Many people are disappointed if their exercise program doesn’t lead to the toned body or weight loss they hoped. What they don't realize is how closely nutrition and exercise results are linked.
Almost everyone notices improved stamina and strength, higher energy levels, better mood, and better health when he or she works out regularly—and almost everyone notices some physical change in the way his or her body looks. However, countless people work out for hours and hours each week, yet fail to make substantial progress with their body tone and weight loss.
While at first this may not make sense, if you think closely about the dynamics of what happens when you exercise, it makes all the sense in the world!
I’m going to use the analogy of building a house to help you understand why good nutrition is so important. Let’s assume that you have a world-renowned architect design a building plan for your new house. You might expect your new house to be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. However, what happens if the building materials your contractor uses to build the house are of poor quality? What happens if you have extras of some parts and not enough of other parts? What if the tools used don’t work properly? What if the laborers are incompetent or lazy? No matter how good the building plan is, the house will come out poorly if the tools, materials, and labor aren’t up to par.
You can look at an exercise program as analogous to the building plan of a house. Your exercise program specifies the procedures that must be followed to “build” a stronger, more fit body. The building materials are like the foods that compose your diet. Every single cell in your body is produced as a byproduct of the food you eat each and every day. Every cell in your body is replaced at a specific rate--every six months, your body has completely re-generated itself. Your body uses the foods you’ve been eating for the past six months to accomplish this.
Specifically, your body uses proteins from your food to form the structural component of your muscles. Fats (the essential fats such as what’s found in fish oil) become part of every cell membrane in the body. No matter how good the exercise program design is, if you’re not getting adequate proteins and essential fats in the diet, the exercise program won’t yield good results, because the materials used to build with are simply inadequate.
Carbohydrates don’t form the actual physical structure of your body like proteins and fats do, but carbohydrates are analogous to the laborers when building a house: they supply the energy that allows the work to get done. Fats can be burned for energy too, but carbohydrates provide fuel for the brain, and carbs are required for fuel if you perform high-intensity exercise such as weight-training.
Vitamins and minerals (from the foods you eat as well as the supplements you take) serve the same purpose as the tools used to build something. Vitamins and minerals are what allow the chemical reactions in your body to take place that “put everything together.” In order for your body to be able to process food for energy and for re-building, certain chemical reactions are required that cannot take place without the vitamins and minerals. This is similar to the situation of needing a screwdriver to twist in the screw when you’re building a house. Without that screwdriver, the screw and the wood are pretty much useless. In a similar fashion, without vitamins and minerals, your body cannot take the food you eat and put it to good use.
Due to all the reasons above, nutrition is responsible for about 80% of the weight loss and body toning results you get from a workout program. You’re actually better off with a mediocre exercise program and great nutrition than you are with stellar exercise program but poor nutrition. Make sure you focus on what you’re putting in your mouth just as much as what you’re putting on the bar when you train!
Click here for more nutrition and exercise articles by Gina Paulhus
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