Achieving a healthy balance.

by Shaun Cooper

17 April 2015.


This article is based on concepts and teachings learned from Precision Nutrition and it’s co-founder, Dr. John Berardi PhD. The views expressed here are those of the post’s author only.

Dr John Berardi is an international leader in Sports and Exercise Nutrition and the Co-Founder of Precision Nutrition - the world's largest online nutrition coaching and professional education company. 

In one of Precision Nutrition’s certification courses, he explains the purpose of good nutrition and it’s role in achieving improved body composition, performance and health.

After studying this concept, it became apparent that improvements in body composition, performance and health should not be viewed in isolation, but rather collectively in order to achieve overall health and wellbeing.


A better body, increased strength and better performance are all admirable goals to strive for, however there are times where we become so engrossed with one element of our health, fitness or our bodies that we lose sight of others. Sometimes we even focus on a single element so intently, that we negatively impact our health or fitness overall to achieve a particular goal we have become obsessed with. 

Focus is an extremely important attribute and quality to harness in the pursuit of any goal. However, there is a vast difference between focus and obsession. The latter rarely ends in a healthy outcome, in any area of life.

There are three areas within health and fitness that people usually work towards, for any number of goals:

  • Improved body composition – a better-looking body or physique, generally achieved by an increase in lean muscle and a reduction in body fat.

  • Improved performance – increases in strength, athletic performance, speed etc.

  • Improved health and overall wellbeing.

When these three areas overlap and advance together as shown below, we can achieve a very satisfying level of overall health and wellbeing.

Image Credit: The Essentials of Sports and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual (Precision Nutrition)
by John Berardi and Ryan Andrews


In many cases, improvement in one area will lead to improvements in another. For example, if you gain some muscle and lose body fat, chances are that you have been training harder to achieve this, which will also result in an increase in your physical performance.

It is important however to keep in mind that an improvement in one area doesn’t always result in an improvement in another. If we focus too strictly on body composition, this may end up having a negative impact on performance or vice versa, ultimately having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing overall, both physically and mentally.

Say for example, your only goal is to achieve a flat tummy or mid-section. You may become so obsessed with losing weight that you eat nothing but steamed chicken and broccoli at every meal and start exercising intensely every chance you get. This may be an extreme example, but one that we’ll use to prove a point (and one that plays out a lot more frequently than you would think).

After a while, you may start to notice the fat around your belly (and other areas) starting to shed and eventually you may even start to see some semblance of abs starting to shine through. But this has come after weeks and weeks of battling temptations and silencing the voice in your head telling you to eat that super-cheesy pizza you've been craving.

On top of the mental battles you're having with yourself, it is also likely that you are now physically lacking energy and becoming irritable because you’re forcing yourself to forego all the delicious foods you used to love to eat. In fact, your diet has actually become so strict that it’s no longer balanced and you’re missing out on essential nutrients you would be benefitting from if you were eating a variety of nutritious foods.

In this situation, you are ultimately degrading your overall health and wellbeing. You probably aren’t in a good state of mind most of the time either. How fulfilling would it really be to look good, but feel terrible? How long could you keep this up for? A more holistic approach to your health, fitness and nutrition however, is far more likely to have you looking better and feeling better long-term.

To avoid falling into the trap of focussing on one element of your health at the expense of others, it is important to become adequately informed. Getting quality advice about your nutrition, exercise and supplements should be your first step in improving your health. Then implementing this advice with body composition, performance and overall health in mind is the key to achieving sustainable, healthy improvements.

So, in order to achieve a better body, better performance and a greater level of overall health, make sure to give attention to all three areas to achieve positive and lasting results (as opposed to focussing on a single goal that is far too narrowly-focussed). By focussing on the advancement of all three areas together, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the best version of yourself.


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