In my previous posts, you learned the basics of Clean Eating – the general idea of what it is, what types of foods to eat, and how to make small changes to get started on a path to cleaner eating.
In this post, I’d like to talk more about why all of this even matters. Why should we pay that much attention to our nutrition? What impact does it have on our overall health and well-being?
There are a few obvious reasons, and then a few not-so-obvious reasons why our nutrition matters to our health.
1. Increased Energy – it’s true when you hear the phrase “food is fuel.” Food truly is fuel to our bodies – it’s our primary energy source, so eating an appropriate mix of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats provide our bodies with the energy to get through a workout, fight fatigue, and maintain concentration throughout the day.
I also believe the phrase “if I eat like crap, I feel like crap” is true. I can always tell if I’ve eaten foods that are full of sugar, unhealthy fats, or processed ingredients because I feel tired, lethargic and generally low-energy.
2. A Strong Immune System – The nutrients – vitamins and minerals – naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats help boost your immune system against things like the common cold, flu, allergies and other seasonal illnesses. Specifically - protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E all have very high protective properties.
3. Weight Control – I think we all can generally agree that it’s harder to maintain a healthy weight by eating greasy, fatty foods all the time. But, one thing I didn’t realize early on in my fitness journey is that our nutrition accounts for at least 80% of our results, with exercise accounting for the other 20%.
Think about that for a second … You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Honestly, for many years, I thought I could. I can’t tell you how many times I would say to myself “I went running this morning, so I deserve this big bowl of ice cream” or “I worked out today, so I can eat this big bag of candy because they just cancel each other out.” That isn’t really true. ;)
I should also say that I am a huge advocate of balance in your diet – meaning, not only is it ok to treat yourself occasionally, I think it’s necessary to staying on track most of the time. Deprivation is a recipe for disaster.
4. Boosts Mood – Large fluctuations in blood sugar can affect your mood. High blood sugar can lead to irritability, and low blood sugar can affect anxiety and lethargy. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can also cause mood swings and fatigue. Many of these can be regulated by eating nutrient-rich foods.
From a more subjective point of view, I’ve found I feel happier and better about myself when I am eating foods that are good for my body. It’s totally a subjective reason – and everyone has their own opinion on this – this is just what I’ve found to be true for myself.
I hope you’ve learned some new things and found this Clean Eating series to be helpful.
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Thanks for reading!