We all know it’s important to make time to exercise and move your body regularly. But no matter how many steps you log in a day, or how many workouts you crush in a week, you can’t overlook nutrition.
Healthy eating is a critical part of being able to nourish your body and reach your weight-loss goals.
“Diet is a large part of the battle towards getting in shape and staying fit,” says Cassie Majestic, M.D., an emergency medicine physician based in Orange County, CA. “Without a healthy, well-balanced diet, your body will not support your fitness journey.”
5 Reasons Why It’s Important to Eat Healthy
1. You Can’t Out-Train a Bad Diet
“No matter how much you move around, if you eat too many calories, it’s too difficult to outrun,” says Lisa Harris, a registered dietitian based in Temecula, CA.
In 30 minutes of brisk walking, for example, a 160-pound person will burn around 145 calories.
But you can easily consume that many calories in a matter of minutes (or even seconds — we’re looking at you, half-empty sleeve of cookies).
Make no mistake, you’re still doing great things for your body by exercising — but you need to be mindful about what you’re eating, too.
“Exercise and training only go so far when you’re not supporting them with a healthy diet,” Majestic says.
2. You’ll Learn to Fuel Your Body Properly
Many people assume that a “healthy eating plan” just means cutting calories, says Kristen Carli, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Scottsdale, AZ.
But it’s important that the calories you consume are coming from high-quality, nutrient-dense foods — otherwise, you may lose weight and still not be “healthy,” Carli adds.
“Proper nutrition is fuel to the body much like gasoline to a car,” says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., C.D.N., and CEO of New York Nutrition Group. “Sure, you can get that fuel from any calories you consume — however, the quality, sustainability, and effectiveness of that fuel will definitely depend on the quality of foods you live on.”
One of these choices is going to be packed with much more nutrition and energy than the other, providing you the fuel you need to go about your day.
3. It’s Not All About Weight
Nutrition is a key factor in weight loss, but that shouldn’t be your only motivation for eating healthy. Proper nutrition will support your overall health, not just your weight loss goals.
“Aim to seek out as many fruits and vegetables in your diet as you can — think of all the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber they contain,” Carli says.
4. Healthy Eating May Boost Your Mood
If you’ve ever felt sluggish after eating junk food, you know food can affect your mood — for better or worse.
5. Your Workouts Will Be More Effective
The better you eat, the harder you can train, and that makes your fitness journey a lot more effective.
Healthy eating habits are especially important when you’re following a heart-pumping workout program like 30 Day Breakaway, which mixes steady-state running, speedwork, and resistance training.
Proper nutrition — including carbohydrates for energy and protein for muscle growth — will help you get the most out of every workout.
Under-eating, on the other hand, can “drastically impair performance,” Carli says.
If your diet is lacking in nutrients, you may have trouble summoning the energy you need to get through your workout.
How to Start Eating Healthy
If you need help learning how to eat healthy, consider talking to a registered dietitian who can help you figure out a healthier diet and find balance in your daily nutrition.
“The most important thing is that you learn what your specific body needs to thrive so you can live your healthiest life,” Moskovitz says.