The link between diet and exercise

As we tentatively step out of what, if I recall correctly, is now lockdown number four (feels more like 104) and with gyms opening, it’s important that you really understand the link between diet and exercise so that you can hit all your body and health goals going forward.

Before I look more closely, let me take a moment to make sure we have clarity. It may sound obvious, but I believe these two fundamental elements of health and fitness are so incredibly important that it is worth pausing to reflect on them.

What is a diet?

A ‘diet’ refers to the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. It’s often confused and interpreted to be a term just for a person aiming to lose weight.

What is exercise?

Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness.

Picking diet and exercise apart

Diet is heavily linked to nutrition; however, diet is also a broad term that can stretch to all types of health. One of my favourite quotes is from Steven Bartlett.

Your diet isn’t just what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you read and who you spend your time with.’

Steven Bartlett

This, to me, speaks volume as what you consume will, then, consume you. That can go for nutrition as well as anything else, the more you eat unhealthy foods, the more you will have a negative outlook on fitness and potentially be overweight.

The link between diet and exercise is very important, they go hand in hand to hit all fitness goals (whether it’s to gain, maintain or lose weight). To aim to lose weight, you will need to be in a calorie deficit to what you expend during the day. 

Getting to grips with calories

To expand on this, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the term to describe the calories we burn whilst doing nothing. To add BMR to the exercise you do daily, there will be a number of calories that you have burned per day e.g., 2,500 (average for males). 

Naturally, if you are burning 2,500 calories and the aim is to lose weight, then you’d ideally want to be eating less than 2,500 calories per day to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit. I’d suggest eating between 350-500 calories less dependent on certain factors (BMI, weight, height, age, gender etc). The same can go for weight gain, standard calorie burn = 2,500 then means that calorie intake would ideally be 350-500 higher (3,000 calories) depending on the same factors.

The main reason as to why people gain excess fat is due to an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure – and this can be lessened (or even avoided) by people creating the link between diet & exercise.

The intensity of exercise can influence the number of calories you burn, e.g., a HITT workout will burn more calories than a 5min walk. Therefore meaning, we can control the number of active calories that we want to burn in order to meet our target of gaining or losing weight.

To summarise

Diet will play a big part in exercise routine and also performance. If your aim is to lose weight and you are eating the right nutrients as well as being in a calorie deficit, then you are on the right track to lose weight and it can increase performance because you are feeding your body with the right nutrients to act correctly.


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