Friday, October 26, 2012

Nutrition check

It's a good idea to analyze your daily diet once in a while, even if you are like me:
  • you think you are eating healthy
  • you have been healthy and fit for a long time
  • you are not on a diet to lose/gain weight
  • your training has been going according your plan
  • your race results have been satisfactory.
There are many ways to do this, but I prefer to use the free online service at You simply select a normal day and enter all the food you eat in the system. These are the ingredients of my day.

For this test to be reliable you need a kitchen scale to weigh every food item. At the end of the day you will get an analysis like this.

First I check total calories. I generally aim for 3500-4500 kcal ballpark per day. My total intake was 4397 kcal, which it what it takes to maintain weight when you are exercising regularly. I did some swimming, cycling and running during that day. I have no detailed nutrition plan, I simply eat what I like when I feel like it, and stop when my hunger is satisfied. I try to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegs, but what I select depends largely on what's in season.

Next I check the ratio of macronutrients. Here in my example it was
  • 82.6% carbs
  • 7.4% protein
  • 10.0% fat.  
This result is within 80/10/10 diet, where at least 80% of calories should come from carbohydrates and not more than 10% from protein and fat each.

It is also a raw vegan diet, and although all my foods were definitely vegan, 20% of them were not raw: cooked quinoa, ready-made chili-bean sauce, lightly steamed broccoli and a spoonful of cacao powder. Although there are endurance athletes like Michael Arnstein, who has followed 100% low fat raw vegan diet successfully for years, during winter in an extremely cold climate (Helsinki is the same latitude as Anchorage) 80% raw seems to work pretty well.

The details show that I got 94g (169%) protein and 2.8g (176%) Omega-3 lipids. No need for supplements here!

When we look at vitamins and minerals, we see that I got plenty of everything except vitamins B12 and D. Normally people get vitamin D from sun exposure, but in the winter that's not always possible. That's why I'm often taking a supplement. I also take a B12 supplement occasionally just in case. I have taken some magnesium in the past, but according to this analysis there is no need for that.

I might do another nutrition check next spring. Until then, I plan to keep calm and carry on.

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