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Can a fit athlete be unhealthy?

You must have heard the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, well your body is no different. Its possible to be fit on the outside but unhealthy on the inside. (Learn more the Ivor Cummins’ podcast episode here)

What’s the difference?

From a physical point of view, a person who is physically fit will always look healthy but being fit is more of an aesthetic look. By contrast being truly healthy is all about the state of the inside of your body and its ability to fight off disease or illness.

A growing, body of research proves that all the exercise in the world won't protect your health if you don't also eat and sleep well.

The illusion that you can eat junk food and consume endless amounts of sugar and then exercise, to somehow keep you and your body healthy is completely FALSE.

I have heard people say time and time again: 'I run, so I can eat whatever I want’ which is clearly not true, as we have learnt from Steve Redgrave who was at the peek of his rowing career when he found out he had type2 diabetes.

Redgrave had won his first four Olympic gold medals while eating a diet of around 7,000 calories a day which is double the recommended amount for the average adult male but was put on a low-sugar diet following his diagnosis.

After his energy levels started to plummet, Redgrave reverted back to eating a high-calorie, high-sugar diet and injecting after meals between eight to ten times per day!

How can you be both fit AND healthy?

The first step in being healthy is eating healthy! That means a well-balanced diet low in sugar, carbs and processed food. When your body is pumped full of carbs it uses it for fuel (and stores the excess energy as fat) so you will never burn your body fat. So instead of loading up with carbohydrates, change your diet to eat more protein and healthy fats which will speed up your metabolism and encourage your body to burn your body fat as fuel when exercising. You’ll be much less hungry too.

If you are an athlete, a great person to follow is our friend the amazing Prof Tim Noakes who is a South African scientist, and an emeritus professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town. He is best known for his work in sports science and for his support of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet, as set out in his books The Real Meal Revolution and Lore of Nutrition: Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs, click here.