The Role of Nutrition in Fitness

By: Tim Rigby (Courtesy of Inside Fitness

Take a look at these axioms and consider for a moment which of them appear to be true:


“You can’t out-train a poor diet.”
“You are what you eat.”
“Fitness is only one-third training and two-thirds nutrition.”
“Eat like a king in the morning, a prince in the afternoon, and a pauper in the evening.”
“Eating small meals every three hours can maintain metabolic efficiency.”
“Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss if done in moderation and infrequently.”

If you for one second doubt the veracity of any of these fundamental nutrition truths, you need to flip back and re-read this issue over again.  While these precepts have become popularized (and sometimes overused) throughout modern history, they nonetheless remain unshakable.  We repeat them here in list format to drive home the point that nutrition should be your top fitness priority.  You want results for weight loss?  Improve your nutrition.  You want muscular gains?  Improve your nutrition.  You want greater strength and enhancements to your sports performance?  Improve your nutrition.

>> Creatures of habit.  Elite fitness people and competitive athletes all know the same thing – that when you get to the point where sound nutrition is second-nature for you, you’ll wonder why on earth it was so difficult to achieve in the first place.  Nutrition is a very simple thing, since you do have complete control of what you put in your mouth; nobody can force you to eat unhealthily.  Unfortunately, we get caught up with our busy lifestyles and often have to compromise our diet out of convenience or social circumstances.  In the heat of the moment, we often have limited or no access to healthy food choices, so for the sake of satisfying our hunger, we pound down a greasy hamburger or fried chicken sandwich, but a little planning prevents this situation from occurring, even when you’re rushing to catch that commuter train or get to that staff meeting.

>> Nutrition never takes a holiday.  One other takeaway you must derive from this special nutrition issue is that the best fitness results require discipline, not just when you’re in training mode and all your attention is focused on your goals.  All of the fruits of your healthy diet (we couldn’t resist the pun) are remarkably easy to undo with just 48 hours of eating unhealthy meals.  Therein lies the difference, by the way, between diet and nutrition; the latter being what you actually eat, and the former being what you should be consuming.  The concept of splurging on the weekend with binge eating and drinking can really undo all of your excellent efforts from Monday to Friday.  While we don’t want to dictate that you must restrict your food and drink on the weekend, we will suggest for you to indulge in very moderate amounts – that is, if you’re sincere about wanting to keep your fitness gains developing.  If you happen to go on a week-long holiday to a tropical clime, it’s even more important for you to exercise nutrition sense and not destroy all of your year-long efforts.

>> Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Finally, we’d like to emphasize that perfectly healthy food consumption gets easier with practice over time.  It really does.  So many people get put off and discouraged because they mistakenly believe they have to immediately overhaul their diet completely and eat perfectly healthy very abruptly.  It doesn’t work this way.  You can’t simply improve your bench press from 150 pounds to 300 pounds immediately, just because you will yourself to the goal of lifting heavier.  Just like training, nutrition develops gradually, and in doing so becomes much more habitual and long-lasting.  Begin with replacing fatty meals with sounder, leaner meals – even if the foundation such as chicken, beef, turkey, ham, etc. is still present.  Slowly eliminate excess carbs, such as an over-abundance of bread.  Eventually scrutinize things like preservatives including sodium, which can play a huge role in water retention and make it so much harder for you to drop weight.  Give all these things time, and in the space of a few short months you’ll be on the right track to sound, healthy nutrition – this will absolutely rocket your fitness gains into the stratosphere.

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