Body

Ask the experts: Weight classes, chocolate, coffee

Sovereign ambassadors Nicola Smith, a personal trainer, nutrition and lifestyle coach, and Pua Magasiva, an actor and personal trainer, answer your nutrition and fitness questions.

Q. I’d like to start doing a weights class, like body pump, but should I wait until I improve my fitness?
A. No don’t wait. The longer you put it off the less likely you are to start. These classes are designed for everybody at any level of fitness. Please don’t be embarrassed – no one is judging you but yourself. Hit it with confidence.
All you need to do is make sure the weights are light when you start out (even if it’s just the bar). This way you can focus on your form, as guided by the instructor, and build from that. Get used to the pattern of the class and, as you perfect your technique, add more weight and start challenging yourself.
Pua
Q. Ever since I started running I have become a chocolate addict. How can I stop the sugar cravings?
A. There are a couple of things to consider here; one is the sugar and the other is the chocolate. The chocolate you buy from the store is loaded with refined sugar and does not contain that much real chocolate, known as raw cacao. Raw cacao is rich in minerals, including magnesium.
We need magnesium in our diet to support nerve and muscle function and maintain a healthy immune system. When the body is stressed we tend to need more, which can lead to cravings for foods that contain magnesium, like chocolate.
I suggest you make your own chocolate foods using raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs, which you can add to smoothies or sprinkle over your breakfast. You can even try making things like raw cacao bliss balls with honey or dates to satisfy your sweet tooth without the refined sugar. Just remember to use raw cacao and not cocoa powder, which has been roasted at high temperatures and so loses much of its nutritional value.
I also recommend you add plenty of other magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, eggs, spinach and avocado.
Nicola
Q. I like to have a coffee before my morning gym session, as food gives me a stitch. Is exercising on caffeine recommended?
A. Caffeine is a grey area. Some people thrive on it and some don’t, but think they do. The key is understanding whether or not it is right for you. If you are someone who does well on it, then just one cup of really good-quality coffee in the morning before you train is OK. Do ensure, however, that you drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially before you have a coffee, as it can be very dehydrating.
If you need more coffee throughout the day, lack energy in the afternoon, have trouble getting eight hours of good-quality sleep or find it really hard to wake up in the morning, I would reconsider your coffee intake. You should focus on getting your body’s circadian rhythm back in balance instead of relying on caffeine for an energy boost.
Nicola
Photos: Getty Images