Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Egg White Versus The Whole Egg

Eggs are a great and cheap source of protein. Most people swear that you should only use the egg whites and chuck the yolks away because the yolk is bad for you. Are these people barking mad or is there some truth to this? Let's find out...

Macro Nutrients

The average sized (whole) egg has 5.6 grams of protein, 4.05 grams of fat and 65 calories.

The egg white has 3.2 grams of protein, 0.05 grams of fat and 15 calories.

The egg yolk has 2.4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat and 50 calories. 

Therefore, by excluding the yolk, you are losing 43% of the protein, 98% of the fat and 77% of the calories.

Micro Nutrients

The calcium is 2.3 milligrams in the egg white and 21.9 milligrams in the yolk
The magnesium is 3.6 milligrams in the egg white and 0.85 milligrams in the yolk
The iron is 0.03 milligrams in the egg white and 0.4 milligrams in the yolk
The phosphorus is 5 milligrams in the egg yolk and 66.3 milligrams in the yolk
The potassium is 53.8 milligrams in the egg white and 18.5 milligrams in the yolk
The sodium is 54.8 milligrams in the egg white and 8.2 milligrams in the yolk
The zinc is 0.01 milligrams in the egg white and 0.4 milligrams in the yolk
The copper is 0.008 milligrams in the egg white and 0.013 milligrams in the yolk
The manganese is 0.004 milligrams in the egg white and 0.009 milligrams in the yolk
The selenium is 6.6 micrograms in the egg white and 9.5 micrograms in the yolk
The riboflavin is 0.145 milligrams in the egg white and 0.09 milligrams in the yolk
The niacin is 0.035 milligrams in the egg white and 0.004 milligrams in the yolk
The vitamin B 6 is 0.002 milligrams in the egg white and 0.059 milligrams in the yolk
The vitamin B12 is 0.03 micrograms in the egg white and 0.331 micrograms in the yolk
The vitamin A is 0 international units (IU) and 245 international units in the yolk
The vitamin E is 0 milligrams in the egg white and 0.684 milligrams in the yolk
The vitamin D is 0 international units and 18.3 milligrams in the yolk
The vitamin K is 0 international units in the egg white and 0.119 international units in the yolk

Therefore, by excluding the yolk, you are losing 90.5% of the calcium, 19.2% of the magnesium, 93.8% of the iron, 93% of the phosphorus, 25.6% of the potassium, 13% of the sodium, 99.8% of the zinc, 62% of the copper, 69.2% of the manganese, 59% of the selenium, 48.3% of the riboflavin, 9.3% of the niacin, 96.7% of the vitamin B 6, 91.7% of the vitamin B12, 100% of the vitamin A, 100% of the vitamin E, 100% of the vitamin D, and 100% of the vitamin K, 


The yolk of the egg has the cholesterol and fat of the egg. An average egg yolk has around 209 milligrams of cholesterol. 

Is the cholesterol of the egg yolk such a bad thing? New studies have shown that consuming two full eggs a day did not negatively affect cholesterol levels in the body. It is still recommended, though, that people with heart problems stay away from foods that have cholesterol. 

Final Word of the Day

Although the yolk is the part of the egg that has the fat and cholesterol, it generally as a lot more micronutrients than the egg white. People who are currently limiting their fat and calorie intake have reason to eliminate egg yolks, because they contain 98% of the fat and 77% of the calories of the egg. Having the egg whites alone still give you 57% of the protein found in the egg. However, people who are not currently trying to limit their fat or calorie intakes can have the yolks of the eggs as well since they contain so many other key nutrients. If you are consuming more than two eggs a day, have a maximum of two yolks, the rest being egg whites, per day. Stay Strong!

All About Soy: What Is It and Is It Healthy?

The soybean is a bean which has been cultivated and consumed in Asian countries for centuries. A raw soybean contains 36 grams of protein per 100 grams and also contains Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B 6 and Vitamin C.

It is mostly used to add protein to animal feeds but is also used to make soy milk (3.3 grams of protein per 100 grams), soy flour (35 grams of protein per 100 grams), soy protein (81 grams of protein per 100 grams) and tofu (8 grams of protein per 100 grams).

Soy is a vegetarian source of protein, which contains necessary amino acids.

Here are a few other facts about Soy Products:

  • The Food and Drug Association says that consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily decreases heart disease risk.
  • Soybeans can't be eaten raw and need to be cooked.
  • Soybean meal, which is what remains after the fat has been removed from the soybean, is about 50% protein
  • Soybean oils, along with other vegetable oils, are considered unhealthy as they are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids. We generally consume too much of this in our Western diets which can lead to inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
  • Studies show conflicting results about whether soy decreases cholesterol levels or not. More research is needed to be more conclusive about this.
  • Soy is shown to mess with the estrogen receptors in the body. While it has been shown to decrease prostate cancer in older men, it has also been seen as increasing breast cancer risk in woman. Some also suggest that high soy consumption can reduce testosterone levels in both men and woman. More research is also needed to determine what soy actually does in the body regarding hormone activity because studies are often conflicting.
  • Some people argue that fermented soy is healthy, but poses health risks when it is not fermented. There is conflicting research and evidence regarding this as well. Most people agree that the more soy is processed, the more it loses its potential health value.
  • Many people argue that soy plants have been genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticides and herbicides for mass, commercial cultivation. Less leads to unnatural plans which won't carry as much nutritional benefits and pose their own health risks, and dangers of consuming products with residue poisons that lead to long term health issues like cancer. 
  • Processed soy products typically contain fewer compounds that would interfere with hormone levels, but also contain fewer nutrients. Some also argue that even though these might have a higher protein content, much of the protein in these products become damaged or of less use to the body. 
  • The health benefits or health risks associated with soy products requires more research, which some arguing that it is a super food and others arguing that it causes harm. More studies are currently being done to shed more light on the soy controversy.

As you can see above, there is a lot of conflicting about whether soy is good for you or not. What is my take? Soy can be used as a healthy form of protein as long as it is as natural and unprocessed as possible, such as raw soybeans that are cooked or using soy protein as an alternative to other protein powders. However, I do believe that even though it can be healthy to use soy protein to VARY your protein intake, it should not be consumed in access or form the majority of your protein consumption. I personally believe that the best form of protein is a varied form of protein, using a mixture of whey, soy, casein, pea, egg, meat, fish, seafood and other plant proteins. Stay Strong!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Is Gluten Free REALLY Better?

We look at what gluten is and if it is unhealthy, since more 'gluten free' products are becoming available on the market currently.

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein found in grains (especially wheat). It is what causes the elasticity of dough and gives things like bread its chewy texture. The name 'gluten' comes from the Latin word for 'glue', because it helps to hold dough together as it is turned into bread. It is obtained by washing the starch out of flour and is also used to make synthetic meat products for vegetarians and add protein to their diets, since gluten is a protein.

Where does gluten come from?

Gluten is most commonly found in wheat. It also comes from other grains like rye and barley. Gluten is often found in bread, chips (crisps AND fries), beer, pasta, and many sauces, dressings and soups.  

Is gluten bad for you?

Gluten is not bad for you, unless you have Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or are allergic to wheat. 

Who shouldn't eat gluten?

People who have Celiac disease should not eat gluten. This disease makes the small intestine very sensitive to gluten, which leads to difficulty digesting food and inflammation (causing damage) of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten intolerance is a condition where the body has an abnormal immune response when gluten is broken down in the body. There are also people who are allergic to wheat, who should avoid all wheat and gluten products.

How do you know if you have Celiac disease?

 The number one reason that leads people to seek diagnosis is gastrointestinal stress after eating bread and other wheat products. It is recommended that you don't cut out gluten completely before seeking medical advice and diagnosis, because there have been reports of people who experienced gastrointestinal distress after eating gluten products, cut out all forms of gluten and then taken blood tests through a doctor to determine if they are gluten intolerant or have this disease. Because gluten has not been in their system, there are no gluten antibodies in their bloodstream, which blood tests should have detected in order to diagnose the disease. Seek professional medical advice before cutting out gluten completely in order to aid a more accurate diagnosis.

These are the signs that you might be gluten intolerant:

  • You experience gastrointestinal distress after consuming gluten products (like bread).
  • You have serious gastrointestinal problems often (like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, or weight loss)
  • You experience symptoms of iron, vitamin B, and folate deficiency, because the small intestine is responsible for absorbing these nutrients and this disease affects this part of the intestine.
  • You have a family history of this condition, as it can be hereditary. 
Gluten free diets are used to treat people with this condition.

Are there people who shouldn't worry about gluten?

Yes. A gluten free diet is specifically designed for people who are gluten intolerant. If you are not gluten intolerant, then gluten is not bad for you, as long as you are not eating too much of it (like any food). Any food product can be considered unhealthy if it is consumed in too large an amount.

Are there benefits to going gluten free even if you are not sensitive to gluten?

Some scientists are concerned that those without gluten intolerance who follow a gluten free diet are missing out on nutrient rich foods and therefore might suffer from lack of important nutrients. 

There are many gluten free products now offered in supermarket stores, including products that would generally have gluten such as bread and pasta. Note that 'wheat free' does not mean 'gluten free'! If you are considering a gluten-free diet, consult with a dietitian to make sure that you still eat a diet that has all the necessary nutrients needed for optimal health, and that the foods you eat will be gluten free, since many products contain gluten, such as some vitamin products that use gluten as a binding agent.

Many people consider gluten free diets as a healthy choice, even if they are not gluten free. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Gluten free diets eliminate foods that are unhealthy. For example, processed foods often contain gluten. Choosing more natural foods that won't include gluten will include healthier options like fruits, vegetables and meats without sauces and marinades. Additionally, fried foods are also eliminated as the breading, coating and crumbing of these foods contain gluten.
  • By avoiding heavily processed foods, you are also avoiding the added chemicals like artificial flavoring, coloring, preservatives, stabilizers and enhancers.
  • As mentioned above, this forces people to eat more natural foods like fruit and vegetables that are unprocessed.
  • Other unhealthy foods are avoided like oils, pastries and sugars (sweets, candy bars, etc.)
  • By eating fresh, unprocessed foods, you are indirectly adding natural nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins to your diet that were previously lacking
  • Gluten free products on the market are usually a lot healthier than their gluten containing counterparts
It is possible to gain all these health benefits while still consuming gluten, by eating a large portion of fresh foods like fruit and vegetables and minimizing the amount of processed foods consumed. Eating fresh and as natural (least processed) as possible will yield the same health benefits.

A gluten free diet is not a must for people who are not gluten intolerant, and its potential health benefits can be obtained in a gluten-present diet by eating as natural as possible and eating a well-balanced diet. Stay Strong!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Building Your Own Bulking Diet

This diet will assist with maximal muscle gain in the shortest amount of time. Appropriate exercise is also needed, of course!

Muscles need calories to grow. Without extra calories from food, muscles don't have the nutrients they need to get bigger. Too many calories, on the other hand, add fat to the body. This is why bodybuilders often diet in a bulking-cutting cycle, generally centered on their competition seasons. The bodybuilding season depends on which federation you compete in. To see which federations have their competitions in which times on South Africa, click here. The bulking stage allows people to eat all the calories they need without worrying about possibly overdoing it, rather adding fat mass to the body instead of eating too little which will hamper muscle growth. For people who don't compete, they often bulk in winter (when everyone is so fully dressed that their extra fat is often hidden) and cut in the spring (to get summer-ready, when their physiques are generally more exposed like during holiday, at the pool or with summer clothing).

What NOT to do on a bulk:

  • Eat whatever you want
Some people think that being on a bulk means that you can eat whatever you want. This is not true. The point of a bulk is to eat foods that will lead to optimal muscle gain, and just eating whatever you feel like is not the most optimal. You will need to measure your calorie intake, balance your macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fats) right and eat at the best times when the muscles need specific nutrients the most. The difference between eating according to a good plan and eating whatever you want could be a significant amount of muscle.

What TO do on a bulk:

  • Choose the best quality foods
If you can afford it, eat as much organic, free range, unprocessed and natural food as possible. For example, apples are rated on of the most toxin-contaminated foods. Some of the toxins sprayed onto apple trees seep into core of the fruit itself, which is poisonous. To explain the damage that these poisons can cause, significant amounts of farm workers who pick these fruits from the trees get sick from it. In some cases, over half of all the illness they experience is because of exposure to these toxins. Will this make a difference in your body's ability to grow muscle INSTEAD of fighting off these toxins? Definitely!
  • Weigh your food

Weighing your food allows you to make sure that you are eating the right amounts of calories and the right balance of macro nutrients for optimum muscle growth.

  • Eat often
Eat often so that your body always has the nutrients it needs to stay in an anabolic state (the state in which the body is building muscle). When the body is deprived of the nutrients it needs, it often goes into a catabolic state (the state in which it will break down muscle for nutrients). You do this by making sure that you have the right nutrients at the right time. For example, having enough carbohydrates along with proteins before and after training sessions for recovery and growth (muscles require carbs to fill their glycogen stores. This glycogen is the muscle's primary source of energy for anaerobic exercise) and having protein just before bed (so that your muscles can keep building while you are sleeping, where most muscle growth takes place. It is important to have use-able protein in your system at this time because your body cannot store protein. The muscles are used as a store of protein, which you DON'T want your body to tuck into. When your body takes protein from muscle, it breaks the muscle down in order to use its protein). Eating often also raises your metabolism, so that your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy. Try to eat every two to three hours. 

Macro Nutrients

Here is more information about the different types of macro nutrients that you should eat per day. Aim for a balance of around 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat. This is based on the nutritional value of the food, not the food itself. For example, egg whites contain 11 grams of protein per 100 grams of egg whites. Eating 200 grams of egg whites is equal to consuming 22 grams of protein. 


Aim for around 3-3.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight, or around 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of weight. Most carbs should be in the form of complex, low-GI and fibrous carbs. These carbs take longer to break down in the body, which means it won't spike your blood sugar levels and burn out quickly. Fast-acting, quick carbs are however the best around your workout (just before, during and straight afterwards), because they are converted to energy so quickly. By taking fast carbs just before or during your workout, you have the energy needed to physically perform your workout and glycogen stores can be maintained. By taking fast carbs after your workout, you take your body out of its 'stress' mode and put it into 'rebuild' mode faster, leading to better recovery. Complex carbs should be used during the rest of the day though, as they provide slow-release energy that your body can steadily use for constant muscle growth and other daily needs.

Sources of Complex Carbs

  • green vegetables
  • oats
  • whole wheat pasta
  • whole-grains
  • potatoes (and sweet potatoes)
  • pumpkin
  • beans, peas, legumes, lentils

Sources of Simple Carbs

  • fruit
  • cereals
  • pasta
  • white bread
  • berries
  • fruit juice
  • chocolate
  • honey
  • yogurt
  • jelly


Aim for around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or around 1 gram of protein per pound for international readers. Protein is needed almost all the time. Faster digesting protein is great for breakfast because your body has gone eight hours without it and as a pre-workout meal and as a post-workout meal because your body will need protein as soon as possible to recover and start building muscle as a response to exercise. Slow-digesting protein is best used before bed so that while you sleep, your body has a constant flow of protein to build muscle. Throughout the rest of the day, you can vary the types of protein you take. Whey protein is fast digesting and casein protein is slow digesting (these are protein supplements that you can buy, mostly as protein shakes). 

Other sources of protein

  • diary
  • eggs
  • fish
  • meat
  • seafood
  • beans
  • soy


Fat is an important part of your bulk diet that is often neglected. They aid anabolic (muscle building) hormone production and use, improve insulin activity, are more calorie dense than carbs (carbs and proteins offer 4 calories per gram, but fats offer 9 calories per gram) and are a very rich source of energy. Aim for around 1.4 grams of fat per kilogram, or 0.7 grams of fat per pound, of body weight. Be sure to get these fats from healthy food choices, like the ones listed below.

Sources of fats

  • avocados
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • seeds
  • fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, trout and sardines)
  • diary

Please note that as I'm sure you've seen above, most foods have more than one macro nutrient. Diary products are an example. If milk has 1 gram of fat and 3.4 grams of protein per 100 grams, then drinking 200 grams of milk gives you 2 grams of fat and 6.4 grams of protein towards your daily goal. 

Micro Nutrients

Micro nutrients are nutrients which are not needed or used as much as the three macro nutrients needed above but are also very important. These include minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, phytonutrients and trace elements. For example, you can read about the importance of minerals here. In order to get these micro nutrients eat fruit, vegetables, greens, and varied food sources to make up your diet plan. If you feel like you are not getting enough of these micro nutrients, you can take a good multi vitamin as well. 

Total calories per day

An easy way to calculate the total amount of calories you should be eating per day is your body weight in kilograms x 36. For example, a person that weighs 80 kilograms should eat around 2 880 calories a day. 

Firstly, this is not set in stone, as some people will bulk up easier than others. Hard gainers (people who struggle to gain muscle) should eat above this whilst easy gainers (people who put on weight easily) should eat just below this on a bulk.

Secondly, it is easy to work out how to split your macro nutrients after calculating your total calorie goal. For example if a person weighs 80 kg and wants to go on a bulking diet, they can start by consuming 2 880 calories per day. If they are bulking nicely after a few weeks, they stay with this calculation until the end of their bulk. If they aren't bulking enough they increase their calorie intake and if they are bulking too much they decrease the total calories consumed per day. If they are happy with the 2 880 total, they can split that into carbs, proteins and fats. Proteins and carbs contain 4 calories per gram and fats contain 9 calories per gram. 

For their carbohydrate goal: 50% of 2 880 calories = 1 440 calories. 1 440 divided by 4 = 360 grams of carbs per day
For their protein goal: 30% of 2 880 = 864. 864 divided by 4 = 216 grams of protein per day
For their fat consumption goal: 20% of 2 880 = 576 divided by 9 = 64 grams of fat per day.

Therefore the average person who weighs 80 kilograms will aim to consume 360 grams of carbs, 216 grams of protein and 64 grams of fat per day to bulk.

Final tips

  • Vary your choices of foods
Vary the foods you take that make up your macro nutrients and calories to get nutrients from a variety of sources. Protein from different sources, for example, will assist in giving a complete scope of nutrition and will assist in maximum health. Some forms of protein can be higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, while others can be higher in calcium (two very essential micro nutrients).

  • The bulking diet is not suitable for people who don't exercise
 This diet plan is made to ensure that muscle has all the nutrients it needs to grow to its potential. Eating a diet like this without exercise can have a negative impact on kidneys (too much protein which is not used), body composition (too much calories that are not being burned) and so on.

  • This is a guide, not set in stone
The reason why I say this is because everybody is different. For example, people with fast metabolisms struggle to put on weight and are naturally skinny. They should eat even more calories to keep up with all the burnt calories that their bodies keep churning out. On the other hand, people with slower metabolisms would slightly reduce the carbohydrate, fat and therefore calorie intake in total as their bodies will turn more of this into body fat without using it for muscle growth. People who are more inclined to build muscle easily can reduce all these macro nutrient quantities because their bodies grow muscle more efficiently.

Remember to start with this guide and tweak it until you find the perfect fit for you. Record your results to keep accurate and keep it for your next bulk. Stay Strong!