A Fresh Dille

a great response (and runner’s body fat percentages)

Posted in FITNESS, FOOD, RUNNING, VEGAN by clairedille on May 13, 2010

I really can’t start this post without saying a big thank you to everyone for understanding or trying to see where I was coming from when I wrote “tired of defending my choices.” Before posting, I was worried others would feel it was just a good whining session, but so many of you knew exactly where I was coming from and instead of fearing comments, I was full of joy reading each one over the last day.

Here are a few words/conclusions about the topic of having to defend or explain our food choices:

  • Many of you have also had instances where you were criticized or even poked fun because of the way you choose to eat.
  • When met with questions of curiosity concerning the way we eat, we are more than willing to answer and explain ourselves.
  • If we feel criticized or attacked by our food choices, it is best to try to keep our responses simple and maybe, try to shrug or laugh it off if you can.
  • Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself when others refuse to believe you are getting adequate protein, fat, and other nutrients. Many times, people are not aware that you make sure to take care of yourself and try your best to make your diet well-rounded, whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, etc.
  • Most importantly, as long as we feel personally satisfied and proud of the way we eat, there is no reason to be embarrassed by not eating what most would consider the “norm.” No one else needs to play a role in our personal food decisions.

As I mentioned before, I will be heading to Philadelphia this weekend for my younger sister’s fashion show and graduation. I knew I probably would be unable to post but when my camera starting acting up yesterday, I realized it might be close to impossible this weekend. I think it is time to think about purchasing myself a “real camera.”

Here are some of the delicious eats from yesterday:

I have tried Angela’s Vegan Overnight Oats before in Banana Split form, but I wanted to try them again after seeing them on Ashley’s blog with coconut milk kefir. Instead of the kefir, I used my So Delicious coconut milk yogurt that I purchased with a coupon. I love this stuff! The combination I used was:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk plain yogurt (you could use other flavors, but I find them all too sweet for my taste buds)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • T ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • packet stevia (this was too sweet for me…I should have opted to forgo the sweetener)

Instead of whipping up some of Gena’s Banana Soft Serve, I decided for something a little warmer after seeing that it was another dreary day. On the stove top, I heated up half a thinly sliced banana with frozen black raspberries in a saucepan with a little maple syrup coconut oil, and almond milk. These compote toppings inspired by this one has seriously made me craving oats everyday. I love a nice berry and banana topper but when spring is nowhere to be seen, simmered fruit compotes are just what I desire. I layered the overnight oats and compote and then added a spoonful of Naturally Nutty vanilla almond butter to sweeten the deal. This was another satisfying and delicious way to start the day.

After trying to eat my breakfast outdoors, I quickly resorted to the warmth of my own kitchen to read up about healthy body fat percentages for women and runners.

A few things I learned about body fat percentages and runners:

-My body fat is on the low-end of the average athletes percentage

-All women need 10-12% essential body fat

-Female athletes tend to have 14-20% body fat

-Fit women should have 21-24% body fat

-Acceptable female body fat is 25-31%, anything over is considered obese

-Often, runners who cover the greatest distance in training have lower body fat levels. They also eat tend to eat more food than those who do less running.

-The low body fat content of female distance runners is particularly striking; values of less than 10-15% are commonly reported among elite performers, but are seldom seen in healthy women outside sport.

-Reducing fat levels will not automatically guarantee success and may even be counter-productive.

-A reduction in body fat may well boost running performance, but if you cut down your food intake drastically, not only will training quality suffer, but the risk of illness and injury also increases dramatically.

-Generally speaking, sprinters have powerfully developed musculature of the upper body and of the legs, while distance runners have low body mass, with smaller muscles and extremely low body fat levels.

-It is probably not sensible for women’s body fat to fall below about 10-15%.

-For female athletes, there are some very immediate consequences of a low body fat level, including especially a fall in circulating oestrogen levels. This in turn can lead to a loss of bone mass, causing problems for women in later life through an increased risk of bone fracture.


I am nowhere near an elite runner, therefore, it was very interesting to find that my body fat fits within this range. It has been a long time since I have competed in races, but I will be upping my mileage in hopes of finishing my first marathon in the fall. At the same time, I will be working with a trainer at my gym occasionally so that I can monitor my body fat in order stay healthy. More resistance training will also be added to my current weekly plan. It has always been hard for me to maintain strength workouts alone, therefore, I feel it may be best at this time to seek some assistance from a trainer (being pushed always helps me). I haven’t discussed my injuries over the years, but I was over-trained at a much too young age and left with many shin splints turned into stress fractures. I once ran on a broken foot without being aware it was broken for over a month. These next six months will be all about listening to my body as much as possible and striving for a distance goal over a time goal. Of course I will aim to train with times in mind, but I definitely think it is important for me to remember that I have never ran close to as far as a marathon distance, and this needs to show in my times, as well. It is hard as a former consistent 5K runner to learn to slow down. I wish I could find more people to run with but haven’t had luck in my area. This is just one reason I miss living in Boston and New York so much.

I hope that you found the body fat percentage information among runners just as interesting as I did. I am sure many other runners also seem to have lower than average body fat percentages that we should not necessarily worry about, but be aware of. I don’t talk about this often, but when I first went to college I had many symptoms of the female athlete triad develop from not properly fueling myself. If you are interested in reading about the Female Athlete Triad, here are some links:

A Healthy Body Fat Percentage for Runners

Female Athlete Triad Coalition

American Family Physician: The Female Athlete Triad

WebMD: The Female Athlete Triad

Now back to the eats…

After a quick shop at Whole Foods for traveling goodies, I picked up another packet of the Brown Rice Tortillas when I saw they were on sale. When it was time for lunch, I spread one with hummus, homemade pesto, bbq tempeh, and sun-dried tomatoes and warmed it up a few minutes in the oven. On the side, I sautéed the remainder of the swiss chard with tamari, lemon, and ginger.

This is around the time that I realized things were not looking so great with my little fujifilm camera and started obsessively roaming amazon and ebay for a nice  new DSLR. Maybe my wishes will come true in the next month. Canon or Nikon? Any suggestions? I want something with better photo quality, but it also needs to be easy to use considering I’ve never studied photography.

Here are some things I am packing for my road trip/long weekend in Philadelphia. I know it is a very veg-friendly city, but I was not in charge of choosing the restaurants and have already realized some may not be easy for me to be well-fed.

These photos are upsetting me but I thought you might like to see what I bought. The Whole Foods Coupons may have influenced me in some of the purchases (clif c bars & dagoba chocolate).

  • Figs & Mulberries – dried fruit is one of my favorite oatmeal toppings
  • Apples – road trip. enough said.
  • Tea – always great for a pick me up when in a hotel room before going out or to relax after a long day
  • Almond butter – another favorite oatmeal topping or in case I need some healthy fats to go with fruit. Justin’s packs really make me smile when I can’t fit in a jar for the weekend. I need to try the chocolate hazelnut butter soon.
  • Vega & Hempshake – these are two of my favorite vegan protein powder sources. I am sure there will be a time when I feel protein deprived over the weekend. I have had times in the past where the only vegan option was a white bagel. These are always good to have on hand.
  • Go Raw Spirulina Energy Bar – I’ve only had this flavor once before, but I loved the crunchy texture and banana flavor. The Banana Bread Flax bar is also pretty good for a chewy snack when you feel an energy crash.
  • Clif C bars – I haven’t tried these yet but have heard good and bad things. The good thing is that they are all natural fruit and nut bars, so they can’t hurt.
  • Larabars – I only pictured one because I later picked up two more at my boyfriends. The tropical fruit tart is not a favorite flavor but it will work when I need some fruit and nut nourishment. I am also bringing apple pie, peanut butter cookie, and cashew cookie.

For dinner, I reheated one of Angela’s “In a Jiffy Spelt Veggie Burgers” that I had made about a month ago. It was eaten with spinach and bbq sauce on a Rudi’s Bakery multigrain bagel that was in the freezer. I have been thinking of trying to stick to a wheat-free diet (vs. gluten-free) when I get back from Philadelphia because since reintroducing wheat into my days, I haven’t slept as well. In the meantime, it is best to eat what we have now before restocking the carbs. The bagel I had the day before made me crave another. There were days in high school in college cross-country season where I ate up to three bagels. I have a feeling that may happen as I start upping my running mileage. Maybe not three, but definitely one. I also have been missing the Ezekiel english muffins tremendously. Sprouted grains are so fulfilling and what I missed most during the gluten-free challenge week.

On the side I made a massaged kale salad like the one I often eat from Whole Foods, and that has been seen across the blog world. I simply mixed avocado, lemon, and red onion and massaged it for a few minutes before topping it with large daikon radish shreds (read about some benefits here).

Later, some Chocolate Mousse was eaten before heading out for the night. The lack of camera has really been upsetting today, but I hope to at least borrow one for some better photos over the weekend.

Other things:

-Would you be interested in hearing more about the Female Athlete Triad? I have never opened up about it on the blog myself, but it is definitely something I would consider researching more or even talking about my own personal experiences.

-Do you like to pack snacks or meal components when traveling? Any favorites? I have made the mistake in the past of not bringing enough things to complement my meals on vacation. I tend to get cranky when not eating often enough and definitely always need breakfast to fuel the day.

Any Philly tips? I will have a limited amount of time to do anything straying from the graduation/fashion show schedule but would love to have some more ideas in mind.


26 Responses

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  1. Gena said, on May 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Nice post! I tend to get very little criticism, but I assume that’s because people fear my wrath 😉

    I’ll have to try one of those parfaits soon!

  2. healthyexposures said, on May 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Those oats take the cake with those layers – good idea!! hehe, I love how fancy the term compote makes me sounds – no one needs to know how ismple it really is, right?!
    Bummer about your camera – you may want to look into a Nikon D5000. It’s an entry-level dSLR but once you learn more about photography, you’ll still be able to get a lot of ileage out of it. I’ve shot with it at work and it’s a nice camera. If you’re interested in food photography, you may be interested in getting a 50mm lens to go with it, too. Off ebay you can probably get one for less than $100, and when it comes to food shots, the fast lenses (large aperture, lets in more light – helps with dim lighting areas, and less depth of field) help MILES.
    The packed snack look great!! I am such a packer – I’ll plan out everything. I hate having to wait through hunger. When I’m hungry, I want food and I want it NOW, haha.

  3. Lauren @ Health on the Run said, on May 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I found this really interesting (and it really makes me want to get my body fat checked!) I run long distances, but am definitely built more like a sprinter than your average distance runner, so I wonder where I’d fall on that spectrum.

    The female athlete triad is definitely a huge thing. Many MANY girls on my college XC team suffered from this. I’d love to see more information along these lines, but I’m a little biased in my interests. 😉

    I hope the training goes well for you this time around. It seems like you are taking a very smart approach, and I think working with a trainer is a great idea. My only advice for your first marathon — don’t be too hard on yourself about times. Focus on just finishing the first one…and then PR’ing next time. 😉

    Finally…your oats and pizza both look amazing! 🙂

  4. Jillian (back to the nest) said, on May 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    A few things:

    1. Glad you had a great response to your last post. We all seem to “get it” and feel the same way. Sometimes you do have to just “laugh it off,” or smile and remember how much healthier you are.
    2. The body fat percentage stuff is super neat. I really want to get my own tested. But I’m scared to…
    3. That flatbread thingy looks fab! I hope you saved me some.
    4. If you do end up getting the chance to suggest breakfast/lunch while in Philly, definitely mention Reading Terminal. It’s a HUGE farmer’s market, and there’s something for everyone (and I mean EVERYONE), including a great vegetarian/vegan place called Basic 4 that I bet you’d love. Stay tuned because I was just there last Friday and am planning a post on it tomorrow.


  5. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine said, on May 13, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Enjoy Philly!! My home city 🙂 Reading Terminal Market has the most AMAZING soft pretzels…you can prety much find any kind of food there, and it’s all delicious!

    I just got some Justin’s almond butter packets and definitely need to save them for summer trips as well!

  6. kelsey@snackingsquirrel.com said, on May 13, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    oh enjoy philly girl! woot woot! btw im jealous u have those go raw bars! do tell me how u like them, im dying to know. and i love how u put that lil softserve meal in a cup. i have a glass cup identical to it and love to put yogurt or oats in it. xoxo ❤

  7. Eliza said, on May 13, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Hey lovie, great post, its so interesting about body fat percentage, my nutritionist wanted to bring in something to measure mine but she forgot ;P i would be curious to know what mine is? idk…well any way, i love your eats the vegan overnight oats look and sound so delicious and I have been meaning to make those spelt burgers for some time now, but never did! i should now that you reminded me i have the recipe bookmarked 😉
    ahh tips for packing food! and Philly, i went to Philly for a weekend b/c the college i am going to is in glenside PA like 20 min. outside the city, well i usually pack bars; larabars, ProBars are really good!…raw nuts and dried fruit…and well i try to make do with what is accessible to me wherever i am, but i ended up eating at the WF salad bar for 2 days for dinner which is always good of course 😉 have a great trip!! 🙂


  8. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said, on May 14, 2010 at 2:23 am

    female athelet triad is something that i think is alot more prevalent than really discussed. but really only you can decide if you want to discuss it. it’s your story, and for you to decide if you wanna share

    the Go Raw brand of bars are GREAT
    the new Clif, have never even seen those…very cool

    have a great time in philly!

  9. Diana said, on May 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I hate being hungry, but I haven’t yet gotten into a good groove of packing snacks. I usually just grab a couple Larabars and some almonds (I like Trader Joe’s handfuls – individually wrapped almonds – for protein). Sometimes I bring a bar that is enriched just so I can get the vitamins I want somehow. Fruits that travel well are probably a good idea, too. Oh and I LOVE the Vega products – that’s a great way to get your nutrients.

    Btw, your meal looked fab! 🙂 I’m growing swiss chard in my garden and can’t wait to eat it!

    Have fun in Philly!

  10. Diana said, on May 14, 2010 at 8:54 am

    PS I have the Canon Rebel and it’s very easy to use. 🙂

  11. Claire @ College:Raw said, on May 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Just found your blog, and it’s super cute!

    I’ve never heard of the new Cliff bars…they’re just like Larabars? I don’t really like regular Cliff bars, but if they’re just fruit and nuts, perhaps I’ll give them a try! Let me know what you think of them!

    Have fun in Philly!

  12. Amanda @ . seek . said, on May 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Have a great time in Philly, girl! I’ve never been so I can’t give you any tips, but if you’re looking for a new camera, the Canon Rebel seems to be a really popular choice and it’s supposedly very easy to use.

    I always bring my own food when I travel, mostly because I have pesky allergies to put up with. My favorite things to bring with me are homemade granola bars, fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and cereal, instant oatmeal packets, nut butters, and pretty much single serve packets of anything I eat lol. I hate being caught hungry, so I like to be over-prepared.

  13. elk said, on May 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Hello. Thank you for your comment. 🙂 I smile at that.
    I quite liked the third point – people always seem to forget that you can be lacking in protein/fat/whatever nutrients even on a non-veggie ‘conventional’ diet.
    I’m not a runner but find it fascinating to hear how the musculature development/body fat of sprinters differs to long distance runners. I never knew that, but thinking about it, it makes sense that the body would develop differences.
    I clicked on a couple of the triad links; I’d never heard of the actual triad before. I mean, I’m aware of the implications sport can have on a body, particularly a womans, and how an unhealthy relationship between food/sport/body can develop, but I’d never heard of the triad as a ‘thing’, if that makes sense? (I’m a yoga/pilates/walking type person. i do want to take up paragliding at some point, but lessons are expensive and I think I need to build me some decent muscle before I can lug the canopy up a hill on my back like a snail!) There can be such a fine balance between sport being beneficial or damaging. I’d definately be interested in reading more. I’ve suffered amenorrhea since I was 20 (I’m 24, creeping towards 25), due to disordered eating, but I’m really trying to move forwards now, amenorrhea and bones pretty much being the catalyst. I would be interested to hear about your experiences of the Female Athlete Triad, if you were willing. I think that’s what I like most about blogs; the potential to learn (because I’m a geek at heart 😉 ), and it makes for developing a broader perspective of life/ experiences.
    I wish you luck with your training, and that you have a good time in Philly and that your sister’s show goes well. I’d offer Philly tips, but, erm…I live in than weird little island called the UK..

    • clairedille said, on May 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      My dads from the UK…and I have spent a lot of time there…love it! I am also 24 and a walker/yoga lover too!

  14. dmcgirl37 said, on May 14, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for posting this info about BF percentages. I run a few times a week, not very far usually 4-5 miles once or twice but I do work out 5-6 days a week. My body fat percentage is 16-17% and I’ve had amenorrhea with that for the past year. Keep in mind that I also am recovering from an ED but am not underweight anymore. I am always interested to know whether or not other athletes develop amenorrhea and at what body fat %? Do you know where I can fin this info?

    Dana ❤

    • clairedille said, on May 17, 2010 at 8:00 pm

      The links I posted may be able to help but I don’t know a particular site about what percentage prevents amenorrhea because I believe it can vary person to person. Monitoring by a dr is extremely important!

  15. luckytastebuds said, on May 14, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Hi there! I just found your blog i love the amount of depth that you go in to discussing health-related topics. Just as important though…i looove your food and those pictures!!! The VOO look insane. I actually just posted my version too and it was totally dejavu!!

    P.s. Come check out my strawberry basil jam and blueberry merlot preservers giveaway!! 🙂 I think you’d enjoy ’em in your oats!!

  16. maya said, on May 15, 2010 at 7:48 am

    hey love!
    your eats look amazing, the over night oatmeal looks and sounds so yum! 🙂 and your trip to whole foods, all the stuff i love! 🙂 dried figs are the best, and that go raw bar is so amazing! I have only had that one and its so good!
    Its always hard for me as well, to explain my eating to others. Like with my Dad, i hate trying to defend the way i eat, because he automatically assumes any choice i make is ed driven. Same with like oatmeal…people would ask me why i eat it every morning, and honestly just because i like it! But we have nothing to show anyone, just eat how we love and feel good and healthy and proud! 🙂 and that body fat percentage thing is really interesting!
    Have a great time in Philly! i love philly, they have a good frozen yogrut place i forgot the name X) lol…but i think its called Phileo 🙂 but packing snacks is hard, but it always works out! The bars u have are great for trips! and trail mixes with dried fruit and nuts. sometimes i would pack slices of bread, and have a squeeze packet of nut butter, for a snack, and also muffin…homemade or packed store bought are good as well 🙂 and just carry around larabars, bananas etc..also if you can, you can freeze a greek yogurt and then by the time u eat it, its still cold 🙂

    lots of love!!

  17. lisasfoods said, on May 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

    My problem with packing snacks on trips is that sometimes I lack self-control and eat out of boredom because the snacks are so good! I do love to pack meals to eat on domestic flights, and to pack picnics to eat on the trail or in a park.

  18. Gillian said, on May 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

    You’re blog is so fresh and I’m always tempted to get creative in the kitchen after seeing your eats! I have struggled with low body fat in the past and in definitely caused some problems for me, good to be careful!

  19. Megan @ The Oatmeal Diaries said, on May 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Don’t know if I’ve ever told you this but I LOVE your blog. And I had Angela’s overnight oats w/ banana softserve this morning for the first time! So yummy. I just experienced my first stress fracture and often wonder if it was because my diet had insufficient fats in it. I guess I’ll never know, but I would love to hear more about the female athlete triad. Thank you for this post!

  20. Lois Hosey said, on May 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I do trust all of the ideas you have offered to your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for newbies. May just you please extend them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  21. Mamie Falzarano said, on May 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My site goes over a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog by the way!

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