Fitness Matters: Answers to your health and wellness questionsQuestion: I have a friend that follows a vegan lifestyle, and she’s trying to get me to do the same. Is this something you’d recommend for improving overall health and wellness?
By: Liz Albright, Worthington Daily Globe
Question: I have a friend that follows a vegan lifestyle, and she’s trying to get me to do the same. Is this something you’d recommend for improving overall health and wellness?
Answer: This is a tough question, and one that finds passionate supporters on both sides of the fence. Nutritionally-speaking, there are clear benefits to following more of a vegetarian lifestyle, and some studies even indicate the reversal of several chronic diseases. The research is fascinating and, as a result, near-vegetarian diets have been espoused by the likes of Pritikin and Ornish for years. That said, the more strict the diet is (and veganism is very strict), the harder it is to maintain in the long run. In addition, animal foods are high in several key nutrients that positively affect your health. They also add unique textures and flavors to a given meal, and enhance the palatability of a number of dishes. In the end, it’s important to eat a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that incorporates all of the major food groups. Though I personally wouldn’t advocate veganism, I would strongly encourage you to make plant-based foods a larger part of your diet. Then, you can make the personal decision as to whether veganism is right for you.
Question: Does it matter if I do cardio before lifting, or vice versa? It seems like people have differing opinions on this one.
Answer: It really depends on your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re training for an endurance competition, it’s fine to do a short circuit of weights before moving on to a more challenging cardio training session. However, this wouldn’t necessarily be the norm. Most folks typically start off with a light warm-up, then progress to a hard lifting session, followed by some rigorous cardio and a few stretches for flexibility. If you’ve ever done a strenuous cardio session prior to strength training, you probably realized that most of that much-needed energy for lifting was already spent. Thus, you’re left with an inefficient and lackluster lift, making significant strength and size gains more difficult to achieve. Whatever you decide to do, don’t worry about not being able to “push it” during the latter part of your workout. There will always be days when you focus on only one aspect of fitness—either cardio of strength training—and then you can really give it 100 percent!
Question: I saw a guy walking around with a creatine jug the other day. With all the new sports supplements that have come out in recent years, I didn’t think it was still around. Is it still seen as a beneficial aid when lifting weights?
Answer: First of all, sports supplements are always “still around.” They are known for their sticking power, whether they actually work or not. Now, when it comes to creatine, it is definitely still popular amongst strength training enthusiasts, and is still considered to be an effective supplement for those looking to improve speed, strength, and power. The reason you probably haven’t seen it around lately is because many manufacturers include it as part of a more comprehensive pre- or post-workout formula. Many people simply aren’t using it as a single, solitary supplement anymore, though you can still find good ‘ole creatine monohydrate everywhere. Remember, more than 500 clinical trials have been done on creatine and, for the most part, the results have been very good with very few, if any, side effects. If your goal is to dramatically increase strength and size, I would certainly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already. However, you need to decide if you’re going to use it on its own, or if you’re going to try a more complex formula with multiple supplement ingredients. If it’s the latter, make sure you do your homework on the specific product you choose. I would also recommend reading up on creatine itself as well, so you know proper dosages, timing, potential side effects, and whether to cycle on and off over time.
About the author: Liz Albright is the club manager at Anytime Fitness in Worthington. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at worthingtonmn@ anytimefitness.com.