Dynamic Marching – Nutrition: Part One

| |

I LOVE Chipotle… and Q Doba… and Moe’s Southwestern Grill… and our local Mexican restaurant, Cancun. The first Chipotle in the United States was in Denver, Colorado and every time I go out to work with Pomona High School’s marching band the first place we go for lunch is Chipotle! Nothing beats a good burrito with beans, rice, chicken, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. With chips… yah- LOTS of fresh tortilla chips. And a soda, of course! I know that it is not good for me, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it. If you are like me, there are certain foods that you just have to have every once and a while. The difference between good nutrition and poor nutrition is in how often you make the choice to eat those things that you crave and those things that you know are good for you. In addition, good nutrition involves learning more about what you actually eat and what you should be eating.

In addition to teaching marching & movement, I also teach high school Human Anatomy & Physiology. (My degree from Notre Dame is in Biological Sciences). One of the units I teach is on nutrition and we go through lots of details regarding what you put in your body and what your body requires. In order to perform and compete in a drum & bugle corps you must take steps to eat right and take care of your body both in-season and right now in the off-season. Whether you are a Division I drum corps member wanting to get into tip-top shape for those difficult spring practices or a weekend DCA member looking to be in better shape for the summer, this article will give you a quick introduction into nutrition and point out some websites for you to check out if you want to learn more.

Based on a simple math formula using height, weight, and activity- called the Harris-Benedict Formula (from the Cornell University website,) I should be consuming about 2,250 Calories a day to maintain normal everyday body functions. In other words, if I were to consume exactly that amount of Calories each day my body would be able to use most, if not all, of those Calories. Consuming more Calories than that would make my body store some of that energy for later (most-likely as fat). Consuming less than that amount, or increasing my exercise for that day would put my body at a Calorie deficit and I would be able to use some of the stored energy that I already have. We all know that the body stores this energy in fat tissue (love handles, buttocks, etc.). The average burrito that I get at a semi-fast food joint will cost me anywhere from 900 to 1,600 of those Calories in one big chunk. (That is not even counting the chips and soda!) Obviously, if this is a once-in-a-while indulgence then I will be ok, but eating meals like this too often will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain. A few extra pounds can make that first corps rehearsal that much harder!

There are two main types of fats that come in the foods we eat. First, is unsaturated fat. This is considered "good" fat, and should be a part of your diet. For example, nuts and fish usually contain a good amount of unsaturated fat and is used by your bodies for health of the circulatory system and cell membranes. The other type of fat is saturated fat (and the dreaded trans-fats that have been in the news lately). The FDA recommends that you consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat each day. (www.mypyramid.gov) The yummy burrito from above will set me back somewhere between 20-25 grams of saturated fat in one sitting (and 40 to 60 grams of total fat as well). A good bet, when watching what you eat, is to make sure than no more than 30% of your daily fat intake comes from saturated fats and you keep the total fat grams to less than 65 grams. All you have to do is look at food labels to see the fat content of packaged foods and a quick Google search will tell you more than you want to know about your favorite fast food items. (Or check out www.calorieking.com)

Sugar Busters Diet… Adkins diet… South Beach Diet… etc. What do all of these diets have in common? Carbohydrates. The biggest "buzz word" of dieting in the 2000’s so far has been "lo-carb". I can’t tell you the best thing for you personally with regards to nocarb or low carb diets, but I do know that the more you can replace simple sugars and processed grains with 100% whole grains the better off you will be in terms of fitness and feeling good. In the summer, while on tour, drum corps provide high carbohydrate, high calorie diets to the members in order to provide them with a constant supply of energy to get through the long hot practices and performances. The human body requires fuel as well as nutrients to grow, develop, and heal. This high-carb high-calorie diet is perfect when you are working really hard in the hot sun, but is counter-productive in the off-season. This time of year focusing on limiting the amount of sugar you eat, replace some sweeteners with something like Splenda, eat more foods containing whole grains, and start each morning with oatmeal. (for my great oatmeal recipe look at the end of this article).

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plants that cannot be digested by out bodies. It is very important for healthy eating and for a smooth-running digestive tract. The FDA recommends that individuals consume at least 25 grams of fiber each day. You can get fiber from whole grains, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables. When I looked up my personal food pyramid on the web it recommended that I eat 9 ounces of whole grains, 3+ cups of vegetables, and 2 cups of fruit each day. I better get started! Another great website is Dole’s "5-a-day" Program. It helps you keep track of the number and colors of fruits and vegetables that you eat each day. There is also some great research from the people at Juice Plus (www.juiceplus.com). You can actually purchase fruit and vegetable supplements if you know you are not eating enough of the good stuff! (I just started using these because of the great research on disease prevention)

A quick note on sodium… that burrito, from above, has 2,500 mg of sodium in it! The FDA recommends that amount be consumed in an entire day! Be careful with the salt, your normal daily intake of foods gives you more than you actually need and sports drinks give you WAY MORE than you need unless you are really exercising and sweating. For more information on what nutrients you need each day go to the RealAge website (as seen on Oprah… www.realage.com ) They will tell you, among other great tips, to take your multivitamin, brush and floss your teeth, and STOP SMOKING/CHEWING tobacco.

Simply put- You KNOW that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. (More during hot practices)- SO DO IT!

Here are some recipe tips for eating right (for one day). They will make you feel full longer and provide you with just the right amount of nutrients and Calories.

Mix this up the night before or in big batches and put it in the fridge for a quick on-the-go breakfast.

  • ½ cup oatmeal (quick oats)
  • 2 Spoonfuls of Wheat Germ
  • 2 Spoonfuls of nuts (I use chopped walnuts)
  • 1 Spoonful of Ground Flaxseed (for Omega-3’s and "good fats")
  • 1 Cup Non-fat Milk or Light Vanilla Soy Milk
  • ¼ cup Vanilla Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Fresh Fruit or canned Crushed Pineapple)


  • Half of a chicken breast from a Rotisserie Chicken
  • Half of a bag of ready-made and washed salad
  • 6 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 6 Baby carrots
  • ¼ Can Black Beans (rinsed)
  • Your favorite olive oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • 6 Wheat Crackers (like Triscuits)


  • 1 Serving of Cooked Brown Rice
  • Salmon Filet: Broil on low for 10 minutes, put stone ground mustard on top and broil until no longer pink.
  • Steamed Broccoli


  • Morning: Bran Muffin or a Handful of Roasted, Unsalted Almonds
  • Afternoon: Low-Fat Yogurt and a Piece of Fruit.

For more information, see our Dynamic Marching and Movement website at www.dynamicmarching.com and our Dynamic Marching DVD – which includes a complete section on fitness and strength training.

Next month… exercise and fitness for preparing for drum corps season.

Publisher’s Note: Dynamic Marching is the latest in our series of columns written by leading educators – providing expert information on the marching band activity. Jeff Young is a respected educator, clinician, adjudicator, and consultant – specializing in the art of marching and movement. We’re excited that he’s agreed to be one of our regular contributors on Drum Corps Planet. You may send your questions to AskJef AskJeff [at] drumcorpsplanet [dot] com?subject=Question%20from%20DCP f [at] drumcorpsplanet [dot] com

Jeff Young teaches science at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, has a degree in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Indiana University. Jeff is the visual caption head for the 2005 BOA Grand National Champion Carmel Marching Band. He is also honored to work with the Colorado State Champion-Pomona High School from Arvada, Colorado. Jeff is a visual caption judge for Drum Corps International and enjoys being a judge, designer, and instructor for marching band programs across the country. He has also been the visual instructor and drill arranger for the Bands of America Summer Band Symposium Marching Band for the past four years. Jeff is also the co-founder of Dynamic Marching and Movement.

Posted by on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007. Filed under Dynamic Marching.