Nutrition is NOT 70% of fitness & health
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You’ve probably heard the saying: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Well, I disagree. Not long ago, I read an article by someone, stating that nutrition is 70% of fitness and health and I have to say, I strongly disagree with that statement. In fact, I think you could in many ways argue that those numbers should be reversed and I will explain why below.
I do believe working out is much more important than nutrition but before writing any further, I want to make something very clear: I am not in any way saying that nutrition is not important. If physical exercise is the most important thing that you can do in life (it 100% is), then nutrition is a close second. In other words, just because working out is more important doesn’t mean you should ignore what you put inside your body, on the contrary. I also have a wife who is a nutritionist and who wrote the book The Melt-off Plan on nutrition so clearly, I am not going to undermine the value of healthy nutrition. I also want to point out that sadly, nutrition is becoming more and more important to us, due to the abundance of it. Ironically, what used to be one of the most common causes of death, starvation, has now been replaced with its solution, food. That in itself is sad but what is even sadder is that our main problem is the food produced by other humans that is truly killing us, such as GMOs, chemicals, maltreatment of animals, etc. If you go back some 50 years, I would argue that nutrition was even less important. However, by paying attention to the overload of calories available to us and the poor quality of them makes it a lot easier to also monitor moderate and good quality calories.
Physical health benefits
First and foremost, moving our bodies is a must. There is no other way of training your most important muscle, the heart, for example. But there are so many other benefits of training the body that just good nutrition won’t take care of. Additional benefits include more bone density, increased metabolism, stronger muscles, better range of motion, to just name a few.
Training your lungs, training your oxygen uptake, increasing your blood flow, training your muscles is vital when it comes to not only quantity of life but also quality! If the working out that you do also involves learning a skill, such as playing a sport or martial arts, you also have the potential of learning some very important social attributes, such as lowering the fear of failure, learning to focus and being more disciplined. If the sport involves team mates, you also learn communication skills and conflict-resolution. If you look at the main reason nutrition and exercise is ever discussed, weight loss, both exercise and nutrition will give you both. However, when we look at weight loss, we shouldn’t just look at the kilos or pounds lost but also look at what weight has been lost? Quality, not just quantity. The two main things we usually look at are fat and muscles. We can all agree on that one we want, the other we don’t. If we restrict the calorie intake so that we eat less calories than we burn, then we are going to lose weight. However, even with good nutrition, you will not strengthen your muscles, which means you are only able to preserve whatever muscle mass you already have, at best. If you work out, however, the roles are reversed: You can improve both the size and strength of a muscle with proper nutrition but even if you don’t eat the best, you will still strengthen and grow the muscle(s) through physical stimulus.
Mental Health benefits
When it comes to the mental benefits, the benefits of working out are even more evident. Eating healthy has many advantages on mental health as well but when it comes to relieving stress, anxiety, frustration and depression. Physical exercise has been proven to add blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which helps our rational thought. Another side effect of training the feeling of accomplishment: You planned something, you executed on it and you have the sweat as proof of your hard work, which leads to a sense of accomplishment which in turn leads to a feeling of achievement which over time helps increase your confidence. If you work out with some intensity, you will also increase your lactic acid threshhold, wich in turn Additionally, working out releases endorphins, also known as the “Runner’s high”. One of the most important benefits perhaps is that through rigorous training, you will also improve your mental strength.
I want to once again stress the importance of doing both: exercising and eating well. There are many benefits that will only truly be achieved if you do both and ultimately, you will see results much faster if you burn the candle from both ends. And results, is all that matters because results means motivation and motivation means more results and achievements and achievements lead to more self confidence and more self worth! However, personally I’d rather eat well most of the time and once in a while be able to cheat, because what fun would life be if you could never allow yourself a treat? If I train regularly, this won’t be a problem, since I have a well-functioning metabolism, who will burn those calories. On the contrary, your metabolism won’t improve if you don’t exercise and thus, having a cheat day will only up your calorie intake and thus, add weight to your body. Ultimately what you want is for it to be a lifestyle. If you’re constantly “on a diet” that restricts you from ever enjoying treats or making exceptions, it’s very unlikely that you’ll stick to it for very long. Ask a question below on