Losing weight and improving your performance involves multiple entities. With that said, a big domino in the equation of self-improvement involves nutrition.
Many men and women exercise week-in and week-out but have very little results to show for it. This is, unfortunately, a common occurrence at most gyms. No amount of high-intensity workouts can save you if your nutrition isn’t dialed in.
If you’re working out consistently and with a good level of intensity but your body fat isn’t decreasing, then exercising more isn’t the answer. Instead, it’s time to reevaluate your diet. Here are four reasons why you can’t out train a bad diet.
Food quality and nutrients matter
The myth of out training a bad diet has its origin stemming from the conventional thinking that calories in equals calories out. While weight loss requires someone to be in a caloric deficit, there is much more to this equation than simple math.
Your body is going to process foods differently even if they possess the same caloric amounts. 500 calories from steamed vegetables are different from 500 calories from a Twix bar. When you view your body as a simple calorie counting machine, you’re neglecting the importance of hormones which play a starring role in the long-lasting effects of fat loss.
The foods you eat essentially signal hormones to build or break down muscle along with storing or burning fat among a plethora of other responsibilities.
Compare spinach to vanilla ice cream and those calories are going to trigger different reactions within your body. One key factor is sugar from the ice cream driving up your insulin levels which slows fat burning and increases the likelihood of fat being stored. Spinach would lead to triggering more weight friendly hormones such as glucagon to help with burning energy.
Before we go any further, don’t think of sugar as being evil or something to avoid altogether. Instead, view food in general as information and think about the type of nutrients being consumed on a regular basis. If your diet is full of sugar-filled foods with low nutrient profiles, then obtaining your desired body isn’t going to happen.
Figure out your target number of calories and then eat high nutrient foods that are minimally processed to make up your daily caloric intake.
You’re not burning as many calories as you think
Those high-intensity workouts and jam-packed boot camps may conjure out a hefty sweat, but you’re not burning as many calories as you think from those sessions. During a 20 minute Crossfit style workout, the average amount of calories burned are around 260 calories.
If you engage in some high impact cardio training for 40-45 minutes, you could expect to burn 800-1000 calories. That sounds like a plethora of calories and it is. But, it’s also too easy to eat 800-1000 calories of food in 3 minutes once you factor in oils, sauces, and serving sizes.
That effort to burn 1000 calories is exponentially more difficult than it is to eat 1000 calories. The bad diet is going to win each time.
However, here’s the group that’s exempt from this logic—competitive athletes. They work out constantly for multiple hours daily and need an influx of calories.
Unless you’re training at that high of a level, then sticking with one to two indulgent meals on a weekly basis is the way to go in order to keep progressing.
Your mood can be affected
With nutrition, input equals output. Food isn’t just something that affects your appearance, it’s something that can affect your mood (especially depression).
Certain foods and nutrient deficiencies trigger physiological and chemical changes within your brain, which in turn alter your emotions and behaviors.
For example, a diet low in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with higher incidents of depression, pessimism, poor memory, and impulsivity. Other nutrients such as B-vitamins can lead to low energy and chronic fatigue over the long term.
Your chances of injury and illnesses increase
There are many nutritional fads in existence, but it’s best to avoid them in order of running the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Both a low-fat and a low-carb diet can lead to health problems due to the missing of key nutrients.
For example, using a low carb diet could lead to key micronutrients being left out and increased inflammation within the body, which both raise the percentages of getting injured. Using a low-fat diet combined with intense exercise could lower your immunity which leads to increased susceptibility of various illnesses.
Studies have found that the chances of overuse injuries (think tendonitis and stress fractures) increase when not taking in an adequate amount of healthy fats.
Macronutrients and micronutrients all serve a purpose and when one is left out, the body becomes imbalanced and falls into a suboptimal state.
Nutrition may seem confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re attempting to tighten up your diet, here are three quick tips to use to make the process simpler.
Focus only on what to eat
— No need to focus on everything that you shouldn’t eat. Instead, approach from a more psychologically-friendly angle and think about everything you can and should be eating.
Baby steps are more-than-enough
— No need to force yourself to go cold turkey, make small habitual changes that can stick for the long haul. Small and consistent actions eventually add up to become monumental achievements.
Indulge without any guilt
— We all have vices and foods we love. Long-term success with nutrition is about including the things you love with the things that build you up into a better and stronger human. Stick to the nourishing food 80-90 percent of the time and indulge with the remaining percentage.
Working out helps with fat loss, but a healthy and sustainable diet is the captain that steers the fat loss operation.