I often get asked the question, which is the most effective, good exercise, or good nutrition, and I always have to answer that it depends what for. This answer, however, is not ducking the question, but is an opportunity for me to explain exactly why exercise is more effective for some outcomes, and nutrition is better for others. Then I will reveal the secret on what is best for you!
If you are an elite athlete, like Usain Bolt, trying to break the World Record in the 100m sprint, then I believe that training will have a much greater effect on his performance than nutrition. Let me explain. It doesn’t matter how good his diet is, or how many vegetables he eats, unless he trains hard everyday, there is no way that he is going to be able to compete at the highest level. His training will have the greatest impact on his ability to run fast. Does this mean he can eat whatever he pleases? Not really. By eating the right foods at the right time, he can optimise his training and recovery, which will have a direct impact on his performance. The timing of his food is imperative. He must eat the right thing pre, during, and post training to optimise his physical adaptations. So for elite athletes aiming for a particular performance output, training will have a greater impact than nutrition, but it’s impossible to really get the best out of your body without paying close attention to both.
What about weight loss then? Well, for loss of body fat, nutrition will have a greater impact than exercise. You can train all you want, but unless you manipulate your diet in the right way, you will not be able to shift fat in certain areas where it is stubborn and doesn’t want to go! So from an aesthetic point of view, nutrition has a bigger impact than exercise. Does this mean that I don’t have to exercise? Of course not. In this case, to optimise your body composition, i.e. your percentage body fat and lean muscle mass, your have to exercise and be deliberate about planning your food intake in the right way. If you take the extreme case of a bodybuilder, they achieve their defined look through planning their nutrition to the nth degree, and through training hard.
But, what about me, a mum of 3, not looking to break the world record in the 100m or have rippling muscles like a bodybuilder? What should I do to be healthy, feel energised, stay slim, and stay healthy in the long term? First lets look at some of the benefits of the right kind of diet and the benefits of exercise, then I’ll give you the secret to staying slim and being healthy!
Healthy eating of the right foods at the right time can do the following:
- Reduce cholesterol
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Reduce risk of diabetes
- Improve hair, nails and skin condition
- Drastically reduce body fat!
- Increase metabolism
…and much more!
Exercising in the right way at the right time can do the following:
- Reduce risk or cardiovascular disease
- Reduce body fat
- Improve bone density (very important for pre-menopausal women to combat the risk of post-menopausal osteoporosis)
- Strengthen ligaments, tendons and muscles
- Improve mobility and balance (general everyday body function!)
- Improve psychological well-being
- Improve mental performance (concentration, learning etc.)
…and much more!
So finally I’m going to tell you what the most important is for you! The answer is both! You cannot be healthy without having both a good diet and participating in regular physical activity. I don’t care what anyone says, this is the only way to be healthy. I have met people who have a terrible diet but exercise hard and they can look good. Or others who have a great diet but do not exercise, and they too can look good. But the only way to look great, feel great and actually be as healthy as you can be is to have a well-balanced exercise programme containing all the key elements, and to have a great diet.
So keep reading my blogs and I’ll keep giving you tips on exercise and nutrition, and all things that are important for post pregnancy weight loss, and busy mums who still want to look great!