“You can’t out-train a bad diet.” There are a lot of oft-repeated adages about health and fitness, but this one might be the truest. The vast gulf between how hard it is to burn 300 calories and how quickly you can eat 300 calories always comes as a shock for people who are just starting to explore a healthy lifestyle. For instance, you can jog two 10-minute miles, and you still won’t have burned off the calories in a single slice of cheese pizza. It doesn’t seem fair.
A recent study shed light on the fact that diet and supplementation play a bigger role than exercise when it comes to making profound changes in your body. Scientists studied a tribe of hunter-gatherers in East Africa, where obesity is almost non-existent. Surprisingly, members of the tribe burned about the same number of daily calories as the average North American, where obesity affects nearly 40 percent of the population. The big difference between these two cultures was diet. The native Tanzanians lived on whole foods, such as tubers, berries, game meat, baobab (a nutrient-rich fruit), and honey. The diet of the typical North American focuses on highly-processed, high-calorie foods that are low in nutrients.
Diet is the single greatest determining factor in weight loss, but it’s also a major part of building muscle and getting stronger. To grow, muscles need to undergo stress (weightlifting) that induces micro-tears in the fibers. As these tears recover, the muscle grows bigger and stronger. Diet is a huge factor in recovery. During recovery, two things happen: Your muscles utilize the amino acids from protein to grow bigger, and the carbs to refuel tired muscles with glycogen so you can perform your next workout. The food and supplements you put in your body aid your last workout and your future workout, both of which would be almost completely ineffective without those macronutrients.
If you’re new to working out and eating right, then educating yourself about nutrition can help you make gains more quickly than becoming a gym expert. But that doesn’t mean training isn’t vital to your journey. Yes, exercise helps with building muscle and weight control but has also been shown to reduce stress, boost sex drive, improve sleep quality, decrease the risk of chronic diseases, and enhance brain functions such as memory and problem-solving.