EVERY MONTH WE ANSWER THE KEY FITNESS QUESTIONS
QIknow people who soak almonds before eating them. Is there any scientific backing to this?
‘This has been a topic in the alternative nutrition world for some time,’ says performance nutritionist Ben Coomber (bencoomber.com) ‘The theory goes that soaking breaks down phytic acid in the nut so the body can digest its nutrients more effectively.’ Sounds good, but does it work? ‘Nature has many defence mechanisms against being eaten, including toxins, but rarely in amounts that are problematic,’ Coomber says. ‘So until science backs this up, I’d continue to eat those almonds straight from the bag.’
Q Willspeed-laces improve my triathlon time?
These small bungee cords allow you to tighten your shoes quickly but unless you’re already pushing the limits of your ability, they won’t carry you onto the podium. However, they might make your life easier. ‘Try them and find out if there is a consistent fit every time you pull them on and if you can adjust the fit while running,’ suggests British Triathlon Federation coach Vanessa Gunner (serpentine.org.uk).
Q I’mtall and lanky and struggle to do back squats, but people keep telling me it’s pointless to train without them. What do I do?
‘Split squats open up your hip flexors, allowing you to lower safely into the squat,’ says W10 Performance coach Steve Kowalenko. But it’s not just your hips you need to focus on. ‘You also need to work on your thoracic muscles with exercises such as seated rows, which enable you to keep your chest upright and hold the bar safely in place.’
Q Ihave to fit my training around my family and long working hours, so the only time I can really train is 6am – and it’s a struggle. How do I make it easier? Danny, Leicester
We admire your dedication, Danny. ‘Planning is key for early-morning workouts,’ says personal trainer and nutritionist Glenn Higgins (glennhigginsfitness.com). ‘At the start of the week, set in stone the days you are going to train and plan the sessions. The night before the early-morning session, prep your preworkout meal and lay your gym gear out ready to jump into with your bag packed.’ Finally, put your favourite tunes on – a study in the Journal Of Sport Behavior found that music reduces perceived exertion in sub-maximal exercise.
Q Lastissue you said microwaving pasta had some health benefits. Isn’t microwaving food generally bad for you?
Short answer: no. ‘Introducing heat, water or air to food will destroy some nutrients, so you want to keep exposure to a minimum,’ says Jared Williams, owner of Fresh Fitness Foods. ‘In fact, microwave cooking exposes most foods to less heat and water for a far shorter period of time, which means fewer vitamins and minerals are destroyed during cooking.’
Plan ahead to reap the benefits of an early