Episode 75 – Q&A #4

Key Topics Covered

1) Why is there a huge range in recommendations for B12 for vegans? 

This is probably because there are several forms of B12, many different ways to take it, and different dosages for different frequencies:

But generally, my recommendations are:

  • If you are plant-based, it is probably best to supplement regardless of if you are including a lot of fortified foods – better to be safe given the consequences of untreated deficiency (i.e. brain and nerve damage).
  • Go for 200-500mcg of cyanocoblamin daily OR 1000mcg 2-3x per week (increased dosage if currently deficient) 
  • It does not matter if it is a tablet, spray, or sublingual! – the dosage is high enough to counteract potential differences in absorption between these  
  • You can also opt for 3-monthly B12 injections with your GP  

 2) Why does being in a deficit make you feel sick/nauseous? Is it low blood sugar? 

  • Unlikely for BGL’s be the explanation. Low blood glucose levels are actually pretty rare unless you have diabetes and are injecting insulin. It’s certainly possible. But it is rare. And it is also an easy thing to test. 
  • Lightheadedness is super common. Part of this can be due to a reduction in sodium and reduced calories. This can reduce blood pressure, particularly in the short term. Simply consuming more salt if relevant can be worth trialing. It can also be worth trialing adding more electrolytes in general. 
  • Often this feeling can also result from being on too few calories. A more moderate deficit rarely causes this. 

3) What are your thoughts on body-weight set-point? 

  • Set point theory proposes that your body has a weight that it naturally likes to sit at.  
  • If you go below that weight, it compensates to get you back to that weight. If you go above that weight, it compensates to get you back to that weight.  
  • One form of that theory involves our body naturally having a specific set point over which we don’t really have much influence. Another form of that theory involves thoughts about us being able to change it e.g. if you maintain a certain body weight for a long period of time, that can become a new set point. 
  • I personally think there is some merit to the theory. I think some people do naturally sit leaner and others with a higher % percentage.

But there are also huge flaws in this theory as well:  

  1. Body weight protection mechanisms are way stronger for weight loss than weight gain – weight loss is hard and it is hard to maintain regardless 
  2. Environment matters more. It is hard to argue that we have a natural set point that we can’t influence or change when body weight at a population level has changed so drastically along with a changing environment. There have also countless examples of people’s weight changing when their environment/circumstances change. 

3) For clients looking to lose weight – do you set protein targets based on goal body weight or current body weight? 

  • We do neither.
  • Why we don’t use goal body weight (BW): If someone is 200kg and their goal weight is 100kg, it would be silly to base their protein targets off of 100kg BW.
  • Why we don’t use current body weight (BW): Protein requirements are far more linked to how much lean body weight we have than total BW.
  • There’s research to show that people who are looking to maintain as much lean mass as possible, should aim for 2.3-3.1g/kg BW protein/ day.
  • From here you can get a DEXA scan or estimate the amount of lean body mass.

4) Does having salt pre-workout help performance in the gym? 

Yes, for those who have a low salt intake. No for those who do not. 

  • If you’re experiencing low blood pressure and lightheadedness during training.
  • But also many people consume more than enough sodium in their diet so not an issue for most.  
  • For the average person who trains relatively hard, I don’t think it makes much difference to performance.
  • For those who have a low sodium intake, ie. on the vertical diet this could help.

5) What blood tests should you get if you struggle with weight loss? 

  • Personally, I’d get a general blood test that covers the basics such as cholesterol and BGLs, etc, just for general health purposes. 
  •  I’d also add on vitamin D just because of the prevalence of deficiency (at least 30% of Australians are deficient). But none of that is really for weight loss. 
  • For weight loss specifically, I’d add thyroid-specific tests on (T3 and T4). These have a significant influence over total daily energy expenditure – they’re involved in metabolism. But are also worth addressing for health reasons anyway. 
  • And then if you REALLY want to cover everything, I’d add cortisol. And in men, I’d add testosterone too.  

6) During deload weeks, should we decrease calories to maintenance?  

  • We wouldn’t usually change the approach during deload week. There isn’t enough change in energy expenditure to bother.
  • If you were to, it would probably add complexity without really improving results.
  • There’s no research to support it and anecdotally not a lot of top bodybuilders do it either.

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