, smaller people will burn less. Running burns more per mile than walking. I prefer just to use 100 to keep it simple.

Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day.  
During exercise, I try to drink about 20 ounces per hour.

My mom's daily calories = 1580 calories
4 mile walk = 400 calories
TOTAL = 1980
Total water = 63 ounces + 20-30 ounces during exercise

*Note: If you want to LOSE weight, 1 pound of fat = 3500 calories. So you would need to cut out 500 calories per day in order to lose 1 pound of fat in a week (because 7 days x 500 calories = 1 pound of fat).

I combined my nutrition class knowledge with info from this website: (

The makings of vegan mac'n'cheeze


When you eat calories every day, you will be eating carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are all different TYPES of fuel. Carbohydrates burn fairly quickly, proteins repair muscles, and fat fuels your joints, brain, and other organs. It's important to eat the right ratio of these different fuels.

For example, think of if you ate ALL fat calories for a day - it would be like eating butter for every meal. Your body would not feel good! Also, you might think it's very challenging to only eat 1900 calories in a day - but what that means is that you have to eat SMART. A soda is a total waste of calories. Instead, you could eat a gigantic salad and feel full (and receive rich nutrients!) 

Here is what I recommend:
60% carbohydrates
20% protein
20% fat

*Note: This is my opinion. Some people prefer 70 / 10 / 20 or 55 / 25 / 20. Find your happy ratio.

(Here is a good article about calorie proportions:

Fruit, vegetables, and grains contain all of these types of fuel. My advice is to only eat whole foods (straight from the earth!) Or processed foods with less than 10 ingredients. If you can't spell it, don't eat it. Stick with quality food, and these proportions will fill themselves.

You will probably not need to worry about "getting" calories from fat or protein. They are in pretty much everything - spinach, kale, whole grain bread, beans. I'm vegan, and I easily meet all of these goals. 

BUT, if you want to really geek out on this (which I have, and I really enjoy), you can plan your meals to hit this proportion - so you would look at what you're eating and calculate.

On a day when she runs 4 miles, my mom needs to eat:
1980 x 60% = 1188 calories of carbohydrates
1980 x 20% = 396 calories of protein
1980 x 20% = 396 calories of fat

Useful website in calculating calories:
*Note: 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories; 1 gram of protein = 4 calories; 1 gram of fat = 9 calories

1 apple = 116 calories
     Carbs: 116 calories
     Fat: 0 calories
     Protein: 0 calories

1 cup of brussels sprouts = 47 calories
     Carbs: 32 calories
     Protein: 12 calories
     Fat: 3 calories

1 cup pinto beans = 251 calories
     Carbs: 180 calories
     Protein: 62 calories
     Fat: 9 calories

3 cups spinach = 28 calories
     Carbs: 13 calories
     Protein: 12 calories
     Fat: 3 calories

Roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and brussels sprouts: a standby!

I hope that information is useful! Again, this is what works well for me. 
Do what makes you feel good!

No comments:

Post a Comment