20 Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition (Part 2)


In part 2 of this 2-part series, we share the second 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 …”

11) Pre/Post workout supplements or real food instead?

“For most every other person out there, they will have enough time to … eat and get all their nutrients in across the course of the day, therefore, I really don’t have people focus on pre and post workout [supplements] outside of a competitive environment.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:10:48)

Professional athletes could be exercising upwards of 4 hours per day, in which case trying to eat the extra number of calories required becomes impractical. However, for the general population who exercise for roughly 1 hour per day, the extra calories required can practically be eaten throughout the day.

12) Intermittent fasting?

“It’s a really simple way to cut down on [the] total amount of food [eaten in a day] … It’s a quantity control measure.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:11:29)

Is intermittent fasting better than simply just eating the right quantity? We believe it comes down to personal preference. If quantity is an issue for you, then perhaps intermittent fasting is a potential solution. We recommend trying it, and if it doesn’t work for you, that’s absolutely fine, but we do believe there is value in trying it for yourself.

13) Do we need animal protein?

“We need protein to some level. It is an essential nutrient, but how much do we need? That really depends on your goals. In terms of longevity I don’t think you need to worry about [a] target [figure of] protein … It can be plant-based so long as you have enough sources that you cover all your amino acids … The problem with vegetarian and vegan proteins, when you don’t have them in powder form, is that when you eat them as food, you have carbohydrates coming with them, so it’s hard to get enough protein while keeping your carbohydrates in check. That’s where you then have to start turning to these vegetable protein powders, so that you can really get a concentrated protein.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:12:04)

In order to be sure that we are in fact nourishing our body with complete proteins, animal protein is ideal. In addition, we recommend the fatty cuts of meat because fat equals flavour, and because fat increases our feeling of satiety.

14) Foods that have a “processed” version or the whole food (sweet potato vs sweet potato chips; mango vs dried mango)?

“It’s literally the water weight. It fills you up, therefore, you eat less and that’s really, really powerful … When I emptied out a whole bag of [sweet potato] chips, [8 servings in total], it was 161 grams by weight on a dinner plate. One cucumber is 161 grams by weight on a dinner plate. The bag of chips had 850 calories; the cucumber had 24 [calories]. By literally chewing water you fill your stomach up, and that actually is a very important process.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:14:47)

Again, we would like to reiterate our belief in eating real food. If we are absolutely strapped for time and need to buy a quick meal, then eating sweet potato chips instead of sweet potato is acceptable, but this should be the exception.

15) Dairy?

“Some people do have allergic or auto-immune responses for it, so if you are somebody with one of that, take it out, but it definitely can be part of a good, healthy diet. Always remember, having one food and one food only by itself to any sort of excessive level, is not, so we need to always include that dairy with fruits and vegetables, complete protein sources etc.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:15:46)

Whilst dairy is acceptable, remember that it does contain lactose, therefore, an excessive amount could lead to an elevated level of blood sugar and subsequently a spike in insulin, which we should be trying to avoid at all costs.

16) Alcohol?

“Alcohol can be part of an overall healthy diet … We’re not going to go after wine because of the resveratrol … Resveratrol is a popular anti-inflammatory and so everyone is like ‘oh my gosh wine is the healthy thing and this explains the French paradox’. No, but you can include it … in moderation. For women that ends up being one drink a night, for men that can be two drinks a night. It doesn’t seem to affect mortality in the long term.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:17:49)

If you do wish to consume an alcoholic beverage, we would recommend beverages that are low in carbohydrates. Great visual guides can be found here.

17) Juicing?

“Ultimately, you’re changing the way that we would eat a certain amount of quantity, so you [could] consume more calories. First of all [in] liquid form, second of all you remove the fibre and the whole chewing process … The fibre also helps with the filling and keeping your stomach full for longer. Just the fact of food sitting in your stomach, and a lot of it, helps you feel full, whereas a liquid is moving through faster, therefore, you’re not full [for] as long.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:19:17)

For us, juicing falls into the same category as sweet potato chips. Where possible we should always aim to eat our fruits and vegetables, but if we are strapped for time and need to choose between a juice or a Coca-Cola for example, then drinking the juice is acceptable, but this should be the exception.

Juices can be extremely high in sugar, so be sure to read the label, and if possible, buy the whole fruit/vegetable instead.

18) Bacon?

“Yes [it can be eaten] … Anything can be okay, [but] what does it look like in the rest of the diet? [With regards to how much bacon we can eat] I would imagine that if you’re having more than a couple of pieces a day, the rest of the diet is probably pretty interesting.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:20:05)

19) What E.C. Syncowski recommends for people who don’t want to measure at all?

“Most adult fists that are closed are about a cup, so you can use that as a rough measurement.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:21:29) She started the #800gChallenge® which is a challenge to eat 800 grams (g) of fruits and/or vegetables, by weight, a day. In order to do this, you’d need to eat roughly 6 cups per day.

20) What about cheat meals/cheat days?

“The problem with cheat meals or cheat days is that they often set back or undo a lot of the work that you did during the week to stay on track. Yes, you definitely can enjoy yourself, but it can’t be excessively so. What’s excessively so? If you’re not reaching your goals in terms of losing weight or you’re gaining weight … If you don’t want to do macros, which ultimately, I don’t think people need to do forever, but they are a great way to troubleshoot … At the most basic level you have to reduce the cheat meals and frequency of them. You can start as gradual as possible, and it might come down to just one meal, and not one day.” (Syncowski, 2019, 00:22:30)

If we are going to indulge, decide when and what the meal will be in advance. We strongly advise against spontaneous cheat meals/days.

We hope you found this information valuable. Remember, context is critical. Don’t cherry pick advice. Consider the implications that every decision you make about your nutrition will have on your overall diet.

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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