I'm An Ex-Bodybuilder: Here's Why I Think Food Is More Important Than Exercise
One question I’m frequently asked when I first meet someone is why I traded in my weightlifting belt for a kitchen apron. Many people seem to think that food, in any form, is the arch enemy of a professionally tailored body. Whether you’re a pencil-thin model strutting down the runway of a Parisian fashion show or a muscular Adonis competing on the stage of the Mr. Olympia championship, one too many calories could spell the end of a promising career.
That may be society’s predominant way of thinking, but I’ve found that food, and specifically good nutrition, is actually the key driver behind achieving any desired body type—no matter how much physical training you do. In fact, what I learned during my years of strenuous workouts and various muscle-supplementing meal regimens can be summed up with the following simple adage:
"You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet, but you can always eat your way to a fitter and healthier body."
Think about what this means. At first, it sounds counterintuitive. But in the end, what you eat either helps or takes away from any benefits you gain through exercise. No matter what shape you're in.
Why I left bodybuilding to become a chef.
This is the main reason I became a professional chef after a successful career in bodybuilding. I knew I could prepare tasty meals that could match the dietary needs of my friends and colleagues who were still participating in the physical fitness world, meals purposely designed to complement their workout routines.
It all comes down to this: Whether you're skinny or obese, a diet consisting of fructose, sugars, and starchy carbohydrate-dense foods is going to be damaging to your body and counteract any benefits gained in your workout activities. On the other hand, diets consisting of natural, minimally processed whole foods and high-quality proteins will support your health and efficiently fuel your workouts, making them more effective.
These are the nutrition principles I live by.
Whatever your current body type or level of physical fitness, here are important steps to follow in order to feel better and make the most out of any exercise you get:
- Learn what healthy eating really means and include as many wholesome foods into each meal as you can.
- Enjoy quick, healthy meals and snacks that fit easily into your daily routine.
- Make healthy eating a lifestyle.
- Increase physical activity at whatever level is appropriate after consulting your health professional.
How a healthy diet can change your life.
Almost immediately, you’ll experience a sense of well-being, more restful sleep, a healthy or healthier number on the scale, and stronger muscles and bones. While it’s true that your family genetics does play a role in some health outcomes, a healthy diet and physical activity can help to decrease your symptoms, reduce your risks, and set you on the path to a longer, more positive life.
So if you’re looking to make changes in your life, the best thing you can do is keep a healthy, nutritional diet in mind, no matter what your current physical condition is. And for those who may initially lack the discipline or even time to prepare healthy meals, be sure to take advantage of meal plans out there. They take all the guess work and prep work out of eating foods that will complement your physical and mental well-being.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.