You Can’t Exercise Your Way out of a Bad Diet

I used to think I could eat whatever I liked because I exercised everyday. It was a nice idea in theory, but who was I kidding? An hour of moving dumbbells around wasn’t going to offset the slab of chocolate I’d eaten for breakfast. (Never mind the pizza I had at lunch or the three beers I drank for dinner.)

I was in my early twenties at the time and nutrition wasn’t foremost on my mind. I’m a lot healthier nowadays, but until recently my late night snacking habit was still in full swing. I was working out like a demon though, so no harm no foul, right?

Um, no. The truth is, the harder you train, the better you have to eat. When you’re putting your body through its paces at the gym or racking up mileage on the road, you’re asking a lot of it. It’s going to need a serious nutrient top-up in return.

A bag of Reece’s Pieces for breakfast isn’t going to aid the recovery process. And for that matter, neither is eating a plate of cookies after dinner (even if they are vegan). Your body needs to be free from junk so it can work on digesting the good stuff you’ve eaten.

FOCUS ON NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS

It doesn’t matter if you’re an ultra-athlete or an aqua-aerobics enthusiast, you need to nourish your body. Choosing nutrient-rich foods over the kind of junk I was indulging in will keep the pounds off and you healthy.

Nutrient-rich foods are high in vitamins and minerals and generally lower in calories than their processed counterparts. Focus on incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet and eat the ‘fun stuff’ (donuts, pizza, etc.) sparingly. You only have to look to the world’s oldest people to see how well this approach works.

THE 80/20 WEIGHT LOSS RULE

Weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. Bah humbug, right? How cool would it be if we could eat whatever we liked and then offset the calories by going for a run. Sadly, that’s not how it works.

Holly Lofton, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine and director of the weight management program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center confirms this, “Essentially, you’d need to run seven to 10 miles a day to lose one pound a week.The average person can’t keep this up, especially without increasing their caloric intake.

EXERCISE VS. DIET

Okay, so if diet plays such a big role in weight loss, do you even have to exercise at all? I mean, why not binge-watch the latest Netflix series and snack on celery sticks instead?

First, who even eats celery sticks? And second, it’s not a case of exercise or diet, the two go hand in hand. Exercise builds muscle, burns fat and improves bone density, while a healthy diet ensures you get the proper nutrients.

It does have to be all or nothing though. Aim to eat well and exercise well during the week and then take it a little easier on the weekend.

That doesn’t mean going crazy (I see you reaching for the family-size bag of Hershey’s Kisses). Indulge in a pizza or have an ice-cream, that’s what cheat days are for.

Then, when tomorrow rolls around it’s back to business as usual. You eat well, you break a sweat and you feel great. No more trying to exercise your way out of a bad diet, because we both know that doesn’t work.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

75 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y17 days ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y17 days ago

thanks

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John J
John J17 days ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J17 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Sue H
Sue H26 days ago

Good reminders, thanks.

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natasha p
Past Member 3 months ago

healthy eating is a must.

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Clare O
Clare O3 months ago

Adding muscle increases the metabolic rate.

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Clare O
Clare O3 months ago

Would read better without all the brand names because we do not have those brands here so we have to try to guess. Is he talking about popcorn or chocolate for breakfast?

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Cheryl B
Cheryl B4 months ago

Great advice, thanks

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Maria P

Makes sense.

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