If you’re an athlete, or exercise most days a week, you’re supporting your health. Regular physical activity is one of the cornerstones of wellness—it’s a crucial part of getting and staying healthy. But while it’s necessary, it’s not enough.

Just as exercise is important to health, so is a good diet. Eating a healthy diet rich in critical nutrients helps ensure you’re getting the most out of your exercise, and it also helps your body replenish after workouts. Long exercise sessions and intense training increase your body’s nutritional needs—meaning your body needs even more nutrition. No matter how disciplined you are with your athletic training, if you are eating nutrient-poor foods, you’re not getting all of the benefits of your hard work.

Proper nutrition at the cellular level is as important to both health and athletic performance as strength training, cardiovascular training and recovery time. In fact, it’s the foundation for everything else. When you’ve trained as hard as you can, a healthy diet and targeted nutritional supplements, designed specifically to support muscle growth, recovery and blood flow, make all the difference.

Regular exercise offers a myriad of health advantages, but perhaps the greatest benefit for overall health may be that exercise dramatically increases the body’s sustained levels of Nitric Oxide (NO). When you perform a routine of intensive exercise—and then eat a healthy diet that includes nutrients that support NO production—you have enormously powerful nutrition to support general wellness. It’s also extremely effective for people at all levels of athletic activity.

NO is the critical molecule that ties together the benefits of exercise, diet and supplementation. Increasing and maintaining high levels of NO in your body will help you reach your next level of athletic performance—but you can’t get there without making sure your nutritional needs are met. Do you have tips for getting proper nutrition? Please share in the comments below.