What Shape Is Your Diet. Part 1

/ April 5th, 2012/ Posted in Diet / Comments Off on What Shape Is Your Diet. Part 1

Meal plans seem to come in shapes. Whereas square meals and a well rounded diet were once fashionable, the pyramid reflects nutrition in the ’90s. Many athletes, however, eat a linear diet; bagels, bagels, bagels; pasta, pasta, pasta. This lack of variety can result in unbalanced diets that lack the nutrients needed for top performance. In contrast to the square meal model that allotted equal space to each of the four basic food groups (milk and dairy foods, meats & proteins, fruits & vegetables, breads & cereals), the pyramid divides foods into five groupings of varied sizes. (Fruits are now a separate category from vegetables). The pyramid shape visually suggests that grains should be the foundation of your diet; you should eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, and lesser amounts of proteins and dairy foods. The tiny tip of the Pyramid allows for just a sprinkling of sugars and fats.

For those who understand the concept, the Food Pyramid clearly describes a carbohydrate based sports diet. But not everyone understands the Pyramid’s messages of balance, variety and moderation. Confusion abounds, in particular, regarding the recommended number of servings: 6-11 servings of grains; 2-4 servings of fruits; 3-5 servings of vegetables; 2-3 servings of milk and dairy foods; 2-3 servings of proteinrich foods such as meat and beans. Although this sounds like several fivecourse meals, the calories range between 1,600 to 2,800 depending on how many servings you choose. That’s just the right amount for a petite skater on a 1,600 calorie reducing diet or a businessman who worksout for a half hour per day and requires about 2,800 calories.

The trick to understanding the Pyramid is to know the definition of “serving”. Even athletes balk at the thought of eating 6-11 servings of breads, cereals and grains every day, commenting “I’d get fat if I were to eat that much..”. But one serving of cereal is only one ounce-not one bowlful. Most athletes eat two to three ounces of cereal per bowl.. that’s two to three servings according to the Pyramid. One serving is also one slice of bread. Hence, a sandwich with two slices of bread provides two more servings. Your dinnersize portion (3 cups) of spaghetti is a 6 halfcup servings in itself. Add a piece of garlic bread and, voila eleven servings are down the hatch! Six to eleven servings is only two to four servings per meal (about 150-300 calories), not much for hungry athletes.

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