FINDING THE BALANCE: DIET AND EXERCISE

by James Vaughn

Exercising alone can be hard enough. Half the battle is getting to the gym. Then once you are there you have to navigate all of the machines and equipment that seem foreign to you. On top of that you have to worry about your own workout and not focus on anyone else. But unfortunately exercise alone isn’t the key to total health and wellness. Combined with a proper diet, the health benefits of any exercise will increase exponentially! Dr. Shawn Talbott, a nutritional biochemist, states that “as a rule of thumb, weight loss is 75% diet and 25% exercise.”[1] This is a pretty significant portion of anyone’s weight loss journey. That number goes to show that we need to focus our time equally on how well we are eating and fueling our bodies to efficiently burn calories and reduce fat. The biggest part of eating right is learning to count calories of food intake and balancing macronutrients such as protein, carbs, and fats. But how exactly do we do that? To start there are several apps out that can calculate your daily caloric goal and count how many macros you are consuming. My Fitness Pal is one that can calculate these macros and calories and also adjust your goal depending on the amount of exercise you are doing. The National Institute of Exercise and Medicine gives a general guideline of 5 to 12g per kg of body weight for carbs, 1.2 to 1.8g per kg of body weight for proteins, and about 20g per day for fat.[2] Once again this is just a general recommendation and not specific for every individual. Depending on what your fitness goal is, your calorie count and macro count will be higher or lower. But how does anyone that lives a normal life and doesn’t worship the gym hit these macro goals? A strategy that many people use is meal prepping. This involves planning out your meals based on your calorie and macro goals. Once you know these numbers then you cook the meals entirely and portion them out in containers. This takes the guesswork out of your meals and allows you to control how much you are eating. Meal prepping takes time but is very well worth it if you are serious about your fitness goals. There are also meal delivery services and businesses that will meal prep for you. This is a costly option but if you are constantly on the go and do not have time to do it yourself then this may be a good option to consider. As you can see throughout this article diet is just as important part of your health and wellness journey. This deserves a lot more consideration and should be a priority in your life. Just remember that you can’t out exercise a bad diet!

[1] O. (2017, December 07). Is Exercise Or Diet More Important For Weight Loss? Here’s The Truth. Retrieved March 29, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/exercise-vs-diet-for-weight-loss_n_5207271.html

[2] Manore, M. M. (2005). Exercise and the Institute of Medicine Recommendations for Nutrition. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 4(4), 193-198. doi:10.1097/01.csmr.0000306206.72186.00

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Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department