Today’s entry is brought to you by Karen Danish, LAP. Karen is a licensed acupuncture physician and a valued staff member at Anne Hermann MD, PA, a Tampa Acupuncture Clinic. She’s spot on in this article – fitness isn’t just diet or just exercise. It takes both to make your goals. I may exercise 7 hours in a day on my long bricks, but if I don’t give my body the proper fuel to finish and recovery, I’ll not be doing myself any favors.
If you are looking to jump start your fitness routine, or you are concerned that you are making enough progress towards your fitness goals, take a look at your diet. What you eat and drink plays a huge role in your physical fitness, and if you are not paying attention to how you fuel your body, your workouts can suffer. You do not have to be on a quest to lose weight in order to take your diet seriously. When you are working towards particular fitness goals, you want to make sure you are consuming foods that are helpful in keeping you fit and healthy. If you think the best way to get fit is by exercise alone, you’re going to be disappointed. Take a holistic approach to your health and wellness, and make smart food choices part of your fitness plan.
Start with the basics. Protein is essential to any fitness routine, whether you are trying to lose weight, increase strength, sculpt muscles or improve some specific part of your physical fitness, such as speed or flexibility. Any kind of protein will turn the calories you eat into fuel to keep you going during a workout, and it will also assist your muscles in developing and growing. Stick to lean proteins such as chicken, fish, eggs and nuts. A high protein diet will keep your body strong and able to carry you through the toughest workouts. It will also work for you when you are not working out. Eating enough protein is necessary to help your body rest and repair itself between workouts.
Many weight loss plans advise you to limit your carbohydrate intake. However, carbs have their place when you are increasing your level of physical fitness. They provide energy, which you will need as you workout. Stick to complex carbohydrates instead of sugar. Fill up on brown rice and whole grain pasta. Eat bread that is high in fiber. Don’t forget your fats! If you are devoted to physical fitness, fats may seem counterproductive. However, you need them to regulate your blood sugar and keep your heart healthy. Focus on healthy fats found in olive oil, nuts and oily fish like salmon and mackerel. (that’s why I follow the 40/30/30 diet goals – I call it the “Yin/Yang” diet –ed).
You should follow a healthy eating plan that uses all of the food you consume. Make every calorie count so your fitness goals are easier to reach. Remember to keep yourself hydrated, too. Drink plenty of water, and avoid drinks that are high in sugar, like soda and juice. Snacks are an important part of any healthy diet, so don’t deprive yourself. Instead, choose healthy snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables. Popcorn is another good one because it is high in fiber and there are plenty of varieties low in calories and fat. Keep a handful of nuts handy if you find yourself hungry between meals.
Trying to improve your physical fitness with exercise only will be a challenge. Instead of focusing only on your physical activity, incorporate healthy eating choices into your lifestyle as well. A good eating plan, combined with daily exercise will get you closer to your fitness goals than just dieting or just exercising.