If you’ve been working out at the gym for a while but aren’t reaching your fitness milestones at the pace you would like, you may wonder where you’re going wrong. While fitness has a lot of benefits, your diet plays a much more significant role in improving your health, both physically and mentally. If you’re wondering how your diet impacts your health, read on to learn more.

Improves athletic performance

What you use to provide nutrition to your body directly impacts your athletic performance. If your goal is to lose weight, your diet impacts your success much more than exercise will. While exercise certainly helps your body build muscle and promotes health, your diet is what will help you achieve your athletic and fitness goals.

Think about it, almost no one makes a trip for fast food before a workout at the gym, even if they might make one after. This is because fast food won’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs to excel in your workout. Without getting enough protein, carbohydrates, and necessary fats, you’ll feel too exhausted to go the gym or may need to cut your workout short. Your body needs a balanced and nutritious diet to perform the daily functions of your life. Food is medicine, so whatever your fitness goal may be, diet is what will help you get there.

Reduces risk of diseases

Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting your body to fight against illnesses and diseases. Many people decide to get into fitness after learning they may be at risk for developing certain diseases. Overweight individuals are more at risk for contracting heart diseases, diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and more. While fitness is important in positively impacting your health, diet plays a much more essential role.

Nutrition not only plays a role in your physical health but also can work to improve your mental health as well. Diet and nutrition can prevent and improve certain mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Mental health professionals often preach that mental health conditions are improved through a combination of proper nutrition and exercise.

Certain nutrients work to do different things, and you need all of them for healthy bodily function. For example, calcium improves bone density, and lean proteins help to keep you energized throughout the day and help you feel full after a meal. However, a healthy diet includes a combination of lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats. By combining a mix of all the nutrients you need, you provide your body with the energy it needs to get you through your workout and ensure that your body has the support it needs to maintain your health.

You are what you eat

You may have heard the saying “you are what you eat” at some point in your life. This is meant to teach people that the foods you eat directly impact your health. The food you eat not only impacts your physical health but also affects your mental health.

Often, when we’re feeling down we reach for something sweet and comforting. While you might think you’re just looking for comfort foods to ease your troubles away, your brain is looking to get a supply of serotonin to help you feel better. This is because the foods you eat have the power to supply your brain with the chemicals and nutrients it needs to help you feel good. Different foods provide your brain with different things, so those donuts and chocolate bars may make you feel happier momentarily, but won’t exactly power you through your afternoon run.

Lots of research has been done around the impact different nutrients can have on not only our physical health but our mood too. Protein has shown it helps us feel full and energized but also motivated to help us get through our day-to-day tasks and whole organic foods like apples can power our optimism.

If weight loss is your goal…

When trying to lose weight, you’ll find yourself paying very close attention to nutrition labels on the foods you eat. In addition to the gifted athletic shoes you got, weight loss requires a combination of diet and exercise. While you may think the key to getting to your goal weight is going to be exercise, your diet is much more impactful to your weight.

Exercise can help you build muscle definition and shed fat through cardio, but a caloric deficit is what you need to shed those extra pounds. Our diet has the potential to help you lead a long and healthy life, so the sooner you start prioritizing your diet, the better chances you have of preventing diseases and maintaining your health. While fad diets come and go, nutrition is a proven and studied science.

If you struggle with maintaining a healthy diet, a nutritionist or dietician can help you identify problem foods contributing to weight gain and help you coordinate a plan to achieve your health and fitness goals. Certain foods can help increase the number of calories you burn and boost your metabolism, such as spicy foods or green tea. Dieticians typically ignore magic “fad foods” with promises like burning 10 pounds in a week and instead look at weight loss with a more holistic approach.

If you don’t have the resources to work with a nutritionist, some basic tips for weight loss are to reduce portion sizes and calorie intake, track your macros, learn about food preparation, drink lots of water, and identify behaviors that lead you to eat unhealthy foods.

Diet and fitness for a healthy life

We know that fitness is an important aspect in helping us look and feel our best, diet plays an equally, if not more important role. Whatever your goal may be, whether it’s to lose weight or improve your health, diet will be your first step in accomplishing your goal. You’ve learned there’s some truth to the saying “you are what you eat”. While that donut might help you feel better in the moment, long term, you’ll want to ensure your diet combines a healthy balance of the nutrients your body needs. So if your goal is to improve your health, start with your diet and see where that takes you.

Author Bio

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.


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