Food diary under the microscope
Georgina Spenceley is a full-time business analyst, part-time sports therapist and fitness writer who enjoys CrossFit and triathlon training. She’s had concerns about potential gluten intolerance, so she’s currently cutting down on gluten to see if it makes a difference.
06:00 I don’t usually eat before a morning workout but swimming always makes me feel really hungry for most of the day, so I thought I’d start with a banana this morning before my swim at 06:30. I swam 2,000m, which took me an hour.
09:00 I breakfast on overnight oats (rolled oats soaked in the fridge overnight in one part 0% fat Greek yoghurt, one part milk), cherries and raspberries.
11:00 I eat a berry-flavoured bar, which is 100% natural and includes dates, raisins, nuts and berries. Writing this diary has made me realise I’m a serial snacker!
12:00 My stomach usually grumbles from about 11:00 onwards, so I eat lunch fairly early when I’m at work. I seem to be itching to get away from my desk by 12:00! Today, lunch is a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad with lemon, followed by a tin of rice pudding. I feel energised.
15:00 I enjoy a handful nuts and an apple.
18:00 Although I felt energised after lunch, I flagged a little in my hour-long CrossFit workout, although that was mostly due to lack of strength. We did bench press training (6×5 at 35kg), followed by a killer test of grip strength with three rounds of a 400m row, 21 kettlebell swings (16kg) and 12 pull-ups (with a band).
19:30 For tea, I eat cod with chorizo and chopped tomatoes, sweet potato and broccoli, and wash it down with a glass of white wine. I’ve been quite well prepared with food today but sometimes I struggle to eat well when I’m doing sports massages in the evenings or at weekends.
20:30 I finish the day with a slice of fruit cake.
While Georgina’s overall carbohydrate intake matches her current level of activity, she needs to focus on fuelling around her training sessions, particularly on days when she does two training sessions. Having a banana prior to her swim is a good move. Bananas are high in carbohydrate and would top up her glycogen levels (following an overnight fast), providing some instant fuel for her exercising muscles. The most effective refuelling occurs within 0-30mins after exercise, so Georgina also needs to take advantage of this to enhance her recovery. At the moment, her breakfast is about an hour or more after her swim.
Recovery nutrition should include some fast-release (high GI) carbohydrates and some protein in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. Chocolate milk or yoghurt/fruit smoothies are some examples of practical recovery snacks. Being a serial snacker is fine, as long as smart snack choices are made. A lot of Georgina’s snack choices (and some main meal carbohydrate choices) are actually high in sugar. Her total sugar intake for this day was 146g, which is twice what is recommended. Although the 11am bar is ‘natural’, it is actually quite high in sugar. Georgina should opt for bars that have <35% of their calories from sugar. Her fruitcake should have ideally been eaten before her CrossFit session.
A craving for sugar can be triggered by a low protein intake. Georgina’s current protein intake is approx 1.2g per kg of bodyweight, which is the lower end for an active individual. Aiming to consume a diet that provides at least 1.5-1.8g per kg of bodyweight would ensure that Georgina’s muscles respond and adapt to her exercise programme and will also help promote better blood glucose control. To boost her protein intake, Georgina could add some nuts to her morning oats or sometimes opt for an egg or smoked salmon on gluten-free/rye bread for breakfast. She could ensure her morning snack has at least 5g protein (label reading!) and include a better protein source than mozzarella at lunch.
Adding some chicken to the salad (and cutting down on the mozzarella) or adding some quinoa to the salad (and only eating half the tin of rice pudding) would increase her protein content and reduce her total sugar intake. Dinner for Georgina is a well-balanced meal. A glass of wine is of course ‘allowed’, as long as she makes sure she is well hydrated following her CrossFit class first!
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