3/22/2009 1:31am, #91
*unsubscribe*"I'm reluctant to sound like a total fa66ot as well, but my background in sculpture gave me an edge in understanding how we're expected to move thru space." - The Other Other Serge
3/22/2009 1:33am, #92
3/26/2009 12:53am, #93
"Fine-grained dietary monitoring and adjustment"
"HOW DO FOOD DIARY?"
The premise is simple - you should keep track of things that affect your progress toward your goals. As you might have guessed from the tripod model, your diet is probably one of those things.
In general, there are three relevant categories of information:
1) What you eat
2) How much you eat of it
3) When you eat it
The way you track each of these categories will depend on your dietary strategy. I'm not going to recommend a particular diet strategy (yet), but here are some things you can track. Note that #1 and #2 usually go hand-in-hand.
--In other foods/beverages
----Other omega-3 fat
---Other polyunsaturated fat
--Other carbohydrate (sugar, starch, etc.)
--Amino acid profile
If your dietary strategy depends on maintaining a certain ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, you need to track the specific polyunsaturated fatty acid contents of everything you eat (or take shortcuts), but not EPA and DHA specifically. On the other hand, if it simply dictates minimum and maximum amounts of fat intake without regard to type, you don't need to track saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fats, just total fat.
Note that diets are often imprecise about exactly what you need to track, particularly in terms of carbohydrates. Fibers, for example, are nominally carbohydrates, but they are not metabolized like other carbohydrates (including their effect on insulin). As such, if you track total carbohydrates (including fiber) rather than net carbohydrates (excluding fiber) when on a "low-carb" (that is, insulin-control) diet, you'll have an artificially high picture of your insulin-affecting carbohydrate intake, and may wind up making unnecessary cuts to the amount of veggies/flax/etc. you eat. That means, in two words: painful shits.
And now, a few notes about my own food diary:
I personally don't need to track when I eat because it's fairly easy for me to keep track of that mentally to the degree required by my dietary strategy. I've formed habits of eating breakfast, eating a small meal every two or three hours at most, and drinking a protein shake before and after workouts. It's not difficult for me to remember whether I'm on schedule. However, if I were to do diet/supplementation on a more complicated schedule (say, caffeine every 45 minutes), I'd need to establish some rudimentary way of keeping track of whether I've taken it on time.
Similarly, I personally don't need to track water intake - I've established habits that ensure I stay well-hydrated throughout the day, and I get automatic feedback through the colour of my urine.
Also, packaging often doesn't provide information about the fat and fiber breakdown of foods, so information about omega-6 content, etc. may be incomplete. You can, however, try to fill in the gaps with the Canadian Nutrient File or the USDA National Nutrient Database if the food in question is listed in there.
"So what do you track?"
Recently: calories, grams of carbohydrate, fiber, fat, and protein. I previously had a maximum target on calories and non-fiber carbohydrates (excluding immediately post-workout carbs) and a minimum target on protein and fiber. Again, though, it depends on your dietary strategy.
Most of the failed attempts at food diaries I've seen are failed because the diarist was insufficiently dedicated to measuring their food and/or determining the nutritional parameters of it. A rule of thumb is that if you can't say to a reasonable precision how much of something you're eating and/or how much of the target nutrients it contains, you probably shouldn't be eating it. A kitchen scale, in combination with a healthy amount of foresight, is invaluable.
Oh, and a technical detail - I'm sure nobody's surprised to hear that I calculate my daily totals using a spreadsheet. Each row corresponds to a type of food, with columns for base quantities on the left and daily quantities on the right. For example, here's the "Canned pink salmon" row, with descriptions added for your benefit marked by s:
100 [serving size - in this case, grams] 160 [kcal] 7 [g fat per serving] 0 [g carbs per serving] 0 [g fiber per serving] 19 [g protein per serving] 426 [quantity eaten today - same unit as serving size] 681.6 [kcal eaten today] 29.82 [g fat eaten today] 0 [g carbs eaten today] 0 [g fiber eaten today] 80.94 [g protein eaten today]
The nice thing about this approach is that once I've entered the nutritional data for a food once, all I have to do is update the "quantity eaten today" cell each day and all the daily intake cells fill themselves in (multiplying the base portion of the nutrient by daily portion / base portion). And of course, I sum the daily intake columns automatically to see my daily totals.
I've been looking at more complicated techniques (database-based), but haven't bothered to implement any of them yet.
3/26/2009 8:08am, #94
Sooo.... When will you be publishing the awesome spreadsheet that is pre-populated with all kinds of foody goodness?
Copy it and remove your own personal data from it of course....
I'll offer hosting...
3/26/2009 9:48am, #95
I might be able to drop it on Google Docs or something tonight. There's not actually very many different types of food in it (it's got about 45 rows right now). The main thing is the structure of it - between nutritional information on the package and the links I provided earlier (which y'all should bookmark), you should be able to modify it to meet your needs.
3/26/2009 9:50am, #96
Well, go ahead and get us up to like 200 foods tonight, and then put it up on google docs. Then we'll whine about how the food WE want isn't on there, and complain about the formatting, and demand that customize it for each individual person.
3/26/2009 10:22am, #97
In other news, I'm still waffling over body composition measurement techniques - that four-point BIA scale I linked earlier and/or a pair of calipers like these. The scale has the advantage that it'll track my lean mass, and won't require any contortions to self-measure. The calipers are more closely correlated to my desired outcome in terms of fat (subcutaneous, rather than adipose) and are lots cheaper.
3/26/2009 10:25am, #98
If the scale uses electrical conduction to measure your body composition the margin of error will be... stupid.
Though perhaps you are looking at a far more accurate scale than any I've tried. My caliper measurements from ye olde doctors office vs the reading from the scale have generally had a 3-5% body fat difference between them. The scale ALWAYS says I have a higher body fat percentage than the calipers.
3/26/2009 10:35am, #99
this post for the model I'm looking at and the studies I found re: accuracy.
Or in other words, it looks like the fancy-schmancy BIA scale would track muscle mass more accurately, and the calipers would be better for subcutaneous fat monitoring.
Caliper + tape measure might be the best of both worlds, but I don't have someone else to take the measurements for me.
3/26/2009 10:47am, #100
Get a girlfriend who is fitness minded.
Though in the long run that might be more expensive than either the scale, or monthly doctors visits....
If your goals in that area are cosmetic/aesthetic then wouldn't a purely visual assessment actually be more in line with your goals? I mean, if the scales says you have 6% body fat, and the calipers say you have 4%, but you still look like a fat slob (for whatever reason) then you're no closer to your goal.
Personally I think you should discard the cosmetic goals and concentrate entirely on performance and nutrition. Unless you have a very specific reason to monitor cosmetic progress.
I would be interested in seeing some more data about the Omron scales accuracy across different demographics, athletes, etc...