How Does Nutrition Impact Performance?

nutrition performanceIn the current world where social media has become a tool to show off your latest fitness progress, there are tons of Instagram-famous fitness models that set an unrealistic body standard for many people.

From advertising various weight training workouts, diet supplements, or perhaps even a program to obtain a higher vertical jump, it seems like you need to completely shredded with at least a six-pack to be even considered an “athlete” these days.

But this in fact, is actually not as accurate as it may seem.

When you go into the gym and you see muscular guys with enormous arms or girls with the best shoulders and abs, you would automatically assume they are the most fit and healthy people at the gym.

This may be true in most cases, but not all.

There is actually quite a big difference between looking good, and performing well/being healthy.

Of course there are pro athletes such as Premier League soccer players that typically have these lean physiques, we will be talking about the average person who does not have access to professional nutritionists on a daily basis.

To give you an example, there are many people that state that when they are heavier in weight, they tend to have a higher vertical jump.

There are also people that often experience a significant loss in strength from losing weight.

Today in this article, we will be differentiating the different elements when it comes to performance and health versus aesthetics in fitness.

Specifically, we will discuss some of the big impacts that nutrition may have on your performance at the gym, in a game, or even on your daily level of energy.

So let’s begin!

Calories are a Unit of Energy

There is quite a large negative perception of the “calorie” from the general public.

Calories are amounts of energy that are loaded into foods that we eat and are needed for the body to be able to function. Then, as you function, your body will start to burn the calories to use as energy.

If you eat more calories a day then your body actually needs as energy to function, then that’s when you will start to gain weight over time. This is called a caloric surplus.

When you see many fitness trainers and gurus on social media, many of their training methods and diets are made up of ideas that will either allow you to burn calories quicker or eat foods that are less calorie dense. Their goal is to put you at a caloric deficit, meaning that you will burn more calories everyday than you consume.

The caloric deficit is what is needed to help you lose weight and burn fat to finally get those six-pack abs.

But keep in mind, that the TYPE of calories you eat will also have an impact on your fitness goal as well.

Carbohydrates, protein, and fats are the three macronutrients that are added up to equal the total amount of calories you consume.

As you try to get into a caloric deficit, you will need to adjust the macronutrients so that you can maintain as much muscle or energy that you need.

On the Contrary…

Of course it is awesome to be shredded and to keep a diet that will help you to get there, but there are also CONS of doing this.

So let’s go over some possible cons of being too lean on a year-round basis.

Your Lifestyle

If you are someone who works a physically strenuous job or consider yourself an active person, you will need more calories to get you through the day.

Being in a caloric deficit will likely decrease your energy level, as the body’s source of energy is not as plentiful as before.

Your Gym or Sports Performance

This is an important one.

If you are someone who plays sports and is serious about improving, being in a calorific deficit may negatively affect your performance.

For example, let’s say that you are a basketball player who is trying to increase your vertical jump to be higher.

Being in a caloric deficit will make it harder for you to improve at this for multiple reasons.

First, you will not have as much energy (which I previously mentioned).

And your body will not be supplied with as many macronutrients such as protein which is very important for muscle growth and replenishment, especially when trying to achieve a new athletic personal best.

You will need to adjust your macronutrient in-take if you are thinking of trying to lose weight while getting better at a sport or stronger at the gym.

From the Health Perspective

Being lean is not necessarily healthy.

Of course being overweight will negatively affect your health as well, but you should take a look at bodybuilders for instance.

Bodybuilders are extremely lean during their contest preparation time, as well as during their contest.

During the off-season however, they tend to be a bit heavier for a couple of reasons.

First, it is to gain as much muscle as possible before they start to cut their fat by eating a lot of calories.

But secondly, it is because maintaining a super lean body is not sustainable year-round.

Your body uses your fat stores as a source of energy for those times where the calories run out. If your body is so lean that it doesn’t have enough fat stores, this could potentially be dangerous for your health.

If you are an active person that requires a lot of energy to get you through the day, maintaining a healthy amount of body fat may be in your best interest.

Don’t get this mixed up with being overweight though, because that has its own risks and potential hazards.

To Sum It Up…

If you are a person that wants to be lean, make sure to get enough nutrients into your body and track them on a daily basis to provide your body with enough replenishment.

If you are a person who is very active and is focused on better performance at a sport or getting stronger, try to eat a larger amount and give your body enough protein and healthy fats to give you that strength.

And lastly, be mindful that looking jacked and being a healthy person may not be completely correlated all the time.

About Jason Spencer

Jason Spencer has a tremendous enthusiasm for all facets of health, fitness and physical performance that stems from an athletic lifestyle from childhood. Jason was fortunate enough to compete in collegiate football and learned to love the challenges that physical activity placed on the body. As Jason progressed through his higher education and became increasingly aware of how science is applied to physical activity and how it reveals the benefits of exercise, he realized very quickly that he wanted to pursue a career that gives him the opportunity to teach others to compete, challenge, and push themselves towards something more valuable to them than anything else; health, fitness and self worth. Being a fitness professional allows Jason to do this for them and he is always incredibly grateful for that. Jason has a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Neuroscience and his acquired knowledge of the nervous system and muscle stimulation techniques has been extremely instrumental towards building a unique ability and feel for training the body for optimal form and function. As a personal trainer he is certified with ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine). He's also a strength & conditioning specialist with NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association). He has additional certifications in both kettlebell principles & techniques (Equinox), and Flexibility & Corrective Exercise (Swedish Institute of Health Sciences in NY). Jason has worked as a trainer and conditioning specialist in a variety of fitness facilities over the years such as: LA Fitness in Piscataway, NJ, the YMCA in Metuchen, NJ, and Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York, NY. He also does private in-home sessions all over the Manhattan area.

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