The Health Guru

Facts, Hints, Tips, Advice and Inspiration on everything to do about health & weight loss.

Answers to the questions some of you have asked!

Posted on | June 15, 2012 | No Comments

Keep the questions coming!

Dear Health Guru readers:   Thanks so much for reading my blog and asking so many questions in the comment box. I do really love all the questions you ask – most of them really get me thinking and I typically have to go and do a lot of researching to answer them sensibly.

In saying that, I will let you know some of my challenges. It’s EXTREMELY hard to provide you branded nutrition facts.  For example:  It’s almost impossible to provide correct advice for Gong Cha vs.  Koi Café Bubble Tea! It’s also completely impossible to go through every different variety and brand of manufactured food products!   At the end of just about every post, I go through tips about how to estimate things on your own and make semi-educated decisions about managing your weight and making healthier choices.  Example: Regardless of whether you drink Gong Cha or Koi Café Bubble tea , you should always ask for less sugar, tea bases will contain less calories than milk base etc etc etc.    I hope to impart some learning and tips for you so that you don’t need to be walking encyclopedias of brands and calories.

As usual I am overloaded with questions over the last few weeks, so I’ve placed most of them in this post and have answered as best I can.  Please keep the questions rolling in and thanks for reading my blog!  Natalie.


Question:  Hi there! This question may sound silly but I’ve to ask! An example I’ll use:  Fishball noodle soup & a plate of mixed veggie (no deep fried entree) rice with VERY little rice. Fishball soup definitely seems healthier but it’s filled with carbs? Mixed veggie rice is definitely more oily but carbs is much lesser too? So which is better? Please help!

Answer:  For more indepth answers, please search for my blog posts on the following: Fishball Noodle Soup, Economy Rice and How to recognize food that’s going to make you gain weight.

This is a tough question.  Also, the nutrition facts of those 2 examples you have chosen are almost equal! At the end of the day, the fact is that Carbs contain 4 calories per gram and Fat contains 9 calories per gram. So anytime you can reduce the fat content in any of your meals, it’s a better option.  You eat twice as many calories per gram of fat compared to carbs and protein.  If this were me I’d choose the Fishball Noodle soup.  Even though it looks more ‘carby’ it will be slightly better for you as it has a clear broth soup which typically contains less fat. Just about all the options in economy rice contain a lot of fat and that pushes up the energy content.

REMEMBER – It’s all about portions.  If you went for the fishball noodles, the correct portion of noodles is only the size of your closed fist. So you need to ask for less noodles – or if you have the will power – only eat half of the portion of noodles.  However –  If you really felt like Economy rice – you would need to half the portion of rice and get green leafy vegetables, braised or in light sauce, not fried.  Avoid anything coated in oil or that looks too shiny.

The take home message: PORTION size counts.  Fist size portion of carbs, deck of cards size portion of protein, green leafy vegetables to fill up – avoid deep fried, oily food.

Question:  It’s the overall calories that are more important.  1000 calories of low fat food is just as bad as 1000 cal of oily fried food! (in terms of impact on your weight)

Answer:  I’m not sure if this was a question or someone correcting me??? But I’ll pretend it’s a question and give you some feedback.  1000 calories is 1000 calories there’s no denying that.  But we have to move on from this old school calorie counting routine.  It’s time to realize we are what we eat and the food we eat impacts our body and health.  If you ate 1000 calories of protein, carbs, low fat milk, yoghurt and vegetables, it’s going to be much healthier for your body than 1000 calories of butter, deep fried doughnuts, lard etc…  You need to consider the quantity of energy (calories) and quality of energy you consume.  1000 calories of butter and oily food every day will take you on the very quick path to increased blood cholesterol levels leading you to stroke and heart attack.

Question: Hi, Guru, this might sounds weird, but could you please help to explain the impact of female menstruation cycle on energy consumption, calorie burning and metabolism?? I recently read somewhere that female might consume up to 300 more calories per day before and during their period; meanwhile we also have crazy cravings. Would be great to control/regulate the diet and workout during that period of time

Answer: I’m not a guru in this area, but I did ask a few doctors for advice.  The cravings are associated with Estrogen levels in the body.  The best regulator is exercise.  The exercise will provide the body with a satiety (fullness) effect and could also burn off the extra calories that you take in. Therefore, light exercise will assist with the cravings and manage your weight too.  To be honest, I do hope that I can provide a more detailed post on this topic once I obtain better information.  So, give me some time to approach some healthcare professionals for advice.  Thanks.

Question:  Hi healthguru, do you happen to know if the calories vary among different varieties of the same fruit, per 100g? E.g. Fuji apple vs Pacific Rose apple, Korean strawberries vs US ones, Chinese pear vs western pears, Navel orange vs blood orange  etc… or are they just all basically the same? Your expertise would be much appreciated .

Answer:  I think the name just identifies where it comes from or variety – there’s not too much difference in calories!

  • 100g Fuji Apple:  52 calories
  • 100g Pacific Rose Apple: 56 calories
  • 100g Korean Strawberry: 32 calories
  • 100g US Strawberry: 32 calories
  • 100g Chinese Pear:  51 calories
  • 100g Western Pear: 58 calories
  • 100g Navel Orange:  49 calories
  • 100g Blood Orange:  40 calories

Question:  Hi, i have been limiting my calories for quite some time but didn’t see any change to my weight. Now that I want to change for the better, as in having a balanced diet but I am scared that I might gain when I am not even losing. Pls help ;

Answer: Thanks for your email.  If you could please email me an entire week of a food diary I could help you better.  Thanks.

Question:  Calories in waffles sold at bakery? Thanks! :)

Answer:  For more indepth answers, please search for my blog posts on the following:  Calories in Waffles.    As I don’t know what size or weight these waffles are, what the exact ingredients are or what you had on top, I can only give you very broad estimate of about 150 calories per waffle.  It could be up to 250+ calories if the recipe contains a lot of butter and also buttermilk.

Question:  Hey, I was just wondering – when you state the nutrition info in foods, do you actually buy it and test it with special equipment, or are they just estimates from the ingredients?

Answer: For more indepth answers, please search for my blog posts on the following:  How to estimate the calories in your food.  I actually don’t send any of the food to laboratories – that costs a lot of money to do and is the responsibility of the manufacturer, not mine!.  Just about every food that I post about I buy and try eating it before I post (unless I severely hate that food or I’m allergic to it!)   Where possible I divide the dish into the protein and carbs and weigh each of the ingredients accordingly. I then estimate how many teaspoons of fat it contains.  I will then investigate the ingredients that are used to create this recipe. For example:  I will understand what is in the ‘red sauce’ – ie. Sugar, tomato, tomato paste, 12 ground chillis.  I have been cooking all of my life and have a very good understanding of ingredients, food weight and portions in a recipe.

Knowing the above I calculate all the ingredient nutrition by weight.  This is the best that I can do.  There will be discrepancies.    ALWAYS plus/minus calories from this estimation.

Question:  Hi guru, I would like to know if there’s a maximum consumption per day for nutrient such as protein/carbohydrate/fibre/cholesterol/fat etc.? And if there is, how much should we limit ourselves/day? Hope you will answer my queries. Thanks for providing important and useful health information all the while!

Answer: For more detailed information, please search under:  How to eat to gain muscle mass and know your portion sizes.

I don’t really go by weights of food, because carrying scales around is kind of impossible.  I lean towards advice on portion sizes instead. But if you need specifics, here are some guidelines:

Protein:  The USA recommended daily intake for non-active people is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight (or 0.4g/pounds).  That’s means if you weight 80kg you need to consume 64g of protein (which is only 21.3g per meal).  However, if you are training hard at the gym it’s increased to 1.4g/kg or (1g/pound)  So that means if that 80kg person is hitting the gym hard, they need to eat 112g of protein per day (37.3g per meal).

Every meal you should aim for a portion of lean protein the size of the palm of your hand or the size of a deck of cards.

Carbohydrate:  If you are trying to lose body fat, 20-70 grams are recommended, depending on your level of activity.  If you are not trying to lose body fat, 180-230 grams are sometimes recommended. Please note, however, that unlike protein or fat there is no minimum daily requirement of carbohydrate for good health or to sustain life.

You should aim for 3 serves of carbs per day ie. One serve per meal.  One serve is equivalent to:

  • 1 thick slice bread
  • 1/ 2 bread roll
  • 1/ 4 cup (90 g) cooked rice
  • 1/ 2 cup (90 g) cooked pasta or noodles
  • 3/ 4 cup (30–40 g) breakfast cereal
  • 1/ 2 cup (140 g) cooked porridge
  • 1/ 4 cup (30 g) muesli

Fat:  It is recommended to limit fat intake to 30g per day.  That’s about 2 tablespoons.

Fibre:  A rough estimate of the amount you need is about 18g a day, though 16 – 24g is a healthy range and individual requirements vary.   18g is equivalent to a bowl of bran cereal for breakfast, a wholemeal sandwich with a bowl of salad for lunch, and five portions of fruit and vegetables. WOW!

Sodium: Most heart foundations recommend limiting daily sodium intake to 2500mg.

Question:  Hi! Hope you can also feature the nutri facts of the popular gastronomia menu items. Thx in advance!

Answer:  I had a look on the website in Singapore and they don’t list the menu.  Also, as mentioned in the opening paragraph this is quite a huge and nearly impossible task.  Perhaps you can pick your favourite items off the menu and I can assist you.  To be accurate I need to know the ingredients or contents of the item you’d like to know more information about, the weight or portion, sauces, how it’s cooked etc.  Please get back to me!

Question: Hi health guru :) how many calories are there in a cup of gongcha milk tea/ milk green tea/ taro milk without pearls at 30% sugar? And how many calories are there in steam cakes at bakeries? :)

Answer: For more information regarding a similar topic, please search for my blog posts for:  Bubble Tea.  Without knowing the portion size you drank… I estimate that a 350ml cup will contain approx 350 – 400 calories.   I’ll have to do more research to find out what a steam cake is to answer you correctly. Let me get back to you.

Question:  Hi, I refer to your article on indigestion. I often get this gastric ache.. even though I have my 3 regular meals and a snack (3 pieces of cream biscuits)  before dinner. Why is it that i would still get the gastric ache?  Im puzzled. If i visit the doc, they would probably prescribe antacid pill for me. Pls advise!

Answer:  Thanks for your email. I do think it’s best that you visit your doctor to ask.  I’m unable to hand out medical advice and diagnose illness via a blog.   You are quite correct, if you visit a doctor in Singapore, you’re likely to walk out with a million medications and pills.  Perhaps you’d like to mention during your consultation that you’d like to take a more natural approach and avoid food in your diet rather than popping a pill.

To modify your diet, I would advise to reduce or avoid the types food that will cause further irritation such as tomato, citrus, spicy, fat and oil laden food, caffeine and alcohol.  If you do have some gastric irritation and you are eating a lot of dairy, that can sometimes cause pain.    I would advise to eat plain, simple food, non acidic and spicy food.  See if the problem reduces, if not you should consult your doctor immediately.

Question:  How much calories are there in Gongcha Milk tea with HERBAL JELLY 50% sugar? Thanks =)

Answer: For more information regarding a similar topic, please search for my blog posts for:  Bubble Tea.  Without knowing the portion size you drank… I estimate that a 350ml cup will contain approx 350 – 400 calories.

Question:  Hi Healthguru, I read your the post on Mr Bean Pancake. U mention that we should not snack on biscuits… but how about those Jacob Cream cracker that claim that they contain Wheat which r nutritional

Answer:  Ok, one Jacob Cream Cracker contains 35 calories, 1g Protein, 5.5g Carbs, 1g Fat.  So multiply that information for how many you eat!  If you only have up to 3 as a snack, they are not overly bad. Better than a mr bean pancake!  Regarding their claim to have wheat which is nutritious – don’t believe everything on the food label.  Manufacturers love to write statements indicating how healthy their  products are, but leave out all of the preservative, sodium and transfat they put in.

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