Diary of body overhaul: Busting some myths to put on weight

By Ged Cann

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Ged Cann
Ged Cann

With Danielle doing her Diary Of A Body Overhaul, I pointed out to her one morning: "You know Dani," I said wisely, "there are as many people struggling to gain weight as there are trying to lose it".

I am five foot 10 and my natural body weight sits at around 64kg, which is just a shade over underweight on the Body Mass Index (BMI).

This may annoy a lot of people - it certainly has annoyed female friends of mine in the past when I voice my frustration - but for a 25 year-old guy, "slim", "skinny", and the ever-feared "runtish" are not ideal adjectives.

I have tried a number of times to gain weight. In the past I have even lived with a body builder who took it upon himself to help me "get dem gains", and while I got very fit I just couldn't put on the muscle, no matter how many protein shakes I consumed.

So when Dani teed up an interview with her nutritionist, Sonja Gardiner, I went along with an open mind but not altogether convinced any gains were possible.

But Sonja was full of hope and didn't even despair when I told her I was trying to go free-getarian - which means vegetarian, except when the meat is free.

After a skip on to the scales, a height measurement, and a short period when she seemed intent on measuring the few morsels of fat my body enjoyed with a pair of pincers, it was time to discuss dietary plans.

It is worth adding here that it turns out I am 17.3 per cent fat, which puts me in the athletic range.

The first thing Sonja did was dispel my belief in the food pyramid. Apparently having a majority of carbs, followed by a fair amount of fresh fruit and veg, and less fats and proteins is no longer the fashion.

In fact, according to Sonja, I should be aiming for something a little more like 50 percent fats, 25 percent protein and 25 percent carbs. World view shaken.

According to the food diary I had kept for the three days before, I was on nearly 60 per cent carbs. This was going to be a big change.

Next, it was time to begin my official food diary, for which Sonja had me using MyFitnessPal. I have to admit, I was impressed with the app. For starters it was free and you could scan most of your food using the barcode and camera.

This gives you all the information you need including fat content, protein, sugar, everything.

I was, however, a little depressed when I saw some of the warnings attached to my favourite sausages - one of my few meaty treats.

I would recommend anyone who has trouble spotting their own feeding patterns to download this app. You will be surprised what your diet adds up to and by putting in your target weight, it tells you whether you are under or over on any given day.

After downloading the app, Sonja placed three imposing tubs in front of me. My new regimen would include three glutamine tablets per day, a teaspoon of creatine with glucose before workouts, and a tablespoon of Raw protein after exercise. Powders can be a little intimidating, especially when it's plain white and your nutritionist advises it will give you a boost of energy. I can think of another white powder which does the same thing for stock brokers, only Sonja assures me creatine is legal and helps with protein synthesis.

Recording everything I ate was a bit of a hassle but it kept me on track for my required 2600 calories a day. More than once I found myself nibbling cheese before turning in to reach that magic number.

Sonja Gardiner is a Hamilton clinical nutritionist on a mission to bring health, wholeness and happiness back into people's lives. For more information see www.sonjagardiner.com.

- Hamilton News

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