About Food

About Food

Tasty and healthy

How healthy is my current diet? Is light soda good or not? Should I eat or not after my workout? If you have these or other questions related to nutrition, don't leave them unanswered! You can send your questions to vitaliteit@usc.leidenuniv.nl.

Below, our nutritionist Kathelijne Mischner answers all kinds of questions, in cooperation with Ramon Wolf, an expert in orthomolecular nutrition.
Fitness coach Zella van der Toorn Vrijthoff can also help you with questions on this subject. In 'Tips & recipes', she explains how to lose weight before entering a Miss Fitness contest, and how she got her family to eat healthily in busy times.
During the Healty University Week you can participate in workshops about healthy eating.

“How bad is ketchup anyway? There are mainly tomatoes in there, and they are healthy. Yet you often hear that ketchup is unhealthy.”

“Besides tomatoes, other ingredients of ketchup are vinegar, sugar, salt and various herbs and spices. It's about 23 grams of sugar and 1.8 grams of salt per 100 grams of ketchup. All in all, 100 grams of ketchup provides about 100 calories (for comparison: 100 grams of full-fat mayonnaise provides about 750 calories).”

Are sweeteners safe or not?

Several years ago, sweeteners, especially aspartame, were frequently in the news negatively. This was because a study had been done at the time in which laboratory animals that were given aspartame were more likely to develop brain tumors than those that were not given aspartame. This study was later reviewed extensively by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which subsequently determined that the experimental animals given aspartame were already ill and that errors had been made when analyzing the data. Later studies have shown that sweeteners can be used in normal amounts without endangering our health. The EFSA concludes that an adult can take up to 40 mg aspartame per kg body weight per day without an increased risk of developing cancer.

To clarify: At 70 kg body weight, this is approximately 4.7 liters of diet soda (such as Sprite) per day.

As a sugar substitute, sweeteners can help reduce sugar consumption and, if possible, help prevent obesity. With a healthy weight, there is less risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and corona than with obesity. However, do not exceed the safe daily limit.

What are multiple, slow, complex carbohydrates?

These three names are often used interchangeably to indicate that products covered by them have better nutritional value because they contain more vitamins, minerals and fiber than simple, fast carbohydrates. When a product such as quinoa contains fiber, your body takes longer to digest it. Quinoa is therefore a slow carbohydrate. Fast carbohydrates such as French fries or a white sandwich have a low nutritional value, contain no fiber and are digested quickly by your body. This causes enormous peaks and drops in your blood sugar. After eating fast carbohydrates you usually get hungry again quite shortly afterwards, which is often a "trigger" to snacking.

Should I eat or not befor my workout?


It is better not to eat a large meal right in advance. Digesting food requires a constant supply of blood to the gastrointestinal tract. If you exercise immediately afterwards, your muscles also demand oxygen-rich blood. These two processes then interfere with each other, which can cause stomach upset.

Choose a small meal or snack about 45 - 60 minutes before your exercise. For instance:

Eat a normal healthy main meal after exercise - breakfast, lunch, or evening meal - so you get all the nutrients you need to restore your energy and allow your muscles to recover.

Make sure you drink enough before, during and after your exercise. Sufficient drinking prevents dehydration and is a prerequisite for good performance.

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