Good Morning, friends! Happy Monday to you. I hope you had a fantastic weekend! My weekend involved a sushi dinner, officially starting the Hal Higdon half marathon training plan and of course watching the Super Bowl. Did your team win? I was cheering for Atlanta!
Nutrition vs. Exercise: which is more important?
Today I wanted to talk about nutrition and exercise when it comes to health and weight. Which is more important? Can you have one without the other?
In my professional opinion, both exercise and nutrition are equally important when it comes to overall health. I’m talking about living a long, healthy life and avoiding chronic disease, and I don’t think you can have one without the other.
Before we talk just about weight, let’s touch on health first. Getting regular exercise is important for decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. It can also lower blood sugars. I know a lot of my readers are below the age of 40 and we often don’t think of these types of things, but now is really the time to focus on disease prevention.
The basic recommendation for exercise is 30 minutes of activity 5x per week. You can read more specifics from the American Heart Association here. While it’s great if you’re training for something or hitting the gym, simply walking or moving your body counts as physical activity. Eating a healthful diet can also decrease your cholesterol and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. So both are super important!
When we start any sort of weight loss program, I often see a large emphasis on exercise, and even using physical activity as a way to “cancel out” unhealthy foods. Sometimes nutrition is left as a second thought. I like to encourage people to flip that way of thinking: consider nutrition as the foundation of weight loss. Exercise is like an accessory… an important added bonus… the cherry on top
Why? It’s really easy to cancel out the calories burned from a workout with what we eat. For example, you could burn 200 calories doing something at the gym and drink a soda with 250 calories on the drive home. I won’t get into the added sugar factor in that example.
I’ve had many conversations with people frustrated that their workouts are not producing the results they are looking for, and it usually comes back to their diet. I also sometimes find that when people start an intense exercise program that really doesn’t fit with their life or schedule, this can lead to yo-yo weight changes. Maybe there’s a huge weight loss at first, but then the weight is gained back when the exercise decreases.
Here are 3 ways to prevent this from happening to you:
- Make your diet the foundation of healthful living.
- Add in physical activity that you really love. It will be easier to maintain if it’s realistic for you. Involve your friends or family!
- Keep your focus on feeling good and staying healthy. Put your scale away if you find your focus to only be about weight.
Where to Start
If you aren’t quite sure where to start when it comes to incorporating better nutrition and more exercise into your life then don’t be intimidated. Small changes really add up! Make sure you’re drinking plenty of non-sugary fluids, especially water, and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. One super simple first step is to make sure half of your lunch and dinner plate consists of non-starchy vegetables.
If you’re short on time or finances are tight then there are still lots of physical activity options for you! Just simply walking or doing exercises in your home are great. Don’t have time for 30 solid minutes of exercise? No problemo. You still get health benefits when you split that time up. I make it a point to take a 10-minute walk after I eat lunch and a 20-minute walk with Lily when I get home from work. Even though I’m not getting in 30 minutes all at once, I’m still getting it in.
I’d love to know what you think on this topic! Do you feel like exercise or nutrition is more important to you?