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Diet and exercise: The ultimate power couple

Consume fewer calories and move more.

It’s the simple equation for better health. But it doesn’t take into account the actual reality of life. Prioritising health in your busy schedule can be a struggle that leads to FAD diets, or crazy exercise regimes that fast become too demanding.

Diet and exercise doesn’t need to be a tug of war according to nutritionist Dr. Lori Shemek, who shares her advice on striking a manageable balance.  

Dwindling health due to a poor diet is all too familiar to Dr Lori. After losing her mother at a young age, she was inspired. “My mother was the motivation that drove me to helping others,” she says. “She never realized she could make different choices and so that became my mission:  – to help others discover they always have a choice in life.

BENEFITS OF A HEALTHY DIET

A nutritionally valuable diet provides your body with fuel—to heal, workout and keep you functioning as normal. Beyond the obvious, Dr Lori also credits healthy eating for its role in “preventing most chronic diseases, reversal of inflammation, slower ageing, physical longevity, and weight loss success.”

Why should you eat a balanced diet?

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Strong bones and teeth
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Feeling energised
  • Protect against illness

“If weight loss is your main goal, certain foods can have a big influence on your results,” she continues. “The spice turmeric, for example, targets belly fat cells and helps to shrink them, same with blueberries!”

Outside of weight loss, the right food also has an impact on our brain and body healing process. Fatty fish like salmon is rich in Omega 3 a powerful booster for cognitive function. Pumpkin seeds and nuts supply you vital nutrients like with zinc, magnesium and copper, all vital nutrients for peak health.

But will your food choices always win? When it comes to weight loss, diet trumps exercise. Remember, it’s a lot easier to eat a cookie than it is to burn it off. What we consume has an impact on our bodies, which, often cannot be reversed by exercise.

BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

You know that positive feeling that washes over you after a really good training session? That’s your endorphins at play, and athletes really crave their dose.

What regular exercise does for you:

  • Strengthen muscles
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Enhances emotional well being
  • Promote better sleep
  • Develop social relationships

The power of exercise physically encourages a healthier state of mind, distracting you from worries and generally lifts your mood. Dr Lori explains, “Exercise improves brain health, mood, depression, weight, sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.”

Lifting weights builds muscle tone, cardio sessions increase stamina and yoga improves flexibility. Working out promotes fitness, heightening metabolic rate to burn off calories, something that diet alone cannot do.

Exercise also grows social connections.

Working out with a friend will help keep you on track and fuels motivation. Dr Lori adds the importance of sharing your goals with someone else. “Find accountability whether with a health or weight loss coach, or a friend, who will ensure you stay on your path.”

THE BEST OF BOTH

Diet and exercise regimes are time-consuming to plan and action, so how can the relationship be balanced?

Learning about the true nutritional value of calories helps you to understand more about the dynamic relationship between what we eat and how we move.

However, religiously counting every unit can fast feel like a chore. In fact, Dr Lori suggests taking a different approach entirely, “Calories are burnt up by the body differently—100 calories of broccoli metabolizes vastly different than a 100 calorie chocolate bar. The focus should instead be on developing a nutrient-dense or lower carbohydrate diet.

Instead of counting calories, Lori favours keeping tabs on your carb consumption. “I recommend counting carb grams, and keeping them under 100 grams daily.”

READ MORE:  Meat-free meals for fast recovery

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

Feel like you’ve tried it all before but can’t stick to anything? Properly managing and introducing change will stop you from breaking your new routine.

“Surround yourself with healthy foods, prepare them ahead of time, schedule workouts and honour them as you would a doctor’s appointment,” says Dr Lori.

How to get your health organised:

  • Cook food in batches and store for the week
  • Try out new sports/exercise
  • Find a workout buddy
  • Experiment with different diets

Think about what you want to achieve before setting out. Both diet and exercise hold different benefits to your health, but taking a holistic approach will achieve optimum results.

“Exercise together with a nutritious diet is the ultimate healthy superpower”.

Learn more about nutrition with Dr. Lori Shemeks book ‘How to fight FATinflammation’

Follow her advice on Facebook and Twitter.