Dan's Food Diary Analysis (3:45)

Discover what nutrition recommendations a professional dietitian had for Dan after analysing his typical seven-day diet


Posted: 21 January 2009
by Wendy Martinson

Age: 34
Job activity level: Sedentary job, sitting at a desk

Marathon history: One marathon (2005)
Goal: 3:45
Current PB: 4:00:10

Height: 1.78m
Current Weight: 70.8kg

Dan's Profile | Dan's Training Schedule | Dan's Training Thread

An Example Training Week

Day 1 5pm 40-minute threshold run
Day 2 n/a Rest
Day 3 5pm 40-minute steady run
Day 4 n/a Rest
Day 5 7pm 40-minute steady run
Day 6 11am 70-minute slow run
Day 7 n/a Rest

Seven-day Food Diary Analysis Summary

Nutrient

Average daily intake
(g/kg)

Recommended amount per kg/ day or per day

Carbohydrate

269g
(3.8g/kg)

5-7g/kg/day as doing < 1 hour most days
(354 - 496g)

Protein

93g
1.3g/kg)

1.2-1.6g/kg/day
(85 - 113g)

Fat

122g (42.3% energy intake)

Approx. 25% energy intake or 1g/kg/day

TOTAL ENERGY

2600kcal

Approx 2400 - 2900kcal per day, or 3300kcal if doing a long run

Comments & Recommendations

Energy intake

Dan’s energy intake is within his estimated requirements but is slightly low for the days when he runs for 40 minutes. He would definitely be under-fuelled if he was to do a 70-minute run. He does not eat breakfast except at weekends - eating cereal or toast each morning would increase his energy intake and provide valuable carbohydrate, the main fuel for running.

Carbohydrate intake

Dan’s carbohydrate intake is too low and he should aim to increase this by approximately 100g per day. A large bowl of cereal with milk, 200ml fruit juice and a banana in the morning for breakfast would provide 100g of carbohydrate. Dan is not keen on muesli-type cereals, finds it hard to eat early in the day and would also struggle with porridge. Lighter cereals such as Special K, Just Right, Weetabix, Oatibix or Optiva may be easier for Dan to digest. Alternatively, experimenting with different mueslis or making one from scratch would be a good option.

Dan often craves sugar in the evening. To help control this, he should have a portion of a slow-release carbohydrate with his evening meal. Sweet potato, noodles, pasta or basmati rice will all provide slow-release energy and help to stop hunger pangs. Dried fruits such as dates, mango, figs or raisins can also help satisfy a sweet craving, while providing Dan with other vitamins and minerals, fibre and carbohydrate but without the fat.

Dan plans to run in the morning from now on (instead of the evening) so he needs to take on some carbohydrate before leaving the house. A banana and/or yoghurt will be easy to eat at this time, while a small glass of fruit juice will also help provide enough carbohydrate to fuel the run. Taking a sports drink with him will also help if eating is a real problem.

Fat intake

Dan's fat intake is too high; it provides 42.3% of Dan’s overall energy intake. For people in regular training it should be around 25% - carbohydrate intake should make up the majority of your energy intake. Saturated fat provided 16.2% of his energy intake when it should be less than 10%.  The main sources of saturated fat in Dan’s diet were butter, cheese, biscuits, chocolate, quiche, eggs, mayonnaise and milk. Monounsaturated fat provided 13.6% energy - ideally this should be around 12%. Overall, Dan's fat intake needs to be reduced and his carbohydrate intake increased.  However it would be good for Dan to include oily fish at least once per week to boost his Omega-3 fat intake (for example salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna).

Protein intake

Dan’s protein intake met his requirements but it was at the lower end of the range so could be increased slightly to maximise muscle recovery. Dan’s evening meal sometimes lacks a good protein source; cheese is often the main source particularly if it is a pasta dish. Chicken, fish and lean red meat are all good alternatives. Dan is keen to reduce his red meat intake for health reasons but in fact it is the butter, cheese, pastry, chocolate and other sources of saturated fat that are more of a health issue. Lean red meat eaten two or three times per week is a good source of iron as well as protein. The World Cancer Research Fund recommend that individuals should not consume more than 500g red meat per week which is around two to three servings. Dan should also try to include more chicken and fish in his diet.

Vitamins and minerals

Dan does recognise that he eats too few fruit and vegetables - this was reflected in his vitamin C intake which only just met the recommended intake of 40mg per day. Ideally Dan should try to eat at least five portions of fruit or vegetables per day. Virtually all fruit and vegetables contain some vitamin C which is important in helping to support the immune function. The table below shows good sources of vitamin C.

Food

Vitamin C content

200ml (medium glass) orange juice

78mg

200ml cranberry juice

60mg

1 medium orange

86mg

1 kiwi fruit

35mg

½ mango

28mg

Portion strawberries (120g)

92mg

Portion stewed blackcurrants (140g)

161mg

100g raspberries

32mg

2 spears broccoli (boiled)

40mg

½ red pepper

112mg

1 medium tomato

14mg

Cabbage (boiled) medium portion (95g)

19mg

 

Dan's selenium intake was also lower than recommended. Selenium is an important antioxidant and helps support the immune system too. Good sources include brazil nuts, fish and shellfish, eggs, red meat, chicken and wholegrains.

Fluid and hydration

Dan’s fluid intake does vary from day to day and sometimes he drinks very little water or squash during the day. He drinks three cups of tea per day plus some herbal tea. Increasing his water intake to around two litres per day (using low-sugar squash as flavouring if desired) would help Dan stay adequately hydrated (more during training). 

Dan should calculate his sweat rate using his pre- and post- training weight and then drink sufficient fluid depending on how much he loses in sweat during training. If he is running for more than one hour, Dan should aim to have 30 - 60g carbohydrate per hour in the form of sports drinks or gels to maintain energy levels, starting after 30 - 45 minutes of running. It will be useful for him to practise this now so that he knows what he can tolerate for the marathon itself.

Recovery

When Dan runs early in the morning (having had a small snack before going out) it is important that he has a good recovery meal on his return. Cereal with milk, a milkshake or a fruit smoothie plus toast will give him both protein and carbohydrate.


Example Meal Plan

Before a morning run Banana and yoghurt plus 300 - 500ml sports drink during the run,

Breakfast Large bowl of cereal with semi-skimmed milk and a handful of mixed berries plus a glass of fruit juice; or two to three slices of toast plus a banana, strawberry and raspberry yoghurt smoothie or milkshake.

Mid-morning Fruit.

Lunch Wholegrain sandwich with chicken, tuna, salmon, prawns, ham or egg and mixed salad; fruit plus yoghurt.

Mid-afternoon  Fruit, cereal bar, malt loaf or a hot cross bun (if hungry).

Evening Fish, chicken or lean red meat plus a large portion basmati rice, pasta, sweet potato or cous cous plus vegetables or salad; fruit, yoghurt, low-fat custard, stewed fruit or low-fat rice pudding.

Bed-time snack Handful of mixed nuts (including brazil nuts) plus dates, raisins or other dried fruit.

Drink Water, low-sugar squash or diluted fruit juice during the day.


Wendy Martinson is an Accredited Sports Dietitian, Registered Dietitian with the Health Professions Council and qualified group exercise and BTS instructor. She has experience of working with world-class athletes from a wide variety of sports and is currently the Sports Nutrition Consultant for the British Olympic Association, British Gymnastics and GB Rowing. She also works as a Consultant Sports Dietician for Lucozade Sport providing evidence based information on sports nutrition.

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