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You Can’t Exercise Your Way Out of an Unhealthy Diet

Maybe, just maybe, if you squat till you drop and burpee into oblivion, you can burn off those fried fish tacos, chocolate frosted doughnuts, and bags upon bags of Funyuns. 


It’s a nice thought, and people definitely try. But, sadly, you can’t exercise off a bad diet, and fortunately, science backs it up. In one study, entitled: “It is Time to Bust the Myth of Physical Inactivity and Obesity: You Cannot Outrun a Bad Diet,” published last year in the British Medical Journal, researchers confirmed this and also argued the over-emphasis on physical exercise at the expense of dieting encourages manufacturers to create a “health halo legitimization of nutritionally deficient products.” 

Pond5/ Pinterest | Eating a well-balanced diet can help you get the calories and nutrients you need to fuel your daily activities


The burn-and-refuel mentality is dangerous. If you burn 600-800 calories while boxing, in a HIIT session, or by running, before treating yourself to a double cheeseburger, then yeah, your fat loss has just become a herculean struggle.

Further research

According to new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, high levels of physical activity do not counteract the detrimental effects of a poor diet on mortality risk. A study conducted at The University of Sydney found that participants with both high levels of physical activity and a high-quality diet had the lowest risk of death.


Compared to physically inactive participants with poor diets, those with the highest physical activity and a high-quality diet had a mortality risk that was reduced by 17% from all causes. They also had a 19% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and 27% percent from certain cancers.

Pond5/ Pinterest | Protein is needed to help keep your body growing, maintained, and repaired


The main point in the study is that you can’t “outrun a bad diet.” This adage was popularized in the mid-2000s to emphasize the importance of good nutrition and a good exercise program. 


And the saying is generally true since you can eat a 1,000-calorie cheeseburger in five minutes, but it’d take an hour or more of intense exercise to burn that many calories. Although there is an argument that many high school athletes outrun a bad diet. This isn’t intended to suggest that exercise doesn’t matter, only that it’s easy to sabotage your calorie-burning efforts with horrible calorie-consuming habits.

Why exercise fails

FatCamera/ Getty Images | Good nutrition can help your body perform better and recover faster after each workout


Exercise does not produce nutrients for your body to use. It may help burn excess stored nutrients such as fat, but it does not provide your body with the nutrition needed to operate at optimal levels. That is why exercise alone cannot reverse bad nutrition. The best way to promote a healthy transformation is through a scientific menu plan where you consume real foods combined with your body’s natural supplements.


Understand that exercise is a beneficial component of your health and wellness. But, those individuals who need to lose twenty pounds or more, it cannot overcome bad lifestyle choices or the ill effects of a bad diet. Exercise only works long-term when people switch to eating real foods that provide the body with a complement of proteins, plenty of water, and vital nutrients such as good carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.

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