There is as much dietary advice out there, as there are training plans. This then must be controversial, as to say anything on the topic is bound to contradict many strongly held beliefs and practices. Rather than promote a ‘right’ way, instead I’d like to pose a question:
While I follow a particular theory, the most commonly given dietary advice, is to eat a balanced diet. What then, does that mean?
In Britain, the following split of macro nutrients is recommended by government:
The problem with charts like this, is that plates of food don’t easily lend themselves to measuring macro nutrients in this way and the total demand for energy is personal and is influenced by gender, age, metabolism and activity intensity. What I’ve tried to do below is show in real terms, what an ‘average’ person might choose to eat:
Name: GI Joe
Height 5’10” (178cm)
Weight 12st 0lb, (168lb) (76Kg)
Current activity level: Moderate
Using that data, we can estimate Joe’s resting metabolic rate (RMR) and Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE):
RMR 1645 kCal
TDEE 2879 kCal
Joe needs to consume 2879kCal on a typical day in order maintain his energy balance, giving him enough energy to continue his current activity level and maintain his current body weight.
Let us assume that Joe eats three meals per day with snacks in between and takes in his energy as: Breakfast 25%; lunch 25%; dinner 25%; and intermediate snacks 25%. This would fit in with the ‘little and often’ maxim that can accompany the balanced diet.
Joe is having dinner and selects rump steak, chips and garden peas as his meal choice. For readers in the states, by ‘chips’ I mean thick-cut French fries, not potato chips you’d buy as a snack food. Joe needs to get 25% of his TDEE from the meal, which is 747kCal.
Based on current balanced diet advice of 65% carbohydrate, 20% fat, 15% protein (as represented in the pie chart above):
Here’s Joes plate – it looks familiar… Lots of white, not much green and not much meat. This might be what’s served up as a pub meal in UK.
What if Joe were to meet his energy requirements through an equilaterally balanced diet? By that I mean 1/3 energy from each of carbohydrates, protein and fat. He can still do this with a steak, chips and peas meal but the proportions of each food changes:
That’s the data but his plate would look like this:
Clearly, this shows more steak, more peas and fewer chips.
The idea for balancing macro nutrient energy sources as an interpretation of what a balanced diet should be, came from the properties of whole milk, which aren’t exactly equilateral but are pretty close.
I’d like to think this is neither low carb, nor high fat but more naturally balanced.
I know which plate I’d choose (if I were forced to eat chips).
How about you?
GI Tri Coach
This piece is derived from work originally co-written with Dr. Jennifer Burr, Senior Lecturer at University of Sheffield, UK.