So you have just started a marathon training program and you’re hungry all the time – are you getting enough calories? Or you are on a diet but feeling sluggish – is there some nutrient that is deficient in your diet? While I am usually a fan of checking www.eatright.org and finding a good registered dietitian to help solve such dietary dilemmas, there are a few websites that can help out if you are short on cash and time. My alltime favorite is www.fitday.com for its thorough nutrition reports, especially if you have changed your exercise program recently. However, it can take some time getting used to, and the food database isn’t the most complete. Another website, www.sparkpeople.com, is user-friendly and includes regular motivational and educational emails…which may be fun or annoying, depending on your personality. However, it does not have as in-depth of nutrient analysis. Sparkpeople’s sister site, www.babyfit.com, is great for new moms and moms-to-be, and the forums are full of great comments from other health-conscious moms.
So let’s say our hypothetical marathon runner finds out he is low in magnesium – but what foods are high in that nutrient? Once again, you can make an appointment with your neighborhood dietitian (shameless plug for the career field) or if you are strapped for time and cash (or just like to do it yourself) you can look it up on one of the best overall sites I have found yet – www.nutritiondata.com. Another good freebie, this website is also good for analyzing grandma’s famous family recipes as well as comparing two foods side by side.
If you are just curious to know exactly what is in a mushroom, www.grubiq.com is easy to understand and relatively complete. Instead of comparing DRIs, AIs, and mcgs versus IUs, it gives you a relative score for each food. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ will tell you what is in each food, but can be a little complicated to understand all the information.
Like to eat out? http://www.calorieking.com/foods/ can give you the lowdown on how high the calories are in that mocha frappuchino or fried onion rings. But beware, sometimes ignorance is bliss in the world of restaurant dining!
Nutrition is both a science and an art. You can learn a lot about just about every food out there on these sites, but don’t forget to sit back, relax, and savor the flavor of some of your favorites…even if you almost fall out of your chair when you read how many calories are in that bowl of ice cream!