How many times have you gave it your all, sixty minutes of sweating and pushing until your muscles had nothing left, only to take a quick shower and meet your friends for pizza and drinks? While this is something almost all of us can relate to, have you thought about the impact it has on your workouts? Too often, we think that working out allows us to “earn” certain foods. There’s no problem with treating yourself to your favourite foods occasionally. But, fitness and nutrition work together.
While we each choose to exercise and eat certain foods for different reasons, you shouldn’t focus on one over the other. Both exercise and nutrition have strong impacts on our body and health. Instead of trying to calculate how many calories you just burned or simply eat the first thing you can get your hands on after the gym, think about how the choices you make nurture your body and contribute to overall health.
Here are five reasons to combine good nutrition with physical activity:
1. Healthy eating improves your exercise capabilities and recovery.
During exercise (especially strength training) tiny injuries or micro-tears are created in the muscle. This allows the body to build it back up, increasing strength and muscle size. For the muscle to grow and repair, it needs amino acids from protein. Eating protein and carbohydrates after a workout stimulates healing and recovery. Snacks like yoghurt with muesli or a banana with peanut butter are easy options.
2. Exercise requires energy, and food gives you energy.
Throughout the day, our body is using glucose (sugar) to maintain all important functions. Glucose is your body’s preferred source of energy, especially for brain and muscle tissue. During exercise, our muscles burn through the fuel quickly. Eating before exercise gives your body a boost of energy and has been shown to improve performance. Try reaching for fresh fruit before your workout instead of a protein shake or heavy meal.
3. Both healthy eating and physical- activity are associated with improved health.
Unfortunately, across the globe chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are rapidly increasing. In Myanmar alone, the number of cases of diabetes is estimated to rise to over 3.4 million, an increase of 73% from 2013. While not entirely preventable, these conditions are strongly linked to lack of exercise and a poor diet. But, there’s hope! Studies have shown that lifestyle changes that combine healthy eating and regular exercise strongly decrease your risk of multiple chronic diseases.
4. If weight loss is your goal, healthy eating and regular exercise are essential.
The first step most people take when trying to lose weight is to either embark on a new diet or join a gym. While both of these can be helpful, restrictive diets usually just lead to short-term weight loss, and exercise doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as we’re led to believe. Instead of worrying about the calories in versus calories out equation, most people who successfully lose and maintain a weight loss of more than 10 pounds exercise at least 5 times each week AND make healthy food choices, especially at breakfast. For help with accountability, keep a journal recording your workouts and meal/snack choices.
5. Long term success
Good health and confidence are two huge benefits that come from exercise and good nutrition. Consistency is a key element. A fad diet might help you lose weight fast, but also increases your risk of yo-yo dieting or a cycle of losing and regaining weight. To feel your healthiest and happiest long-term, find a sustainable lifestyle routine that works best for your body. Try focusing on how you feel, and learn about proper exercise and nutrition strategies that will keep you healthy for years. The reality is that you can’t out exercise a bad diet, and it’s really difficult to reach your health and fitness goals without paying attention to the foods that fuel your body. It can be confusing with all of the conflicting advice and increasing amounts of fad diets claiming to be the magical cure. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t look the same for everybody. Lasting success comes from an individual eating plan that works best for you. That’s why at FORM, we pair individually created exercise plans with tailored nutrition to maximize your fitness and reach your personal goals.
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