How Changing Your Diet Can Help Take Your Workouts To The Next Level

Unsplash/Brooke Lark

We know you don’t need us to tell you that scarfing down three pieces of pepperoni pizza isn’t going to make you feel as good as gradually making your way through a veggie-packed salad. But what you might not realize is just how much these kinds of dietary choices matter when it comes to athletic performance.

Think of your body as a car and your food as the fuel you put in the gas tank. You have several levels of performance when it comes to picking your vehicle, and you have several qualities of fuel to choose from as well. So you have to decide: Do you want to be the top-notch BMW fueled by premium plus gas? Or do you want to be the dinky little hatchback that’s just barely chugging along on regular gas?

Both are functioning cars, but the kind of journey they create and the type of final destination they reach couldn’t be more different.

To work like the BMW, your body needs the optimal balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The protein builds new protein fibers, as well as repairs the ones that are damaged over time. The carbohydrates provide the energy your muscles need to work. The right amount of vitamins and minerals optimize your body’s conversion of food into fuel and allow for your muscles to contract the way they should. And water plays the critical role of regulating both your heart rate and body temperature.

Carb Calculator for Quick Carb, Protein, and Fat Ratios

Image via: AHealthBlog

When one of these factors is off-kilter, your body not only senses it but shows it in how it performs in your daily workouts. If you’re low on lean protein, you’re recovery time suffers. If your carbohydrate sources are full of sugar and processed materials rather than whole grains and vegetables, your energy highs and lows are dramatic and uncomfortable. If you’re imbalanced with your vitamins and minerals, you feel fatigued and your muscles cramp that much faster. And if you’re dehydrated, you end up lightheaded or dizzy or nauseated or a combination of the three.

Some people are more in tune with their body’s reactions to these variations than others, and while being sensitive to them can be agitating at times, having a stronger body awareness makes you more likely to not only want to make healthier choices, but also stick with them. Because at the end of the day, we all want to feel our best. And if the fuel we’re putting in the tank leaves us feeling out of sorts, we’re probably best off switching up the kind of fuel we’re buying.

So, instead of forcing yourself to limit added sugar or ditch processed carbs “just because it’s healthier,” think about how those changes ultimately affect your body’s fitness equation. If you give yourself a more concrete understanding of the benefits you’re creating for your body, you’ll be much more likely to stick with the new habits you’re trying to develop. Because let’s be honest — who wouldn’t feel amazing about shaving minutes off their mile pace or cranking through twice their standard number of burpees with ease? That’s what we thought.