“How do models stay so skinny?!” Thankfully we now live in a society were the modeling world is becoming more diverse. We now have a multitude of body types walking the runways and various physiques gracing magazine covers. However, the question is still often asked; “How exactly does a model eat?” The answer is different for everyone, but today I am going to give you mine. This week on Model Focus is all about what I eat as a model.
Many of you may not know that I am a full-time registered nurse. While I’m certainly not a nutrition expert, my medical knowledge and studies have influenced the way I eat. I view food as an indulgence, but also a way to strategically fuel your body for the unique needs you have as an individual.
The first thing you must realize, is that everyone expends energy at different rates. Everyone participates in different activities and leads a unique lifestyle. Our workout habits, daily exercise, and sleep schedules are all different – and therefore our caloric needs will always be unique to ourselves.
A good starting point to decipher your ideal amount of calorie consumption is by calculating your basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories you burn in a typical day just by being alive. This would be the number of calories you would burn if you were to do nothing but sit on the couch and breathe for a full 24 hours. Your calorie requirements would increase if you were to work a shift in an active job, go for a run, hit the gym, clean your house, or simply spend the day running lots of errands.
Ready for some math? Here you go…
Basal Metabolic Rate = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Basal Metabolic Rate = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
This is my guide when deciding how much I should eat. Consuming less than this total will result in weight loss (as well as hormone fluctuations, but let’s keep it simple), while consuming more will require me to be more physically active in order to refrain from weight gain. A good model will need to be conscious of these numbers to stay on top of maintaining his/her physique.
Just as crucial as caloric consumption is the type of calories you are consuming. Your body actually has a preference for the way your foods are metabolized, did you know that? Carbohydrates are the first to be processed. Your body can break them down and store away the extra very efficiently. That is why you can eat a large helping of pasta, rice, or bread and feel hungry a shockingly short period later.
Proteins are the next to be broken down. If you aren’t fueling your body with food and there are no carbohydrates available to metabolize, guess where these proteins come from? Your existing muscle. Proteins are the building blocks that compose muscle, and consuming extra/too little will affect how much is given/pulled from your existing muscle. So just be mindful that by fasting, you may be actively losing muscle tone as your body pulls from your protein reserves. It is also crucial to provide ample protein for rebuilding if you are trying to gain muscle and achieve a certain physique.
The body’s least efficient energy source is – you guessed it – fats. Calories from fats are typically stored away in your body’s reserves for use as a last resort (after your carbohydrates and proteins are used up). This is why that slice of cake and that serving of your favorite fried food may go straight to your hips – your body doesn’t break the fat down as efficiently and stores it away.
But why does all of this matter to a model? Knowing the science of how food is broken down will help you understand how to strategically fuel your body and give if precisely what it needs with minimal weight fluctuations. Models need to remain a consistent dress size, maintain specific measurements, and maintain a consistent muscle tone. Fluctuations are expected to be minimal and too slight to notice. This is especially true if you want to work with designers. Fittings are kept to a minimum and often nonexistent, many times I have simply shown up to a shoot or a fashion show and tried on my garment for the first time right before walking the runway or stepping in front of the camera.
Model: Ashley BeLoat – www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images – IG: @ashleybeloat
Photographer: Josie Brooks – www.josiebrooksphotography.com – IG: @josiebrooksphotography
Venue: Haus 820 – www.haus820.com – IG: @haus820
Lipstick: Inari Liquid Matte Lipstick in Scarlet Red by Khanh Vio Spa & Kha Kim Ross – www.facebook.com/viospakhanh
So what do I eat? The answer is different for different days. I have different requirements for the days I work a 12-14 hour shift at the hospital versus a day at a fashion show or shoot.
For my days that I work as a nurse, I am expected to be on my feet and taking care of patients for at least 12 hours. My energy needs fluctuate based on my patient load, what unit of the hospital I am sent to, and the specific needs of my patients. I will almost always start the day off with a breakfast of fruit (navel oranges or apples are my favorite) paired with a whole grain carbohydrate or protein. My carbohydrate of choice is usually multigrain toast without butter or cheerios without milk. My proteins are typically salmon, tilapia, or chicken. I make the choice between carbs and protein based on how quickly I need to get moving. Since carbohydrates are broken down faster than proteins, I know this will give me the quicker boost of energy if I am running late, whereas if I wake up extra early I know to opt for protein that will keep me fuller longer.
At lunchtime for my nursing days I will usually have a large salad with baby spinach, iceberg lettuce mix, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and my one weakness…feta cheese. I always omit the dressing as I would rather have those calories in the form of cheese. This meal provides me with fiber and vitamins of the greens to keep me full. The chicken gives me protein to replenish my muscles after pushing hospital beds, lifting patients, and the miles of walking I do in a typical shift. The fats from the cheese keep my stomach satisfied and are my main indulgence for the day. If I am still full from my breakfast of protein and feel in the mood for something lighter, I will usually choose fat-free Greek yogurt instead. This provides a good combination of carbohydrates for fast energy and protein for muscle replenishing.
If my day is going to consist of a shoot or a fashion show, my eating habits are a little different… I – like many models – have difficulty posing or walking the runway with food on my stomach. Having a meal or heavy snack affects posture, balance, focus, and if you are worried about keeping the appearance of a slim waist…confidence. If you have the luxury of shooting in a studio, you have the ability to shoot at any time of day or night. However, if your set happens to be outdoors, the typical pattern is to shoot near the time of sunset.
This being said, my modeling mornings always begin with a breakfast that will sustain me for a long time – sometimes up to 14 hours! I reach for a lean protein (chicken or tilapia), vegetables (mushrooms and/or zucchini), and fruit (apples or oranges). If I already expect the shoot to run particularly long, I sometimes replace the fruit with fat-free Greek yogurt to give myself some extra protein to last throughout the day and prevent breakdown of my muscles.
Lunch typically does not happen if I am working a shoot or show. My stomach is already too full of butterflies and I often need the flexibility for contorted poses and ease of movement. Because I have eaten a strategic breakfast, this is rarely a problem for me and I often don’t even think about food because I still feel satisfied from my morning meal.
Lastly, dinner… Dinner is the one meal I try to keep constant no matter what day it is. My final meal of the day I strive to keep consisting of vegetables and fruits only. There is nothing more comforting to me than a large bowl of steamed brussels sprouts or a delicious, spicy broccoli stir fry. I avoid using butter, oils, or fats as these can easily hike up calorie consumption. Fruit is also the perfect cure for any sweet cravings and serves the double purpose of helping me rehydrate.
So what do you think? Is this how you would expect for a model to eat? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to share your nutrition tips and secrets as well!