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Nutrition Questions

  • Is eating tuna bad because high of Mercury levels? I eat a lot of tuna each day and feel fatigued. I have read that this is a symptom of Mercury poisoning.

    I am a firm believer in eating everything in moderation.  For every dietary plan that I supply to my clients, there will always be a mix of:

    Various meats/fish
    Nuts (whether whole or in LSA)

    Restricting yourself to a particular food may have side effects because you may be restricting yourself from a particular nutrient.  Many bodybuilders and fitness fanatics do this in a very unhealthy manner which can lead to long-term health complications.  For example, eating only banana's as fruit.  Whilst they are a great source of potassium, they are quite low in other nutrients and could easily contribute to a nutrient deficit.

    Conversely, eating too much of a particular food could have side effects too.  A common example is consuming too many carrots.  A high intake of beta-carotene could actually make your skin turn orange.

    In your case, a high intake of tuna could potentially have side effects.  Tuna has a reputation for being relatively high in mercury relative to other foods.  It's not dangerously high (otherwise it wouldn't sold in supermarkets), but a significant and regular intake could have a cumulative effect on mercury levels.

    Whilst your body can metabolise mercury, it is a slow process.  So, ingesting substantial amounts of mercury could lead to a mercury build-up over time.
    As a first resort, I would suggest to see your doctor and to test for mercury levels if this is a concern of yours.

    One course of action may be to avoid the seafood for the time being.  Instead, consume meats.  Mix up the meats - chicken breast, lean beef, turkey, low-fat ham etc.  Don't eat chicken breast exclusively either, other meats contain minerals that are required for normal functioning.  For example, turkey is rich in selenium, a good antioxidant and responsible for healthy skin, nails and hair.  Beef is rich in iron, responsible for energy and normal functioning.  A little seafood here and there may be healthy, but do not eat it exclusively.

  • How many eggs can I eat each day?

    I am a firm believer that all natural foods are good for you in a well balanced diet.

    Funnily enough, eggs have been shown to have cholesterol lowering properties.  The cholesterol contained within the egg yolks aren't necessarily absorbed to increase your LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) levels.

    Another benefit of eggs is that they contain a very high quality protein, which is actually the best quality protein found in natural foods.  This is particularly useful for anyone who is active and needs a quality source of protein to aid recovery.

    Of course, there are a few drawbacks with egg consumption:

    1. Bad breath!
    2. They are relatively high in sulphur which may encourage flatulence when eaten in excess.
    3. The yolks are quite dense in fat.  Whilst the fats contained are "good" fats, fats in any form are still very calorie dense.  Again, if you don't go overboard with the amount of eggs consumed, this would not be an issue.

    I guess it all comes back to "everything in moderation".  Defining "moderation" is difficult because everyone's goals, lifestyle, eating habits etc. are different.  Personally though, I wouldn't suggest consuming more than two egg yolks in a day.

  • Do I need to count calories to lose weight?

    Ah someone who is of my own heart! I personally think sitting there and ‘counting calories’ is the greatest waste of time any athlete can ever undertake and just isn’t for me. Hey don’t get me wrong, if you are a ‘C Style’ person with a clinical nature and love numbers then go right ahead. All I am saying is that I do not I feel that you need to sit and count every single calorie that you consume per day.

    For the people who are into it do you really believe that it is THAT critical that you get an exact number of calories per day? Also how did you calculate your requirements? To throw a further spanner in the works, how is it that you calculate the calories that you are eating? To feel that a precise number of calories would make that great of a difference would mean that you need to believe that:

    • the body utilises calories in the same fashion and rate that the calorie itself is determined and that every body is the same
    • the body’s needs are the same everyday regardless of your activity level or energy requirements (until you are ready to change your calorie totals of course)
    • the resource that you get your calorie information from is correct and is the same to every other resource available
    • the food that you are eating does in fact contain the exact breakdown of macro-nutrients that you are referencing from the literature/website/book etc, and to get further critical that every piece of the same food is also exactly the same

    I personally believe that the body is an incredibly adaptive and responsive unit, and it works on averages and is in constant change. I just don’t believe that every day is that exact and precise – there are far too many variables for things to be 100% exact.

    Working on averages, that’s what I do.

    So does this mean though that the total practice of calorie counting is to be done away with, or is there an element of truth? Yes and no.

    Sitting down and counting calories of every single thing that you eat every single day; yes I just don’t buy it. But knowing what you are eating and being consistent in your resolve – that is very much needed.

    But are they not kind of the same thing, bingo! I know it sounds like a contradiction but hears me out. To lose weight successfully, you will need to either consumer less energy then you need or burn more energy that you take in (the combination of both works best) so in regards to food you need to be consistent in your approach. This easily achieved in eating the same sorts of foods each day in the same rough amounts. If you eat ‘x’ amount on Monday, and then you eat that same ‘x’ amount on Tuesday, does it not stand to reason that you don’t need to count calories everyday?

    Ok now weight stalls, does that mean we need to then shave off a precise number of calories to generate weight loss? Lets get technical, 1 kilogram of fat contains 7200 calories so where will the split be (in regards to greater energy usage through exercise, further energy consumed due to metabolic influences post training – that is a further discussion in itself – and eating less energy). Again I feel it is making it way too complicated. Just eat a little less and move a little harder. You will know if you are on the right track if you are starting to see results again a few days later.

    Keep it simple, and use your free time to the best of your advantage. It will always be the best way.

  • What should I eat before a workout? I usually have muesli, banana and soy milk.

    As a general rule of thumb, you will require some form of low GI carbohydrates for energy (eg. muesli, dairy, fruit, low-gi bread etc.) and some source of good quality protein (eg. dairy, egg, protein shake, meat etc.). Typically it is recommended to wait 60 minutes between eating and exercising.

    What you consume prior to a workout greatly depends upon your goals and the level of output of your workout. For example, an endurance runner may consider taking MCT's (medium chain triglycerides) for slow energy release over a sustained period of time. A bodybuilder may consume a protein shake immediately prior to weight lifting in order to reduce muscle catabolism during the workout and enhance protein synthesis after the workout. Someone seeking to improve their level of fitness will consume considerably more carbohydrates prior to a workout than someone seeking to lose weight.

    It does vary from person to person. However muesli, banana and soy milk seems like a good healthy option for a meal prior to a workout. Plenty of carbohydrates and some protein also. So long as you are making positive progress toward your goals, this may be a viable approach.

    Personally I will generally have either a protein shake (in milk) or white meat/tuna/salmon, muesli, yogurt, LSA mix, vegetables and some fruit about an hour prior to a workout. Immediately before my weights workouts I also consume a protein shake in water.

  • If I consume more calories in versus calories out, how long do I have until the extra calories go to my waist?

    It's impossible to give you an exact time frame because everyone is different.  A person with a fast metabolism may process food much quicker than someone with a much slower metabolism.

    However at the end of the day, the absolute speed at which foods are metabolised really is not all that important in order to achieve a desired goal.  It can be useful to know...but unless you are a nutritionist for a top athlete, I don't believe that this is vital.  Don't confuse absolute absorption rates with relative speeds though (ie. how quickly one food is absorbed compared to another) - this are important to understand (for example, glycemic index).

    What is important to understand is your goal - to gain or lose weight.  If you are seeking to gain weight, then you will require a calorie surplus.  Conversely to lose weight a caloric deficit is required.

    For more information on this topic, I highly recommend our free course Introduction to Physical Freedom

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