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It goes without saying that maintaining your health can be beneficial to your longevity and happiness. Whether your goal includes losing weight, getting stronger, or both, your diet helps determine how quickly you meet your goals. While diet and exercise go hand in hand for maintaining a healthy body, the key to building healthy habits lies in what you eat. Here are a few reasons why your training relies on what you eat.

Your Body Needs a Good Diet to Operate at Max Efficiency

Your body needs the right nutrients in order to keep your various systems running smoothly. In a general sense, foods rich in protein and “good” fats provide lasting energy. In addition, proteins that easily break down can be digested and absorbed more quickly and with less effort than more dense and complex proteins. Foods that contain easily digestible proteins include quinoa, hemp seeds, almonds, and peanuts. Foods that are rich in unsaturated “good fat” include avocados, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Concentrated sugars and foods high in saturated fat are not all evil, but typically do more harm than good. Simple sugars, for instance, provide short-lived energy and can sometimes trigger dips or crashes in your energy levels once their energizing effects begin to wear off. Pair simple sugar foods like pastas and breads with vegetable proteins to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Your energy level can directly impact your willingness to remain active. Create a positive feedback loop by indulging in a diet that is mindful of foods that act as long-term energy sources. Reward yourself with a satisfying workout.

For Weight Loss, Calories Totals Matter More Than Push Up Reps

While exercise burns calories, operating with a calorie deficit is a reliable method for losing weight. If weight loss is your goal, try eating 250 to 500 calories less per day than your daily caloric needs. Operating at a deficit higher than 500 may make you feel tired and less likely to train. Operating a deficit less than 250 is dangerously close to not operating at a deficit at all. Typically, a 250 daily calorie deficit helps the average adult lose a half pound per week.

Creating a calorie deficit using exercise is not impossible, but seemingly infinitely more difficult. Walking briskly for one hour, for instance, can burn anywhere from 150 to 300 calories in most adults. Food-wise, this is the equivalent of burning off a small, relatively healthy snack. Unless your training involves several hours per day of high-intensity workouts, being mindful of your diet is the most efficient way to maintain a calorie deficit.

Feeling full while maintaining a calorie deficit is a challenge. Luckily, the same foods that provide lasting energy also provide sufficient nutrition with fewer calories. Protein-rich nuts and grains are excellent sources of energy with relatively low glycemic indexes and calorie counts. This means that you can feel full and energized without breaking your calorie commitments.

No matter what your goal may be, healthy fitness training relies heavily on what you eat. Energize your body, satisfy your hunger and reap the benefits of a mindful diet.