HOW GOOD NUTRITION & EXERCISE GO HAND IN HAND
So, you’re someone who hits the gym or works out regularly, and yet you’re struggling to make noticeable strides towards your health and fitness goals. Are you looking to lose weight, build muscle or just feel better mentally and yet the daily physical activity just ain’t doing it for ya?
We get it! Sometimes, despite how good your intentions are to get to where you want to be, the motivation tank can be running on empty, and no amount of positive self-talk can help you switch gears and cross the finish line stronger, fitter and healthier. To refuel that tank, you need good nutrition, which, combined with a good exercise routine, will help you achieve your goals and feel better from the inside out.
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, and to discuss this in further detail, we connected with nutritionist and Happy Way chick Rachel Kameniar who shares the benefits of prioritising both in your day-to-day. In this blog, Rachel shares…
- Why nutrition and exercise are both important.
- How good nutrition impacts exercise and vice versa.
- Tips for pre and post-exercise nutrition.
- Why is protein so important in our diet?
At Happy Way, we believe knowledge is power, and we wanna empower YOU with the tools you need to achieve your goals and take your health and wellness to the next level! See Rachel’s tips and advice below.
WHY NUTRITION AND EXERCISE ARE BOTH IMPORTANT
We all know that maintaining a healthy diet that’s full of wholesome foods and incorporating exercise in our day-to-day is important for our overall well-being. Why are both good nutrition and exercise important when it comes to supporting your health? See below.
- They help you live a long and healthy life.
- They’re important for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
- They allow us to feel good both physically and mentally.
- They both protect against chronic illness and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
HOW DOES GOOD NUTRITION IMPACT EXERCISE AND VICE VERSA?
Eating healthy, nourishing foods not only helps us feel our best but also helps improve our performance when exercising. Good nutrition gives our body the fuel it needs to train for longer periods, boosting strength and endurance whilst also supporting our mental focus too. See why choosing the right foods is crucial when it comes to getting the most out of your workout.
- Choosing the right type of fuel ensures our body can perform to the best of its ability when exercising as well as in our daily lives.
- Consuming nutritious foods means our bodies can have access to optimal energy levels during our workouts and be able to sustain that energy throughout.
- Eating particular foods post-workout can accelerate your recovery time so you can hit the gym again next time with the same level of intensity and without the worry of feeling sore or lethargic.
Just as good nutrition supports a good training session, exercising regularly can also impact our nutritional choices too.
Engaging in regular fitness—whether it be at the gym, at home, or out in nature—can significantly improve diet simply by altering the way we feel about eating certain foods. Studies have found that after exercise, people feel less inclined to consume fatty or unhealthy foods and instead opt for more nutritional choices that help their bodies feel nourished and energised.
WHAT IS GOOD PRE AND POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION?
Before exercising, fuel your body with the right foods that will give you the energy required to perform at your best throughout your workout. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel prior to exercise, especially if you’re looking to train at a high intensity. Whilst carbohydrates are found in many foods, there are two types of carbohydrates—simple or complex carbohydrates.
- SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES are generally found in sweeter foods that can be high in sugar, and they can be good to eat close to a workout to provide your body with a quick release of energy, being that they’re broken down by the body quickly. Consuming simple carbohydrates is a good option if you’re on the way to an early morning training session pre-breakfast or if you need a boost of energy before a late afternoon workout. Examples of foods to eat in these circumstances may include crumpets with honey, a piece of fruit or a slice of banana bread.
- COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES take more time to break down in the body and therefore provide a longer, more sustained level of energy rather than a quick hit. Ideally, these types of foods should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake, and a source of complex carbohydrates should be included in your main meals to maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day. Examples of complex carbohydrates include whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals and rice.
After exercise, it’s important that we’re eating the right type of nutritious foods that will allow our bodies to recover so we can feel great and ready for our next workout. Protein and carbohydrates are both important when it comes to supporting this.
- PROTEIN is a nutrient found in many foods in varying amounts, is considered the building block of our bodies and supports both the growth and repair of our muscles post-workout.
- CARBOHYDRATES are a great nutrient to consume post-exercise because they help to replenish the stored energy used during your workout as fuel.
A meal or snack that contains both protein and carbohydrates is a great option after a training session. Examples may include…
- Protein smoothie made with protein powder, milk of choice, fruit and yoghurt.
- Protein overnight oats made with protein powder, rolled oats, milk of choice and fruit.
- Protein baked goods such as protein banana bread, protein muffins or protein balls.
WHAT IS PROTEIN AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
As mentioned, protein is crucial in our diet and is not only needed for our bodies to grow and develop but to maintain healthy bodily function. Protein is considered the most satiating nutrient, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, which helps to control your appetite, reduce cravings and therefore prevent unhealthy snacking.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO WE NEED?
The amount of protein needed in the diet will vary from person to person based on their gender, body composition and physical activity levels. The recommended daily intake of protein for adult women is approximately 0.75 grams per kilogram of body weight, and for men, it’s approximately 0.84 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you’re someone that exercises regularly, these recommendations can increase up to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. The reason why the protein requirement increases for those who work out is that the body requires more protein to help in the growth and repair of working muscles.
TIPS FOR GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN IN OUR DIET
- Try to keep your protein intake evenly distributed throughout the day so you have a consistent supply of energy.
- Aim to include a source of protein in each meal and some/all snacks.
- Protein powders are a great source of protein and can be easily added to your diet. Mix with water to create a protein shake, add to smoothies, or bake into muffins, slices or banana bread.
See examples of protein sources below for each main meal and snack option, along with the amount of protein per serve.
- 1 scoop (30 g) of Happy Way protein powder (whey or vegan) in a shake or smoothie – approx. 20 g of protein.
- 2 x eggs – 7.2 g of protein.
- 170 g tub of protein yoghurt – approx. 15 g of protein.
- 100 g smoked salmon – approx. 18 g of protein.
- 100 g reduced-fat cottage cheese – approx. 14 g of protein.
- Small tin of tuna – approx. 15.7 g of protein.
- 100 g chicken breast – approx. 23.1 g of protein.
- 150 g tofu – approx. 22 g of protein.
- 70 g chickpeas – approx. 5 g of protein.
- 100 g lentils – approx. 9 g of protein.
- 100 g beef steak – approx. 30.6 g of protein.
- Anything made with Happy Way protein powder (smoothie, slice, bliss ball, banana bread, muffins) – approx. 20 g of protein + the protein of any other ingredients.
- 20 g peanut butter – approx. 5 g of protein.
To learn more about Happy Way's protein powders, read our blog, 'Best protein powder types and flavours'.
COMPLETE, INCOMPLETE AND COMPLEMENTARY PROTEINS
Just like carbohydrates, different food sources provide different amounts and quality of protein. Protein is made up of small building blocks called amino acids that are both produced by the body naturally and also sourced from our diet to support optimal health and well-being.
There are 22 amino acids in total, and of those 22, 9 are known as essential amino acids—these are the ones that need to be obtained through the foods we eat. Some foods contain all 9 essential amino acids, and when they do, they’re referred to as COMPLETE proteins. Examples of complete proteins include…
- Animal proteins (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy).
- Whey protein powders.
- Quinoa and soy products (including tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy yoghurt).
Other foods are likely sources of INCOMPLETE protein, which are foods that don’t contain all of the 9 essential amino acids and, instead, perhaps only a few of them. Being that most complete proteins come from animal sources, those that live a vegan-friendly lifestyle may, at times, find it difficult to get enough protein in their diet. However, a plant-based diet can still source all of the essential amino acids by consuming COMPLEMENTARY proteins.
Complementary proteins are a combination of food products that, on their own, don’t contain all of the 9 essential amino acids but, when combined, provide the full essential amino acid profile. Some examples of complementary protein combinations include…
- Whole grain pita bread with hummus.
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter.
- Beans and brown rice.
- Yoghurt and muesli or nuts.
- Whole grain cereal with milk.
- Legume-based soup with wholegrain toast.
- Happy Way vegan protein powder, made with a combination of pea and rice protein or hemp protein, therefore being a source of all 9 essential amino acids.
To learn more about our vegan protein powders, check out our blog, ‘The best plant-based protein powder’.