Meg is under-fuelling for her level of activity which would explain why she is losing weight. Her average energy intake was around 1400kcal per day - if she is to meet her requirements for the days she is training, she needs to consume at least an additional 1000 kcal per day.
Having said this, Meg is also trying to lose weight and is aiming for 55kg. She therefore does need to eat less than her requirement to be able to do this, but if she eats too little her training will suffer. It is a fine balance. Eating 1800-2000kcal per day will still give her an energy deficit sufficient to lose the last 1.7kg but be closer to her basic energy requirements when not active. Meg often misses breakfast or lunch and eats quite erratically so getting into a regular pattern and not missing meals will increase her energy intake also.
Meg's carbohydrate intake was too low and really needs to be doubled (to around 300g per day). This would also provide her with the additional 600kcal she needs. She can achieve this by having cereal with milk and fruit for breakfast and making sure she has some carbohydrate with each meal such as rice, pasta, cous cous, noodles or potato.
Meg's fat intake was low - just under 1g/kg. The percentage energy value is misleading in this case as her total energy intake was so low but the absolute figure for fat is fine. However it would be better to use a polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat instead of butter, such as sunflower- or olive-oil based spreads.
Meg's protein intake across the seven days averaged out fine but it is important to include some good quality protein at each meal. As Meg often missed a meal, this was not always the case. Chicken, fish, lean red meat, low-fat dairy foods and soya are all good protein sources. Vegetarian sources such as beans, lentils, quorn, nuts, seeds are also good options.
Vitamins and minerals
As Meg's overall intake of food was low over the seven-day period, the analysis showed deficiencies of several vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, and riboflavin.
Including a wholegrain fortified breakfast cereal in the morning with either cow’s milk or soya milk (fortified with calcium) will help boost her intake of many of these nutrients. Including more wholegrain carbohydrate foods, nuts and seeds and regular fish, meat and chicken will also help.
Fluid and hydration
Meg's fluid intake should be around 2000ml per day (35ml/kg) plus the additional needs of training. Meg does not always drink this. It is also important to start drinking during training so your tolerance for fluid improves over time. If you are running for more than 45 to 60 minutes then it’s important to take some fluid on board. Water will suffice up until 45 or 60 minutes, then a sports drink would be more beneficial to provide carbohydrate and sodium. You should aim to take on between 30 and 60g of carbohydrate per hour during longer runs - this can be achieved through the use of sports drinks and gels.
It is important to eat soon after training to replace your carbohydrate stores and to provide protein for muscle repair. In Meg's case, approximately 1g of carbohydrate per kg plus 10g of protein would be sufficient. So, if Meg is running in the morning, a bowl of cereal with milk or two slices of toast plus half a pint of milk or yoghurt after the run would be sufficient to aid the recovery process.
Example Meal Plan
Pre-run Banana, two to three rice cakes or yoghurt plus fruit juice.
Sports drink during the run if longer than 60 minutes.
Breakfast Porridge made with oats and added seeds, nuts and dried fruit, muesli or other wholegrain cereal plus semi-skimmed or soya milk and fresh fruit; a glass of fruit juice.
Lunch Multigrain bread, cous cous, rice salad, pasta salad plus chicken, tuna, beans, ham or egg plus salad;
yoghurt with fresh fruit.
Mid-afternoon Fruit, yoghurt, nuts and seeds or a cereal bar.
Evening Fish, lean red meat or chicken with pasta, noodles, sweet potato or basmati rice, vegetables or salad;
frozen yoghurt, yoghurt with fruit or honey.