Each week our resident expert and editor in chief answers your health, life and fitness questions. Samantha Ann Leete is a fitness model with a passion for brownies. She helps others strike the right balance with her realistic approach to health and fitness.
How much cardio should I do?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer so I’m not going to tell you how much cardio you should or shouldn’t be doing, although I can give you some tips on how to decide what’s right for you.
The most important things to consider are: what your goals are, how your body responds to cardio and what your preference is. When you’re doing long, low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio – especially if it’s for more than 45 minutes – your body will start burning muscle for fuel instead of fat.
If you’re looking to maintain or build muscle, keep LISS sessions under 30 minutes or cut them out completely. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best way to burn excess body fat in a short amount of time – it only takes a maximum of 20 minutes to do.
If you’re still unsure how much cardio you should do after evaluating your goals, start modestly by performing two or three sessions of 20-30 minutes per week. Do that for one or two weeks, evaluate your progress and make adjustments if necessary.
Do I need to stick to organic chicken?
While some studies by the Compassion in World Farming group do show organic chicken has more omega-3 fatty acids, there’s no major nutritional difference between conventional and organic chicken.
Conventional chicken is low in fat to start with, and both are good sources of protein. So based on nutrition alone, there isn’t enough evidence to make buying organic chicken worth the money. It could be worth the investment if you’re worried about food poisoning, genetically modifyed organisms (GMOs) or how the chicken was raised from an ethical standpoint.
In order to be certified organic, chicken farms must follow a strict set of guidelines and be inspected annually to ensure those standards are met. They’re legally prohibited from using any feed that contains animal by-products, antibiotics or GMOs that have been altered through genetic engineering, and they cannot be grown using persistent pesticides or chemical fertilisers. They’re also prohibited from giving drugs, antibiotics and hormones to organic birds, and all birds must have outdoor access.
To make sure any kind of bird is safe to eat, look for it to be plump – not dry – and make sure to check the ‘sell by’ date. And remember: when in doubt, sniff it out.
I’m currently going to school, working full-time and have other commitments I can’t afford to look a mess for. I want to make working out a priority but can’t even fit in just an hour’s session per day. Any suggestions?
My first piece of advice is to set and commit to a goal that’s realistic, and drop all of the excuses. Once you have a clear goal, you’ll be more apt to settle for a cute ponytail for your meetings instead of needing a bombshell blowout. Second: prepare a gym bag full of essentials that will help you get refreshed and out the door in 5-10 minutes after a tough workout. Here are some things to buy a spare of so you can keep them in your gym bag at all times: face wipes, deodorant, tinted moisturiser, dry shampoo, body wash and tinted lip balm. Knowing you’re completely prepared will help you focus your time on your workout and not stress about what you’ll look like afterwards.
Find expert advice and more in every issue of TRAIN for HER magazine.