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Nutrition Column

How much leeway exists in the nutrient guidelines?

It is virtually impossible to precisely meet each and every one of your nutrient guidelines every single day. Please remember these are guidelines and recommendations, not exact amounts or requirements you must get or else.

Some days you might be a few grams under and the next a few grams over. As long as you come out on average for a weeks period of time within ten percent of the guideline that is fine. Obviously the closer the better in meeting your particular dietary goal - be it eating for health, disease treatment or prevention, or weight loss.

In addition, some nutrients are more important to keep within close approximation of the prescription - e.g. total- and saturated-fat. In regards to protein, and particularly with women, excess intakes can lead to an increased loss of bone calcium and should therefore also be monitored more closely than some other nutrients.

Fiber on the other hand is not as critical to get a precise amount. If one day you take in 40 grams and the next 65, other than the possibility of GI distress on the high intake day they are both at or above the high end of the typical recommended level by most medical organizations for health and are at a level which will aid in lowering blood lipid levels and for improving disease risk.

The same holds true for exercise guidelines. Once again there is some leeway with the prescription. Ten minutes more or less won't dramatically change your training outcome of most workouts.

Just like with certain nutrients you want to keep stricter limits the same holds for particular workouts. The exceptions are the high-intensity RM resistance or interval CV workouts. Those sets and intervals should be kept at the set level for the given number of repetitions and with the appropriate weight, and for the set duration for the interval at the particular HR prescribed.

The high-intensity workouts are geared to stress certain systems of the body and elicit specific adaptations. Doing too much may lead to over-training while doing too little may not stress the system adequately to allow for a training effect to be gained.

Written by Dr.Sternlicht for on 2.04.06