We’ve all been there. The alarm clock goes off and the last thing
we want to do is crawl out of bed and exercise.
We give ourselves an out, with the famous, “I’ll just start tomorrow” excuse.
Maybe we justify missing our workout by telling ourselves we look good
and we’re doing our best to get it in.
Now, of course missing a few workouts is fine….but only using your
external results as a monitor if you should miss a workout is a faulty
monitoring device. You see, the
external benefits of exercise (shedding unwanted pounds, burning body fat and
building lean muscle) are only part of the equation. The true power of exercise happens internally
to your body’s systems and the best way to see this is through blood
I’ve been coaching for over 20 years and I like to
teach my clients that if their internal systems are flowing (hormones,
digestion, blood, etc.) then the external results will always come….they go
hand in hand. My goal with this blog is to share the amazing
benefits exercise has on your body that can be directly shown through blood
Before we dive into the exercise benefits, I want to
quickly share that your food and exercise work together to create an optimal
internal environment in your body. So,
step one is to know how to optimally Fuel Your Body.
Exercise activates and strengthens
your muscles as well as helps create a balanced internal environment, but to
get the most out of your exercise it’s critical that you fuel your body
correctly. You see, your body is a
refuel as it goes machine, meaning it needs to be consistently fed the right
food to function optimally. This keeps
your blood sugar stable and your hormones in balance. Your nutrition (fuel) releases your stored
body fat and your exercise burns that fat up.
Here are 3 simple nutrition parameters to ensure your food is dialed in and
your blood sugar is balanced1. Eat every 3 to 4 hours (5-6 meals a day) – Make sure to eat within an hour upon waking, then every
3 to 4 hours and an hour within in bedtime.
Yes, you can eat before bed (it helps to prep your body for the fast
that occurs while you sleep and keep metabolism humming)
2. Eat a balance of Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates per meal – Your body needs all three nutrients to keep its
blood sugar stable. The exception is
your meal before bed. Unless you’re
hungry right before bed, you should stick to protein and fat only.
3. Eat the right amount of calories per meal – Too many calories at a meal causes a blood sugar spike
and fat storage while too few calories per meal causes your body to burn muscle
for fuel. The key is to eat the right
amount of calories per meal to satisfy you every 3 to 4 hours.
Ok, now that we have your blood
sugar balanced your body is ready to reap all the amazing benefits of exercise! Here are 5 excellent benefits that exercise
has on blood test results (keep in mind that great blood work means your body
is great on the inside!) Better Blood Sugar (glucose)
Optimal blood sugar readings are between 80mg/dl &
120mg/dl. This is how it
works….When it’s time to eat a meal and you feel hungry your blood sugar
is around 80mg/dl. Then about 90
minutes after that meal (as long as the meal was balanced) your blood
sugar is around 110 mg/dl. As long
as your blood sugar stays within the 80mg/dl to 120mg/dl range your body
will be in balance and will constantly release stored body fat. Anytime your blood sugar drops below
80mg/dl (typically by missing meals) your pancreas over releases the
hormone glucagon which causes your body to burn muscle, which slows your
metabolism and anytime your blood sugar spikes (typically by overloading
on carbohydrates and calories) above 120mg/dl, your pancreas over
releases the hormone insulin, which causes your body to store fat.
Ideally you want your Fasting Blood Sugar (8-12 hour
fast) to be between 80mg/dl – 90mg/dl.
Since exercise uses sugar and fat for energy, the more consistent
you are with your exercise the better blood sugar reading you will
have. Cardio and strength training
helps your body to more efficiently manage blood sugar levels and keeps your
blood sugar in a more optimal range by utilizing your excess glucose and
balancing out your two blood sugar hormones, glucagon and insulin.
Your A1C is an average of your blood sugar readings
over a few months. The lower your A1C,
the better. A lower A1C it means
your blood sugar is balanced throughout the day. Since exercise helps regulate sugar
levels and balances your blood sugar hormones, the end result is a better
fasting glucose. Since your
fasting glucose is improved, your A1C will naturally be lowered.
Higher HDL (your good
The two types of cholesterol we’re all use to seeing
on blood work are LDL and HDL. LDL
stands for low density lipoprotein (means it has more cholesterol than
protein) and is the “bad” cholesterol.
LDL’s go through your blood stream and leave behind plaque in your
arteries. HDL stands for high density lipoprotein (means it has more
protein than cholesterol). HDL’s
go through your blood stream and pick up the plaque left behind by the
LDL’s. So, the higher your HDL the
better for your arteries! Guess
what’s the number one way to increase your HDL’s? Your exercise! Especially steady
cardio for at least 30 minutes. If
you do cardio at least 4 days a week for 30 minutes at a steady heart
rate, your blood will begin to reflect an increase of HDL’s, which is
great for your blood, arteries and your heart!
Triglycerides are 3 fatty acids and a
glycerol molecule. Basically, they are
the main source of fat in your body.
High Triglycerides have a direct effect on the health of your heart and
cause excess fat storage. So the goal is
to keep your triglycerides low (anything less than 150mg/dl). As I shared, stable blood sugar causes your
body to continuously release stored body fat and your exercise then burns that
fat up in your muscle. So the more
exercise you can do (especially cardio), the more fat your body will burn. This will greatly assist with lowering your
triglyceride level in your blood.
Increased Endorphins will cause
more Balanced Hormone levels (ie. Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen and
We’ve all heard of the Runner’s High. Well, that is caused by the release of
neurotransmitters called endorphins (produced by your hormone system). Endorphins cause that sense of “well
being” we all feel after exercise.
I’ve always said that the stressors of life seem less stressful
when you are exercising consistently compared to when you are missing
workouts. This is all because of
Endorphins, and they also do more than just create a feeling of “well
being” they help in balancing your entire hormonal system. You see, your hormonal system works
like a kinetic chain and every link supports the next link. When one link is broken, it weakens the
entire chain and the chain in this analogy is your body.
As I shared, consistent exercise, cardio and strength
training, create a more stable environment in your body. This stability triggers more stable
levels of your all your hormones, a few being cortisol (your stress hormone),
thyroxin (your metabolism hormone) and estrogen and testosterone (your
sex hormones that greatly affect your mood).
So, there you have it! If you shift
your thinking about exercise from just a way to get an external result to
actually changing your body from the inside, you are more likely to get moving
and keep moving! After all, excellent blood work is a powerful
motivator and will always reveal your hard work. Just remember that if your body is in
amazing condition on the inside, you’ll be in amazing condition on the outside
too. We’ve heard it countless times,
always work your way from the inside out.
Your body is no different!
By: Mark Macdonald, Creator of the Venice Nutrition System and Author of NY Times Bestseller, Body Confidence