Nigel's Food Diary Analysis (sub-3:00)

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


Posted: 21 January 2009
by Wendy Martinson

Age: 43
Job activity level: Driving fork-lift trucks (not active)

Marathon history: 12 marathons over the last three years
Goal: sub-3:00
Current PB: 3:02

Height: 1.77m
Current Weight: 73kg

Nigel's Profile | Nigel's Training Schedule | View Nigel's Training Thread

An Example Training Week

Day 1 5.30pm 80-minute easy run (approx 10 miles) and 60 minutes of karate
Day 2 5.30pm Two-hour run (approx 10 miles easy and three to four miles' speed work)
Day 3 5.30pm 80-minute easy run (approx 10 miles)
Day 4 5.30pm 90-minute varied-pace run (eg two miles easy, four miles hard, three miles easy) and 60 minutes of karate
Day 5 3pm 90-minute tempo run (approx 10-13 miles)
Day 6 n/a Rest day (although shopping with wife can be intense and of long duration!)
Day 7 7.30am 120 - 180 minutes of easy running getting progressively harder

Seven-day Food Diary Analysis Summary

Nutrient

Average daily intake
(g/kg)

Recommended amount per kg/ day or per day

Carbohydrate

341g
(4.7g/kg)

7-8g/kg/day
(511 - 584g)

Protein

139g
1.9g/kg)

1.2-1.6g/kg/day
(88-117g)

Fat

89g (29.8% energy intake)

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

TOTAL ENERGY

2718kcal

Approx 3600 – 4300kcal per day

Comments & Recommendations

Energy intake

Nigel reports often feeling run down and suffering from frequent colds. This could be partly due to the fact that his energy intake that does not match the increased requirements of his training. 

His energy intake should be increased by at least 900kcal per day, mostly in the form of carbohydrate. Taking carbohydrate on board during training runs of over an hour will also reduce his risk of picking up bugs - training on low-carbohydrate levels increases stress-hormone release which in turn suppresses your immunity.

Carbohydrate intake

Nigel's carbohydrate intake was low for the level of training he is doing. He should aim to increase his by approximately 170g carbohydrate per day, particularly at lunchtime and throughout the afternoon. 170g equates to one medium jacket potato at lunchtime, one large bowl of cereal in the afternoon, 500ml of sports drink during training and a 300ml milkshake after training.

Fat intake

Nigel's daily fat intake was generally pretty low but on one day the addition of a very large bag of nuts and a large portion ice cream pushed the average up overall! Including small amounts of nuts, seeds and oily fish in his diet would help him take on more essential fats.

Protein intake

Nigel's protein intake met his requirements but most of the protein he ate was in the evening. It would be better to spread this out during the day, including some at lunchtime and using a recovery shake. It would also be beneficial to Nigel to vary his protein sources - before, he mainly ate chicken. Including some red meat two to three times per week would double up as a good iron source while oily fish would also provide him with Omega-3 fats.

Vitamins and minerals

Nigel's iron intake was above the recommended amount but his main sources of iron were foods from which the iron would be poorly absorbed. Including fruit juice with some of his meals will help his absorption of iron, while eating lean red meat regularly will be beneficial - iron is better absorbed from this source.

Vitamin C and selenium are also important antioxidants that help support our immune systems. Drinking fruit juice at breakfast would help boost Nigel's vitamin C intake; brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium. Other sources of selenium include fish and shellfish, eggs, red meat, chicken and wholegrains.

Fluid and hydration

All Nigel's fluid intake was in the form of decaffeinated coffee (10 - 15 mugs per day). Decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine, and there is research suggesting decaffeinated coffee may actually increase levels of blood fats: it would therefore be wise for Nigel to reduce the amount he consumes. He should aim to drink more plain water or fruit juice during the day and take on more fluid more during training.

Nigel should calculate his sweat rate by measuring his pre- and post- training weight. He will then be able to ascertain how much fluid he needs to drink according to how much weight he loses through sweat.

If running for more than one hour, Nigel should also aim to take on 30 - 60g carbohydrate per hour in the form of sports drinks or gels, starting after 30 to 45 minutes of running. This will help him maintain his energy levels throughout the session.

Recovery

Nigel often eats a meal soon after training which will provide him with sufficient protein and carbohydrate for recovery. However, having a drink that contains both protein and carbohydrate immediately after training (particularly after long runs or between his runs and karate) may enhance his recovery process further. An example would be 500ml of low-fat milkshake - this would provide him with approximately 50 - 58g carbohydrate and 16 - 19g protein.


Example Meal Plan

Breakfast Large bowl cereal (muesli, porridge, Special K, granola or Weetabix) with skimmed milk and sprinkled with two or three brazil nuts; a glass of fruit juice; one or two slices of granary toast with low-fat spread and jam.

Mid-morning Fruit.

Lunch Jacket potato with baked beans, cottage cheese or tuna plus salad; or a wholegrain sandwich with ham, chicken or egg and salad; fruit plus yoghurt plus low-fat rice pudding.

Mid-afternoon  (two hours before training) Bowl of cereal plus skimmed milk and a banana.

During training 500ml sports drink.

Immediately after training 300 - 500ml milkshake or recovery drink.

Evening Lean red meat, fish or chicken plus a large portion of rice, pasta, sweet potato or cous cous plus vegetables or salad; fruit, yoghurt, low-fat custard or stewed 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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