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Nutrition Questions

  • I found a new rice based cereal called Abundant Earth Puffed rice. Is this a good choice as a cereal first thing in the morning?

    I believe that particular care should be taken when choosing cereals - many have so much crap (put bluntly) contained within them, they are like confectionary!
    The fact that it is organic is of great advantage if you're after an organic product for health concerns.  Plus, without any additives this is a really good sign.
    I would be careful with rice based cereals though.  There are quite a few of them available - particularly in the health food section of the supermarkets.  The main reason why I personally stay away from rice cereals is due to the glycemic index of rice based products - most of which are extremely high.
    I just performed a search for the product you mentioned on my website (in the food database I love that database lol).  Abundant Earth Puffed rice turned up at:

    Check out the glycemic index on it...87!  That is an extremely (extremely) high glycemic index which essentially means that the carbohydrates will be absorbed rapidly resulting in a sudden increase in your blood sugar levels.  Following exercise, this can aid in your recovery...but first thing in the morning it isn't such a good idea.
    The primary reason for consuming a cereal is to fuel your body with carbohydrates after starving it throughout the night.  Therefore, personally I place a lot of weight on the importance of the glycemic index of a cereal - and the same goes for any other carbohydrate source throughout the day.  This is why I personally would recommend an oats based cereal (oatmeal, muesli) which is a much better, nutrient dense source of carbohydrates.

  • I was using the Amino Z food database to find the nutritional information of food. A 100g serving of a particular food contained the following: Protein: 3.3 g, Fat: 3.8 g (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Mono-Unsaturated Fat: 1.0 g, Poly-Unsaturated Fat: 0.3 g), Total Carbohydrates: 4.7 g (Complex Carbs: 0.0 g, Sugar: 4.7 g), Water: 87.6mL. I have added this up and it comes to 107.7g. What have I done wrong?

    This is not an uncommon mistake when reading and understanding the nutritional information of a food.  We have the nutritional information on thousands of foods available in our online food database.

    When using the nutritional panel, it is important to understand each component of the food.  In this example, we are considering the weight of the following nutrients:

    • Water (1mL = 1g)
    • Protein
    • Fat
    • Carbohydrate

    In your question, you make mention of several subcategories contained within fat and carbohydrate:

    Whilst there may be 3.8g of fat in total, 2.5g of this if saturated fat, 1g is mono-unsaturated fat and 0.3g is poly-unsaturated fat.  Saturated and unsaturated fats are types of fat.

    Whilst there may be 4.7g of carbohydrates in total, there is 0g of complex carbohydrate and 4.7g of sugar.  Complex carbohydrate and sugar are both types of carbohydrate (so too is fibre).

    Therefore, the total weight of these nutrients is 3.3 (protein) + 3.8 (fat) + 4.7 (carbohydrate) + 87.6 (water) = 96.4 which is less than the 100g portion measured.  There are other components to foods which do not fall under any of these categories which will make up for the remainder of the weight.

    For more information on this topic, I recommend reading a course that I am publishing, entitled "Introduction to Physical Freedom".  A lesson that specifically deals with protein, carbohydrate and fat is LESSON 103 - Macronutrients in Detail.

  • How do you make wise eating decisions at a special occasion such as a birthday party? I have trouble refusing all the bad foods (eg. sausages, chocolate, cake, dessert)! Help!

    I get asked this question quite a lot as a trainer.  Even when I go to a birthday party and refuse to eat certain foods, I often get questioned "Why!?  It's a birthday party!".  But I've been doing this for over 3 years now and don't regret refusing a single little bit of dessert (even though I'll have some every now and then).

    What I have found is that a lot of people confuse the whole concept of a birthday with eating excessive amounts of food.  A birthday is an anniversary to be celebrated in the company of people that are important to you.  A birthday isn't an excuse to binge on foods just because "it's a birthday".

    I think that the best way to approach a birthday party is to enjoy everyone's company - rather than placing the emphasis on enjoying the food.  You are there to celebrate the occasion...doesn't it seem really superficial to place the focus on the food rather than the people?

    Okay sure people go to a lot of trouble making lunch and all.  But you also have to make yourself a priority.  Eat the foods that you feel comfortable eating.  But don't begin to disrespect your own body to make someone else feel better.  A lot of people feel pressured into eating everything just because it's there.  But you'd be amazed at the amount of respect others will have for you when you have the ability to say "no thanks".

    When you are the cook - this is even better!  You can create healthy and tasty meals that everyone (including yourself) can enjoy!  Scrap the sausages and go for some lean marinated meat.  Avoid the chicken stuffed with cheese and opt for fresh seafood with some (optional) dipping sauce.  Make healthy salads or cook some nice vegetables with a healthy home-made sauce.  Instead of chips, have some nuts.  Offer a fruit platter rather than a bowl of chocolate.  There are so many healthy options out there!  And sure, cake is traditional...but you still don't have to have a huge slice :)

  • I read that you should not eat before or after a cardio workout to assist weight loss (ie. perform cardio in a fasted state). Is this true?

    I really have to disagree with the information that you have read on this issue.  It seems to be a very common belief that exercising in a fasted state, or not eating after exercise will be of benefit to your weight loss goals.  However it can be extremely detrimental.

    Exercising in a fasted state does require you to break down tissue from your body (simply because you don't have any nutritional fuel available).  The tissue that will be broken down will be a combination of fat and muscle tissue.  The breakdown of muscle tissue can be of great concern - as this will reduce the amount of calories required per day (ie. your basal metabolic rate) and thus slow down your weight loss progress.

    Another factor to consider when exercising in a fasted state is the level of intensity you can invest.  If you're running on an empty-tank (so to speak), then you are going to feel relatively tired and fatigued.  Therefore you cannot put as much effort into your workout.  As a result, less energy in means less calories expended.  Less calories expended means that less fat is burnt as a result.

    Consuming food after your workout is undoubtedly one of the most important times of the day to eat.  Essentially a workout places undue stress upon your body.  This physical stress forces your body to change (eg. weight loss, increased fitness etc.).  Now if you don't allow your body to recover from the stress that it must endure, this can have significant effects upon your progress.  You may feel excessively fatigued, nauseous, dizzy etc.  You can become extremely run down and as a result your immune system can become very weak.  This is because your body does not have access to the right nutrients in order to repair itself effectively.  Plus, the lack of recovery as a result of this starvation will inhibit the intensity of future workouts.

    I have a few articles available on Amino Z for further information on this subject which you may find of interest:

    Myths Under the Microscope - Fasted Cardio (this is a more advanced article on the subject)

    After a very intense initial workout, I was nauseous and shaking. Should I eat carbs? Won't this cause fat gain?

    I was told that you should not eat after weights because it will draw blood away from your muscles. When should I eat?

  • I am on a low-carb diet to lose fat. Should I consume a protein shake and creatine in order to build muscle mass?

    There's a bit of an issue with a low carbohydrate diet and those supplements you mentioned.  Low carb diets are designed for users to lose body fat, which I am sure that you've experienced.  It isn't a diet that has been designed to build muscle.  This is because it is a low calorie diet and it is also low in carbohydrates.

    If you are seeking to build any substantial amount of muscle mass, I would definitely recommend a post-workout protein shake as I believe that this is a vital element to muscle growth.  However, this will have little to no effect on your progress if the remainder of the diet is not in tact to support your goals.  Since a low carbohydrate diet is not a muscle-building diet, you would be receiving very minimal results (with regards to building muscle), even if you added in a protein shake after your workout.

    The same goes for creatine monohydrate.  Basically this supplement allows you to produce more force by increasing the availability of energy within muscle cells.  The theory is that more force contributes to more overload which will result in bigger muscle gains.  Creatine is a very well researched supplement with some solid evidence to back it's effectiveness.  However, as with your protein shake, your muscles will not significantly increase in size if your training and supplementation is not backed by an eating plan to support muscle growth.

    When it comes to building muscle, there are four key elements that must all work together in order to produce the desired result:

    • Your training regime
    • Your diet plan
    • Your supplementation plan
    • Your recovery

    If just one of these factors is not up to scratch, you will not reach your full potential.

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