Ask the experts: Weight training, snacking, pain after exercise

Each month 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. Will I lose flexibility if I start weight training?
A. No. If you keep up your stretching and use full movements in your weight training, you should be fine. If you’re doing bodybuilding training then flexibility could become an issue. Then again it all depends on the individual and their natural makeup.
Q. I love snacking on nuts but I’m not sure how many to eat as they’re so high in fat.
A. Nuts are great for you; full of good quality and beneficial fats. Know that fat doesn't make you fat, however eating foods that are not right for you, or eating a lot of one type of food, can.Your diet should have variety. I’d have just 1 handful of nuts (approximately 8-10 nuts) per day and rotate the types of nuts you are eating.
Also eat nuts on some days and then go without for a day. An example might be putting Brazil nuts in your smoothie one day, cashews on your salad the next day, then seeds, then no nuts at all. When you rotate your foods you allow your body to get the nutrients it needs and not get over-exposed to the one nut. You then learn to understand what foods make you feel good and what foods don't.
Q. My knees often hurt after running. Should I continue, or are there other exercises I should try?
A. My suggestion is to stop running for now and see a physio or specialist to see if they can identify what is causing the pain. Running is very hard on joints, especially over long periods of time, so it could be a number of things: shoes, the way your feet are, how much weight you’re carrying etc.
People assume running is an easy way to do cardio because it’s a natural movement, cheap and accessible. But there are alternatives like cycling, rowing and swimming that are less strenuous on joints.
My advice is to consider a weights programme to start really strengthening your legs. You may find over time the pain goes away. Always take it slow as you get back into running in order to judge whether it’s making a difference or not. But if the pain persists, please see a specialist!
Q. I always feel tired after lunch. Is there any way to avoid this?
A. There are a number of reasons this can occur; it’s hard to pinpoint exactly without knowing more about you. However, I would start with what you are eating for lunch. What you eat affects your body within minutes, so your lunch is going to impact on your energy for the afternoon.
Try rotating your lunch meals around. Start by having a lunch that has more protein in it then the next day add in some more carbohydrates. For example if you were to have a chicken salad, add in some extra chicken on day one and on day two instead of extra protein add in extra carbohydrates such as rice or roast veges.
Take note of how each meal makes you feel and what gives you better, long-lasting energy for the afternoon. We are all unique. The only way to know what works best for you is to experiment.
Photos: Corbis Images

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