This post was written by Margaret Ojeniyi and edited by Lani Sodunke.
Diet and exercise are the two important factors when it comes to good health. However, the real question is do they play the same function when it comes to losing weight?
The fact remains that all the exercise in the world won’t help your weight loss if your nutrition is bad. A healthy fitness lifestyle is not just about doing the exercise routine you enjoy. There is a need to also incorporate a proper diet.
Eating a balanced diet helps to get the right nutrients to fuel your daily activities. When eating food to ignite your exercise performance, you have to choose the right types and amount of food at the right time of the day. It’s like choosing the right gauge of fuel that would keep your vehicle moving for a whole day.
According to the National Institute on Ageing, exercising and a healthy diet can help control aging-related health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. The following tips can help to achieve this:
1. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet.
2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
3. Take foods with less refined sugar, processed fats, and sodium.
4. Eat whole grains and lean protein/dairy products.
5. Practice all 4 types of exercise – Endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
The best exercise for a fitness lifestyle
Developing a routine that involves regular exercise can improve mental and physical health. It is advisable to start slowly if you’ve been sedentary for a long time and the build up activity levels. For instance, instead of a 30 minutes walk, start with 5 minutes and build up from there. The best exercises to perform are:
1. Cardio Exercise (Endurance)
Cardiovascular exercises are endurance activities that get the heart pumping. It makes you breathe faster and a little out of breath. Cardio activities include: Brisk walking, running, stairs climbing, cycling, hiking, dancing, basketball, etc. Cardio workouts help regulate appetite and control blood pressure. They also help reduce joint pain and aid sleep at night.
2. Strength Training (Resistance)
Strength training is also called power training. It builds muscle from repetitive resistance from weight machines, elastic bands, or body weight. It includes – Push-ups and pull-ups, squats, deadlifts or bench presses, etc. These workouts help manage body fat, especially around your middle. They help you stay active and independent as you grow old while improving your flexibility, balance, and mobility.
3. Flexibility and Balance
Flexibility gives the body the ability to move various joints through different motions, while on the other hand, Balance gives stability. Balance and flexibility worsen as we grow older, and some of the activities to improve these are – yoga, Pilates, strength training the muscles (back, abdomen, and legs), and so on.
These activities improve posture, reduce the risk of falling, prevent back pain, relieve tension and stress, and prevent balance problems. Some of these activities can be performed in the comfort of your home. All you need to do is invest in an exercise mat.
Proper diet for a healthy lifestyle
The body is built from both workouts and foods we eat. Food provides the macro-nutrients that give sustainable energy that fuels every physical activity. Pouring the best quality food into your body is just like pouring fuel into a car.
A proper diet begins with understanding what to eat at the right time. Whether for fitness or weight loss, here are some advice and tips for proper nutrition:
1. Do not skip breakfast
The first meal of the day is very important even if you are trying to lose weight. Skipping breakfast can make you feel lightheaded while working out. Choosing the right kind of breakfast is also crucial. Breakfast high in fiber with less fat and sugar is essential for a balanced diet, giving you the perfect nutrient needed for good health. For instance, instead of eating sugar-laden cereal, try oatmeal or other high-fiber cereals with some protein like milk or yoghurt.
2. Base your meals on the right carbohydrates
As carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source, consuming the right kind of carbohydrates is important. Choose wholegrain or higher fiber such as whole wheat, fruits, vegetables, etc. They help you feel fuller and fuels the body throughout the day. These right carbohydrates help your body run at its best.
3. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends eating fruits and vegetables at every meal. Fruits and vegetables are a key source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with fewer calories. With high natural sugar, it’s less likely for fruits to cause a sugar spike.
4. Forget saturated or processed fats and choose healthy fats
As important as fat is in the body especially for aerobic exercise, it is imperative to pay attention to the kind of fat you take in. Processed fats can increase cholesterol in the body, leading to heart disease. On the other hand, unsaturated fats help reduce inflammation. It also provides fatty acids that keep the body moving. Unsaturated fats can be found in nuts, avocados, olives, oily fish, etc.
PS: Since all fats are high in energy, it is important to eat them moderately.
5. Stay Hydrated
You need to drink enough water, especially if you incorporate exercise into your diet as this would prevent you from getting dehydrated. It is important to replenish the water lost during a workout or take non-alcoholic drinks and low sugar drinks like diet coke. Remember, drinking more fluid during hot weather or while exercising helps too.
Unhealthy diet practices to avoid
1. Avoid clear liquid diet – Clear liquid diet consists exclusively of clear liquid. This diet lacks nutrition and slows down metabolism. In a bid to conserve energy, your body goes into survival mode, thereby slowing your metabolism. It can make you lose weight rapidly but also regaining weight the moment you stop.
2. Avoid skipping breakfast.
3. Avoid poor meal planning.
4. Avoid mindless eating and eating on the run.
5. Avoid processed foods and refined sugar.
6. Avoid not eating enough throughout the day as not getting enough calories can spike hunger and lead to overeating later on.
7. Avoid eating on the run.
8. Avoid emotional eating.
Whether your goal is weight management or not, having a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential to health. Combining a well-balanced diet with exercise can help reduce the risk of diseases. However, to decide on the best exercise regimen and diet for you, consult your medical advisor.