Update: Ok, this is not a reflection on conference food. Microsoft catered in some rather healthy food for everybody to eat. It was more a reflection on our computer knowledgable population in general. Yes, I did observe some rather unhealthy habits at the conference, but that wasn't due to Microsoft bringing in truckloads of Ding Dongs and Twinkies (although I have heard that has happened in the past? Just a rumor.).
Ok, I'm certainly not singling anybody out here, but as a collective, there is a decent percentage of programmers that are obviously overweight. You've heard people talk: that fat, glasses wearing, backpack toting guy MUST be a geek! Even if you don't wear glasses and tote a backpack with a laptop inside, if you're plain overweight, people assume you have a high probability of being a computer geek!
So what can you do about it? At the MVP summit, I observed many things (unhealthy things) that I believe people can do to curb their diets and become healthier, leaner people. Am I the ideal role model for geek physique and healthy living? Oh hell no! I myself have unwanted weight that needs to be shed, but it takes time and effort.
So I'm going to tell you about my "Programmer's Diet". Its not any different from what you've heard in the past about other diets, but from geek to geek, maybe you'll take note of it as it works well for me.
QUIT DRINKING ALL THAT SODA!! For crying out loud, I think the software industry is in dire need of the programmer community. The amount of sugary and caffeinated products that going into our collective system is enough to keep the entire soft drink producing business afloat. Soda is not good for you, especially if you don't exercise. You can't just sit and drink soda all day long. You need to start making adjustments to your lifestyle that allow you to maintain your current rate of production but while eating more carbs more frequently during the day rather than supplementing your energy intake with energy drinks and sodas. Once you drink a soda, you have to keep drinking it to sustain the pace of energy in which you started because you have to avoid that "crash". Its like drugs, once you start, you have to keep taking more and more to sustain the same level of high you got the first time. That soda first thing in the morning is like being a crack addict. You have now given yourself up to the daylong exposure and consumption of sugar and caffeine. Avoid it all together, especially in the morning hours.
Understand your body. Understand what makes you tick, your level of metabolism, your daily energy output and your base metabolic rate (BMR). Your base metabolic rate is the amount of calories you must intake every 24 hours in order for your body to perform its base functions (pump blood, brain function, breathing) while at complete rest. I am 6 ft 0 inches and 205 lbs. I am a 31 year old male. My BMR is right at 1950 calories. BMR is calculated using the following formula:
English BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )
Metric BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 9.6 x weight in kilos ) + ( 1.8 x height in cm ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )
Now you have to start to consider the amount of exercise you perform each day. There is an actual equation used to calculate this stuff, called the Harris Benedict equation:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
I go to the gym 5 days a week, M-F, and lift weights for 60 minutes each day. No cardiac. This equates to moderate exercise. So my daily calorie requirement is 1950 * 1.55 = 3021 calories. This means that in order for me to do what I do and not gain or lose any weight, I need 3000 calories per day.
Now gets to part about gaining and losing weight. The most important thing about adjusting weight is to know how many calories you intake every day. This is critical. Without putting in the effort to figure that out, you're not going to be able to adjust your lifestyle. This is critical. Once you know, then you can adjust your caloric intake to whether or not you want to lose or gain weight. If you want to lose weight, you need to both exercise and consume less calories than your daily calorie needs. If you want to gain weight, well, there are 2 options. One, you can take in more calories than you need and sit on your ass all day. This will make you fat. Or, you can take in more calories than you need and lift weights. This will make you more muscular. Its a pretty straightforward thing there. Either gain fat, or gain muscle. For you men, ask the lady's which they prefer.
So now that you understand the whole calories thing, you need to understand something else crucial to healthier living. Don't eat 3 meals a day. For example, if you need 3000 calories per day, and you eat 500 for breakfast, 1500 for lunch and another 1000 for supper (that's dinner for you non-southern-USA people), you're still not doing well, but better. When you consume too many calories at one time, well your body can't use them all at one time. Your body needs them spread out over a long period of time. Too many at once and the excess gets stored as fat. You MUST eat 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day, about 500 calories each for you 3000 calorie people. This insures that you do not overload more calories into your body that what can be consumed in a given time. Eat first thing in the morning, 4 more times spread throughout the day, and then again right before you go to bed. That is a much healthier eating habit.
Also, eat good, quality protein. This also is key. You can't just eat any kind of calories, you need good calories with quality carbs and protein. If you lift weights like I do, then your body needs LOTS of protein, about 1.5 grams per lb of body weight. For me that's 300 grams of protein per day. Muscle is built with protein and is HIGHLY IMPORTANT for gaining quality body mass.
Its just as simple if you want to lose weight. Most high protein foods are low in carbs and even lower in saturated fats. Eating high protein diets is also usually eating a low carb diet. In order to lose weight, in addition to what we already discussed about calorie intake, high protein, low carb low sat fat diets is a must.
What are some of the common and basic high protein foods? Chicken, turkey, lean meats and beef, any type of fish, egg whites, dairy products. Its more difficult for those trying to add mass as opposed to lose weight, as we must consume both high protein and high carb diets.
So I've laid out a great starting point for you to consider looking at to curb your diet and live a better and healthier lifestyle. Know how many calories you need, know how many calories you eat, adjust accordingly, exercise, eat the right kinds of calories in the forms of proteins and low carbs to lose weight, high carbs to gain weight.
Disclaimer: I have never in my life taken a nutrition, food, health, diet, etc course or training. I know what I've studied on my own and what works for me. ALWAYS consult your doctor before starting a new diet and/or exercise plan. I can only be held responsible if in 12 weeks from now you start to resemble one of the Spartan actors from the movie 300 by following my advice. Otherwise, I had nothing to do with it.