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Answers to all your fitness questions

Answers to all your fitness questions

Credit: SIPHOTOGRAPHY, THINKSTOCK

Sometimes you just cannot decide between two options, especially when it comes to exercise and health, luckily Interrobang has your back.


Karen Nixon-Carroll | Interrobang | Culture | September 12th, 2016


Topics: Fitness | Health


Which is better?

I often get asked which is better, pitting two fitness or nutrition items against each other. I’ve picked out some of the most popular questions and hope I can help you make a better or more informed choice.

Butter vs. margarine

Neither. Both contain unhealthy saturated or hydrogenated fats and little nutritional value. There are also so many additives in margarine (even the so-called olive oil or healthy ones) that I’m not sure you can call it food.

Bottom line: I would go for small amounts of butter, but use plant oils (olive, sunflower, avocado, etc.) whenever possible.

Cardio vs. weights for weight loss

Both. Weight loss is based on burning more calories than you take in and also by improving your basal metabolic rate (BMR). How much of each of these depends on your goals. Your goals determine the speed, duration, type and factors such as workout time, sessions per week, etc., determine your success. Both of these are extremely hindered by what you eat and your sleeping habits.

Bottom line: if you are struggling with weight loss, you need to ask for help from someone that can give you a plan that works best for you.

Free-weights or weight stacked machines for building muscle

Both. Machines generally provide support, especially for your posture, so in some cases, you can lift more weight than free-weights. Free weights allow for greater range of motion and more active recruitment of your core and all those stabilizing muscle groups that machines may miss.

Bottom line: if you are just starting out and are looking to build, machines are the best option for most large muscle groups and keep the free-weights for the smaller groups like biceps. You can eventually make the transition as your core become stronger.

Whey protein vs. plant protein supplements

Neither and both. One thing about supplements is that they can contain some extra things like sugar and salt that you did not intend to have. Another is that nothing can compare to eating whole foods. There are so many ways to get protein from foods (whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, vegetables, some fruits, milk products, eggs and animal meat). There are many other benefits to these foods and they are usually much cheaper than a supplement.

However, I understand that powder has its place, especially for busy lives and smoothie lovers. Personally, I’m not able to tolerate some milk products like whey, so I opt for plant protein powder like hemp, kale, chickpea or pumpkin seed. The difference is that whey contains all the nine essential amino acids you need on a daily basis and plant sources may be missing one or more, but some may have been added in (especially if the powder is a blend of many plant sources). The plant powders are sometimes cheaper too.

Bottom line: eat real, un-processed food as often as you can and only supplement when you absolutely need to.
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