Q: I hear so many conflicting reports when it comes to high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Is it really as bad as some people say it is?
A: Let’s be clear — HFCS is not good for you. It certainly doesn’t offer any health benefits, that’s for sure. But if you’ve been convinced that it poses additional health risks compared to sugar, or is simply worse for you from a health perspective, then you may need to rethink things. The preponderance of the scientific evidence indicates that high-fructose corn syrup and sugar, or sucrose, affect the body in very similar ways. Unfortunately, some health professionals have ignored this research when discussing HFCS with the general public and/or the media. I think some of this misinformation stems from the name of the ingredient itself. Fructose is known to have several adverse metabolic effects on the body, so based on the name, one might assume that high-fructose corn syrup does indeed pose additional health risks above and beyond that of traditional sugar. However, HFCS is not really high in fructose. In fact, it has about the same amount of fructose as regular table sugar, which is comprised of equal parts fructose and glucose. Bottom line — avoid HFCS as much as possible because it’s considered a source of empty calories, and it’s devoid of nutritional value.
Q: My personal trainer has been trying to get me to do Olympic lifts, but I’m a little apprehensive. What do you think?
A: If you have a good trainer and he or she thinks you’re ready for some Olympic lifts, I say go for it. Olympic lifts are great because most of them are multi-joint, full-body exercises. The movements used by most recreational weight lifters are isolation exercises, so you should relish the opportunity to utilize the muscles of the entire body in a coordinated fashion. Olympic lifts are designed to help increase strength and power (think strength at high speed), and amazingly enough, they positively affect your cardiovascular system, too. Another benefit is the fact that significant volume (sets x reps) is not needed, meaning you can do an effective workout in less time compared to more traditional forms of strength training. It is important to be properly trained on form, however, since these lifts typically involve heavier weights and overhead training.
Information provided by Chris Palso, owner, Anytime Fitness, West Des Moines, 225-3224, www.anytimefitness.com.