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Why You Can't Out-Train a Bad Diet

No energy for your workout? Not seeing the changes you desire? Take a hard look at what you're eating.

When you're a teenager, or even in your 20s, it seems that you can eat whatever you want and still look and feel great. Then you hit your 30s and 40s and things start to change. Suddenly, there is a little extra hanging over your waistband. Your pants don't slide right over your hips. Your shirt feels a bit snug through the chest and shoulders. Why? You exercise consistently, but your food intake is not what it should be.

Calories In vs. Calories Out

From a numbers perspective you may be able to exercise enough to combat the bad diet. If you eat more calories than you expend, you gain weight. If you eat less calories than you expend, you lose weight. If you balance it out, you maintain your weight. So, in theory, if you monitor that bad diet and you exercise hard you should be able to out-train that bad diet. But it usually doesn't work that way.

Food and Energy

Food fuels your body. You need a combination of fat, protein and carbohydrate to give your body energy for daily functions, as well as workouts. Some foods make you feel great, while others can leave you feeling lethargic. Remember Thanksgiving and Christmas? Remember that tired feeling after you consumed all that food? Or how about that pizza night last Friday? You probably didn't feel like going out for a run, or hitting the gym after that. You can't out-train that bad diet if you don't have the energy to exercise.


It's not just exercising to compensate the bad diet — it's exercising with intensity. You can't go out for a two mile walk and expect that to combat Taco Tuesday. Depending on how much you eat, a two mile run might not even be enough. Your workouts need to be hard, and consistency is key for any type of changes to your body. You may not see any of that hard work if you are exercising to balance out poor food choices.

Under the Surface

Not all obese people are extremely unhealthy, and not all slim people are healthy. Body weight alone does not indicate health, or even exercise performance. Now, excess body weight does increase your risk of disease but it's not the only factor. People that maintain a healthy body weight can have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, circulation issues, breathing issues, and just downright poor stamina and strength. What you consume can affect your body at a cellular level. Healthier food choices will help your body internally, as well as help you show off all the hard work in the gym.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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