Most people start exercise with little or no real change to their food balance. Sure they might tidy up a little and eat ‘cleaner’ or maybe even add a little more food, but there is no substantial change to what or how much they eat. However whether you are a fun exerciser or serious trainer, the minute exercise enters the picture, your food balance becomes way more critical than you might think.
Nearly everything you get from your exercise will depend on your food. The wrong food balance can quickly turn positive healthy exercise into body breaking, health undermining activity if you are not careful. The harder you exercise and train the more important this becomes. The costs are often very subtle and often will not be noticed until it is too late!
It is critically important that your food supports not only your routine daily activity levels but your exercise and individual body requirements. It is very easy to end up under-eating relative to your needs and this is where all the problems begin. When this happens things get very serious and your body can literally start to break down. Often people experience the consequences of this but never connect the two. Here are specific examples of what can go wrong when you exercise without having the correct food balance to match your needs……..
Energy & Performance – Very quickly your energy can drop and you will often find that you are more tired despite being fitter! Worst than that anything up to 80% of the progress and positive performance benefits from exercise can be lost.
Hormonal Imbalance – This will start to develop very quickly when your food balance does not meet your exercise requirements and consequences like poor hair and nails, skin breakouts, broken sleep and insomnia, increased cravings and even more major hormone imbalance problems like infertility.
Sickness & Injury – Without a proper food balance you are much more open to sickness, injuries and joint problems. Very often people find that they are getting more colds, flues, and other illnesses more frequently, despite their ‘healthier’ lifestyle.
Deeper Health Problems – Likewise when out of balance people often report higher cholesterol, higher triglycerides (blood fats), low blood pressure problems and the worsening of health problems like irritable bowel, diverticulitis and Crohn’s. Conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can develop and even the risk of conditions like osteoporosis can increase.
Mental Health – An imbalance between food and exercise and training has huge effects on mental health. People report worsening moods, irritability, get up and go and often mild to deep depression.
Weight loss – A food and exercise imbalance where you are under-eating relative to your needs actually leads to weight gain. Very quickly key weight loss metabolism factors like thyroid function and adrenal gland function will go out of order. Rapidly increasing stomach fat is one of the cardinal signs of this imbalance.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to outline some key changes you should make to your food and nutrition to get the most from your exercise and training. This is crucial to your fun, health and success.
David Mc Donagh (Dietician, fitness trainer & creator of System 10 Weight Loss)
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