Often time while chasing wealth, we compromise on our own health, and later, to fix our health, we end up spending most of our wealth. This is like a cycle, and most of the time we see ourselves struggling to break the loop. Now we might not be able to completely change things around, but we can start by understanding the importance of nutrition and fitness in our daily routine.
No mumbo-jumbo, but actually science behind the why’s and how’s.
Are you interested in learning more about what is fitness, why fitness is important, how nutrition plays an important role in our life, and more? If you answered yes to any of the questions, stick around as we bust some myths and understand the logic behind the things.
So, what is fitness?
A quick Google search will tell you that physical fitness is a state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities.
Now this might look good on paper, but in real life, fitness means different things to different people. For some, climbing stairs without getting out of breath would be fitness, while for someone else playing with their kids without constantly feeling tired would be considered as fit. If you go to a gym, for most people their losing fat and building muscle to get a lean and ripped look would be fitness.
In short, not one definition fits everyone. But is there something that does fit everyone?
Well, the answer is yes! Proper nutrition, moderate to vigorous physical exercise that keeps us active and rest is something that we all need for our general well-being.
Let’s understand with an example:
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you eat chips, doughnuts, fried food, ice cream, soda throughout the day? You feel sluggish, and low on energy, right? But now compare it with days when you eat more whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, drink sufficient water, take probiotics and sleep for 7-8 hours. How do you feel? For most of us, we feel high on energy and even our mind is able to better focus on tasks at hand.
Try it once and let me know how you felt.
This explains that why nutrition is important, as it directly impacts how we feel, think and move throughout our day. Now who wants to feel eat highly palatable food but end up feeling like a walking zombie? Well, not me and I don’t think you do either.
So let’s understand the basics of nutrition and how we can fix it to achieve better health.
Importance of nutrition and fitness
When we talk about nutrition, we usually talk about the three macronutrients, i.e. Protein, carbohydrates, and Fat. Now all these plays an important role in our diet, but it is often the most neglected area as well.
You will see many people working out hours in gym but still not getting the desired result. Why? Because the lack proper nutrition knowledge and that delays them from achieving their fitness goals. You may even have seen people going on full starvation mode and eating only salads, removing multiple food groups completely from the diet, yet doing more harm to their health than benefit.
Why is that?
I have written a complete article highlighting the importance of nutrition, and would really encourage you to go through the same, so that you understand the basics better.
Now nutrition is not only important for people who are trying to lose weight or build more muscle, it is important for all human beings. Now, being from India and a vegetarian, we have often notice that most people diet comprise more of carbohydrates and fats, but not enough protein. Now this is a problem as the RDA for protein is atleast 1 gram per kg body weight.
Protein is an essential macronutrient and when consumed, it gets converted into Amino acids. The amino acids carry out a lot of body functions, and one of the major functions it does in muscle protein synthesis, which is responsible for your muscle growth. Protein also boosts metabolism and increase fat burning, along with reducing cravings. Protein have many other benefits as well, like being good for bones, lowering your blood pressure, and more.
Now if this doesn’t convince you to amp up your protein intake, I don’t know what will.
There are about 20 different kinds of amino acids that we get from different protein sources and these amino acids are further categorized into essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The quantity of the protein required for a person depends on the activity of that person.
For example; there is a sedentary individual who required very little protein can keep his/her protein intake at around 1.2 gm per kg of lean body weight per day, however; as soon as the activity levels increase and he is playing a sport or something, the requirement will increase to 1.4 gm per kg of lean body weight per day. But, if you are a person who goes through a lot of resistance training or maybe weight training and does a lot of damage to your muscles, the requirement further increases and it is optimal to keep your protein intake between 1.6 gm to as high as 2.2 gm per kg of lean body weight per day.
Now, let’s talk about the most important macronutrient and i.e. Fats
Fat is an energy-dense macronutrient. What I mean by that is 1 gm of fat gives you 9 kcal. For example, if you take a tbsp of oil, which is about 14 gm of fat gives you about 126 calories from it. Fats are further classified into saturated fats and unsaturated fats and of course, there is an unhealthy form called Trans fat, which you need to avoid.
However; I would still like to point out that we don’t have strong evidence that saturated fats are going to cause cardiovascular diseases. So, it is a personal preference for you to include saturated fats as part of your diet.
Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make itself. Fat helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. These vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they can only be absorbed with the help of fats. Fat also helps keep our body insulated.
The RDA of fats is around 20-30% of total calories.
Note: keep saturated fats to 10% only to avoid cholesterol and other heart health problems
Now let us discuss one of the most popular macronutrients is Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate is a non-essential macronutrient which means that human beings can survive without consuming a lot of carbs or maybe just consuming a negligible amount of carbs for the rest of their life. But if you are looking at the essentiality aspect, you need proteins and fats to survive but you might also want to look at the optimality aspect where you want to perform better in activities which you perform and the quality of life to be improved, then you need to have a certain amount of carbs as a part of your diet.
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy and clearly, who doesn’t love carbs! They help fuel our brain, kidneys, central nervous system.
Now most people don’t know that fiber is a carbohydrate, which aids in digestion, helps us feel satiated, and keeps blood cholesterol levels in check. Also, fiber is low in calories, which makes it an excellent choice to add in our diet while we are on fat loss program.
Lets understand that 1 gm of carbohydrates gives you 4 kcal and whatever carbohydrates you eat as a part of your diet will give you a lot of calories which needs to be accounted for in your total caloric intake.
Now that you understand the importance of nutrition, let’s talk about you can use this information and reach your fitness goals.
If your goal is to lose fat, I have written an article talking in detail about calorie deficit for fat loss which I think will benefit you.
Being on a calorie deficit diet doesn’t mean that you cannot eat your favorite food. You just have to be smart about the same. So instead of eating high calorie, highly processed food, you would swap with high protein and high fiber options.
Also, you can include all (most) of your favorite food items in your diet, just by being mindful about it. You can lose weight while eating an ice cream bar everyday. Now doesn’t that sounds great?
Some people also follow what we call “If It Fits In Your Macros”. This is nothing but adjusting the macros (Protein, Carbs, Fats) of your choice of the dish in your plan, while still being on a calorie deficit. Let’s say, you want doughnuts. Now, there’s two way you can manage this situation. Make air-fried/baked doughnuts at home using the ingredients you have in your diet (search YouTube for 50 calories doughnut), or alternatively, you can find the calories of the doughnut and reduce that many calories from your daily set calories.
You don’t have to eliminate any particular food group, instead, you can practice moderation and include the food of your choice. If you make gradual changes, the possibility of you sticking to it in the long-run increase. Now you wouldn’t wish to lose weight and then go back to your old eating habits and gain all the weight back and waste your efforts? So keep it simple and easy to follow. If you still face any issues planning your diet chart, you can reach out to me and I will do my best to guide you.
After talking about nutrition, let’s understand the importance of exercise
Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength and boost our endurance. But what form of exercise you choose will depend on your goal. So if you are a marathon runner, resistance training will not benefit you as much as cardio will and if you are into power lifting, much of cardio will not do you any benefit.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Exercise also releases happy hormones that make us feel great and gives us more energy to power through the day.
Nutrition and fitness goes hand in hard. While nutrition does gets an upper hand because if your diet is bad, no about of physical activity can help you achieve your goals. You may have heard that abs are made in the kitchen, well, that simply means, that without focus on the food part of things, you might fail to see those visibly defined abs.
There’s a lot more that we can talk about but understanding the basics will always be a good place to start with. If your nutrition and training are on point and you are still not getting the results, then check if you are getting enough sleep (7-8 hours are good), if you stress levels are low (stress increases cortisol levels and that leads to weight gain and increase in blood sugar levels), water intake (drink at least 4-5 liters every day, depending on your activity levels and weather), increase your N.E.A.T (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).
This may seem overwhelming in the start but focusing on one thing at a time and then adding other things in your routine would help you stick to the plan in the long run. So start by correcting your diet and ensuring that you are eating in deficit (if your goal is fat loss) and surplus (if your goal is muscle building). Once your nutrition part is on point, increase your activity level. Add resistance training at least 4-5 times per week. Then improve your sleep routine, because when you rest, your body recovers and then you get the energy to do it all over again the next day.
I have written in detail about 10 tips to help you lose fat faster, where I talk in detail about all the things you can do to speed up the fat loss process and help you start seeing the results faster. While fat loss is a long process but these little little things would help you in the long run. All this is just science.
Next time someone promises to make you lose 10 kg weight in a month by drinking green coffee, or by replacing your meals with a protein shake, or reducing belly fat via sauna belt, don’t believe them. They might give you short term results, but in turn, they will do more harm then good for your health.
So think before investing your money in any such gimmicks, as not only will you be wasting your money, but will also be compromising on your health. Think before you act and make smart choices for yourselves and your loved ones.
You didn’t gain all those extra kg in a month, so expecting them to loss it that quick is not the right approach. It’s also important to understand that weight loss isn’t the same thing as fat loss. The number on the weighing scale will go down even if you lose muscle mass (too much cardio) or even water weight. There could be n number of reasons but don’t judge your progress based on the number on the weighing scale, instead take weekly measurements and progress photos to compare, watch how your clothes fit, how you feel mentally and physically and more.
If you are ever confused, just do some google search or even better, go to YouTube and watch fat loss videos that are baked by science. They will all tell you the same thing. Trust me, this isn’t hard to apply and follow in your routine. You just have to start from somewhere.
If you have ever seen Master Chef Australia or for any other country, you will see that most of the meals that cook always include some sort of protein, some greens, some carbs and fat. The meals are usually balance.
But those who aren’t used to eating balanced meals, eating intuitively would be little difficult in the start. That’s why, starting with quantified nutrition would be extremely beneficial in achieving your fitness goals. Once you reach your goal, you can definitely eat intuitively in future.
In case you feel this is too much of information, I recommend that you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can guide you better on your macros and how to count calories, what food items are low in calories but can help you stay full longer and more. I can even help you plan your training chart depending on weather you choose to workout at home or in gym. Just be eating healthy and being active, you can start seeing results in 4 weeks itself.
If you would like to learn more about weight loss, resistance training, and quantified nutrition, follow me on Instagram. My username is @andbeactive
Until next time, eat healthy, drink health…. and be active.