I am often asked by patients, "which is more important to focus on exercise or what I eat?". My answer every time is "the marriage of exercise and diet". You can exercise every day, getting your heart rate in the target zone for about an hour, complete strength training such as planks and lifting. But, you can still have excess weight and fat around your waist if you eat a diet high in calories coming from refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Why? All you are doing is burning off excess calories and possibly spiking your blood sugar.
A diet balanced with about 50% carbohydrates is important for fuel to support your daily activities and exercise plan. The carbohydrates should be from whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats, fruits, low-fat dairy, and vegetables (including starchy vegetables such as beans, peas, corn, potatoes, and cassava). Only about 20% of your calories should be from lean protein sources, including low-fat dairy, nuts, beans, fish, chicken and meat alternatives like tofu. Last, 25-30% of calories should come from healthy fats, such as salmon and tuna, nuts, seeds, plant-based oils, and avocado.
When exercise and a nutritionally-balanced diet is married, positive results are seen as early as 1-2 weeks! Of course, the summer brings many unhealthy foods including fruity high sugar alcohol beverages (hello margarita and mojitos), fat laden macaroni/potato salads, processed meats in hot dogs, and boardwalk treats. Life is meant to be enjoyed and to be "tasted".
Follow the rule of eating 95% healthy majority of your day and you will be fine. You should not feel guilty about having a boardwalk treat, that is what our summers are all about in the Northeast! Remember to also enjoy our other summer treats, such as riding a bike on the boards, walking in the sand for miles, swimming, gardening, hiking, etc. (there are so many great summer activities!).
As always, we are here to help you marry exercise and diet!
The Dieting Dietitian