I gets lots of nutritional based questions on instargam and although I have some basic qualifications through my cert 3 fitness, I always feel reluctant giving specific advice. Cue the expert! I thought I would call on the knowledge of Clinical Nutritionist Malissa Fedele to answer some of the most common questions I get asked.
1. I have always had exercise down pat but could definitely improve my food/diet. Where would you suggest I start?
My first place to start would be simply reducing the amount of foods which are
found in packets and boxes and aiming for real foods which are as close to
their natural state as possible. This is a great way to introduce wholesome
foods into your diet without the stress of following any specific “diet” or “plan”.
Start slow and enjoy introducing new foods into your diet. A little tip here when
you are shopping would be to avoid the middle isles of your grocery store and
stick to the outside isles as they are generally the fresh/wholefood produce
isles. Secondly, up your water intake! This is something we often miss and
can make a huge different to how you feel and your health in general.
2. What top 3 foods should we have in our diet that we may not know
There are not 3 individual foods that are particularly essential to have in your
diet but more so 3 different food groups which I will list below including the
benefits of each:
Protein – The building materials for our body. Amino acids (what make up
protein) are essential for the growth and repair of tissue (muscle development,
recovery) and also essential for synthesizing hormones, enzymes,
lipoproteins, antibodies etc.
Carbohydrates – Complex Carbs are the body’s main source of energy to fuel
your everyday functions. Majority of carbs are rich in fiber, which is important
for digestion. Carbohydrates also contain vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Fats – Fats make up the cellular membrane, nourish our hormones,
protect blood vessels, nerves and other organs and have an important role in
assisting with the absorption of other vitamins/minerals (A,D,E & K).
3. How do you feel about counting calories?
This really just depends on the individual and what their specific goals are.
Some people who are on a weight loss journey or are trying to achieve a
fitness goal in a specific period of time do benefit from counting calories.
However, I do think that counting calories can become very overwhelming and
we shouldn’t base our life around numbers for a long period of time. You can
still be healthy and achieve a goal without calorie counting. It’s all about being
mindful about what we eat every day and how often we move our body.
Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse than counting every single
calorie I put into my body every day just “because”. Instead, I choose to listen
to my body, eat when I am hungry, choose foods are nourishing and exercise
because I enjoy it. I’d much rather count “nutrients” or things like “colours on my plate” than calories. By this I mean when you make a meal look for things
– How many colours are in this meal?
– How many veggies am I eating?
– What specific nutrients are in this dish?
– How do I feel after eating these foods?
4. I eat very basic and convenient. Could I be lacking in nutrients and how do I go about finding out?
When nourishing your body it is really important to first tick off all your
macronutrient requirements with each meal and aim for colourful, wholesome
foods. This is a great way to make sure you are giving your body what it
needs. When you prepare your food aim for the following (I have simplified
everything using hand portions to make it easy and clear for you):
– 1-2 palms of lean protein – This includes chicken, beef, tofu, fish etc.
– 1 cup (cup your hand) of Carbohydrates – This includes foods like rice,
pasta, potato, legumes etc.
– 2 fists of veggies – Always do your best to have a dark leafy green on
your plate as well as other vibrant veggies.
– 1-2 Thumbs of Fat – This includes olive oils, coconut oils, nuts/seeds,
Aiming to cover those bases is a great way to nourish your body.
5. How do you feel about Supplements and how do we make sure we are
taking right ones?
Supplementing can be a great way to ensure you are getting everything you
need. However, supplements are secondary and your diet is primary. You
cannot out-supplement a diet that is lacking in nutrients and you shouldn’t
want to do that anyway. Before considering supplementation, take a good
look at what you are eating and if you are ticking off majority of your needs
with the wholesome foods you choose to eat every day. So for example, if you
are considering taking something like Iron, first check to see how much Iron-
rich food you consume daily etc.
When it comes to making sure you are taking the right supplements for you it
is important to always seek advice from a health professional who be able to
analyse your dietary and lifestyle choices. It is also very important to get your
bloods taken by your doctor as this will assist in identifying any deficiencies.
There are so many fancy supplements on the market right now with very
appealing labels and claims but unless your body is really lacking in a specific
nutrient it isn’t really necessary for you to be spending your money on these
types of supplements. I suggest first addressing your dietary choices and then
seeking advice from a health professional before starting any new
supplements, as they will be able to tell you exactly what you need.
6. Foods for pre and post workout. What do we need? What is best for our
bodies. Difference for pilates and weights?
Your pre and post workout nutrition should contain both protein and
carbohydrates. Carbs are our main source of fuel that is burnt while we
workout and protein is what assists our muscles to recover and develop. Of
course, all our goals are different as well as our nutritional requirements but
having these food groups pre and post workout (I’d say 1-2 hours pre and
30mins post) will help you to feel strong during your workout and replenish
your body post workout.
7. Weight loss is basically calories in calories out but we want to make sure we are still getting adequate nutrients. What is the best way to approach weight loss / management?
I always suggest speaking to a health professional that will be able to help
you with your weight loss journey. Our bodies are very individual and we all
require different dietary approaches and having the support of a nutritionist
will ensure that you are on track and getting everything you need.
8. I feel there is so much fuss in the health and wellness industry and it all seems very confusing. I keep it very simple and don’t follow a diet. Do you agree? What do you recommended when dealing with clients?
Keeping it simple and listening to your body is honestly the best way to be.
We really don’t need to complicate things. My simple tips include:
– Eat when you are hungry, Stop when you are full (take time to actually
– Aim for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible
– Avoid heavily processed and high sugar foods
– Eat all your macronutrients with every meal
– Drink mostly water
– Reduce caffeine intake and alcohol consumption to as minimal as
– Get sunshine daily, aim for 8 hours of sleep, move your beautiful body
and smile every day!
9. What are you thoughts on fasting?
There is a lot of hype around fasting right now and lots of conflicting evidence.
Personally, for women I say avoid fasting and focus more on eating your 3
wholesome meals a day. Some evidence has shown that fasting can result in
higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol which can lead to hormonal
imbalances, weight gain, skin issues, anxiety etc. Women are built a little
different to men and majority of evidence shows that these benefits are mostly
true for men. Of course, it restricts your calorie intake, which can be beneficial
for weight loss. But from a holistic health point of view, it is best to focus on
nourishing your body often.
10. What would be your #1 nutritional advice
Be kind to yourself when it comes to nutrition. Go back to basics, eat foods
that are closest to their natural state as possible, aim to always have lots of
colour on your plate, eat from all food groups and please, drink water.
Nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated.
11. Lastly (and most importantly haha), what is your favourite food?
Probably not what you expect me to say (I’m sure you would assume that a
nutritionist favourite food is broccoli or kimchee… but not me) I come from a
big Italian family and traditional food has always played a huge part in my
upbringing. My favourite food of all time is pasta! Traditional spaghetti with a
delicious homemade red sauce makes me so happy, I absolutely love it! Food
is an integral part of life. It brings us not just nourishment but also joy. It
creates family and connection. Learn to love food and feel good about what
you are eating.