Focus on Nutrition: You Can’t Out Exercise a Bad Diet!

We have all heard the saying “you can’t out exercise a bad diet.” What does it mean? Turns out it has several meanings.

  • Exercise will never cause you to lose weight in the long term because the amount you would have to do is not sustainable.
  • Diet is the determining factor for healthy and lasting weight loss.
  • Diet is more important than exercise for longevity, health, and weight loss.


Can You Out Exercise a Good Diet?

Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t out exercise a good diet?” What could this mean? Turns out, it is all about metabolism.

  • Exercise is important for fitness and health, but your body will adjust the calories it burns to keep you burning at a consistent level REGARDLESS of activity level. 
  • Exercise will help you maintain weight loss and will improve your quality of life.
  • Healthy exercise does not have to be anything crazy, just basic and consistent movement.


Can You Exercise Too Much?

Too much of anything is not healthy and that includes exercise. Too much exercise, especially high intensity work-outs and weight lifting, increases inflammation and can cause issues in multiple areas of the body.  Are you in danger? Probably not. However, if you regularly run marathons, participate in iron man events, or spend hours in the gym each day then you do need to be mindful of the importance of balance in all areas of life, including exercise.


How Do I Set Myself Up for Success?

With this information in mind, what should you do?

  • Ignore all the hype about losing weight with a certain exercise program.
  • Ignore the calorie burn on your wearable device – it is often inflated by 30% or more.
  • Food tracking apps are also not accurate as they depend on portion size and are based on labels that are also often inaccurate.
  • Learn to use your own internal cues for eating. This is easier when you eat food as close to the source as possible. Your body does not register liquid calories or processed foods the way it does real whole food thus leading to overeating.
  • Eat for optimum health and your weight will take care of itself.
  • Exercise so you feel good and can be active and healthy well into your 90’s.


What are the keys for healthy eating and exercise?

  • Do not eat processed foods. This means that a protein bar, bag of chips, bag of cookies, store bought ice cream, or anything from a fast-food restaurant should not be in your diet on a regular basis, if at all.
    • “No one can eat just one” is not just the truth, it’s often the mission for large food companies.
  • Eat foods as close to how they were grown in nature.
  • Do something you enjoy – walking, hiking, golf, tennis, yard work, housework, biking, dancing.
  • Move every day and mix it up on occasion.
  • Include strength training at least twice per week. Your goal is not to be Mr. or Ms. America but to have strong bones and muscles as well as to improve brain health and mobility. You can do this with chair squats, counter push-ups, and other simple body weight moves.

If you need help with exercise, nutrition or losing weight, check out our health coaching and nutrition services, as well as our new medical weight loss program! We are here for you! 

Note: The information in this post was taken largely from the work of Dr. Herman Pontzer at Duke University.
Picture of Jane Bowser, Ed.D

Jane Bowser, Ed.D

Dr. Jane Bowser is a certified health coach, nutritionist, and personal trainer, blending academic expertise with a passion for holistic wellness.