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Can you out train a bad diet?

It’s a common question. Before we can answer it, we need to think about what we consider a ‘bad’ diet and what we’re ultimately trying to achieve. 


The word ‘diet’ simply means the food and drink that you consume. There are all kinds of different diets that work for different people and there is no one size fits all diet for weight loss. 

When people refer to having a ‘bad’ diet, they usually mean a diet made up of high sugar, high fat foods that if eaten in large amounts can lead to weight gain. We don’t like to think of foods, or diets, as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s much better to aim for a well-balanced, healthy diet, that can include high salt, high sugar foods in moderation. 

Now let’s look at energy expenditure. If you take in a set number of calories (energy) and use up this same amount of energy, then your weight will stay the same. If you consume more energy than you use up, this will lead to weight gain. And if you use up more energy than you take in, this will lead to weight loss. 

Exercise alone can’t guarantee weight loss if your diet is high in calories and isn’t providing your body with the right nutrients to fuel your daily activities. A healthy, balanced diet, limiting foods high in saturated fats and added or free sugars, will help you achieve weight loss if you are active enough to use more energy than you take in.    

Is it possible to gain weight even when being active?  

The simple answer is yes, if you aren’t using up more than the energy you are taking in, the extra calories that aren’t used are stored and add to your weight. So, it’s really important that if we want to lose weight, we follow a healthy balanced diet and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.   

What about drinks? We always recommend water as the healthiest drink to have, but low sugar squash options are the next best thing. Try to limit fizzy drinks high in sugar and calories where possible.  

When it comes to calories from drinks, alcohol calories can easily add up and they are classed as “empty” calories, which mean they offer no nutritional value. Because of this, these calories will be used as a fuel source first before your body can start to use up other energy from your diet. Also keep in mind that when you drink you might not be as in control of your eating, and you could end up consuming more calories than you realise. 

So can you out train a bad diet? Well, you can burn more calories than you consume, but you’re better off thinking of things differently. It’s best to aim to be as active as possible and follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. If you’re not losing weight, then it’s time to look at reducing your calories or increasing your physical activity.

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