Training vs. Exercising: Nutrition

Why proper nutrition is important to achieve your goals.

As we discussed in last month’s

"MooseFit Minutes" blog post, it is important to understand the difference between training and exercising to ensure you are doing everything to achieve YOUR goals.

There are three areas of focus that are important to differentiate between training and exercising:

  1. Workout programming

  2. Nutrition

  3. Recovery

Last month we took a detailed look at why it is important to perform the appropriate workouts depending on if we are training or exercise.

To summarize:


As someone who is training, you should be following a workout program that is periodized and will progressively become more and more challenging throughout the course of the microcycle. As you reach the end of a microcycle it is important to have a “de-load” period to allow your body to recover from the stress you placed on it and then recenter your training volume and intensity for the next microcycle. All your workouts and programming should be designed and performed with one goal: to perform to your highest ability at whatever event you are training for.


On the flip side of this, if you are exercising your goal is to feel better, be a healthier individual, and be more present to your co-workers, family, and friends. You are not as concerned about your performance, so your workouts should never add stress to your day or week, in-fact they should serve as a stress relief both during the workout and after the workout. What this means is that your workouts should be consistently challenging enough to release endorphins and dopamine so that you can release stress and improve your physical and mental health, but not so challenging that you are placing stress on your body and feeling tired throughout the day from your workouts.

This week we will discuss the importance of nutrition and how to differentiate how to fuel our bodies based on if we are training or exercising.


Training Nutrition

At a high level, if we are training for something our goal is to improve our performance at whatever it is we are training for. To accomplish this, we need to get the most out of our training sessions, and to ensure we are getting the most out of our training sessions we need to make sure we are timing our meals and the macronutrients in each meal appropriately.

You will need to fuel your body differently depending on what it is specifically you are training for, but it is good practice to fuel up with fats and protein in the morning to ensure you have slow-burning fuel to sustain you throughout the day. 1-2 hours before a training session it is important to fuel yourself with medium to fast-digesting carbohydrates to give you the intense fuel you will need for your training session without slowing you down while you are training. During a training session, depending on the length, it is also advisable to supplement with fast-acting carbohydrates to provide you with additional fuel to supplement the carbs and electrolytes you may have lost during your training session.

Immediately following your training session, recovery becomes crucially important. You want to avoid fats after your workouts as these severely slow down recoveries and consume fast-acting carbs to help your muscles recover, as well as protein to help increase your strength and muscle mass.

You will also need to ensure that you are maintaining the bodyweight that is ideal for your sport and not losing muscle mass or weight from all of the intense training you are doing. This means you will need to consume far more calories than your RMR (resting metabolic rate) and far more calories than that of someone who is exercising.


Exercise Nutrition

The goal of exercising is to increase your overall health and wellness (mind, body, and spirit) and ensure that you can perform well in your “everyday” life events such as long workdays and interactions with co-workers, family, and friends. If these are our goals, then our nutrition needs to be aligned with these goals. While high-performing athletes may need to focus on the specific macronutrients they consume and the timing of their meals – for individuals who are exercising it is far more important to ensure that your diet is well-rounded and consistent throughout the day and to provide consistent energy.

The last thing we want is someone who needs to take care of kids or lead meetings all day is to have spikes and lulls in energy levels because of the food we consume. Typically, these spikes and lulls in energy (blood sugar) come from processed carbohydrates that are contained in many everyday foods that you might not think twice about consuming.

To ensure that our energy stays consistent throughout the day, focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods with at least a palm-sized portion of vegetables with each meal. While the timing of when we consume our meals is not as important as someone training for something, it is advisable to front-load fats in the morning with a healthy-sized breakfast so that you have slow-burning fuel to keep you energized throughout the day.


Nutrition is extremely important for our overall health and wellness, but everyone’s diet needs to be treated uniquely. A healthy and effective diet for someone training for a triathlon could in fact be an unhealthy diet for someone simply exercising 45min per day to feel good and clear their mind. Likewise, on the flip-side of this, a perfectly well-rounded diet for someone exercising to feel good and clear their mind will be far too many calories and the wrong macronutrient split for someone training for a triathlon resulting in training sessions that are only 70% as effective as if they were fueling their body appropriately.

If you are not sure about how you should be fueling your body based on the way you are working out, please reach out to a coach. Nutrition is equally if not more important than workout programming in our attempts to achieve our health and wellness goals.

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