weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
SO nutrition and exercise. And how the two are interlinked when it comes to most of your goals for health and fitness. Or maybe you don’t actually care about those things and it’s more about fitting into a certain dress. Regardless, if you’re reading this the way these two things interact probably matters to you. So let’s talk about it!
You do not have to count calories but calories always count. Controlling body weight or body composition, at its most basic and important level, comes down to the balance between the energy going in to your body from food and drink and the energy being used by your body for exercise and daily life. The type of exercise matters in that it will change how the incoming energy and nutrients are used but fundamentally it’s a balancing act. Tip the scales one way and you lose weight, tip it the other and you gain weight.
So if you want to lose a few pounds it makes sense that you start going to the gym/going more. Thumbs up. That’s one way to tip the balance a little bit. More activity. It could also be by getting more steps or adding in a swim or a cycle that wasn’t there before. Now you’re in a place where the same energy is going in but you’re doing more with it and to make up the difference (if the extra activity is enough) your body should use some stored energy (body fat).
The other way to tip the balance is to reduce the energy going in and keep the activity the same. This doesn’t necessarily mean less food, it means less energy. A bowl of pasta with cheese sauce has a lot more energy than a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. Same size bowl. Less energy if you choose the soup where you would usually choose the pasta. Balance tipped. Same with cappuccino and americano. Coke and Diet Coke.
Personally I’d suggest a bit of both with a focus on fat loss rather than weight loss. Which is a nice segue…
Macronutrients are the kind of major categories food and drink can be broken down into. They are protein, carbohydrates and fats. They all have different roles and are important in their own way. Our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to build and maintain bones, muscles and skin. Carbohydrates are all about energy. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients, produce important hormones and support cell growth.
Let’s be honest. Very few of us have trouble finding enough carbs and fats to fill out our daily needs. Protein, in my experience, is a different story though. Most of the people I work with aren’t really getting enough protein when they start out (100g a day is a pretty reasonable starting point for most general exercisers). You get protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, certain dairy, tofu, legumes and protein supplements (as a last resort or easy fix). The reason it’s important is because of its interdependence with exercise. It’s needed for growth and repair of muscle.
You can do all the dumbbell lifts and leg raises you like in an effort to get “toned” but without adequate protein your body can’t build anything. You might burn extra calories and lose weight but that weight might be muscle as well as fat. You also might think you don’t care as long as the scales is going down but for health, muscle matters. Less muscle, less strength. Less strength, less stability, balance, control, ability to deal safely with life’s obstacles. More injuries. Less health. So you see calories always matter but where they come from matters too, as does the type of exercise you take part in (load bearing and weight lifting is very important).
Vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) play a role in the majority of bodily functions. They’re used in hormone and enzyme production and without them, basically, bits of your body don’t work 100%. Although it is possible to supplement almost any vitamin or mineral they are better gotten from whole food sources. Eat your veggies. Eat your fruit. Eat your lean proteins. As many colours as possible. Local if possible.
What do people say when you’re sick? Get your vitamin C. Why? Because “it helps your immune system”. What if you’re not getting the vitamin that helps your fat burning system!? It’s not that simple, many vitamins and minerals matter in order to create health, I’m being dramatic to make the point that they matter! Added bonus though, foods high in vitamins and minerals, like fruits and veggies, tend to be lower in calories per 100g and more physically satiating than more highly processed less nutritious foods (they just aren’t always as appealing, I do understand this, they aren’t my fav either). Their roles within the body have numerous crossovers with growth and repair from exercise (as well as straight fuelling activity, like vitamin B12 for carb metabolism).
I know this stuff is not always easy to understand. Exercise matters, absolutely! Just remember nutrition matters a lot… maybe more.
If you have questions after reading this send me a message on Facebook or Instagram @AdamWrightPT or come talk to me at one of my classes. You can find the Kingfisher Club’s class timetable at waterford.kingfisherclub.com as well as more information on the facilities and services we provide. Have a great week!