20 Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition (Part 1)


In part 1 of this 2-part series, we share the first half of 20 answers to a wide variety of common nutrition questions.

The answers provided below are by EC Synkowski of OptimizeMe Nutrition. Here is a shortened version of her bio which can be found on her Web site:

“EC Synkowski runs OptimizeMe Nutrition … The mission of OptimizeMe Nutrition is to provide solutions for anyone to improve their weight, health, and overall wellbeing through sustainable diet methods. 

She has extensive education in the life sciences with a BS in biochemical engineering, a first MS in environmental sciences (with a focus in genetics), and second MS in Nutrition & Functional Medicine. EC has also trained others since 2000 and holds the Certified CrossFit Level 4 Coach (CF-L4) credential … She has accumulated more than 600 hours of public speaking teaching fitness and nutrition all over the world …” 

1) If people only did one thing to improve their nutrition, what’s that one thing?

“[Eat] 800 grams of fruit and vegetables, by weight, every single day.”  (Syncowski, 2019, 00:02:54)  

We would suggest doing this by eating fruit and/or vegetables with every single meal

We would also advise that the majority of the 800 grams should be made up of vegetables. Fruit does offer some nutritional value, but certain fruits can be very high in sugar. Generally speaking, berries tend to be the better choice when eating fruit.

2) Is getting bloodwork done important?

“Bloodwork does matter … If not only to know what’s happening, and to know if you’re in danger, but also to serve as motivation.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:03:02)

We wouldn’t advise doing bloodwork as a starting point. Generally speaking, if we’re getting upwards of 80% of our health right and we’re looking to move the needle even further, then this is where getting bloodwork done could be useful.

3) If people do get bloodwork done, what should they look at?

“[The] basic metabolic health panel which includes fasting glucose … and cholesterol markers.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:03:24)

4) Does cholesterol matter?

“Yes, you can have too much cholesterol such that it increases your risk for heart disease, but there’s a lot of other factors that come into play. Thing like, what does the rest of your diet look like? What are your genetics? Are you exercising? Are you eating too much?” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:04:24)

5) What about saturated fat?

“It’s all a matter of context … Once we start talking about a single nutrient like just saturated fat, we’ve now lost the context that matters. Saturated fat in and of itself is not a problem, but it needs to be at the right quantity, and within the context of a diet that has all the other nutrients, vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that we need.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:05:16)

6) Fish oil?

“I don’t recommend it as a general recommendation …. because inflammation in the body does not come down just to whether or not you’re taking fish oil. It’s also [about which] anti-inflammatories are in your diet? What’s your oxidant load? What’s your vitamin and mineral status? Are you eating too much? It all comes back to these big picture factors, not just whether you’re taking this one nutrient.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:05:53)

We advocate getting our nutrition from food. Eating an oily fish such as wild-caught salmon will undoubtedly be more beneficial than taking it in the supplement form, in our opinion.

7) BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)?

“No … leucine, isoleucine, and valine … are 3 of our non-essential amino acids … You can get them all from food.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:06:20)

8) Amino acids? 

“When you look at an animal source, they’re going to be a complete source of essential amino acids. When you look at a plant source, they’re going to be [an] incomplete [source of essential amino acids]. [For example], beans or rice … You can combine the plant sources [such as] beans and rice together to then cover your spectrum of all [amino acids] … That’s how vegetarians can be fine, assuming that you don’t just do only beans [and rice]. Mix your plant sources and you’ll cover all your bases.  (Syncowski, 2019, 00:07:08)

9) Probiotics? 

“No … With probiotics, you’re basically taking a live microorganism. They are really cool and they have a lot of benefits when you are targeting a very specific condition or trying to be therapeutic in some way. Prophylactically or preventatively, no, you’re better off eating whole, unprocessed foods where you’re basically feeding the gut microbiota by way of fibre and then those plant compounds [called] polyphenols.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:07:36)

10) Prebiotics? 

“Prebiotics are the fibre that your microbiota eat … byproducts include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which is known as an anti-inflammatory compound … [The] definition of a true prebiotic really has a targeted effect, so you would take a certain prebiotic … to up certain populations in your gut microbiota. I wouldn’t necessarily go down that route … I would just take in fruits and vegetables that have fibres in them that [have] prebiotic like effects, unless I had a true diagnosed condition.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:09:24)

Reference list:

1) E.C. Syncowski of OptimizeME Nutrition (https://optimizemenutrition.com/

2) Improving Your Nutrition with One Step (2019) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riuV8hdMEzk [Accessed: 13 February 2020].

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