The food we eat can have a significant impact on our lives. It can enhance our quality of life by improving things like mental cognition and quality of sleep. It can also help us recover faster between workouts. But when not effectively consumed, food can also have a negative impact – causing low energy, decreased sense of well-being and of course, excess weight gain.
Food for Energy and Sense of Well-being
Food has a major impact on our health (both physical and mental), well-being, and performance (at work, play, and everything in between). Our food intake dictates the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are present in our body. We should strive to meet our nutrient requirements through consuming wholesome, nourishing foods (think whole fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains) because these foods are packed with essential nutrients and a host of other beneficial compounds required for good health. These foods give us energy and therefore the ability to perform better.
Unfortunately, many of us do not get all the nutrients we need from food alone. Even people who eat a relatively healthy and balanced diet are often low in specific nutrients that can affect energy, mood and even their results in the gym. This is where supplemental forms of nutrients can help. Even something basic like a multivitamin and mineral supplement can add insurance that you’re meeting your needs for these essential nutrients.
Food for Weight Management
A combination of reduced physical activity and over-consumption of food ultimately lead to the energy imbalance that causes weight gain. While both factors are important, it is the over-consumption of calories that holds the most cards in the area of weight gain – and this is true by a long shot. This is because calories can be over-consumed very quickly and easily, while exercise has a more gradual effect.
For example, it is possible (and frankly, quite common) for someone to consume 2,000 calories in one meal that takes 20 minutes to eat. Think a quarter pounder combo with fries and a large coke. The time and effort it takes to eat a fast food combo is minimal, making it easy for people to get into a routine of consuming these foods. But to burn the calories from a quarter pounder combo it would take a 200 pound person over two hours of working out at a high intensity on an elliptical trainer! This is not such an easy routine to establish.
While calorie-dense, “unhealthy” foods are often viewed as the culprit, even food deemed to be “healthy” can be over-consumed. Calories can add up fast even when you’re eating nourishing foods- for example, dense carb sources and high fat foods.
Barriers to Physical Activity
While physical activity is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, people often face a number of barriers to staying active. In addition to being time consuming and often inconvenient, there are other barriers to incorporating physical activity into a healthy routine:
I. An increasingly busy schedule – many people prioritize work, emails, family, chores, TV time, etc., over physical activity.
II. Being self-conscious – low self-esteem or self-consciousness may impact an individual’s motivation to attend a gym or fitness class. It may even get in the way of attempting to lose weight at all.
III. Perceiving exercise as boring or a waste of (valuable) time – in comparison to the array of highly stimulating gadgets and activities available today, unfamiliar and uncomfortable exercise may seem boring or generally unappealing.
While consistently consuming a wholesome diet does not come without barriers, the power of the food we eat has a significant impact on our lives. This is why we view food as a top priority. Consuming a nourishing and balanced diet can have an immeasurable impact on our quality of life, and essentially dictate our progress towards improved energy, well-being and our body composition goals.