lunchbox

Nick Chambers, a business development consultant, ate a large portion of tuna and boiled potatoes, salad, a wholemeal roll, two bananas, a small carton of orange juice and a glass of water.
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
"I'm into body building and work out at least four times a week doing weights and circuit training," says Nick. "I also cycle around 45 miles each week. I've always eaten healthily, but when I'm in training, I'm even more careful about my meals and choose only fat-free or low-fat foods."

This lunch would give Nick 1,185 calories of which 20 per cent come from protein, 76 per cent from carbohydrate, 4 per cent from fat, of which 1 per cent from saturates.

Although the balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat in this lunch is quite unusual, it's reasonably typical for someone who is into body building and training hard. It has an exceptionally low fat content, achieved by choosing tuna canned in brine rather than oil, by having the potatoes and roll without butter or margarine and by avoiding mayonnaise and oily dressings with the salad. But even though many body builders aim to keep their intakes of fat to an absolute minimum, it's worth pointing out that we all need some to keep us healthy. In particular, they provide the essential fatty acids that cannot be made in the body and so have to be supplied in the diet.

The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are generally found in foods with a high fat content as well. Consequently, extremely low intakes of fat on a regular basis may result in poor intakes of these vitamins. Having said this, Nick's meal provided good amounts of vitamin A because the salad included two tomatoes, which are packed with beta-carotene which is used to make vitamin A in the body.

The low fat content is balanced by an extremely high intake of starchy carbohydrate. More than three quarters of the calories came mainly from 16 potatoes eaten with this lunch! The lunch also had a very high fibre intake, mostly provided by the potatoes and smaller amounts from the roll, salad and bananas.

One fifth of the calories came from protein. However, it's a common misconception that weight trainers need extremely high protein intakes to build muscle. Regular, appropriate training is the key to developing bigger muscles, and although a higher proportion of muscle will slightly increase the need for protein, in most cases, these extra requirements are easily met by eating a normal diet containing a variety of foods.

Jeanette Crosland, an accredited sports dietitian, says, "Most body builders don't need to eat more protein-rich foods and certainly don't need to take protein supplements. Because such large amounts of food are usually eaten by body builders, protein needs are easily met. It's far more important to eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich foods which provide the muscles with energy to build them up."

Comments