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Nutrition Questions

  • Does extra protein consumption increase the speed of results in weight training?

    A common phrase that you may have heard thrown around the industry is "protein is muscle" or "muscle is protein". Whilst muscle is comprised of protein - an increase in dietary protein may not necessarily result in more lean muscle mass gains.

    Touching on the "muscle is protein", this somewhat deceiving phrase has come as a result of the structure of a muscle cell. Muscles are your body's primary storage facility of amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of protein). If your body requires protein, and there is not enough dietary protein being consumed, then muscle tissue will most likely be broken down in order to supply the required amino acids.

    Obviously, if muscle is comprised of a significant amount of amino acids, then you need to source these amino acids from somewhere. This comes from your diet.

    That said, more protein in your diet does not necessarily mean great lean muscle gains. Gaining muscle is a function of many variables, including:

    Protein intake
    Fat intake
    Carbohydrate intake
    Resistance training regime
    Cardiovascular exercise regime
    Incidental exercise
    Genetic makeup
    ...and many other factors

    Let's take a few examples. To begin with, Fred's diet is spot on. He is consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat. However his resistance training regime is not conductive of gaining muscle. Instead of stimulating the muscles to grow, he is performing a high-repetition workout which will enhance his muscular endurance. Therefore he will not see significant muscle gains.

    Example 2 - John performs an effective resistance training routine. However his diet is lacking in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are required in the process of "protein synthesis" - ie. building muscle. Without carbohydrates, protein synthesis will cease to occur (as protein synthesis requires the presence of insulin). Instead, muscle will most likely be broken down into amino acids which are then converted into glucose in order to maintain blood glucose levels.

    Example 3 - Jack sleeps 2-3 hours each night. Whilst his diet and training routine may be spot on, the lack of sleep that he receives inhibits his ability to synthesise protein. His hormones are imbalanced because IGF-1 and HGH, two important hormones for building muscle, are secreted in high amounts during deep sleep.

    Whilst I could go on all day with various examples, the point is that build muscle is a function of many variables. You need to ensure that your protein intake is adequate in conjunction with all other considerations. Consuming protein shakes all day long will not necessarily enhance your results in the gym. One other very important factor is to ensure that you have a calorie surplus in your diet - ie. more calories being consumed than what is being expended.

    When you enhance all these factors, your overall progress will be significantly enhanced.

    With that in mind, several studies have suggested that 1.8-2.4 g/kg/day of protein is adequate for maximum results. So, for a 100kg person, 180-240g of protein is substantial. There is limited research on this topic however. I would suggest that you begin within this range. Down the track, once you learn how your body responds to your training and diet, it's a great idea to experiment with different nutritional and training strategies. Unfortunately there is no formula, simply because we are all very different in our genetics.

    I highly suggest that you have a read of a course that I am publishing which deals with this very topic. There is particular emphasis on nutrition and the importance of protein, fat and carbohydrate:

    Hope this is of help!

  • What foods contain Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fats? What are these good fats used for?

    Omega 3

    Fish oil is recommended for a healthy diet because it contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors to eicosanoids that reduce inflammation throughout the body

    Omega 6

    Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids are required by the body for growth and development, and must be obtained from the diet. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA) in the omega-6 family that is found primarily in plant-based oils.

    Omega 9

    Olive oil, avocados and various nuts (like peanuts, almonds and macadamias) are rich omega-9 sources. Omega 9 fatty acid is a monounsaturated fat that is also known as, oleic acid. Omega 9 is not technically an essential fatty acid because the body can produce a limited amount, provided the essential fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6, are present. If your diet is low in these essential fatty acids, then your body can't produce enough omega 9. In that instance, omega 9 becomes an essential fatty acid because your body will need to get it from your diet.

  • How do I monitor my caloric intake from food? How do I know how many calories I burn?

    I really believe that it's important to have a good idea about your caloric intake from food. When you are consuming packaged food, it can be much easier to have an idea about your energy consumption...but that's often not the case with fruit and vegetables.

    On this website I have established a large food database with this information at:

    Simply search the food up, type in how much you consumed and the number of calories will come up.

    To give you a general guideline, vegetables are generally very low in calories - many of which require more calories to digest than what is contained within! Some fruits are low on calories, particularly your berries and stone fruits because they have a very high water content (much like vegetables). One exception are bananas - relatively high in good carbohydrates and therefore higher in calories.

    With regards to the number of calories that you burn, that is a tough one. First of all you have your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the number of calories required each day just to maintain normal functioning of the body (heart beat, thermoregulation, breathing etc.). Then you have your daily activities and exercise on top of that. It is nearly impossible to determine an accurate figure as to the exact number of calories each day that you utilise as a result.

    A much simpler way to ascertain whether you are eating too many or not enough calories is as follows:
     Eating less calories than you utilise = weight loss
     Eating more calories than you utilise = weight gain
     Eating the same calories that you utilise = no weight change

    Of course this is a very simple overview of a very complex subject. But I'm a big believer in the KISS principle :)

    For more information on weight changes, I have written a course which delves into this subject in greater detail:

    Hope this helps!

  • Is fish oil and coconut oil healthy? Should I eliminate all fats from my diet for weight loss?

    Fish oil has many benefits including safeguarding joints, so it's always been my preference. And a lot of research on coconut oil was done quite a while ago, proving that it has a lot of benefits.

    You actually need a certain amount of saturated fat in your diet. Balancing saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats is important for overall health, and they won't hurt your weight-loss efforts in the right amounts.

    The biggest misconception I come across surrounds fats in general. Most people are absolutely terrified of the stuff and believe that they can't possibly lose weight if they eat more than a teensy amount. Diets that are extremely low in fat leave you with dry skin, limp hair and lacking in the essential fatty acids that our bodies need to function. A lot of illnesses are related to not enough essential fatty acids (EFA's) in your diet. 20-30% of your calories may need to come from fats to achieve good health, and you certainly CAN lose weight consuming those levels.

    Unfortunately, you still see weight-loss diets promoting extremely low levels of dietary fat, and the supermarket shelves are filled with "90-something % fat-free" products - most of which have little nutritional value and no taste. I mean, reduced fat cheese? Ugh. I'd rather keep it for an occasional free meal and have the real, chock-full of saturated fat stuff, that actually TASTES like cheese.

    Oh and this is what my friend Sara says about fish oil: "What’s great about it is that Fish Oil is one of the most expertly studied nutrients available today and the research just keeps on giving it the two thumbs up for … cardiovascular health, mental health and memory, sharp and healthy eyes, non-creaky joints, glowy skin, allergies and asthma and fat loss."

    So the upshot? Eat a little fat every day, and take your fish oil.

  • Jay, do you eat a cheat meal? What is your rationale behind a cheat meal in a healthy diet?

    You know I used to be addicted to the fast food...remember McDonalds family meals?  2 cheeseburgers, 2 big macs, 4 chips and drinks?  I used to go through all of that in 1 sitting.  Same deal with pizza and yeah you guessed it, KFC.

    Okay that's a good 5 years ago...but as soon as I tried eating a well balanced diet, I realised that the health promoting effects of a "clean" diet just made me feel so much better within myself.  It was like taking an internal bath every meal, and still to this day that's why I enjoy eating a half a kilogram of veggies twice a day as opposed to a big mac.

    I also changed my way of thinking so now I'm turned off the idea of a big mac.  Rather than focussing on the short-term benefit, ie. the taste of the hamburger, I now focus on the after-effect - how I will feel as a result of eating that food.

    Every now and then I do eat a cheat meal of some description, which I do believe is important psychologically to just let loose and not go insane with an all-out healthy eating approach.  But it's funny, every time I do eat a cheat meal like a dessert (which is pretty rare), my body just doesn't agree - as much as I enjoy the taste of it.

    Plus I found that once I began taking my exercise seriously - continually setting challenges for myself, every "clean" meal is a deposit into my fitness account.  Like for example, now I'm trying to build muscle mass.  So every "clean" meal is like taking 1 step forward toward my fitness goals.  If I decide to consume a cheat meal on the odd occasion, I may have taken 50 steps forward and only a few steps back - so there really is no guilt involved.

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