Prior to beginning this discussion, it is worth noting that nutritional science is complex and there are dozens of variables that impact caloric output including the resting metabolic rate (RMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF) and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), all of which are important factors determining how, we as individuals, expend calories. However, since a thorough examination of nutritional science is outside the scope of this particular discussion, we will concentrate on important general elements of this topic.
Regular exercise is a must for everyone. We need to move our bodies consistently to keep the structural and physiological components of the body healthy. As the body moves, it expends energy, measured in the form of calories. This is known as caloric output and is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy body composition (lean to fat ratio) and body weight.
However, unless you are an elite athlete that is outputting thousands of calories per day training, it is unlikely that you are able to output enough calories to counter excessive caloric input. What and how much you put into your body have an enormous impact on your ability to maintain a healthy body composition and body weight.
So, while exercise and a healthy diet are the dynamic duo, the diet aspect may be the more critical factor in maintaining a healthy body composition and body weight. Using the 90/10 rule may be an effective strategy — diet being the 90% and exercise the 10%.
Do not misunderstand this approach to indicate that exercise is unimportant. Quite to the contrary, it is essential. However, if you are over-inputting calories regularly, you may struggle to maintain a healthy body composition and body weight no matter how much or intensely you exercise.
Clients share their frustrations regarding weight management with me, as their professional personal trainer and my guidance often states that if you want to manage your weight, then you must manage what you are inputting.
In most cases, they are exercising regularly, so their output is adequate. If not, then we discuss increasing output; however, when they begin to consistently input data into their food diary, it may become abundantly clear that the input level requires some attention.
Creating sound dietary guidelines for yourself based upon your lifestyle and activity level is critical. Taking the time to carefully consider what you are inputting daily, understanding the number of calories per serving, the nutrient breakdown of the food you are inputting, how you are preparing your food, and how you are inputting those calories, all matters. Seeking the guidance of a registered dietician is also recommended to ensure you are creating a nutritionally balanced and healthy diet unique to your needs.
If you are taking the time to “feed” your body properly, it will pay off. Not just in terms of how you feel, but how well you function. And function relates to performance. If our desire is to perform better, then we have to input the correct fuel and the correct amount of fuel.
Therefore, if you are not exercising, begin today and if you are not keeping a food diary, begin that today too, even if you are managing your body composition and body weight effectively. There are no down sides to being acutely aware of how you are fueling your most important asset, your body.