You might have heard the fitness mantra: “you can’t out-train a bad diet”. Well here’s another one to add to your artillery: “Nutrition controls your body fat and weight; training controls your muscle size.”

At THE BOD, we practice targeted nutrition alongside weight training to hit body composition goals – whether that’s losing weight, gaining muscle, or both. 

The right nutrition will help to transform your body by:

  • Keeping your metabolism firing – undereating will cause you to go into ‘starvation mode’ where your metabolism slows down to conserve energy.
  • Fuelling your workout – you can’t expect to train hard without energy. The right combination of carbs, fats and protein will ensure you power through your workout and recover and repair ready for your next session.
  • Avoiding cravings – eating regularly throughout the day will keep the sugar-monsters at bay. Skipping meals, extended fasting, trying to ‘make-up’ for last night’s takeout with an extremely low cal day will all have you on the express train to a blowout faster than you can say “loaded fries”.
  • Regulating hormones – we need to eat healthy fats for essential body functions from hormone production to cell growth. Fats also help you feel full, so you avoid that urge to binge.

Then we add weight training to control your muscle size and overall physique. Bigger shoulders? A more proportioned shape? A stronger posterior chain? By manipulating your training regime, you can achieve your desired shape.

We also need to remember that exercise doesn’t just influence your body shape. Some of the strongest benefits of exercise are the ones you can’t see – blowing off steam, mental clarity, greater productivity, pain management, postural correction, cardio health, bone density and better sleep. There’s nothing quite like the endorphin hit of completing a tough training session, and nothing like the mental high of surpassing your PB on a heavy lift – or achieving a physical goal you didn’t think possible. 

(And don’t forget, muscle is more metabolically active than fat – so the more muscle you carry, the more energy you’ll burn even at rest. Yes, lying on the couch, burning calories. It’s not a myth – but you need to earn that muscle and keep exercising to maintain it!)

Why exercise alone doesn’t always work:

  • Overestimating output – you work up a sweat in a HIIT session so you can totally ‘afford’ that peanut butter smoothie, right? Wrong. Research shows that people tend to overestimate calories burned and underestimate calorie intake.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – can one 45-minute training session offset 10 hours of sitting at your desk? Probably not. Which is why what you eat ‘al desko’ is as important as how you train afterwards.
  • Overtraining could actually make you gain weight – if a little exercise is good, more is better right? Not necessarily. Overtraining can elevate cortisol levels, impact your hormones and could actually contribute to plateaus or storing weight.

So which is more important: diet or exercise?

The answer is BOTH. Sorry to break it to you, but nutrition or training alone won’t ever deliver the mind-body benefits of both. Eating well and training smart will help you achieve your body goals faster – and more easily – than focusing solely on diet or exercise.

Sophie is a nutritionist, master trainer, gym owner, author, mother of four, world-renowned fitness model and IFBB Bikini Pro. Founder of THE BOD body transformation programs, Sophie adopts a macro-led nutrition approach, which combined with weight training contributed to her winning Gold at the Arnold Classic (2017) just one year after giving birth to twin girls, and winning her IFBB Bikini Pro Card (2018). Sophie believes in living lean year-round, and shares her fitness, nutrition and parenting journey with her social following of over one million.

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