Food diary

Keeping a food diary is the best way to understand your diet and can help an you become more aware of your eating habits, the many triggers and cues that influence what you eat. In fact, studies show that people who keep a food diary are more successful at changing their eating habits and losing weight.

There are two ways for you to keep a detailed food diary, paper based or using an app.

myfitnesspalexampleA free and easy to use app is myfitnesspal, the app is available via the website or via mobile app stores and has a free version to get you started.  Very simple to use, scanning bar codes and a massive directory or food types to search.  all you need to do is weight the food or add the amount eaten from the pack scanned. This will build a detailed food diary as per the example shown.

An additional benifit if you already track your training activity via a device or website myfitnesspal connects with most of the main tools such as Garmin where there is two way information from myfitnesspal to Garmin Connect.

If you are keeping a paper based diary below are some tips for getting the most out of a food diary:

  • be as detailed as you can with food descriptions
  • include serving sizes – weigh foods where possible
  • rateing your hunger level just before you eat – this will help you identify whether you  are eating for reasons other than hunger
  • if you feel emotional eating is an issue you should record your mood before and after you eat
  • carry the food diary with you and update as you eat, rather than waiting until the end of the day

What should you record?

The basics are to record;

  1. When you eat
  2. What you eat
  3. Rate Hunger on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being very full and 10 being starving)
  4. Mood
  5. Who were you with

Example Food diary

What you ate Time Where you ate Who where you with Rate – Hunger Mood
Breakfast 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Snack (1) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Lunch 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Dinner 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Snack (2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

With the information gained from a food diary your NWM advisor can understand eating habits, identify any social and emotional cues and habits. This with the food and drink detail your NWM advisor can build the correct plan, including;

  • Understanding your actual nutrition and calorie intake
  • Preform nutritional analysis
  • Advise on food-based recommendations within dietary guidelines
  • Help improve your diets nutritional quality using nutritional analysis

Why Nutrition and Energy Balance is important for Endurance Athletes

Recreational and Elite athletes, who train 5 – 7 days a week with one to two session a day, can have trouble consuming sufficient food (calories) to meet their energy requirements. And even if the reach their goal for calorie intake, they may still encounter issues ensuring they are getting a balance of nutrition in their diet. This can have two main effects, poor training performance and \ or increased possibility of injury.

So what is Nutrition and Energy Balance, and why is it important for Endurance Athletes?

Nutrition Balance

‘Nutritional Balance’ the balance of Nutrition intake (Vitamins & Minerals) is a common problem in sports nutrition.  But this has a further impact if you need to be a certain weight category, luckily not an issue in Endurance Sports such as Running or Cycling. However the drive is still present to get down to an optimal \ desired race weight.

Some athletes who regularly exercise and to all outward appearances are reasonably healthy may have a poor diet in terms or ‘Nutritional Balance’.  A common cause is the individual who says ‘I can eat what I want as I’ve just been training’.  This can apply to everyone up to and including Elite athletes who are using so much energy in training they believe they can eat what they want. BUT this can have a detrimental effect to their training and performances.

The Government recommendations and guidelines for ‘Nutrition Intake’ are 50 / 55% Carbohydrate, 30 / 35 % Fats & 10 / 15% Protein. However due to individual needs and a comparison of ‘Nutrition Balance’ v’s ‘Energy Expenditure’ and using tools such as the Eatwell Plate Model you can plan and control your kcal intake to achieve the correct balance or imbalance as required.

Energy Balance

‘Energy Balance’ the balance of kcal’s (food and drink) with activity levels.  It’s important for endurance athletes to maintain an energy balance ‘energy’ in v’s ‘energy out’. This is a calculation of an individual’s BMI, BMR and Energy Expenditure (BMR & PAL), by using techniques you are able to create a balance or imbalance as required against a activity schedule to achieve weight reduction or maintain a balanced weight level during increased training.

A common source of weight gain is when someone who regularly exercises suddenly stops or dramatically reduces their training, but continues with the same high energy diet. So the energy balance as with Nutritional Balance important with a focus on energy intake through food whilst balancing against what energy is being used in training.

For any sportsperson it’s important to understand not just the right balance of calories in and calories out, but also the correct balance of nutrients. This will include planning and achieving for safe negative energy balance to lose weight or body fat working towards a race weigh goal whilst ensuring not risking illness or injury. The recommended SAFE targets for weight loss during a training plan is 1 lb per week or 500 kcals per day (250 kcals (diet) + 250 kcals (exercise)).


As part of my training log you can view real examples of how a ‘Nutrition & Energy Balanced’ diet plan will enable an individual to safely reduced weight to a target race weight using S.M.A.R.T choices \ objectives;

Final week summary – Anglo Celtic Plate 100k Ultra – March 2016


Many people assume athletes have improved performance and recovery with supplements due to the increased stress the body is under. In fact, the body actually increases its own defense systems to aid recovery. It adapts to metabolic functions for improved performance. However, these systems need to be supported by a balanced diet that matches energy needs. With a controlled Nutrition & Weight management plan this can be achieved with a Nutrition & Energy balanced diet without the need for additional supplements.

For more information on improving your energy balance contact us or view our course information.

Training 22 – 28 Feb

Weekly Summary 28.02.2016

Device: Garmin Forerunner 620 / Forerunner 630 HRM

Weekly Totals:
Total Miles: 95.9 Miles Weight: 157.8 lb Avg Pace: 6:52 mm Time: 10h 57m
Training by days:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Miles 10.23 8.02 13.03 9.15 11.39 20.21 23.8
kcals 1,260 984 1,554 1,138 808 1,679 2,176

eng_kitMonday easy 10 miles, felt some soreness in lower right shin at the end of the run so moved my rest day to Tuesday and completed an easy 8 miles followed by heat and ice on the shin. Wednesday was a bit touch and go with some soreness still in the right shin but with the special delivery of my England kit! I was up for it so headed off to the prom for the ‘Steve Way’ BAC marathon session (No. 4) with 10 x 5 minutes with 1min recoveries (apart from the 5th one where you get a generous 2min!), the object of the session is to start at marathon pace for the first one and then make each effort a tiny bit faster.

Thursday was another easier day with 9 miles followed by a Sports Massage by Dave watchHolmes, Wimborne to sort out my shin pain and calf tightness. Friday was a day for new toys with the delivery of my new Garmin Forerunner 630 with HRM, a replace to my trusty Forerunner 620. So once charged I headed out for 10 miles steady, interesting to note the calories recorded for the run are a lot lower than from the 620 on my previous outings on the same route more likely to be more accurate now using the new Garmin HRM recording the advanced running dynamics include ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio providing the new stress score, performance condition and lactate threshold. First impressions it GREAT.

Saturday was the first of my weekend back to back 20 mile runs, the first was another outing to Blandford parkrun with Jez. The right foot was still a bit sore today but eased over the run and a decent effort of 17:27 for 2nd place before the run home with a decent strong finish and average 6:46 mm for the 20 miles. Sunday again the foot still not 100% 13 miles pre Bournemouth 10 with Rich at an easy 7:33 mm average, then the plan was sub 61 effort, from the off things felt good and I sat just off the second group before deciding to pick up the pace and move just in front keeping each mile just under 6 mm, apart from 2 miles where I sneaked over 6 mm due to a quick run on the sand and twisting into the wind through the estate at 7 miles.  I was passed as 7-8 by a couple of runner pushing on but with my mile splits over the last 3 miles steadily getting quicker I decided to sit in and keep the 10 with consistent effort and was very please with the finishing time of 59:09.

Diet \ Food Diary

First full week with a daily calorie target set to 1790, again this would be the base and extra calories would be added dependant on the days activities (as shown in the ‘training by days’ table provided by my Garmin).

Food Diary by days:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Breakfast 266 242 252 258 275 307 278
Morning Snacks 104 104 202 53 53 181 237
Lunch 632 698 470 622 597 676 679
Afternoon \ Evening SnackS 0 147 155 535 0 0 566
Dinner 670 672 650 537 769 895 909
Drinks 115 50 36 23 70 424 49
Daily Totals 1,787 1,913 1,766 2,028 1,763 2,483 2,718

Training 15 – 21 Feb 

Weekly Summary 21.02.2016

Device: Garmin Forerunner 620

Weekly Totals:
Total Miles: 100.1 Miles Weight: 160.4 lb Avg Pace: 7:00 mm Time: 11h 41m
Training by days:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Miles 12 11.1 11.7 7.0 12 30.1 16.3
kcals 1,474 1,357 1,409 872 1,469 3,678 2,000

First 100 mile week since March 2015, the main difference being no double runs. Body seems to be holding up well to the increased mileage with the inclusion of my first ‘Steve Way’ BAC marathon session (No. 3) on the Wednesday consisting of 3 x 15 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. A decent session with a good group out including Steve, Jon, Jez and Tom Craggs who headed down from Winchester for the session. Considering the increase in mileage I was happy with the session with 5:50/m 5:48/m 5:54/m fighting a headwind on the prom for the first half of each interval. Weekly massage \ recovery day was moved to Thursday which was needed.  Main run of the week was the planned 30 miler on Saturday where again I combined this with Parkrun (Blandford 2nd 17:43), this time a solo 8 miles before joing Jez in Shapwick for the run to Blandford and back before the final 6 miles home. The weekend’s second long run was much better than expected and legs seemed to have recovered well from Saturday.  Another week in the bag!

Diet \ Food Diary

Back to recording my meals in a detailed meal planner, started the first two days with a daily calorie target of 2000, this would be the base and extra calories would be added dependant on the days activities (as shown in the ‘training by days’ table.

Food Diary by days:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Breakfast 0 0 0 0 0 266 266
Morning Snacks 0 0 0 0 0 400 355
lunch 0 0 0 0 0 608 564
Afternoon \ Evening Snacks 0 0 0 0 0 392 28
Dinner 0 0 0 0 0 1,231 1,268
Drinks 0 0 0 0 0 790 41
Daily Totals 0 0 0 0 0 3,687 2,524

Training 08 – 14 Feb

Weekly Summary 14.02.2016

Device: Garmin Forerunner 620

Weekly Totals:
Total Miles: 83.9 Miles Weight: 162.6 lb Avg Pace: 6:44 mm Time: 09h 25m
Training by days:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Miles 5.01 11.42 10.01 12.01 8.01 15.01 22.5
kcals 620 1,403 1,212 1,464 985 1,828 2,757

lytchettEasy start to the week with a rest day, so 5 easy miles before my body check and massage from Jenny Molloy. Then the plan was to keep building the mileage over the week with single runs and then a double set of longer runs at the weekend, the exception was including a parkrun at the end of the Saturday long run and Lytchett 10 as the last 10 miles of my Sunday run. All steady paced run Tuesday – Friday as planned and on Saturday I was joined by Rich on the Castlemain trail way to Moors Valley nice and steady on a cold and dressily morning, again my timing was tight and with a couple of minutes to spare we joined the field for my 1st Moors Valley parkrun, I was happy with the pace but unfortunately due to some confusion the lead runners missed a turn point and we ended up running an extra miles so finished in 24:48, but all good and legs felt OK with the effort. Sunday’s weather was much kinder and with a steady 12.5 miles I arrived at Lytchett school for a quick change and on the day race entry (not overly prepared ;-)). Surprisingly the race went very well and on the undulating course I was more than happy with the 60:48. Added bonus we also picked up the team prize for BAC (Team: Steve Way, Anthony Clark, Ross Blakemore & Tony Hunt).

Diet \ Food Diary

I’ve not been recording my calorie intake, but have now started watching my diet with the return to my previous strategy that has done me well for my last two London marathon’s with structure to ensure my fueling is assisting my training and recovery.