Nutrition for Health and Fitness

Colin Cook

I once knew a triathlete who told me his primary drive for participating in the sport was so he could eat anything he wanted. This is just about the worst approach to nutrition for health and fitness I can think of, but it’s surprisingly common.


A Fool’s Bargain

My friend ate quite a bit of junk food, but he stayed fairly slim. That’s not surprising, because triathlon training uses a lot of calories. Unless you’re going for an Ironman, you’re putting in 10-12 hours per week in workouts. If you’re going for an Ironman, it’s usually a minimum of 15. My (very rough) calculations show that at an average burn rate of 630 calories per hour, you could rack up a calorie deficit of 6,300 to 9,500 per week. That’s between 20 and 30 slices of pepperoni pizza.


But exercising just so you can eat anything you want is a fool’s bargain. If you subsist on junk food, you may be able to keep your weight down through exercise, but you’re going to sacrifice your health.


Live Longer, Perform and Feel Better

According to the CDC, which offers an infographic about it, healthy eating

    • May help you live longer.
    • Keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy.
    • Supports muscles.
    • Boosts immunity.
    • Strengthens bones.
    • Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
    • Supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding.
    • Helps the digestive system function.
    • Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight.


Furthermore, healthy eating can also improve your athletic performance, by minimizing time lost to injuries and sickness, not to mention reducing muscle cramps.


wellness center Nutrition for Health and Fitness

What constitutes healthy eating? I’m glad you asked. Healthy eating is the right combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and such) to support you in your daily life and activities. There are lots of diets on the web that purport to define the right combination of these things. But human beings come in all different sizes, with all different body compositions, with all different resting metabolic rates, and all different activity levels, tastes, and heart and lung functions. And all these variables affect your energy needs.


Truly healthy eating, in other words, is individual to you.


Do you know your resting metabolic rate (RMR)? Here’s a page that will tell you how to calculate it. The equations are tedious, so scroll to the bottom of the page to links to the RMR calculators (one for men, one for women). The calculator will estimate how many calories you need each day just to keep breathing. Then, to get your individual daily calorie allowance, add the calories you burn during your activities. I don’t really expect you know your rate of calorie burn, but Harvard Medical School has published some charts that show averages for a wealth of different activities. If you use a wearable, it will likely estimate your calories for an activity based on weight and your heart rate. Neither the chart nor the wearable is likely to be precisely accurate for you.


But Peak can determine your calorie allowance with a high degree of precision. Our nutrition planning service can measure your metabolic rate and scan your body to determine its composition. We can then help you plan your calorie intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat based on dietary restrictions, food preferences, and even travel schedule. Your nutrition plan is likely to be better than any diet you can find on the web, because it’s based on you and what makes you unique. Check it out.