Can You Eat Whatever You Want If You Exercise?

September 12, 2012 | By | 11 Comments

Many people believe they can eat anything they want and not gain weight as long as they’re exercising. Are you making this common mistake?

It’s a sad sight but a common one, nonetheless: the same people sweating on the treadmills – week after week – without making an inch of progress.

No doubt you’ve witnessed this, first-hand, if you’re a regular gym-goer. And if you’re not, you probably know someone that fits the profile (i.e. the chronic exerciser who’s always battling their weight).

So, what gives? Why can’t these people drop the pounds despite so much physical fitness?

For the most part, it has to do with a very damaging myth: believing that you can eat whatever you want as long as you work out. In fact, not only will this stop you from losing weight, it will likely cause you to gain it.

Here’s why…

For starters, working out burns far few calories than you think. How much fewer? Here are a couple of examples to put things in perspective:

  • A 163 pound woman (the average weight of an American woman according to NHANES) walking at a speed of 3 miles/hour for 45 minutes will burn about 242 calories.
  • That same 163 pound woman will burn approximately 313 calories running on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

Now, keeping these numbers in mind, take a moment to think about what people usually do after exercising: they “reward” themselves – maybe not immediately after, but later in the day (or the next one) nonetheless.

So, if our hypothetical woman decided to eat a Snickers after her walk (packing 271 calories per bar), she’d essentially cancel out the calorie burn… and add 29 more to her daily total. If she decided to drink a Gatorade (310 calories / 12 oz.) after her run to rehydrate, again, she’s back to square one.

To make matters worse, consider the fact that people don’t just stop at Snickers bars and energy drinks. They go on to indulge far more than – believing that they’re burning it off. And that’s how the pounds stay on despite constant bouts of activity. It’s simple math (for the most part).

Listen, if you’re trying to lose weight no amount of exercise can make up for a poor diet! Furthermore, exercise alone is the worst way to go about it. Sure, it does help but much less than you think (and for reasons other than calorie burn; e.g. it increases your tissue’s insulin sensitivity). In fact, as far as fat loss is concerned, about 80% of your results come from the foods you eat, while 20% can be attributed to exercise.

Therefore, get your diet in check first, and then focus on working out. By having a sensible eating program in place you’ll be able to really reap the benefits of exercise. So unlike the “treadmill junkies” mentioned at the beginning of this article, you’ll make progress that you (and everyone around you) can be proud of.


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Filed in: Dieting Myths & Mistakes

Comments (11)

  1. MP Greene

    Please, you are a great author. But several minutes into your commentary, I don’t have a clue as to how I can help myself. It takes tooo long to get to the point so I am not gaining from your monologues. I wish I could create the time to hear you but I simply don”t. I need to hear what you have to say to help me but not to listen to an audio book when I have things to accomplish.

    Please GET to the point so I can help myself.


  2. Thanks, this website is really beneficial

  3. Laura Tell

    James, when can you eat the 3 pieces of 70 percent Coco chocolate? Anytime or does it need to be on a cheat meal? I don’t think I’m doing very well on the plan. I’m been on it very religiously for 4 weeks and have only lost 5 lbs. I don’t.need to loose very much only about 12 more Lbs. I’ve been trying very hard and it doesn’t seem to be coming off very fast. In fact after 4 lbs i gained 1 back then lost it again. What am I doing wrong. Laura

    • Hi Laura,

      Congrats on your initial weight loss. The first two weeks of the program are the metabolic reset phase. It takes time for your metabolism to change in order for you to loose weight. Everyone loses weight at a different pace. As long as you are feeling better overall, sleeping better, and have more energy, the diet is working. You need to stick with it and you will look and feel better.

      Dark chocolate is viewed as the better choice for a treat (the lesser evil as you called it). It is not something to have every day. If you do everything else to the dot, an occasional treat of high quality such as dark chocolate will not have much impact on your progress. It is the overall picture that counts.

  4. Hi, I want to subscribe for this blog to obtain most recent updates, thus where can i
    do it please help out.

  5. Lisa

    Hi I found you on line I listened to your whole talking points I joined and spent a lot of what of course I shouldn’t have but your web sight does not see me as a member I can’t log in with the password you gave me .im feeling already not positive about this if you can’t see me as a member yet already paid please help me an please fast thank you.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m sorry to hear that. I have reset your account. You can access your products at any time inside of your member’s area. Please check your email for your new login credentials.

      Wishing you a great start!

  6. Nancy

    I have paid for membership but when signing in using the password provided to me it does work. I hope this isn’t a reflection on what’s to come.


    • Nadia Karanastasis

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m sorry to hear that. I have reset your account. You can access your products at any time inside of your member’s area. Please check your email for your log in credentials.

      We wish you a great start and again our sincere apologies for the inconvenience that this has caused you.

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