Yesterday I tested my metabolism at bēkn and meal planned my nutrition in my food journal, an app, and photos. These 3 methods of food journaling all have their pros and cons. My nutrition choices were not the only reason for my bēkn results. My metabolism changed for my last test because of my nutrition and training over the last several weeks.
Food Journaling in my Journal
Writing in a food journal is probably the easiest method, at least it is for me. It's the easiest and it's the one I stick to the longest. I format my journal like this: nutrition on the top and workout of the day on the bottom.
I began to plan my nutrition choices based on a 4:30 PM test, but you can kind of see that I had made some changes along the way. My test was moved up earlier so I was at my physio appointment for a 3:30pm test not 4:30.
I planned a snack and a pre workout lunch before the test but since it was moved up earlier I changed it to just 1 meal and I even changed the nutrition choices.
For example, I was planning on oysters which are lower protein, higher fat compared to other sources of protein in my nutrition choices. But the goals of a pre-workout snack or meal are to be higher in protein and carbohydrates and limited fats.
I chose 2 rice cakes, 1 cup egg whites, blue berries and I added coconut oil for fats because they are rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and enter the blood stream a little faster than other fats. I would stay fuller longer with coconut oil added to it than without and I kept the portion low so it didn't interfere with the absorption of the other items.
Some of the pros to food journaling this way were that I can plan ahead, write down more notes, and it's easy to make a habit because I'm more motivated to write than to log in an app. Sometimes I don't remember to enter until night and I don't really want to be looking at a phone screen at night.
The negatives are that I'm not necessarily tracking portions as diligently because nothing is prompting me too, although a lot of foods are pre-portioned: rice cakes, cashews, clementines. It's also a bit messy if you have changes.
Photo Food Journal
The photo food journal method was the hardest for me to to stay regular with. That's why there are only 4 pictures when I ate 5 times this day. I didn't take a picture of my dinner and I forgot to take a picture of the carrots I ate because it was after my pre-workout meal.
But this method is very qualitative which is good. You can't see exact portions but it's not as easy to get away with being deceitful. People underestimating the amount of food they eat is common and one of the barriers for food journaling to be accurate.
Another pro to the food-photo journal method is you can see the environment. I had all of my meals at home today, this is me in the kitchen. Sometimes people eat in the car, in front of a computer and that's not exactly mindful. You can't really gather the environmental data with written journals and apps as honestly as you can with photos.
The other tricky part is unless you have another set of eyes from someone who studies food and nutrition for a living, you might not know exactly how much something is portioned out. for example you can't really tell how the white plate is a lot smaller than the blue plate. I'm also eating two different types of rice cakes.
Also, the obvious con to this method is just not taking a picture. I didn't take a picture of dinner because I came home and started eating my meal -forgetting to snap a picture. This was at home, and I can imagine being out to eat it would be even easier to forget because you want to be in the moment.
Although #foodpics are abundant, not everyone's trying to show that they're documenting their food intake.
Tracking Nutrition in an App
Probably the most popular method to date and it's the only one that gives objective numerical nutrition information. If someone is trying to hit a certain protein, carbohydrate, or fat level then this is the most practical way to do that.
It's ideal also because as an RD I'm good at guessing portions and remember what the macronutrient info is for certain foods, but I'm not better than a database! I also don't commit all the micronutrients to memory and because I look at both macros and micros, that information is valuable to have an only obtained via an app like this.
Some of the cons are that it's pretty tedious and you do have to measure accurately (at least for the nutrition info to be accurate). I also know that sometimes apps can be triggering with it's messages: "This is high in fat" might discourage someone from eating their fats for the day. On the other hand "this is high in protein!" has a positive sound and might encourage someone to eat only protein.
Then there's the calories which are still very triggering for people and if an app suggests 1500 calories for example and you eat over that, there might be a red signal, which feels like you did something wrong.
To combat that, I have clients ramp up their calorie goal for the day to be in the 3000s and say just pay attention to macronutrients, not calories.
This method of tracking was the most helpful for me to see the nutrition information for the whole day and to make sure my pre-workout meal was meeting the goals. You can see my lunch was high in protein, carbohydrates and pretty low in fats. It was 330 calories which is a fair amount to have within a 2-3 hour window. It also didn't feel heavy on my stomach.
So I learned not only does this meal give me the nutrition I need but it feels good too. It's a keeper and will probably show up again!
Alright now the results! What happened. MY physiologist summed it up for me.
My oxidative tank increased and my top endurance levels increased. This makes a whole lot of sense and is favorable because I am training for a 5k.
Not a long distance but I want my body to be able to oxidize fat for fuel as long as possible so I don't risk bonking. I also want my peak to go up so I don't risk catabolism / burning protein for fuel.
I also run faster now before I leave fat burning to carb-burning. Another great outcome and expected! My physiologist is the best :).
My prime heart rate (oxidation / fat burning) increased from 144-148 BPM to 153-158 BPM
My anaerobic heart rate (glycolysis/ carb burning) increased from 170 to 178
My peak heart rate (catabolism / protein burning) increased from 174 to 185
My training outcome goals were achieved on the metabolism results. Now that I have new numbers I will be running my race at this pace. Goals achieved!
Nutrition & Training
It's important to mention it wasn't just this day's nutrition that lead to my results. The acute nutrition is what helped me be prepared and fueled for the specific workout. Also my training this week was also helpful because I didn't go hard the day before or the morning of the test.
Overall my nutrition was adequate for training more endurance but it did mean my body composition changed to support more endurance. I lost a little lean mass and gained a little body fat but still overall better than when I first started bēkn. Even though I was running more my non-exercise activity likely decreased, not building or trying to maximize resistance training meant I lost a little muscle so my RMR went down. I also had some workouts that bypassed oxidation (on purpose) which meant it bypassed fat burning.
Zero percent of this is at all because of my program and my results were entirely up to me, my nutrition behaviors, portions choices and overall motivation. I'll be totally honest- my motivation levels were thrown off with traveling and I just don't like running as much as lifting.
With work changes too, I had to find time to workout that led to shorter workouts in general. This last phase, it was more important for me to at least get in some type of workout, regardless of it's intensity, length and the plan just so I could stay in the habit.
The travel for 5 days also impeded my ability to train. I know what you're thinking "no excuses". But I made them and here we are!
The Pumpkin Pie 5k is Saturday! I want to finish my 5k at my goal time - a really awesome time for me would be anything below 25 minutes but I would be ecstatic if I clocked a 21:00 minute time. That's realistically not going to happen just based on my assessment of how I did with my training (I know I could have been better) but I often surprise myself!
After the race we plan to brunch it up, probably at Brightmarten. Then I am going to spend the remaining days of November just working out with the goal of making it less structured but still lift weights! I will probably choose 3 days of prime, include more group fitness classes with clients, friends and on my own.