Regular physical activity is essential for getting stronger, staying healthy, and living longer. Most doctors recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. While this is sound advice, you may not experience all the benefits if your exercise nutrition is poor. It’s important to understand how nutrition, both good and bad, plays a role in the effectiveness of your workouts. Your health and wellness and fitness nutrition have a cause and effect relationship.
Consequences of Poor Nutrition
No matter how hard or how often you work out, bad eating habits can throw a wrench in your progress. While the occasional indulgence isn’t likely to have much of an effect, making junk food a staple of your diet can erase the benefits of your efforts. Here are just a few of the consequences you’ll experience from poor wellness and fitness nutrition.
1. Low Energy
Most junk food is full of sugar. The simple sugars found in treats like donuts or cookies spike your blood sugar. This gives you an instant energy burst, but that high is immediately followed by a quick crash. If you’ve planned a long exercise session, the sugar you get from unhealthy snacks is not likely to provide you with enough energy to power through the workout. Your form and intensity will suffer, and you may not even be able to finish your routine.
2. Reduced Muscle Definition
Exercise builds muscle. Although it is possible to put on muscle while eating a poor diet, you won’t see the best results. If your diet doesn’t contain enough of the correct nutrients, your body will struggle to build new muscle. If you overeat, you’ll put on muscle as well as fat. Fat will build up under your skin and on top of your muscle, so you won’t be able to easily see the results you’ve spent hard hours in the gym fighting for.
3. Tummy Trouble
Junk food can cause heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. If you indulge in a fatty or sugary meal before exercising, you may start to feel sick in the middle of your treadmill run or weightlifting reps. A workout routine done while feeling ill will end up being lackluster or even incomplete. Worst-case scenario: you gain notoriety at your gym for being “that guy/girl who threw up on the stair-climber.”
Benefits of Proper Nutrition
Wellness and fitness nutrition go hand-in-hand. If you fuel your body with the right foods, you’ll get more out of your workout. Combine physical activity with good eating habits to achieve greater results.
1. Build Muscle
Lifting weights and doing squats will only get you so far. Pairing your strength training activities with good exercise nutrition will help you build muscle faster and more efficiently. Foods that are high in protein give your body the amino acids necessary to build and repair muscle tissue. Your body can then recover from intense exercise faster, reducing the amount of time you need to rest between workouts.
2. Increase Energy
Proper nutrition for exercise includes carbohydrates. Foods like brown rice, pasta, and whole grain breads are low in fat and provide your body with long-lasting energy. If you plan a workout routine consisting of an hour or more of aerobic activity, carbohydrates can keep you from crashing.
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3. Feel Better Physically
You won’t feel like working out if you’re dragged down by a fatty pre-exercise meal. A well-balanced diet of protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables, with small amount of healthy fats (think: a slice of avocado or a couple of almonds), will psyche you up for a successful exercise routine. You can sustain your energy through long runs and high-intensity exercises alike. A healthy stomach free of gastrointestinal problems can prevent nausea, so you don’t need to slow down.
4. Feel Better Mentally
An unhealthy diet may play a role in anxiety and depression. When your mood is low, it’s hard to get interested in hitting the gym. Foods rich in Vitamin B-12, folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids may combat depression. Add foods like salmon, almonds, leafy vegetables, and flax seeds to your diet to boost your mental health and keep you motivated to stay on top of your physical health.
Your overall wellness and fitness nutrition are inextricably linked. Good eating habits can help you build on your exercise program and maximize positive results. For optimal health, focus on nutrition for exercise. Save the junk food for an occasional treat and fuel up with the proper amount of protein, carbs, and other healthy foods. Your body will thank you for it!