Why nutrition is just as important as exercise!
You may have heard the phrase "you can't out-exercise a bad diet”!!! It’s pretty difficult to reconcile going to the gym four or five times a week and then popping into you favourite fast food destination and gorging on anaemic french fries, burgers that supposedly contain real beef and then washing it down with a bucket of black sugary caustic carbonated water.
Nutrition and exercise are both important parts of losing fat and gaining muscle and strength. Nutritional habits will have a far greater impact on your body composition goals than any other fitness component. When a combination of exercise and healthy nutrition are implemented this is when successful body change happens. So how do we reach this blissful state of nirvana?
Apply a Nutritional Strategy
We can make huge visible changes to our body composition through good nutrition alone without exercise. However when we add exercise to the mix we can really experience long lasting positive change to our health and wellbeing.
Applying the “80% nutrition-to-20% fitness” rule is simply a statement of the importance nutrition has in the well being equation. Obviously this is not a scientific statement of fact as it is simply based on the generic notion of it is easier to consume more calories than restrict calories.
We have all seen the regulars at the gym doing the same thing day in and day out for several months or even years without seeing changes in terms of fat loss and muscle gain. This is primarily due to the fact that they do not have a nutrition strategy that creates the consistency required to reach their fitness goals. Exercise without a healthy eating strategy and the practice of good habits is not a waste of time, but it is like swimming upstream.
A common question that fitness professionals are asked is: “What percentage of my goals will be a result of exercise, and what percentage will be a result of my diet?”
Stock answers that are reflected back to the client include: “They are both important, but percentages can’t really be assigned" or the well-known “100% training and 100% diet.” These answers are so bland and vague that they possibly cause more harm than good and end up confusing the client.
“BS” answers like this don't address the goals and vision of success that the client is seeking, especially for those fitness journey newbies who are unsure of what direction to take after spending hours on instagram getting bombarded with buzzwords, supplement advice and hundreds of bootie exercises….no make that thousands which is a story for another day!!!
The best answer would be that nutrition has the largest impact on body changes and exercise has the largest impact on the brain/mindset so the two combined are the perfect combination. Toss all percentages aside and focus on finding your pathway and your strategy.
Let’s apply some logic to exercise and nutrition. The normal exerciser (who has a routine) may perform three to four weight training sessions and three to four cardio workouts per week, totalling eight sessions per week. This gives them eight opportunities to make a positive change to their body and mind through exercise.
That same person eats three healthy meals per day and if knowledgeable in the value of meal spacing they may eat five to six times per day.
My attempt at maths shows 21 to 35/42 chances per week to directly and positively impact fat burning and muscle building goals through nutrition.
You Are What You Eat
From the above example nutrition is clearly the winner in positive body composition change opportunities. In fact, at 35 chances per week to improve body composition through nutrition (and eight through exercise), the percentage does come in around 80%.
This leaves 20% resulting from exercise. The assessment of nutrition versus exercise thus is pretty accurate given the numbers.
The equations also indicate, if you want achieve your fitness and nutrition goals, applying 80% of your focus to eating right is a necessary component. There is a caveat though to this. Achieving a high adherence to healthy food choices is difficult, very difficult, in fact very very difficult and that is why we need to address our daily habits, behaviours, systems and processes around food to help make compliance as effortless as possible.
*Note, if you have a history of eating disorders or have a negative relationship with food, this may not be the right approach to eating so feel free to message me to discuss a strategy that can work for you. I would also advise you consult your doctor and/or clinical dietician for their input.
Apply the 80:20 Rule for Results
We have all read success stories of dramatic weight loss or watched those awful shows where exercise is used as punishment in order to achieve body composition change? So let's ignore these and focus on your story and your journey.
Let’s create a new story and create a pathway that works for you and not against you, and allows you enjoy food and enjoy exercise. Let's address some of those behaviours that need to be worked on. Lets create new habits like
- Learning to cook SMART
- Meal planning
- Food prep
- Having your gym gear ready the night before
- Recording your gym sessions and progress
- Recording your meal adherence
Mastering a healthy nutrition strategy that works for you plays the largest role in being able to reach your fitness goals. It may be nice to think positive body changes can be made simply by exercising and popping a few supplements pushed on instagram but applying the 80:20 rule creates the difference and understanding food will be the major player in how you look and feel.
Finally, this is an easy foundation to approach changing body composition but we need to remember it can get a little complicated as stress, sleep patterns, and those damn genetics also play a role. If you would like to find out a little more about how nutrition coaching can work for you please feel free to contact me here!!!
Have and awesome day :)