All About Fitness

Exercise and Fitness: Questions & Answers

Gina Jackson - Fitness Trainer
Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Gina Jackson, who is our resident exercise and fitness expert and who is available to answer all your questions about exercising and fitness. Gina has a private practice and is available for consultation.

Gina answers all your exercise and fitness questions below:

Q: I'm underweight and need to gain weight. I am 157cm and about 42kg - female.

I do a lot of exercise at the gym and am trying to do more weights. I need to increase my diet, but I am concerned about having more fat in my food as i want to gain muscle, not fat.

I am currently drinking soya milk but don't know whether to switch to drinking lots of skimmed milk so I can have more kcal (energy) and protein, but less fat. Similarly, I eat oatcakes rather than bread, but they are higher in fat - so would bread be better?

Any advice would be great.


A: Resistance training, coupled with a healthy diet - inclusive of protein, complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats - is essential to strength and muscle development. I advise clients to eat 5-6 small meals daily - healthy protein, dark green leafy vegetables and brightly colored vegetables/fruit and "liquid" (polyunsaturated) fats. The latter can be easily obtained from olive oils, canola oils, peanut oils vs saturated fats, such as butter, margarine, animal fat. Unsaturated ("good") fats are also found in avocado, nuts and seeds.

Our bodies need each, protein, carbs and fats - in balance - for our systems to operate properly.

Regarding your specific question of "bread being better" depends upon the amount of energy you are expending in your strength and weight training regimen. Whole grain breads will provide needed fiber and be a great energy source for the active individual. If you are seeking to gain weight while you are building muscle, you will need to build up the fuel stores in your body (whole grain pasta and breads, whole milk can be good sources in balance with protein and fats, as mentioned earlier) so that you provide your system with enough "caloric fuel" to withstand your training and still have a surplus such that you add overall weight to your frame.

You have not identified your age, but given your height and weight, I would recommend minimizing your cardio programming and increasing your strength and resistance training to build muscle as you focus on healthy dietary habits.


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