I was on a small flagging run, checking for older pure nutrition based questions which are off topic now since the changes to the FAQ.

There were a few, good questions with some really good answers, I had a hard time flagging those. My main reason was that new users tend to overlook related questions when they ask their own, but if you flag their question and tell them that it's going to be closed because it might be off topic, they will find comparable question that should be closed but have never been, mostly just because of their age. (I have seen this behaviour on SuperUser but here as well).

Now there was one example which is one of the better questions but clearly was off topic before the last edits:

I'm trying to put together a nutritional plan for myself for weight loss combined with cardio to keep me healthy and active, but am finding it difficult to incorporate fibre without overdoing the carbs.

Which foods are high in fibre yet low in carbs that would provide adequately for my exercise plan?

The version above now incorporates some pseudo changes about exercise.

Should we accept those or is it still off topic?

  • I made the most recent edit to your example, in an effort to bring it in line with the new requirements. In most cases I agree with Matt--lock the old questions. In this case, since the OP came back, I figured it was close enough to a real question to make the change. Maybe it should be locked instead. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 21:30
  • 2
    Do be careful to look for a clear weight-loss tie-in. In general, that should be considered on-topic still even if not about exercise per se. i.e. "achieving physique milestones" from the FAQ
    – G__
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 4:47

2 Answers 2


Nutrition has been discussed numerously in the past, and the consensus we have reached is that nutrition is generally off-topic. Our faq stipulates that "nutrition as it relates to exercise" is on-topic provided that someone is asking a detailed and specific question about their workout and nutrition as it is related to it and not throwing around a loose or vague generality of the subject at hand.

Most of the questions you flagged are very (relatively) old, asked only a few months when this site first launched into beta. This was a time when the scope was still being fleshed out and discussed for months and continuing into 2012, but we have reached a point where we've found what works and doesn't work for this site.

If anything, the older questions should be locked for historical significance. They may have good information and value, but no longer fit the currently defined scope that we have now.

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed.

If a question doesn't fit but is salvageable, then other people including the original asker can work towards making it fit the scope of the site. If something is not clear, draw the question out more from the asker, clarify missing points, fix the wording, etc. Not all questions can be saved no matter how much the effort. Sometimes a bad question is a bad question. Just try to flag appropriately so that the moderators can take action if necessary.


The touchstone that I've been using personally is when I read a nutrition slanted question, I ask myself "Would knowing this information impact their workout/fitness goals, or allow them to get more out of the exercise they are doing?"

If I can answer yes to that question, then it's generally worthy of an answer. If I answer no, then it's off topic for the site. If it's "maybe", then I read through it a few times to see if I can fit it into yes or no.

What I am a little concerned about is the response of "Well, it's off topic unless you relate it to exercise", and then they toss off a one line addition to make it fit. (My prime example for this would be the back and forth in the comments from this question: Acetyl L Carnitine), that have evidently now been deleted.

That technically fits the guidelines, but if it's persistent, then imho we open the gates to nutrition questions with the tag line "Cause I wanna lose weight" or other quasi exercise validation.

  • Not sure if you have been in chat meanwhile, but the question you mention is exactly what I was thinking about, too.
    – Baarn
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 22:41
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    Just took a look. Great minds think alike :p
    – JohnP Mod
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 22:48

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