When following diet plans you need to be committed and strict on yourself if you’re going to make the advances you plan to. Many people will seek advice from personal trainers or other fitness professionals, normally because this comes in a package with a training programme/regime. However, although such professionals have ample knowledge on sports and healthy nutrition, it is usually a sub-category to their main focus of the actual physical exercise prescription.
This usually means there is less focus within the nutritional side, unless you see an accredited nutritionist. This way your food intake is under the spotlight, and you can get much more in-depth and accurate information and advice. Here when it comes to personalising your programmes, your anthropometric measurements, training regime and ultimately your goal are all factors that effect your final prescribed figures – for example, your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), your Protein intake for strength or endurance based athletes and Carbohydrate intake.
Prescription & Consumption
Equations like the Harris-Benedict or Cunningham, produce figures to the one hundredth of a kCal.day-1 or even per hour. Even generally accepted guidelines from the ACSM and well regarded papers such as Lemon (1998) report carbohydrate and protein intakes to the tenth of a gram. So if the advice and guidelines are so accurate in their prescription, surely we should strive to make the consumption equally accurate? As previously mentioned, your intake will, or rather should, be personalized specifically to you and any deviation can lead to unwanted results. However, in a real life situation it’s easier to talk about being accurate with your intake than doing. So here’s a few tips to start measuring efficiently:
- Download a calorie tracker app or your phone or tablet
- Buy a set of electric scales (doesn’t have to be expensive)
- Use a training log (for both training AND nutrition)
Leave your scales out next to your preparation area, this way you’ll always be reminded to weigh your foods, with liquids keep your measuring jug with the scales. As soon as you’ve weighed and measured you meal, take a note of all the measurements in your log. I like to encourage keeping a log, as people won’t always have the time to enter the figures into an app and search for the correct food, also, it means you have a copy of that meal recipe. The app comes in handy to tell you what is the macro (and micro) nutrient make-up of certain foods, with most apps now having barcode scanners implemented, it can be pretty accurate.
Follow these simple guidelines and your meals will instantly become more accurate and it will slowly become a matter of habit. One of the other main complaints about accurate cooking is the extra time it takes, a good method to overcome this problem is set yourself a ‘cooking day’, be organised and pre-cook then freezer meals so during the week, that extra bit of time can be spent in the gym, not staring at the scales.
Accurate Measurement – Conclusion
To conclude, if you’ve got a serious goal, it’s best to get professional advice, make the most of the advice and get as much detail as you can to get the most for your money. The majority of take home points from sports nutrition is how much and when, beginning to accurately measure your intake will make your whole programme more efficient and you’ll get much more out of it. It can’t be iterated enough how important measuring intake is, particularly if you’ve been given guidance, even if you haven’t it’s a very good habit to get into, and it can provide a small analysis of your diet.