Practical tips to get in shape

The key to good shape is physical activity and proper nutrition. One of the best things you can do for your health is to combine physical activity with a balanced and healthy diet. This would bring many benefits, not only for your appearance but also for your overall well-being, sleep, energy levels, and emotions.


Movement and nutrition are two main factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle (of course, there are other components, but I'll focus on these two in this article). Physical activity and diet help regulate muscle mass, sleep quality, and stress levels. They are also inextricably linked; in order for our body to function optimally, the intake of food and beverages must be well adapted to the physical efforts made on a daily basis. 

Moreover, a balanced diet provides the body with the necessary micro- and macronutrients for good health. Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates serve as a good source of energy for the body - they also regulate the function of the organs, support cell division, and many other functions. Physical activity, regardless of what it is, makes our body work harder to maintain good physical condition and develop the physical potential of the body (Loughborough University 2018).

Physical activity

How do you integrate physical activity into your daily life?

If you have not been very active before but want to start from somewhere, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends "at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week". Ideally, your movement should last more than 10 minutes at a time to have a beneficial effect on the respiratory system and your heart rate (WHO 2022).

Try to incorporate the new exercise habits into your routine. The key to success is consistency - make movement a regular habit. Take this as a moment set aside just for you and your well-being. One way to make this happen is to start your day by exercising or finishing it with some kind of movement. Every person has their own rhythm, preferences, and goals. It is important not to get demotivated and to keep going, even when you think you have failed. That’s why dietitians and health coaches might help you to stay motivated to share your issues and find solutions to these issues together.

The benefits of regular physical activity include:

  • Reduced risk of developing some chronic diseases: cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) etc.
  • Reduced risk of becoming overweight/obese due to lack of physical activity.
  • Development of muscle tone, endurance, breathing, balance and flexibility.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Prevention of mental issues such as depression and anxiety.

(CDC 2022)

The beneficial effects of movement on mental health are well established. Structured exercise has been shown to generate serotonin (the hormone of happiness) and regulate cortisol (the stress hormone) (CDC 2022). Or, in other words, when you exercise, you release more happy hormones and reduce stress levels. 


When you start exercising (or moving more than usual), even when your workouts are not that intense, a varied, balanced, and healthy diet and good hydration should provide your body with everything it needs to cope with the new physical demands.

If you start incorporating more intense and frequent workouts, then your nutritional intake should be modified according to the physical efforts you make on a weekly (and daily) basis. Therefore, each person has different nutritional needs and proper assessment by a dietitian is essential. 

How do you modify your nutrient intake based on your activity level? 

To maintain a healthy weight, make sure that your calorie intake does not exceed your energy expenditure for the day (this can be calculated and assessed by a healthcare professional since a thorough medical assessment should be done).

If you want to lose weight, then the calories consumed should be less than the energy expended. As mentioned, this may be influenced by numerous other factors, so take caution when using this equation. During a competition period or intense movement, nutritional needs are higher.

What foods are preferred when regularly exercising?

  • Eat complex carbohydrates, such as legumes, wholegrains.
  • Eat healthy fats, eg. olive oil, nuts, seeds
  • Take easily digestible proteins such as eggs, chicken/turkey, fish. They contribute to proper muscle fibers re-formation after intense physical activity.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. They are great sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

When is it recommended to eat when being physically active?

  • Try to schedule your workouts around two to four hours after your last main meal.
  • You can also eat something light an hour before a workout to supply additional energy. For instance, fruit with yogurt or a protein shake.
  • During your training, do not forget to hydrate.
  • If your workout lasts more than 45 minutes, it would be good to include an easily digestible carbohydrate to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Post-workout, eat a balanced and healthy meal to recover optimally. 

This article’s intention is to inform you about the basic principles of incorporating physical activity and balanced nutrition in your daily life. However, if you think you require additional assessment and would like to achieve certain results, make sure to contact a dietitian, like me, for professional evaluation and guidance. 


  • Loughborough University, 2018. Get your sleep sorted before you tackle diet and exercise- tips for nodding off. [online].  UK: Loughborough University. Available here.  (10th November 2022)
  • World Health Organisation (WHO), 2022. Physical activity. [online]. Geneva: WHO. Available here. (10th November 2022)
  • Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022. Benefits of Physical Activity. [online]. USA: CDC Department of Health and Human Services. Available here.   (10th November 2022)

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Aberdeen, UK, AB25
Written by Kristina Vavura, Registered Dietitian (RD) and Clinical Data Manager (CDM)
Aberdeen, UK, AB25

I am a registered dietitian (RD) in the UK and Bulgaria and a Clinical Data Manager (CDM) in Bayer. I have experience in creating nutritional regimens for overweight and obese patients, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, malnutrition, dyslipidaemia, cholelithiasis, nephrolithiasis and many other diseases. I also provide nutritional guidance for patients.

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