It still amazes me when I hear people talking about nutrition and physical fitness as if they were completely unrelated. They wonder why, having worked so hard in the gym, that they never manage to get past that plateau. Or even that, having worked so hard in the gym, they are always run down, have the sniffles or sore throat.
For me, the answer is simple. They do not reach their full potential because nutrition and physical fitness go hand in hand.
Pick up a weightlifting book or ask any athlete or read any fitness magazine and they’ll all tell you how the two are inextricably linked.
Okay, most of these athletes are genetically gifted, and all have the greatest of personal trainers and equipment to hand, but if it wasn’t for sound nutrition they wouldn’t have attained their ultimate level of fitness.
But fitness is not only about reaching peak performance in any particular physical area. For example, some of my buddies have extremely good maximum strength. They can lift enormous weights in the gym, far more than I ever could.
But does this make them fitter than me? Healthier than me?
Not at all!
Fitness is about dealing in the best possible way with the stresses that life throws at you – it’s not only about exercise. But it is about warding off illnesses and diseases, and recovering quickly when you get them. It is about maintaining a strong, injury free body. It is about keeping a strong emotional balance.
And the only way this can be achieved is through exercise and a good nutrition plan (and plenty of rest).
That’s why nutrition and physical fitness should always be considered together. The goal of each is the same, and each has a limiting effect without the other.
Nutrition and Your Health
I’ve written a nutrition guide which covers the elements of nutrition and how to construct your healthy diet should you wish to delve right in.
But if you want to understand more about the benefits of both nutrition and exercise then stay right here!
We’ll start with nutrition . . .
The obvious one that we all have to consider at some point is body composition. Or, another way, how fat we are.
Having a knowledge of healthy nutrition will aid you in keeping your weight at an optimum level. Why is this important?
Because obesity has been directly linked with many illnesses and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and countless others.
So it stands to reason, that maintaining your weight at a healthy optimum should minimise the risk of developing these illnesses.
And then there’s your energy levels . . .
If you were to keep a diary of exactly how you felt after scoffing down a bag of sweets or bar of chocolate, you’d start to see a pattern. Your body reacts to this sudden spike in blood sugar levels by releasing insulin, which converts the excess blood sugar into glycogen (the storage form of sugar).
And this makes you feel lethargic (and possible with low mood). Which leads to eating more sweets or chocolate to pick yourself back up again. And so on . . .
A balanced diet, with a range of carbohydrate sources (I’m thinking complex carbohydrates here), will ensure your energy release is gradual. This prevents the surge of insulin, which in turn keeps your energy levels stable.
Obviously, when it comes to physical exercise, your energy level is key to getting the most out of your sessions.
The benefits of physical exercise are equally important.
Research has shown unequivocally that regular exercise can protect and minimise your risk of contracting the same illnesses and diseases mentioned above under nutrition. So no need to expand on this any further!
And then there’s your energy levels. Have you ever seen a lethargic athlete? Look closely at the people around you. Which or your friends or family are full of energy and live an active lifestyle? And which lead a sedentary lifestyle, unable to participate, falling asleep straight after work?
I expect this answer is like a slap in the face – it’s shockingly obvious! The fit and active friends and family have more energy, lead a fuller life, and are likely more optimistic and happy in general.
Summary of Nutrition and Physical Fitness
Hopefully you can see from the short discussion above that nutrition and physical fitness go hand in hand. Taking each individually, you can see that the health benefits are the same. They both reduce the risk of contracting these deadly illnesses and diseases, and both add to your general well being.
A sound nutrition plan gives you more energy, which in turn leads you to exercise optimally, which gives you even more energy to lead a fuller, happier life!