There are many different responsibilities when it comes to being a nurse. Whether it is an emergency room nurse saving a life or a medical surgical nurse going over discharge instructions with a patient and their family, nurses have a massive job description. One of the lifestyle areas that nurses educate their patients about on a daily basis is nutrition. There are some general guidelines for any person can follow to have a “healthy” diet. However, I am not interested in baseline nutrition for nurses. I want nurses to be functioning at 100%, not just while caring for their patients, but away from work as well. Nursing is a demanding and high-stress job, and to avoid burnout, illness, injury, and fatigue I want to educate nurses on how their nutrition plays a major part in evading these common problems.
There are a lot of different “fad” diets out there that claim weight loss, strength gain, etc. I believe, for the majority of people, these diets are not sustainable (I fall into this category). People tend to do really well for 2-3 months, then they just get tired of constantly eating the same foods and they fall off the wagon. So, I personally recommend IIFYM, which is what I practice. IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. The foundation for this nutritional lifestyle is that a person has a set number of macronutrients they need to eat each day. For example, this is my current breakdown: 280g carbs, 92g of fat, 185g of protein (the goal is to be at +- 5 g per macronutrient). Each day I weigh out my food on an electric scale, and I plug those numbers into the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I typically eat very clean each day. This means I don’t eat processed foods, and I eat a large amount of healthy complex carbs, lean protein, veggies, fruits and some nuts. However, if there is a day where I just absolutely need to eat some chocolate or a bowl of ice cream, I have the complete freedom to do so as long as I make it fit within my end of day number goals. This freedom allows me to stay on track and make this a routine without wavering.
At this point, you may be asking yourself how in the world am I supposed to know how many macros I should be consuming each day? That is a great question, and there is a way for you to come up with the answer by yourself by using the Harris-Benedict Equation. This equation is designed to assist you in determining your individual caloric needs to maintain body weight. First, you would need to determine what your Basal Metabolic Rate is. The equation to determine this is:
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 years)
Using myself as an example my calculation for my BMR is:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x 240) + (12.7 x 75) – (6.8 x 32)
BMR = 66 + 1495 + 952 – 217
BMR = 2296
Now please remember this is not an exact number. It’s a general guideline.
I now plug in my BMR into the Harris Benedict Equation that best describes me:
Sedentary: BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active: BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active: BMR x 1.55
Very Active: BMR x 1.725
Extra Active: BMX x 1.9
Now, your next question is going to be how and the heck do I know which equation best describes me? Well, if you work 8-12 hour shifts and don’t work out those days, but work out on your off days, I would go with lightly active. If you are in the gym on the days you work and on your off days totaling over five workouts a week, then go with moderately to very active depending on the intensity of the workout.
Next, break up your macros into a 40/30/30 split of carbs/proteins/fats. This is where the fun begins, because like I said earlier, these numbers are not set in stone and you get to play with your macros to see what works best for you. After two weeks if you feel sluggish, tired, and/or you aren’t recovering from your shifts or workouts like you want to, then add 20-25g of carbs in. If you feel weighed down during the day, then lower your carbs by 20-25g. Your protein and fats should typically remain the same. If this all seems WAY too complicated I suggest you reach out to a nutrition coach who can map all of this out for you, then all you have to do is eat and track!!! I know two different nutrition coaches extremely well, so if you need to be pointed in the right direction please let me know.
This is a nutrition lifestyle that is meant to put you back in control of what you put into your body, your weight, and your energy level. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions and enjoy!