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Over the course of 3 days, including 2 weekdays and 1 weekend, I was able to make my dietary analysis: to analyze my intake of foods, activity levels, calories burned, and what nutrients and vitamins I had been consuming. Since I weigh 138 pounds and I am 5 feet and 5 inches my BMI is 23.0, which puts me in the normal weight category. The Body Mass Index (BMI), can be used as a valuable tool but can also be an unhelpful resource depending on the circumstance. BMI can be useful because it can help identify whether you are at a high risk of certain diseases linked to health. According to Robert Shmerling, “ In general, the higher your BMI, the higher the risk of developing a range of conditions linked with excess weight, including: diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, several types of cancer, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, and sleep apnea” (Shmerling, What’s a Normal BMI section, 2016). However, since BMI doesn’t factor in someone’s bone density or fat distribution, it can be misleading. Someone who could be considered overweight or underweight according to their BMI may not necessarily be unhealthy. Therefore, BMI can be a helpful indicator, but should not be the most reliable guide when determining health.
As I evaluate the app, MyFitnessPal, it is evident that there are certain vitamins and minerals that I was insufficient in and others that were overconsumed during those particular three days. Vitamins that I was consistently insufficient in were vitamin B5 and E and the minerals that I was consistently insufficient in were calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, helps with the metabolism of nutrients. Although there are no harmful effects of overconsumption of this vitamin, there are symptoms of a deficiency if you do not meet the daily needs of 5 milligrams. Underconsumption can lead to fatigue, nausea, vomiting, numbness, muscle cramps, and difficulties in walking. More extreme symptoms can include the “burning feet” syndrome. According to Joan Blake, “The symptoms ranged from heat sensations and tingling on the soles of their feet to a painful burning intense enough to disrupt sleep” (Blake, Exploring Pantothenic Acid section, 2019). The other vitamin that I under-consumed was vitamin E, which is an effective antioxidant that protects cell membranes and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol carriers. On a daily basis, an adult needs about 15 milligrams of vitamin E to meet the recommended amount. If too little is consumed, it “can cause nerve problems, muscle weakness, and uncontrolled movement of body parts” (Blake, Exploring Vitamin E section, 2019). Typically, people do not under-consume vitamin E, however, I am part of that small pool of people who do.
On the other side of the spectrum, there were certain vitamins and minerals that I over-consumed, which were sodium and zinc. The mineral’s, sodium, main function is to regulate fluid balance and transport substances. To reach the goal for this mineral, the bare minimum of 180 milligrams of sodium is needed. Unfortunately, along with other Americans, over-consumed this mineral which can lead to higher blood pressure. Which, in turn, can cause hypertension. As for the functions of zinc, it includes a multitude of roles. These functions comprise of RNA and DNA synthesis, maintaining a healthy immune system, lessening the risk of a common cold, and aiding in fighting age-related macular degeneration. As a woman, I need 8 milligrams of zinc to meet my needs. Consuming more than the required amount of zinc can cause adverse effects such as, “stomach pains, nausea, and diarrhea” ( Blake, Exploring Zinc section, 2019). Fortunately, I have not experienced any extreme symptoms as a result of under or over-consuming any vitamins or minerals.
Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are the three macronutrients that provide us with the energy we need to survive. Carbohydrates are where we should get the majority of our calories from. It is very important to get the bulk of our calories from carbs because as the form of glucose, it helps your brain function and red blood cells operate. About 45% – 65% of the calories in your diet should be from carbohydrates, which should equate to about a daily minimum of 130 grams. As for the fats, humans need these for many different reasons. “In your body, fats are essential for energy storage, insulation, and to help you better absorb fat-soluble vitamins” (Blake, What are Fats section, 2019). Although these are very important functions, humans only need about 45% of calories from fat. The last macronutrient, protein, is very stressed by many Americans to get enough of but we only need 10% of our calories from it. Although we only need about 10% of our daily calories to come from protein, it is not to say that it is unimportant. Protein is very essential to our bodies because without it we would not be able to repair damaged tissues or build muscles or bones. Despite the fact that water is not a macronutrient, it still has important properties. Most of our bodies are comprised of water and the water in our body protects our joints, spinal cord, and tissues, moves the waste from our bodies, regulates body temperature, and helps with digestion and absorption. To prevent our bodies from being dehydrated we need to consume a certain amount of water. For women, drinking about 9 cups is enough and for men, drinking about 13 cups is enough to be well hydrated. It is important to stay hydrated and to understand what percentages of carbohydrates, fats, and protein needs to come from calories.
As a 138 pound female who planned to maintain the weight, my recommended caloric intake was 1,960. My average recommended grams of protein were 86 grams, for carbohydrates, it was 213 grams, and for fat, it was 57 grams. There were some aspects where I reached my goal and in others where I lacked. In all 3 days, I did not reach my recommended caloric intake but did meet my minimum water intake for all those days. I only drink water, therefore it was normal and expected to have reached my goal. When comparing my actual protein intake versus my recommended protein intake, I was significantly under the amount I was supposed to eat. As for carbohydrates, I was over my recommended amount for 1 day and under my recommended amount for the following 2 days. For fat intake, I was under my intake for 2 days and over my intake for 1 day. Due to my over and underconsumption of certain macronutrients and calories, there are multiple areas of concern. An immediate effect of being in a calorie deficit would be losing weight, approximately 6 pounds. As for my protein deficiency, I would face side effects such as nutrient malabsorption, liver problems, a weak immunity system, etc. If I am not eating enough fats, it can lead to an unhealthy heart. In addition, eating a low-carb diet could contribute to losing weight and symptoms such as, “headache, bad breath, weakness, muscle cramps, fatigue, skin rash, constipation or diarrhea” (mayoclinic, Risk section, 2019). Overall, I need to eat more macronutrients and calories.
After reviewing the nutrient report, I was overconsuming zinc, sodium, and deficient in vitamin E. Since I eat some processed foods, such as the Beyond Bratwurst, that is where a good amount of the sodium is coming from. Additionally, I was overconsuming zinc because my diet includes a variety of legumes, such as black beans. I was deficient in vitamin E because I was not consuming foods such as avocados, kiwis, spinach, during that time period. To bring these areas into balance, I could eat fewer legumes and processed items and more foods that contain vitamin E, such as spinach.
The number of calories I consumed greatly exceeded the number of calories I burned. Although I had eaten more calories than I had burned, I was still in a calorie deficit. Even though I was in a calorie deficit, I was in an energy surplus. A positive energy balance can have consequences on my overall health. According to Ryan Andrews, in All About Energy Balance, “With too much overfeeding, plaques can build up in arteries, the blood pressure and cholesterol in our body can increase, we can become insulin resistant and suffer from diabetes, we can increase our risk for certain cancers…” (Andrews, Positive Energy Balance section, 2019). Fortunately, I can incorporate certain lifestyle changes that can put my body into an energy balance.
Due to the changes to the winter, my current lifestyle has been quite sedentary, which is what places me into an energy surplus. In addition, when I have a lot of school work to finish, I tend to not prioritize exercising or being active. In regards to nutrition, when I have a heavy workload, I am more inclined to eat something that is not as nutritious but quick to pick up. Future modifications that I need to make is to have a schedule so that I can fit exercise into my schedule. Since I eat more sodium than I should, I can eat less canned foods and opt for foods that are frozen. Although I am vegan and not consume any of the LDL cholesterol, I should strive for a more whole foods plant-based diet. These changes will help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
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