“Abs are made in the kitchen.”
“Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise.”
“You can’t outrun your fork.”
Sayings like these, and plenty more like them, dominate the fitness inspiration world. But what do they really mean? And can they help you get lean and look your fittest? The truth is, the relationship between fitness and nutrition is complicated. And sometimes the mantras get in the way of actual, meaningful information. So, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite nutrition facts to help support your fitness journey.
Less isn’t always better
Maintaining a healthy weight is all about calories in, calories out, right? Well, not necessarily. This concept relies on the idea that you’ll lose weight as long as you burn more calories than you consume. But, in reality, our metabolisms are a lot more complicated than that. It’s true. You do need a caloric deficit—to use more than you consume—to lose weight.
But “weight loss” doesn’t necessarily translate to “fat loss,” which is what most folks are actually working towards. As Healthline notes, “Different diets affect muscle and water losses differently, which can make it seem as if they are more effective for fat loss when this isn’t truly the case.”
In fact, eating too little can backfire and sabotage your fitness goals.
Understanding the 80/20 split
One prevalent belief is that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. But as far as nutrition facts are concerned, this is also an oversimplification. Mostly because it doesn’t specify which type of diet or exercise.
For example, bodybuilders looking to bulk up eat frequent, calorically-dense, high protein meals while lifting heavy weights. Alternately, according to the Mayo Clinic, distance runners should eat mostly carbs—especially when they’re training 1-3 hours per day.
So, what does the average weekend warrior need? It depends on your individual goals. In fact, according to the Nutrition Coalition, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all healthy diet. But, in general, if you focus on eating a balanced diet of unprocessed, whole foods, and lean proteins, you should have a diet that’s supporting your fitness goals.
So, can you outrun your fork?
The short answer: it’s easier to eat calories than it is to burn calories. So easy that a post-workout muffin can easily replenish what you just worked off in your 60-minute spin class. Which means it’s almost impossible to exercise away a consistently unhealthy diet.
But, in the end, nutrition should be about supporting your overall health. Be honest with yourself. Are you able to run longer, lift heavier, or swim faster after eating a donut or drinking a green smoothie? What types of meals help you sleep better and feel more energized? When the focus shifts from appearance to performance, you’re more likely to intuitively choose the foods your body needs.
Get the right nutrition facts
Here at Santa Barbara Athletic Club, we’ve worked hard to build a community that’s healthy from the inside out. And to support that mission, we’re still offering SB Swell members a Healthy Warrior discount. Get fresh, local produce delivered right to your doorstep and support your fitness goals with delicious, simple meal prep.