Striking a Balance Between Exercise and Diet
Forget the fads – a tried and tested holistic approach to healthy living will provide results and keep you on track.
These days there’s a huge emphasis on the importance of maintaining health. As researchers learn more about health, we get more and more advice on how to be healthy – the best foods, the worst foods, top tips for exercising, and so on. But this can make it hard to know what’s most important and where to start.
The key to a healthy lifestyle is getting a simple balance between diet and exercise, because they both have important but distinct roles in healthy living. You should start by talking to healthcare professional before starting any diet or exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time. They can help you cut through any confusion, and provide advice on any extra help that might be good for you.
1. Get some professional advice
2. Go for it and start some exercise
3. Give your diet a shake-up
Exercise does more than just work up a Sweat
Regular exercise can provide a wide range of health benefits. It’s helpful for managing weight, lowering cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. Plus it can help reduce your risk of serious illnesses such as heart conditions and type 2 diabetes. And if those aren’t enough reasons to consider a regular exercise habit, then how about this: it simply makes you feel better, physically and mentally!1a
But, even so, exercise alone won’t solve everything, because it has other effects on your behaviour. For example, if you try to lose weight by just adding exercise, you’re likely to end up hungrier, and this might make you eat more than if you weren’t exercising. Plus exercise can tire you out to the point where you become more of a couch potato than when you’re not working out. Either way, exercise alone might defeat its own purpose.2a You can end up back at square one – unless you tackle diet too.
A Good Diet is Important in Many Ways
No matter how active you are, it’s important to eat well because of all the different roles that different foods and nutrients have. And if you do decide to be more active, getting your eating habits in order can be a huge help.3a, 3b
So what is a balanced diet? It means going for variety – a great place to start when giving your diet a shake-up. It’s important to choose from five different food groups, keeping your vegetable and grain intake high, and to choose a variety of options from within these groups.4
1. Grains: be sure to include plenty of wholegrains such as brown rice and multigrain bread.
2. Vegetables: mix it up – go for a range of colors and texture when it comes to choosing vegetables.
3. Fruits: keep them whole (fresh, frozen, dried or canned), but steer away from fruit juice.
4. Protein: get some animal protein (lean meat, fish, eggs) and some plant protein (beans, nuts, seeds).
5. Dairy or soy: whichever you choose, learn to love the lower fat versions.
Benefits of a Low-Fat High-Fiber Diet
Not only will this variety give you all the nutrients you need, it will also provide you with plenty of fiber – from your grains, veggies and fruits. For starters, this is great for your gut – it provides good digestive health and regular bowel movements. But it doesn’t stop there. Fiber helps you feel full for longer, and can help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. These are some of the reasons why a good diet is great for heart health and good health.5a
Why You Need Both
If you’re looking for a life-changing plan that you’ll be able to stick to, you’ll do best by striking a balance: regular exercise plus healthy eating. Exercise alone may not give the results you want,6a, 6b and diet alone won’t make you stronger.7a
Get professional advice, make a plan, and make it happen!
1. Better Health Channel. Physical activity - it's important. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/physical-activity-its-important Accessed August 2018.
2. Reynolds G. Why exercise alone may not be the key to weight loss. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/11/well/move/why-exercise-alone-may-not-be-the-key-to-weight-loss.html Accessed August 2018.
3. Healthline. Eating the right foods for exercise. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise-eating-healthy#calories Accessed August 2018.
4. ChooseMyPlate.gov. Variety. Available at: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/variety Accessed August 2018.
5. Nutrition Australia. Fibre. Available at: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/sites/default/files/Fibre-2014.pdf Accessed August 2018.
6. Talens D. Exercise Versus Diet: Which Is More Important For Weight Loss?Available at: https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/04/exercise-vs-diet-which-is-more-important-for-weight-loss Accessed August 2018.
7. Ochner CN, et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015; 3(4): 232-234.