How to balance exercise and nutrition to improve your fitness, health, and lifestyle

How to balance exercise and nutrition to improve your fitness, health, and lifestyle

When it comes to healthy lifestyle, which is more important: eating a balanced diet, or staying active?

What exactly does getting fit mean? For some, this could mean losing fat; for others, it could mean gaining muscle. No matter what your goal is, though, you can’t do it through diet or exercise alone.

The fact of the matter is that both are important when it comes to fitness. But what will differ, depending on your goals, is the type and amount of food you eat and the training you do.

Once you have identified your goals, and remember fitness means something different to every individual, find training and nutrition plans that will help you achieve them.

Set your heart on circuit training

Fix the eating

Burning fat is a common fitness goal and, while exercise can certainly help you to achieve this, there is a popular saying among personal trainers: “you can’t out-train a poor diet”.

To lose excess weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. To put things in perspective, half an hour of running burns around 300 calories – which is the same amount as one 500ml serving of bubble tea. In other words, it’s easy to throw away all of your hard work by eating a lot of high-calorie junk food.

If you are consistently gaining weight, it means you consume more calories on a daily basis than you burn. The best way to change this is by reducing your calorie intake.

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This doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict diet; you can simply start by paying more attention to what and how much you eat and adjust it gradually until you reach your ideal fitness level. Remember, there’s no need to starve yourself; you shouldn't! Sometimes the change can be as simple as cutting out sugary drinks.

Once you have your diet sorted, exercise can help you along your fitness journey. Cardiovascular activities like running, cycling and swimming can help you burn additional calories, while workouts like sprints and weight training can increase your metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories even when you’re resting.

The ultimate lower body workout that you can do at home to get the best results

Building muscle

While burning excess fat requires you to reduce your calorie intake, you’ll need to increase it if you want to put on muscle. That doesn’t mean you get to eat all the cookies, ice cream, and junk food you like; this will, sadly, only help you build fat, not muscle.

The most effective way to build muscle is through lifting weights, or by doing body weight workouts like push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. These activities break down your muscle fibres, forcing them to repair themselves and become stronger and thicker than before.

In order for your muscles to be able to repair themselves properly, they need lots of fuel – specifically protein, which is essential for muscle growth.

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You can get protein through dietary supplements, or through food sources like meat, eggs, milk, nuts, tofu, and beans. If you find that you aren’t building muscle or gaining weight, increase your calorie and protein intake until you do.

As long as you are getting enough protein and training hard then, yes, you can be more relaxed about junk food than someone looking to lose excess weight. 

You should also bear in mind that slow-paced cardiovascular activities like jogging burn extra calories without breaking down muscle. If you do these activities, make sure to eat more to replace those lost calories.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Exercise or nutrition?

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