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When it comes to practicing a healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise go hand in hand. It’s not always easy changing your eating habits and choosing the healthier foods with all the temptations out there. But, increasing physical activity can help you to make better food choices, especially now during the pandemic. And from speaking to many of my clients and others right now, many are exercising more than ever to relieve the stress of feeling isolated and do something good during an uncertain time.

While many people exercise to lose weight and burn calories, exercise also has many other benefits for both your physical and mental health. One major benefit is that it makes you feel good and improves your mood. In turn, this often leads you to crave healthier foods that will replenish and re-energize you after a workout, rather than leaving you feeling sluggish and run-down. Chances are you’re not going to be craving cake after an amazing sweat sesh, but a nice juicy piece of fruit may sound absolutely perfect!

If you’ve been struggling to get on the healthy eating bandwagon, increasing your physical activity may be a good place to start. Here are a few ways how engaging in more physical activity can help you to make better food choices.

1. You’ll feel more confident and energetic, and will want to eat foods that make you feel the same. 

When you have a great workout, you always feel better afterward. It is so rare that you feel worse! Your newfound confidence and energy will make you want to continue. Subconsciously, you may be more likely to choose nutritious, filling foods that will keep your energy levels high. Chances are if you have soda or a dessert that makes you bloated, it will strip you of those happy endorphins. It doesn’t mean you’ll never crave sugar after a workout, but remembering how you felt after you had it may make you think twice before you do it again.

2. You don’t want to negate the benefits of your hard work.

So, you took the time and blocked out your schedule to work out. You had a terrific workout! Remember that while you may feel great after, you still worked hard for this feeling! What you choose to eat after your workout is super important, and can make or break your results.

Make the most of your efforts and fuel your body with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that will enable you to reap the most benefit.

3. You physically will crave the nutrients that may be lacking after an intense workout.

Your body is smart and will tell you when it is lacking in something. After a workout, your body and response time is heightened, and so you may be more aware and mindful of what it needs to replenish. Often, what your body needs is a combination of carbohydrates and protein to restore glycogen levels (the storage form of glucose) and maximize muscle building. 

4. You’ll feel more thirsty and have a taste for water more. 

With more physical activity, your body requires more water. If you workout while dehydrated, you will likely be lacking energy. Your endurance will suffer and the activity will not be as enjoyable. If you see this in yourself, you will start to crave more water as you’ll remember what it felt like to be fatigued or weak during your workouts. Drinking more water is not only important for fueling your workouts, but has numerous benefits to your overall health. If you’re finding you don’t always crave water, increasing your physical activity can surely help.

woman drinking water to stay hydrated

If you’re feeling unmotivated to eat healthy, you’re not alone. Try starting with increasing your exercise first, and let that guide you to healthier eating habits. When you feel good physically, you’ll want to put good food into your body. If you’re new to exercising, consult with your doctor, start slow, and increase duration and intensity over time. And most of all, choose a workout that you enjoy and that you can stick to!