You may have asked yourself this question more than once, and maybe you´ve even searched it on the internet or talked about it and probably you ended up confused. Some people say that you can out-exercise a bad diet while others say it´s impossible, for me, it depends.
If your goal is to lose weight as long as you maintain a calorie deficit you will lose weight it doesn´t matter if you´re following a clean diet 100% of the time or if you´re eating unhealthy foods. At least at the beginning every one can lose weight just by eating less, but with time for some people it gets harder and harder to maintain the calorie deficit needed to continue losing weight and one of the reasons is that unhealthy foods are not as satiating as healthy whole foods, most of the highly processed foods are very high in calories so you don´t get to eat a lot of food while whole fresh foods are lower in calories, have more nutrients and are more satiating which gives you the opportunity to eat more while maintaining a calorie deficit.
Now, we need to mention insulin, people who are insulin sensitive will find it easier to out exercise a bad diet while people who are insulin resistant won´t be able to out exercise a bad diet. Our metabolism also plays an important role, people who have a fast metabolism or flexible metabolism have more freedom on their diet, they can eat a lot more unhealthy foods and exercise and still get amazing results while people with a slow metabolism or inflexible metabolism won´t get a positive result.
Hormones and metabolism play and important role on how food and exercise affects our body, the healthier we are the more freedom we have and the chances of out exercising a bad diet are higher when it comes to fitness goals like weight loss, maintenance or muscle growth.
Achieving a fitness goal like weight loss, muscle growth and maintenance is completely separate from optimal health, even when you can out exercise a bad diet and achieve your fitness goal that doesn´t mean you´ll be able to maintain optimal health just by exercising while you eat unhealthy foods. Every food choice has an impact on our health, the more unhealthy foods we eat for longer periods of time the more damage it does to our body and sooner or later we´ll pay the price. When it comes to health, we can not out exercise a bad diet.
I understand that we all want to enjoy life, we want to eat our favorite meals, snacks and desserts, this is why I always say to avoid them as much as possible, if you can choose healthy options 80% to 90% of the time and eat your favorite meals 20% or 10% of the time you´ll be fine. Also I need to mention that the healthier you are the more freedom you have, if you are on a healthy weight considering body composition, if you are fit and lean then you can have more of those foods you like, if you´re not as healthy you may need to be a lot more disciplined on all 4 principles of fitness for a couple of months so that you get healthier and then you can have more freedom.
We also need to mention the other 2 principles of fitness, sleep and stress. If you´re working on them making sure you keep stress levels low of follow strategies that help you lower stress every day and if you get enough high quality sleep the chances of out exercising a bad diet are higher. High levels of stress and poor quality or lack of sleep have a huge negative impact on our health and fitness goal, they affect negatively both of them so if you can lower stress and get high quality sleep every night your body is working properly which gives you the opportunity to have some unhealthy foods without getting a huge negative impact.
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