T Nation

General Nutrition Questions

Im trying to start eating more “optimally” and have been doing a lot of reading/research, but still have some questions. I already generally eat pretty well, but my main goals are LONG TERM muscle gain, fat loss, performance and health. So here’s my questions.

1.) It seems like the key to a healthy diet, is reducing carbohydrates, but not to the point of the atkins diet. Anything 200g or under would be a good starting point?

2.) Also, nutrient timing seems very important. I have read so much though, that im not clear on whats appropriate for just general health and long term carbohydrate tolerance.

Is higher carbs and foods higher on the GI and II generally acceptable for breakfast and post workout?

For example, my breakfast today was an omlette with 3 eggs, tomato, pineapple, chicken, and a yam. Is that acceptable?

3.) Also, I should have lower fat in my higher carb meals right?

4.) Is splenda, or diet sodas something that should be avoided? I know for general health they are not good, because they are processed like crazy, but as far as carbohydrate tolerance goes?

  1. What foods are not good for you that seem like they might be? What i mean is, are carrots ok in moderation, or should they only be taken in higher carb times. And similar stuff, like grapes, etc…?

Those are my basic questions as for now. I’ll go ahead and reread some of Berardi’s nutrient timing articles, but it seems like most of this stuff is simpler than you would think it is. Thanks again.

  1. Depending on your activity level, having a carbohydrate intake lower than 200g could be performance hit. And for optimal health you should be over 140g of carbs a day. A healthful diet should consist of a good amount of whole foods, like fruits and veggies. It is hard to have adequate vegetable and fruit intake on sub 200gs.

  2. Carbohydrate timing is more related to muscle gain and fat loss than for optimal health. But timeing a good amount of your carbs at breakfast and post workout wouldn’t hurt.

Glycemic load is more useful for managing blood sugar than Glycemic index. Whole foods like carrots and fruits which are generally higher in GI drop significantly on GL since it takes into account standard portions not fixed amounts of carbohydrate. The moreprocessed a food is the higher it moves on both the GI and GL scale. So, processed crap is crap.

Breakfast sounds yummy.

  1. In general it is a good rule to not consume high fat/ high carbohydrate meals. Again, more related to body comp than optimal health.

  2. Artificial sweeteners are fine in moderation. They will not affect your carbohydrate tolerance since they do not contain carbohydrate, or at least an abosorbable form. They do not contain calories, and do not invoke an insulin response. They don’t even cause cancer, unless it is male rats on wood chip bedding.

  3. Carrots are fine, there is very little available carbohydrate in carrots so they are appropriate all day. Most fruits are higher in calories and fructose, so I would keep them earlier in the day.

Eat a balance, varied, whole foods based diet with adequate sources of lean protein. Consume processed foods and other high calorie foods in moderation in at all. Your goals are difficult to so simultaneously. It would require consuming about maintenance for calories to be able to lose a little fat and gain muscle in the long term. Continually gaining muscle while losing fat is not sustainable for the long term, but it can’t hurt to try.

It seems like you are on the right track.

Wow thanks for all the answers.

I wont be counting the carbs from my vegetables. I’ll try to get as many of them as possible. As for fruits, I may count the carbs from certain fruits or all fruits.

Mainly i’ll be counting the carbs that are in my other foods if any, and any grains I decide to eat.

I know on training days, i’ll probably be taking in 50g of carbs between pre/post/during workout.

Also i realize it might be hard to build and cut at the same time, so if anything i’ll make minor changes in carbohydrates and portion size to achieve the two. But first I will be building if anything.

Once again thanks, youve answered all my questions, i’ll check out more about nutrient timing, glycemic load, and the insulin indices.

[quote]Zagman wrote:

  1. Depending on your activity level, having a carbohydrate intake lower than 200g could be performance hit. And for optimal health you should be over 140g of carbs a day. A healthful diet should consist of a good amount of whole foods, like fruits and veggies. It is hard to have adequate vegetable and fruit intake on sub 200gs.[/quote]

There is no truth to this. Some athletes can do excellent off less than 100g of carbs per day, even with activity levels that would make both you and me cry. Some need far more than this, it is individual.

One can eat over a kilo and a half of fresh fruit and veggies per day and not be near 200g, in fact, a third of the carbs could be from ‘high’ sugar fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mangoes, and grapes.

[quote]
2. Carbohydrate timing is more related to muscle gain and fat loss than for optimal health. But timeing a good amount of your carbs at breakfast and post workout wouldn’t hurt.

Glycemic load is more useful for managing blood sugar than Glycemic index. Whole foods like carrots and fruits which are generally higher in GI drop significantly on GL since it takes into account standard portions not fixed amounts of carbohydrate. The moreprocessed a food is the higher it moves on both the GI and GL scale. So, processed crap is crap.

Breakfast sounds yummy.[/quote]

There is no difference between muscle gain/fatloss and better health, they are the same thing. The former is a measure of the latter, the quicker you are able to do it, the better your health is improving.

here is a GI list (glycemic load too):

http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm

[quote]
3. In general it is a good rule to not consume high fat/ high carbohydrate meals. Again, more related to body comp than optimal health.[/quote]

Plus it means low protein.

Splenda has some calories from the maltodextrin they use to bulk out the sucralose, otherwise you would only need a pinhead-sized amount for a dose. As long as you are not adding Splenda to everything, it isn’t anything to worry about.

OP: you mentioned diet pop, still has many of the negative effects of regular pop due to phosphoric acid and carbonation.

[quote]
5. Carrots are fine, there is very little available carbohydrate in carrots so they are appropriate all day. Most fruits are higher in calories and fructose, so I would keep them earlier in the day.[/quote]

Carrots have 7g carbs per 100g and 2.7g fiber, they are basically like lower carb fruit.

There is no need to cut fruit later, one may choose less carbohydrate dense fruits such as apples, oranges, peaches, and berries. These have 10g or less digestible carbs per 100g, raspberries are particularly low in digestible carbs and high in fiber: 5.5g carbs, 6.5g fiber per 100g.

[quote]
Eat a balance, varied, whole foods based diet with adequate sources of lean protein. Consume processed foods and other high calorie foods in moderation in at all. Your goals are difficult to so simultaneously. It would require consuming about maintenance for calories to be able to lose a little fat and gain muscle in the long term. Continually gaining muscle while losing fat is not sustainable for the long term, but it can’t hurt to try.

It seems like you are on the right track.[/quote]

OP: If you have not put forth a real effort nutrition-wise, then you should be able to see significant results both muscle gain and fat loss-wise until you get around 10% body fat and your muscle mass gets closer to your genetic potential. You will not see this type of progress down the road as it is physiologically impossible. For now, you will have to eat over whatever maintenance is to fuel the increased muscle turnover which will also use some of that stored fat energy.