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The Curious Case of Exercise and Food

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The biggest myth surrounding exercise is that we can burn off all the calories that we eat, leading to us binge on high calorie, zero nutrition fast food. The truth is that the body and the muscles are built in the kitchen and no amount of exercise will give you a sleek physique or even good health, if correct nutrition is missing in the equation.

Though most of the people who train and workout consistently have a better health and a better cardiovascular endurance, yet it is usually due to the disciplined nutrition regime which they follow rather than the exercise itself. Improper diet can wreck havoc on the body which is already stressed under the demands of training especially in runners and cyclists.

Following are the reasons why you cannot out-train a bad diet

1. On a normal day to day basis the intensity of the workouts are not that much to justify a high intake of calories. Having a high carbohydrate or a deep fried meal means you are in-taking more calories than actually burning. Cheat meal is supposed to be had once a week that too it should be mindful, correct and clean eating.

2. Building up physical endurance requires the correct form of nutrition. A lot of sugar rich food and carbonated drinks can give you the sugar high leading to a short burst of energy with severe energy depletion later on.

3. There is an age-old myth which stems from conventional calories-in-calories-out thinking. But the story is not that simple. The body is governed by a circadian rhythm of hormones like growth hormone, insulin and cortisol hence the timings as well as the quality of food is very important. Also calories are not created equally.  The calories in spinach can never be the as the ones in a pizza, samosa or ice cream as both trigger different reactions. Simple carbohydrate and sugars drive up insulin levels leading to storage as fat.

4. No amount of exercise leads to spot reduction of target areas. When you consume excess calories and can’t burn them all off solely from your workouts, they head right to these trouble zones. Women tend to gain weight in the hips and thighs, while men pack it on around their midsection. So even if you’ve gained muscle in these areas, it will be covered by a layer of fat. And abs exercises alone aren’t enough to decrease your body-fat percentage or abdominal fat.

5. By eating inflammatory foods, such as sugar/fructose, refined grains, trans fats, and processed foods in general, your body will generate inflammatory cytokines. Research has that increased intake of fat and glucose induces inflammation which can lead to development of diabetes, fatty liver and cardiovascular diseases.

Hence we have to be focused primarily on correct nutrition as we are what we eat! Our weight and health is mainly determined by what we eat – it comes down to 80 percent food and 20 percent exercise.

Do not justify incorrect patterns of eating with an intense sweat session you may have had earlier.

Dr. Pallavi Aga