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Nutrition Questions

  • 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.

  • Post-workout, is soy, milk, casein or whey protein more effective for building muscle?

    Whey and casein are derived from milk sources, whilst soy is derived from the vegetable.  Interestingly, both soy and milk proteins are "whole proteins" - containing the full spectrum of amino acids required by the human body.  However it is now commonplace amongst the bodybuilding community that milk (particularly whey) is a more effective protein at assisting muscle gains following a workout.

    A very interesting study was conducted by McMaster University’s Department of Kinesiology and was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  They compared milk protein to soy protein following a weight training workout.  (Milk contains approximately 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein.)  The men that consumed the milk following their workout gained almost twice as much muscle compared to the soy protein group over a 10 week period.  Their conclusion:

    Milk-based proteins promote muscle protein accretion to a greater extent than do soy-based proteins when consumed after resistance exercise. The consumption of either milk or soy protein with resistance training promotes muscle mass maintenance and gains, but chronic consumption of milk proteins after resistance exercise likely supports a more rapid lean mass accrual.

    Similar results have previously been demonstrated in several other studies too.

    However when considering soy versus milk versus whey versus casein, whey isolates have been shown to be extremely effective:

    Soy protein is not a very effective protein to consume following a resistance training workout as demonstrated by the study above.  The rate of absorption of a soy protein isolate (ie. that found in a supplement) is approximately 3.9g per hour which is relatively slow.

    Milk protein is a whole protein and is thus absorbed by the body much slower than proteins such as isolates found in supplements.  The rate of absorption is approximately 3g per hour which is again slow.  However whole milk has been demonstrated to be more effective than soy.

    Casein protein, a derivative of milk, is slowly absorbed over a 7 hour period, which is not very effective by itself, at assisting recovery immediately after a workout.  Casein protein, in isolation, has been shown by many studies to be relatively ineffective at assisting protein synthesis post-workout.  This is because your body is placed in a state of recovery and requires fast-acting nutrients.

    Whey protein is a very fast absorbing protein that contains the full spectrum of amino acids.  The rate of absorption of whey protein isolate (commonly found in supplements) is between 8-10 g per hour which is extremely fast.  This aids the recovery process and thus assists protein synthesis.

    There is however much more research to be done in this area.  So no firm conclusions can yet be made with the lack of studies currently available.

  • Would eating clean mean eating purely natural, unprocessed foods?

    I would agree that "eating clean" could be only eating as naturally as possible, for some people. The human body has evolved to eat natural and relatively unprocessed foods and it therefore makes sense to eat in this way. BUT I do think that there is further criteria too.

    I do think that "eating clean" greatly depends upon the context in which the person is using it. A person who just wants to eat in a healthy way would fall under the above definition.

    However a bodybuilder's definition may be vastly different. Clean eating may also require supplements in order to aid the muscle building process (protein shakes, L-Glutamine, dextrose, creatine, vitamins/minerals etc.) - all of which are highly processed. In addition to this, processed white rice is often a staple of many bodybuilders.

    Same deal with most athletes, in order to follow a clean diet, many athletes consume supplements alongside alternative diets in order to reach a level of peak performance.

    So personally I would define "eating clean" as consuming the most appropriate diet that supports that particular person's goals. These goals may be anything - building muscle mass, losing fat mass, general health & wellbeing, improving strength, increasing endurance capacity and so on.

  • Will too much protein in my diet in cause fat gain?

    Good ol' protein :D  Here's a little background on it:  When you consume protein, it gets broken down into amino acids.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein - a protein chain is just a bunch of amino acids linked together.  These amino acids are used for a variety of reasons within the body - growth and repair of cells, hormones etc.

    As with carbohydrates and fat, too much protein will cause fat gain.  These amino acids will be converted into fat tissue (also known as adipose tissue).

    Our body will naturally want to store any excess calories that go into our system just in case it needs them in the future.  One way that the human body stores energy is by having fat stores.  This is a survival mechanism - why discard something that may prove useful at a later date?  Our bodies have an unlimited capacity to store fat.

    In the course that I'm currently publishing, in

  • I have just changed my eating habits and it feels like it's taking over my life!

    If you have just made a major change in your eating habits - it's going to be pretty tough as you're breaking in. Replacing those old behaviours with new behaviours isn't easy and does take some getting used to. Eventually you will fall into a pattern and things will become much easier and enjoyable the longer you stick to it.

    They say it takes 3 days to break a habit and 3 weeks to form a new one.  Okay...this isn't an exact science as I'm sure you're aware, but it does illustrate why this isn't just going to happen overnight.

    To make the change easier, ensure that you enjoy your new eating habits.  If you are white-knuckling, it's not going to work in the long-term.

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