Episode 111 Transcript – Q&A #5

Aidan:

Hello and welcome to The Ideal Nutrition Podcast. My name is Aidan Muir and I’m here with my co-host, Leah Higl. And this is episode 111, where we will be doing another Q&A episode. So, we have chucked up just on our Instagram stories a few days ago, some questions… or asking for questions, and seeing what people have wanted to put through, and we’ve just got a list that we’ll go through today.

Leah:

Sweet. So, the first question we have today is, “As long as calories remain the same, is it okay to eat the majority of those calories during the day and then have a small dinner?”

Aidan:

The short answer is yes. My immediate answer is yes, but there’s a few things I still prioritize. I still focus on prioritizing consuming a sufficient amount of protein, fiber, micronutrients. Probably still spreading your protein intake out across the day, so even if it’s a smaller dinner, I’d still prioritize some protein there. One of the reasons why I’m talking about protein, fiber and micronutrients is often dinner meals are going to be relatively high in those. Often they’re going to be relatively nutrient-rich. And what I often see is people will have, and I say a large lunch for example, that might not be the most nutrient-rich lunch as well, and then wanting to skip dinner as well. So, I’d be like, it’s fine to have more of your calories earlier in the day, but still be prioritizing all of these things.

Leah:

Still prioritize those things, but also adding context to that question, is it okay? Well, it’s okay to eat your food however you like. It Depends on your goals and what you’re doing a lot, obviously. Second question is, “Will muscle protein synthesis still activate from only four grams of leucine without protein and vice versa? For example, 25 grams of protein, but only one gram of leucine.”

Aidan:

So it 100% will activate regardless. If you have any form of protein, it’s going to activate or it’s going to increase it from the baseline. So, will it activate if you just chuck in leucine without protein? Yes, but not to an optimal degree. Vice versa, if you have 25 grams of protein but only one gram of leucine, once again, yes it will. Going a bit deeper than that, because obviously a lot of people will be like, “Can you maximize it without that?” There was a 2021 systematic review that was looking at the whole concept of the leucine hypothesis.

So, basically that hypothesis is the concept that we need two to three grams of leucine to maximize muscle protein synthesis in a single sitting. It’s based on some research, just looking at that that seems to be the threshold. But this most recent systemic review, came to a bit of a vague conclusion of being like, basically it matters, but it isn’t the be all and end all. If you want to absolutely maximize things, it kind of matters. It clearly matters more in isolated protein supplements than it does when you’re having a whole mixed meal or multiple protein-rich options or other foods in that meal as well.

Leah:

Yeah, I think the summary of that is realistically, if you’re looking to optimize things, it’s the combination of both adequate protein and adequate leucine within a meal rather than having just one or the other.

Aidan:

Yeah, and we’ve kind of had this conversation about plant-based diets. And leucine is harder to get on a plant-based diet, but something that is interesting or it’s not 100% on this topic, but I think we can learn a little bit from it, is that we do have all of this research showing that once you’re above about the 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight protein mark on a plant-based diet, people are getting pretty much exactly the same muscle gain as they are on an omnivorous diet. And I would suspect that even above those protein intakes, there’s a lot of situations where people are under that two to three gram leucine mark in individual meals. So, it kind of tells you this can’t be the biggest deal, even though it probably matters a little bit.

Leah:

Yeah, total protein intake matters more.

Aidan:

So, the third question, which obviously, this is a good one for you is, “How much soy is too much soy?”

Leah:

Yeah. I’ve spent a long time thinking about this. I put out a lot of content on this because I’ve always wanted to have a nuanced answer to it, rather than just the general, “I’m a plant-based dietician. You can never have too much soy. Soy is great.” I still kind of feel like that. I think soy in moderate to even high amounts is still absolutely fine. There are some circumstances in which I think you could look at moderating soy intake just to be safe, and the main case basis that is for is fertility. So, there is a little bit of research, and by research, I mean a handful of case studies, so not the be all and end all of research, but a handful of case studies that has shown that really high intakes of soy has led to amenorrhea, so loss of period or dysmenorrhea.

So, there was issues with fertility. And then when that soy intake was lowered, these women were able to have a regular period, and then fall pregnant. So, I think it’s worth being aware that there’s probably a top end where it matters, potentially, for some people in fertility, and I would put that at, say, limiting soy intake to around four to five serves per day, which is still a lot of soy. To get too much soy, you’re really going to have to displace a lot of other foods in your diet, which I wouldn’t recommend anyway.

Aidan:

Yeah, cool. Yeah, heaps of content around that one.

Leah:

Yeah, I could talk for an hour about that, but that’s the one case that I would go, “Yeah, maybe a little question here.” There are a few other cases, but I don’t think you’re really going to get to that soy intake if you’re just eating normally anyway.

Aidan:

Yeah. The next one is, “Thoughts on Vetta protein pasta?”

Leah:

It’s good. I like it. I eat it all the time, but it’s definitely not a magical product. We do know that it’s 25% higher in protein, and therefore, 25% lower in carbs. So, if you’re looking for a higher-protein grain product, it’s awesome.

Aidan:

Yeah, same thing. Yeah, I can’t get too high or too low on it. It is what it is. It’s 25% higher, 25% lower carb. It’s not high protein, it is higher protein.

It’s not low carb, it is lower carb. It has its place ,and there’s certain situations where I like it.

Leah:

Yeah, it’s not something I would use as your main source of protein, particularly because we know wheat protein doesn’t have the best amino acid profile for muscle protein synthesis anyway, but it’s a good product. So, next question is, “Should I use magnesium gluconate post-workout if I’m already using ZMA at night?”

Aidan:

So, a few thoughts here. One is that I wouldn’t double up on magnesium. I would just take the amount that you want to be taking. There’s quite a few reasons I’ve got for that. One is that usually magnesium supplements probably looking at 300 milligrams of magnesium in one of those. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 420 for men, a little bit lower for women, so the supplemental dosage is already quite high in comparison to that. There can be some downsides of going too high. One of them, depending on the type that is used, not gluconate, but if you’re using another type, if you’re using say magnesium citrate is, it could have a laxative effect as well.

So, it’s like you don’t really want to be doubling up on that and having a high intake as well. So, I would just use the dosage that you want. Instead of using ZMA and magnesium gluconate, I would just use zinc by itself if you wanted to use that, in the dosage you want to use that, and magnesium by itself in the dosage you want to do that at. With the post-workout thing, do you ever recommend magnesium or zinc or anything specifically post-workout?

Leah:

Not specifically post-workout. I’m assuming it’s maybe in relation to DOMS and recovery that some people might take it, but I don’t recommend it in that regard.

Aidan:

Yeah. So, same kind of thoughts there. Beyond that, the other thought I have is maybe people want to take it because it puts you in that kind of relaxed type of state, that kind of rest and digest, but I don’t think that actually matters that much. I do see the logic, but if that mattered, I think people who have heaps of caffeine all the time would really struggle with muscle gain because they’re always in that fight or flight kind of mode, and when we look at body composition outcomes with caffeine, we don’t see people struggling with muscle gain unless it’s affecting their sleep, et cetera, et cetera. So, I don’t think the whole switching into rest and digest instantly after a workout really matters that much.

Leah:

Yeah, probably not moving the needle. So, next question, “If I work with Ideal Nutrition, will you help me determine which dietician is best suited?”

Aidan:

So, shameless plug here, but somebody did ask this question, so I’m going to answer it. Yes, of course, we would help with determining… So, I intentionally try to have it set up so that we do have diversity amongst the dieticians that we’ve got, so that we can cover a pretty broad range, both in terms of skills of the dieticians, but also in terms of personalities and who people would want to be working with. And if you look at our website or whatever, and you can’t choose based off that, because we’ve only got a small section where we do our abouts or whatever, there’s two easy options. One is simply just DMing me on Instagram or the other one is just sending an email to our admin email, which is admin@idealnutrition.com.au.

Leah:

Yeah, we get lots of emails asking this question, and we just kind of give our opinion on who would be best suited and people usually go from there. “Are Spud Lite potatoes actually lower in calories,” is the next question, “and if so, why?”

Aidan:

Once again, easy answer. Yes, not a scam. They literally are what they say they are. There are about 25% lower in carbs and calories. It is simply a variety of potato. It’s not even GMO or anything like that. There’s no genetic modification. According to what they say, it’s just due to a natural form of crosspollination. And something that they even advertise a little bit on their website is that the growing period is 20 to 30% shorter than most varieties of potatoes, which also kind of plays a role into being why it is lower carb. It’s almost because growing for a shorter period of time, they’re consuming less food, so to speak, as they’re growing and that’s part of why they’re lower carb.

Leah:

It makes me wonder why they’re more expensive then if they grow so much quicker.

Aidan:

I also think just supply demand.

Leah:

Of course. There would be so much, but 20 to 30% is quite a quicker growing time. But yeah, I think in terms of if you’re in a calorie deficit and you want to go for volume eating, I often recommend things like Spud Lite potatoes.

Aidan:

Yeah, I love this next question because it’s pretty nuanced. “I play team sports and train four to five times per week. I try to take performance nutrition seriously and prioritize staying fueled.” We love that, “But I’m at 30% body fat and a higher body weight than ideal for my sport. What should I do to drop body fat without hurting performance?”.

Leah:

Yeah, it can definitely be a tricky balance if you’re wanting to fuel the best you can, but also wanting to reduce your body weight because reducing your body weight means you actively have to under fuel to a certain extent, be in a calorie deficit. So, there are a few recommendations we can give generally. The first one is to figure out what time of year makes the most sense to be in a deficit. Usually, this is going to be your off season. This is where you don’t really need all of that fuel, you don’t have as much recovery to do, so being in a calorie deficit isn’t going to likely affect you as much. Second tip would be just generally not going too aggressive with the deficit as well. So, whether you are in season, off season, just generally not being too aggressive with that, doing it more of a slow and steady over time thing, maybe where you take breaks in between is going to be better than doing a, quote, unquote, 12-week challenge where you try to lose as much as you can for example. Do you have anything to add to that?.

Aidan:

Yeah, I agree with all that. I like the slow and steady. I’m pretty big on watching pro athletes and seeing why are they good, et cetera. And complex topic because obviously they’re not always good because of what they do. Some can be good in spite of it. But one common thing you’ll really notice when you watch pro sports is every off season you’ll see people being like, “I lost 20 pounds,” obviously American sports, but, “I lost 20 pounds this off season by doing this weird diet.” And you pretty much never see somebody lose a lot of weight in a short space of time and then come back better at their sport. Just the same thing as you never see people gain a lot of size very quickly and come… If you watch a lot of pro athletes over their career, a lot of them gain a few kilos each year until they’re at their optimal body composition, assuming that when they were younger, they were a little bit skinnier or whatever.

You don’t see crazy quick transformations. So, if somebody was at a higher body weight than ideal, taking a bit of time with it would be the move. I agree with doing it in the off season. One thing is some people hear this and they’ll still do it in season. I’m like, “That’s fair, I get you. Let’s do that.” If doing that and you’re wanting to find a bit of a balance with all of this, I still really encourage fueling around your training sessions. So, if you had X amount of carbohydrates per day, maybe you could put at least 30%, if not maybe about 50%, around your training session before or after, before and after potentially, so that you feel good while you’re training and directly after and everything like that. And then during the times when you’re not training, that’s going to be where you’re a little bit less well-fueled.

Leah:

Yeah, I think definitely prioritizing that pre-training nutrition is going to help a lot just make up for that potentially bit of fatigue that can come into sessions from just generally being in a deficit. And another tip we would give is also maybe putting more effort into your other recovery factors. All of a sudden, maybe getting enough sleep is more important, staying hydrated, stress management. Maybe you have to be on the ball a little bit more with that stuff instead of when you’re in a surplus or a maintenance and fueling really well, maybe you can get away with being a little less on the ball with those.

Aidan:

I’m pretty obsessed with that stuff year round, I think.

Leah:

Yeah, I mean it’s so important, but I know some people… If you bring in a social life and a family and then you’ve got work, those things do slip off, but everybody’s like robot-like. But I think when you’re in a deficit, it makes sense to just dial that stuff up. It’ll probably mitigate some of the negative effects.

Aidan:

Yeah. The next one, “Is brown rice really better than white rice From a general health perspective?” I personally want to answer this question because I had a bit of a aha-type moment when I was working in a previous job and we’re doing professional development day and somebody showed me this chart that just like it really made this so clear to me. So, it is nuanced. The short answer is, yes, technically it is a little bit better from a health perspective, but I want to unpack this heaps. When you ask the question why is it better and you start going through each individual point, it’s not as big of a difference as you’d think.

So, the first thing some people might point to is that it is higher in fiber, but brown rice isn’t high in fiber, so that’s a weak argument. The next one that a lot of people instinctively will point to is that it’s lower GI, but that also doesn’t make sense because there are some variations of white rice that are lower GI than some variations of brown rice, and nobody would ever point to that variable. The glycemic index is a very nuanced topic. I think we’ve previously podcasted about that before, but even that wouldn’t necessarily make something better or worse. Is it because it’s higher in micronutrients? That partly makes sense. Brown rice is higher in micronutrients because white rice has none.

Leah:

Yeah, what you’re about to explain, I actually didn’t know the absolute difference between brown rice and white rice prior to looking at these specific numbers.

Aidan:

Yeah, exactly. And I should have showed you a chart before this, but it is actually really interesting when you see it charted out, and I’ll kind of walk through that. It won’t be as good as the visual representation, but I think if you hear me verbally say it, you might still get it. So, talking about the micronutrient content of brown rice with the understanding that white rice has none, 100 grams of uncooked brown rice, which is quite a decent amount. For context, that’s around 76 grams of carbs, so it’s not super high, but it’s also not low either. Has 159% of the recommended daily intake of manganese, so that’s really high. It’s a really great source of manganese. 36% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium. It’s actually a good source of magnesium. 25 to 50% of a few B vitamins, and alongside a few other nutrients, obviously in much lower percentages.

If we accept that the average person according to recommend daily intakes, et cetera, is aiming for around 300 grams of carbs. When you put a bit of context around that, I guess that makes a little bit of sense. But a lot of people are aiming for less than that amount. If we’re not talking athletes, a lot of people, whether they are or aren’t actually doing that, they’re often aiming for less than that. But 76 grams of carbs comes alongside those things. But the chart that really hit home for me was basically a chart of all carbohydrate-containing foods pretty much and their micronutrient content, in terms of their vitamins and minerals per calorie. And this is where it gets interesting. At zero because they have pretty much no micronutrients, is white rice and straight up just sugar, basically.

At the other end of the spectrum, like the extreme other end of the spectrum, we have our non-starchy vegetables because they’re super low calorie, but they’re high in micronutrients. Then, we’ve got our starchy vegetables like potato, sweet potato, corn, legumes go in that section as well. Then moving a little bit further down, we’ve got our fruits as well, a little bit more sugar, and it’s based on how much sugar. Berries are quite high, and then bananas are further down the spectrum because they’re still micronutrient-rich, they just have a little bit more carbs. Then you’ve got your fortified cereals like Weet-Bix for example, where they have added vitamins and minerals alongside the wheat. Then, a little bit further down you have your un-fortified cereals, so fun fact Vita Brits isn’t fortified, so it’s pretty much Weet-Bix without the fortification, so it’s a little bit further. That’s getting towards the middle of the chart. And then, right next to white rice is brown rice, down the far end of the chart, really low in micronutrients per calorie in comparison to pretty much every other carbohydrate source.

That was a wild chart to me because I was like, “Oh, when you look at it that way, it doesn’t really matter that much.” And then, the other thing that I found interesting after thinking about that is rice is a decent carbohydrate source that a lot of people use relatively frequently and is quite low in micronutrients. And from a nutrition perspective, why do we have rice so much? One thing I can think of is it’s just a carbohydrate source that’s not sugar. If you have high carbohydrate needs, it’s easy to get that more in. But the key takeaway is when you do a black and white comparison of white rice versus brown rice, brown rice will be really high in micronutrients in comparison to white rice. When you compare it to pretty much every other carbohydrate source, that argument kind of falls apart a bit too.

Leah:

Yeah, they become very similar when compared with every other carb source.

Will we be able to chuck that in the show notes?

Aidan:

No, I went looking for it.

Leah:

Ah, damn.

Aidan:

I wish I had that chart and I’ve kind of actually changed it a little bit because that chart also included glycemic index as well, so it actually looked even better, but… Yeah.

Leah:

That would’ve been interesting to see.

Aidan:

I wish I could go find it.

Leah:

Yeah, good visual. I love a visual. So, last question that we have for today is, “How much does metabolism come into play when eating in a surplus?” For a bit of context, this person isn’t gaining weight. So, a few things do play a role here. The first one is kind of a more, I guess more mild effect usually, but that is metabolic adaptation. When you increase your caloric intake, your base metabolic rate tends to adapt upwards. So, we eat more calories, we tend to burn more calories, so this happens in both directions. I know we talk about this all the time around maintenance not being a static number, like maintenance calories. So, metabolic adaptation could be playing a role to a certain extent, although there’s so much variation person to person in this. I’ve definitely worked with clients where it felt like every time that we put their calories up, maybe this played a role a little bit more, and then clients where it didn’t really play a role much.

What might be more impactful would be potentially the general increase in total daily energy expenditure in response to a surplus, particularly just from the perspective of increased activity, fidgeting, just more incidental activity, so those kinds of things. So, just increasing the amount of movement you do because you have more calories coming in, you have more energy. So, again, I have some clients that are more hyper-responders in that way and some that are less. But we know that your general movement and activity isn’t really consistent. If we’re changing our calorie intake, it tends to drop off if we’re lower calories and increases when we’re higher calorie. So, that can change what your, quote, unquote, maintenance is. And potentially between metabolic adaptation, general increase in energy, creating more activity, that surplus may no longer be a surplus.

Aidan:

And a final one is a decrease in appetite in response to the calorie surplus, resulting in an inconsistent surplus. I think that increase in total daily energy expense you just talked about I think that is a large variable, and I think this is another large variable too, being they can both be factors. This is what you would commonly see when you meet somebody who says that they can eat whatever and they struggle to gain weight. One of the things we often know is that people aren’t necessarily good at reporting what they do, but outside of that, a common scenario, and I’m trying to be cautious with my wording because this won’t cover everybody in that scenario. But a common scenario is people eating heaps. As an example, they’ll go to Maccas, they’ll order heaps, but then they won’t snack the next day or whatever.

Or some people will literally miss meals and stuff like that, and they have these occasions that are quite large or they have these days that are quite large, but then their total calorie intake on average is nowhere near what their average is on certain days, and it can look like it doesn’t matter what they eat, et cetera. But their total calorie intake, when it is averaged out over a long period of time, comes at roughly what you would expect it to be given size, activity and everything like that. And this is something that happens often without us even realizing. It goes the other way too. When people eat in a calorie deficit, they have three good days and then suddenly they’re really hungry for some reason and they unintentionally eat more. Just the same as if somebody unintentionally overeats for a few days, it’s like their appetite just reduces. And once again, they’re just kind of eating based on feel, however much they want, et cetera, but their consumption will drop off a little bit.

Leah:

Yeah. And I guess despite why you might be in a, quote, unquote, surplus, but not seeing any weight gain, it doesn’t really matter why you’ve gotten to that point. The point is just that to fix it, you just need to eat more. So, whether it’s because of an increase in total daily energy expenditure from an increase in metabolic rate and an increase in activity, or whether it is this kind of inconsistent surplus on a general day-to-day basis, you just need to eat more to be in a surplus.

Aidan:

Yeah. If you ate X calories per day consistently and you weren’t gaining weight and you added 500 to that, you probably would gain weight. But if you didn’t, you’d add another 500, and then you’d eventually get to a point where it’s guaranteed to be going up. Yeah.

Leah:

Yeah, you just keep adding until you start gaining.

Aidan:

Yeah, 100%. This has been episode 111. I put up a thing on Instagram the other day asking people for reviews. It sounds like heaps of people left reviews. I’m incredibly grateful for that. And thank you to everybody who has left a review because it actually does help the podcast a lot, so we really appreciate that.