Why You Can't Out Train a Bad Diet and What To Do About It
Here's the simple truth: regardless of how much you do, exercise will never make up for regularly over eating. Justifying an indulgent meal or junk food binge by thinking you'll just "burn off" the extra calories with "extra" exercise doesn't work. This is especially true when we compare the amount of calories consumed with the actual number of calories we've burned while performing our ritual penance at the gym.
When we consider the fact that all calories are not created equal, the disparity grows even further. And, because different types of calories affect our hormones and metabolism differently, the simple calories in vs. calories out theory falls apart. There are instances when total daily calories consumed come into play, but that's when the quality of the food you eat should get greater attention.
Expecting your body to be healthy and efficiently burn fat while fueling it with loads of booze and comfort foods is -- a fantasy. It'd be like expecting your car to run properly after repeatedly filling the tank with sub-par fuel. You'll still get it to go, albeit with a few more knocks and sputtering from the engine.
Processed carbohydrates, refined sugar, or soda only give you a sugar high. They do not provide your body the best building blocks for peak performance at the gym or in real life. You must eat quality protein, non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and the right amount of carbohydrates for your body and particular level of activity.
So, what about just dropping your overall daily calorie intake? Well, be forewarned -- severely restricting calories and/or carbohydrates has a significant side effect: you won't have the energy to train properly.
Skimping on calories and/or carbs will only leave you feeling weak. Extreme calorie deprivation (especially when paired with strenuous exercise) could have you drawing energy from your precious muscles in order to compensate for the energy needed to fuel your movements. Also, cutting down on healthy fats to focus on weight loss will place a choke-hold on your body's ability to process fat-soluble vitamins like A & D and omega 3's.
These nutrients are important because they assist in hormone regulation, insulin and testosterone. Without them, your body is limited in its ability to build and repair muscle tissue. These hormones (in the right amounts) play a vital role in stoking the body's metabolism via thyroid health and muscle mass.
However, building lean muscle mass won't matter if you aren't eating right, because you just won't have the physical mojo to push through a rigorous workout. That's because diet and exercise are codependent.
Eat well today, and you'll have more energy to burn tomorrow. And, when you have more energy, you move more. Slack off by not eating quality nutrient-dense foods, and you will be left with a feeling of lethargy. This is the opposite of how you want to feel when you're hitting the gym.
Plus, inadequate nutrition can lower your body's ability to fight off disease. Research suggests the immune system predominantly resides within your gut. If you are always eating foods that cause inflammation and lead to leaky gut, you are much more likely to become ill.
Eating low-quality fare can eventually lead to severe micronutrient deficiencies that may result in systemic inflammation throughout the body. Combined with the body's limited ability to recuperate from stress, and this scenario can make you more susceptible to physical injury (like stress fractures and tendonitis) while training, too.
Despite the rather glum truths on why nutrition should always come first and why you can't out train a bad diet; there are a few things you can do to optimize your nutrition and support your training.
Eat protein with each meal. Women should aim for 1 palm-size (20-30 grams) portion while males should strive for 2 palm-size (40-60 grams) portions of protein at every meal. Protein provides amino acids that are the building blocks for muscle growth, repair, and preservation. Do not ignore this rule: YOU MUST EAT PROTEIN!
Eat up to two servings of non-starchy vegetables at every meal. Greens and cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and loaded with phytonutrients that support your body in many ways.
Limit your consumption of starchy carbohydrates until after your strength training sessions. Adding the appropriate amount of starchy carbs (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, plantains, etc.) after your training session will help optimize fat loss.
Lastly, these recommendations will (and should) vary from person to person depending on their specific fitness goals, training intensity, and particular genetics. So, use your head and make common sense adjustments to your personal intake based on how you are looking, feeling, and performing.
And, remember, nutrition and exercise go hand in hand for a healthy life and a fit body, but you'll never be able to train your way to a lean and healthy body if you're continuing to make poor eating decisions outside of the gym.
Eating well on the go is completely doable if you plan in advance and have strategies in place that will help you make good choices. I can teach you which healthy snacks can complement your weight-loss plan and satisfy your hunger while helping you move toward a healthier, ‘better’ you.
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Until next time; own your age, love your life, and keep moving toward a better you!