Written by Cat Trentham.
When it comes to nutrition, we often associate it purely with weight loss. But good nutrition is important for much more than just shedding pounds. There are a lot of instances where optimising your nutrition will help you thrive! Perhaps your performance in the gym is stalling? Maybe you're feeling tired and sluggish all the time? Maybe your mood and productivity are low? Or perhaps you just want to feel healthier? Improved nutrition can be the answer to all of these things!
The Role of Calories:
When we look at nutrition in terms of its impact on our bodies, the number of calories we consume plays a significant role. Eating in a calorie surplus, where we consume more calories than we burn, leads to weight gain. Conversely, eating in a calorie deficit, where we consume fewer calories than we burn, leads to weight loss. And eating at maintenance, where we consume the same number of calories we burn, keeps our weight relatively constant.
Aligning Macronutrients to Your Goals:
However, the source of these calories is equally important. Your macronutrient balance, which refers to the ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fats in your diet, is critical for optimising body composition. Improving your body composition means increasing your muscle mass and decreasing your fat mass, which results in a toned, athletic appearance. This is often possible even on a maintenance diet for novice and intermediate athletes when combined with regular weight training. (Click here if this is something you would like help with).
For those looking to lose weight, a high-protein diet is beneficial for preserving muscle mass. Equally, for those looking to gain muscle mass, a diet high in carbohydrates and protein helps support muscle growth. Getting your macro ratios right can also help control hunger and appetite, which is crucial for weight loss or weight gain diets. Incorporating foods or techniques that make you feel fuller can be invaluable in sticking to a caloric deficit diet. Similarly, recommending higher calorie, less satiating options to someone on a surplus diet can help them eat all the food they need to grow.
Health Benefits of Better Nutrition:
In addition to changes in appearance, it's also possible to experience several health benefits by eating wholesome, nutritious foods, rich in vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet can help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide, and many risk factors are diet-related. Consuming a diet that's high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve cholesterol levels, all of which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. In contrast, a diet that's high in trans fats, added sugars, and sodium can increase the risk of heart disease.
Better Nutrition for Better Sports Performance:
In terms of changes to how your body performs, a well-balanced diet can help athletes and fitness enthusiasts in several ways. For example, consuming enough carbohydrates before a workout can provide the energy needed to perform at a high intensity. Consuming enough protein can help repair and rebuild muscles following exercise. Good nutrition can also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, allowing athletes to recover faster and thereby, train harder. Hydration and electrolyte levels are also important in terms of sports performance, particularly in endurance sports.
Improve Your Mental Wellbeing:
Good nutrition is not just important for physical health; it can also have a significant impact on mental health and wellness. Consuming foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, nuts and flaxseed, can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Similarly, consuming foods that are high in tryptophan, such as turkey and chicken, can boost serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and promote feelings of well-being. Additionally, good nutrition can improve sleep quality, which is essential for overall health. Consuming foods that are high in magnesium, such as leafy greens and nuts, can help relax the body and promote better sleep.
In conclusion, good nutrition is not only essential for weight management and body composition, but it can also provide numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. Consuming a balanced diet that meets our macronutrient needs, along with plenty of vitamins and minerals, can help prevent chronic diseases, improve athletic performance, and promote mental well-being. By prioritising good nutrition, we can improve our overall quality of life and thrive in all aspects of our day-to-day activities.
If you're looking for personalised and comprehensive help with your nutrition, please visit my nutrition page for further details and to book your free 15-minute, no-obligation consultation call to discuss how I can help you reach your goals. I offer a focused 4-week course "Nutrition For Success", whereby I work with clients teaching them about nutrition and how to apply it to their unique goals for the best results. Beyond the course, I provide a check-in service to help keep you continually moving towards your goals.