Even writing down the word ‘diet’ makes the skin crawl. Men and women both (but women, in particular) have been fed the idea that if you work out every day and diet nearly constantly, then you’ll have that perfect body you see everywhere — you know the one. In magazine ads, on tv, on Instagram. It’s in our faces constantly. It’s the idea that what we are isn’t enough — no. You have to work harder, longer, and then you’ll finally be happy.
But that isn’t really the case. No matter how many calories you burn, the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ at the end of the day rules all.
Energy in, energy out
The old adage, “everything in moderation”, comes to mind when we consider ‘energy in, energy out’.
So, what is energy in, energy out?
Consider ‘energy’ another word for calories. When building a campfire, the best way to get the fire going is to make sure the fire has something with energy to burn. Water won’t cut it — it’ll only put the fire out.
The same can be said for how our bodies consume and use up energy. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Energy is another word for “calories.” Your energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity. What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT. You burn a certain number of calories just by breathing air and digesting food. You also burn a certain number of calories (ENERGY OUT) through your daily routine.”
Now, none of this is to say that exercise is bad. In fact, it’s the opposite. Exercise is good! It helps balance your mood, benefits mental health, reduces risk of heart disease, helps your body manage blood sugar levels, keeps you focused, and helps you sleep better at night. Honestly, exercise is a beautiful thing.
But to use exercise as a tool for weight loss won’t work alone. Here’s why.
No amount of exercise can undo poor food choices
Consider this — according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “to burn off a single M&M you would have to walk about the length of a football field, or that to burn off the calories in one buffalo wing you would have to lift weights vigorously for 25 minutes”.
Not only that, but let’s say you’re a runner: you run five miles a day, six days a week, and you eat whatever you want. But just because you step on a scale and see a number that feels normal for you, that doesn’t mean that what you’re eating isn’t also hurting you.
According to CrossFit.com, “The narrative that exercise alone can prevent obesity and metabolic disease is largely the product of food industry PR campaigns; scientific evidence indicates sugar and carbohydrate consumption, specifically, contributes to disease progression.”
So which foods can help you feel healthy, strong, and mentally focused?
This one is easy. According to a recent UCLA report that reviewed 160 studies on how food affects the brain, researchers discovered that “a balanced diet, along with exercise, can beat back mental disorders.”
And to unpack that, it’s really about understanding macros, and understanding which foods work best for you.
- Quinoa is one of those grains that’s packed with protein, but it’s also anti-inflammatory. Works as a great substitute for heavy carbs like pasta and rice.
- Salmon is the miracle fish. Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, if eaten once a month even, it fills our body with vital proteins needed for cell manufacturing, can boost the shine of our hair and skin, and improve our mood.
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are packed with fiber, folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, and K. This is great for lowering your risk for obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
- Healthy fats like grass-fed ghee and avocado oil not only help make your food delicious, it’s also great for you. While these elements are high in calories, they help aid hormone function and can lower the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, and promote normal brain functions.
- Probiotics might sound like a trendy buzzword, but truly, this “good bacteria” actually works to support a healthy gut, which acts as a barrier to pathogens, ultimately boosting your immune system.
- Nuts, seeds, whole grains, yogurt, kefir all contain magnesium which helps balance serotonin and plays a huge role in other metabolic functions.
- Broccoli, oranges, kale, oranges, strawberries, mangoes, kiwis all contain loads of vitamin C, which is a great way to aid your immune system.
- Bok choy and turnip greens are loaded with folic acid which has been said to balance your serotonin levels. Plus, it aids in reproductive processes, like fetal brain development.
Ready to start your path to a nutritious lifestyle, but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, we can take it from here. Simply grab a 6-meal box, or a 12-meal box and get ready to put your nutrition on auto.