“I can’t work out right now, is it still worth me getting started working on my nutrition or should I wait til I’m able to exercise again?”
This would be similar to asking your financial planner, “I can’t pay off all my debt right now. I’m $10k in the hole and I’m only able to pay off $7,500 from savings. Should I wait to pay any of that interest-accruing debt til I can pay it all off at once?”
Zero reason to wait!! If anything, time when you cannot exercise or move your body as you otherwise would be able to, whether it’s due to an injury and in recovery, a crazy work or travel schedule, whatever the reason, your nutrition is then even MORE important if you’re trying to regulate or change your weight.
Something most of us aren’t very good at is looking at ‘calories in’ vs ‘calories out’ as being basically interchangeable. (That’s a whole other post in itself, as for most of us controlling calories in is much easier than droning away burning calories to try to offset our intake…)
What you’re eating
What you’re drinking
Your total intake = calories in
Expenditure via exercise
Expenditure via NEAT (steps, household chores, small movements sitting at desk, etc basically any and all movement of your body outside of actual exercise)
BMR/your body simply existing, but for purposes of this post consider the two above points as the main two we can really control day to day
Thermic effect of food (minutia/not worth stressing over for the average person)
Energy balance is calories in vs calories out. If we consume more than we expend/burn, we will gain weight over time. (Caloric surplus)
If we consume less than we expend burn, we will lose weight over time. (Caloric deficit)
Remove morality from both food and exercise. You don’t have to eat a certain way, or certain things, or certain amounts. You don’t have to exercise to check another box or for a specific purpose. Instead look at calories in (your eating) vs calories out (you moving your body) as pieces of the overall puzzle that can both play their part in weight management (but not why you should singularly focus on either). If you aim to stay in control of or to change your weight, you need to land in a caloric deficit each day. How you arrive there doesn’t matter, you can eat less or burn more, ideally some combo of both so neither one has to do all of the work.
If you are injured, recovering, working insane hours, traveling all the time, whatever it is, and you cannot exercise, your ‘calories out’ will be much much lower vs a time when you can exercise.
You have lost the benefit of one half of the energy balance equation. ‘Calories out’, you don’t get to use your advantage as much. Meaning ‘calories in’ then becomes that much more important if you want to stay in control of your weight.
If you cannot exercise, your very best bet will be really doubling down on what’s coming in, and getting your nutrition in check.
Get going with that, start learning about yourself and your habits, make adjustments where needed as you get to see the cause-effect relationship play out more and more, and when you do find yourself again able to exercise, let that act as icing on the cake for the progress you’ll already be making.
At that point you’ll likely find you are enjoying your chosen exercise even more because you won’t be doing it solely for weight management purposes.