Can YOU Out Exercise A Bad Diet?

Big ol' pile of potatoes with grass fed butter and sour cream. Yummy!


Can you out exercise a bad diet? Well I say YES YOU CAN! By the way, who says you can’t out exercise a bad diet? Seriously, who said it? What did they know? Where do they prove this? Where did they get there information or even the idea of this “theory”? Life has proven to me that people will believe almost anything. Apparently this is an easy one for most people to bite in to because almost no one seems to challenge it. Well I am gonna tear it apart today. As one of the base intentions of this website, I will keep this as short as possible, and I will not bury you with a bunch of crazy science that none of us, including me, would truly understand.

First let’s cover some basics that are simple to understand. We’ve got the theory that says that body weight is easy to control and or manipulate. This theory says that if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. On the flip side, this theory also says that if you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Well guess what. This is absolutely the truth. Okay, it’s not the whole truth, but it is the basis for the truth in a world where people stay between the lines of sanity where body weight manipulation and long term health are concerned. Many people will argue that simply keeping your calories within the fat burning limit or less than you burn is not enough. They will tell you that you must have a certain amount of protein and a certain amount of carbohydrates and probably zero fat. Again they would be wrong. The macro nutrient count will help delegate the composition of your bodily make up, but it can’t keep you from losing weight. I’m going to share with you two examples of living outside the lines of sanity. One from both sides of the fence. These are real life examples. They are 100% the truth. I know because one of them is me and the other one is my wife.

For years all I wanted to do was get huge. I literally lived on a bulk phase. Everyday of my life for years I was power eating. I would sometimes take three to six months off to prove a point to someone, but most of the time from my early twenty’s until just a few years ago I was bulking baby! I don’t do this anymore. I feel like I should set that record straight because what I used to do is a terrible example of healthy living and I will never live like that again. The risks far out weigh the potential rewards. Take care to notice the key words “potential rewards” because that’s all it ever was. Here is a typical days worth of food. It won’t be exact, but you will get the point. I used to start my day with 3-4 big bowls of cereal and milk. As long as I had consumed well over 1000 calories I would hit the road for the day. Back then I would head to the gym, do my thing, and then drink down another 750-1000 calories. For lunch I would go looking for a big pile of meat with veggies and massive amounts of starch. I wasn’t picky. Bread, potatoes, rice, beans, or whatever I found were always a starch or heavy carbohydrate option. When dinner time came around I would start to eat and generally not stop until I was ready for bed. I would eat a typical meat, potato, and veggie dinner but you have to multiply my portions by at least a strong 2 if not 3 from the norm. After dinner I would eat an entire FAMILY size box of macaroni and cheese by myself. Hey, it was organic so that made it okay right? Who was I kidding. If I still had room, and I usually did, I would hit the ice cream. My daily goal was to hit 6-7000 calories. I always got my goal. Eating this way I never really made it much over 200 real pounds of body weight at a height of 5′ 5″. I always lifted heavy and back then it was five days a week and I would do zero cardio for fear of losing that precious body weight. What did it get me? It got me a hyper thyroid. A really aggressive one. For the record, a hyperthyroid causes everything in your body to run on overdrive. It’s hard on everything including your immune system. My wife and I would go out of town for a few days for Thanksgiving where she, like many people, would probably pack on a few extra unwanted pounds from eating more than normal. Not me. I would literally lose up to five real pounds of body weight because my thyroid was spinning so uncontrollably and I was unable to get the volume of food I was used to. Amazingly enough, few people ever felt bad for me. Today, my system is fine as I don’t live on that silly bulk cycle. I too can now be one of the many and get fat on Turkey Day.Truth be told, I have zero plans on ever doing another bulk cycle. My thyroid is now fine.

The flip side of this coin is the scenario that most people fall prey to, especially our ladies. My wife is one of the ring leaders of this. She could write the book on how to slow your metabolism down to a death march. Guess what. She was diagnosed with having a hypothyroid. Some people say there is no connection. I disagree. Over time under eating has a serious detrimental effect on your body’s metabolism and I say your thyroid can definitely play along. Your metabolism can slow down to the point that the ol’ calories in, calories out theory no longer applies to you. You can literally get stopped in your tracks if you are trying to lose body weight. To this day, my wife still battles this.

Here is the reality of both sides. I could have continued to gain weight. I could have used ped’s or steroids which I will not do. I know I could pack on some more muscle and a whole lot of strength going down that road, but it is not my road. I could also just have added a bunch of empty calories and gotten fat. A 42 oz. bag of a very popular candy coated chocolate product that we all know contains 5880 calories. That would definitely have given me the edge to pack more body weight. The chronic under eater can always keep on starving themselves and just run and run and run and eventually their body will give in and their body will consume itself, burning muscle for energy and eventually destroying its own organs. The under eating people either make a change, if its not too late, or they die.

Both of those options bring non health to everyone who goes down those roads. Perhaps not immediately, but if not reversed, eventually they will pay the price. This brings us back to the major point at hand for this topic. Can you out exercise a bad diet? Yes you can, but you better be prepared to work for it. I’m not saying it’s a great idea, but it can absolutely without a doubt be accomplished. Olympic level swimmers and long distance runners have been reported to eat as much as 10,000 calories a day. Is that the truth? Is it an exaggerated number? I have no way to tell you for sure. I can tell you that I once attempted to eat 20,000 calories from a Friday night through a Sunday night and gave up Sunday evening at just over 19,000 calories That’s a lot of food! If it is exaggerated, you can bet that athletes like that are still eating a lot more than most people. Let’s say we replace a bunch of their calories with lower quality calories but keep the total intake the same. Would they still be able to compete at such a high level? Maybe they would. Maybe they wouldn’t. They would still be using the majority of the extra calories for raw fuel. That is the major point. Okay so you’re not an olympic level athlete. How could I ever beat the system like that you ask? Most people could never eat anywhere near 10,000 calories a day first of all. Let’s say you eat a typical american diet. Statistics say that american women generally eat about 1800 calories per day where american men eat about 2600. I guarantee you those numbers are low. For our purposes we are going to double that number. Our women are going to eat 3600 calories per day and our men are going to eat 5200 calories per day. These calories won’t even be considered the greatest food choices, but they will be reasonable considering we are trying to burn fat. Depending on the sport and the athlete, 3600 and 5200 is not that much food for a person to consume daily. How can I possibly burn that many calories you ask? It’s pretty simple if you are truly trying to achieve a goal. If you’re just jaw jacking, you’ve got an uphill battle ahead.

The first rule of fat loss is that we DO NOT talk about fat loss. No, sorry that was my mistake. That’s from something different all together. Actually as I think about it, it’s not completely different, but different enough for today. The real main goal of fat loss is to never lose any muscle. Unless I am speaking through a reference perspective, I try to never use the term weight loss. It’s always about the fat loss. You may lose 100 pounds. You are still better off no matter what, just to get that weight off your back, but if you lost equal parts fat and muscle, you did something wrong. It’s probably more what you didn’t do that hurt your optimal results. I would be really excited to see a 100 pound drop with a 90/10 split as opposed to a 50/50 split. Depending on how bad off a person is when they begin their quest, they could actually lose 100 pounds of fat while gaining muscle weight. The point is, we only talk about losing fat, not just generically weight. With our calories set to a dull roar and our end goal clear, there are really only two key points that need to happen in the gym. They don’t even have to happen in the gym. They can happen anywhere without any special equipment. Point one is to keep and or build as much lean muscle mass as we can. ¬†Muscle is a key player in keeping our base line metabolism up and spinning. Point two determines whether you win or lose this battle. MOVE MOVE MOVE!!!!!!! It’s really just that simple. Your metabolism should be ripping right along at this point as you are clearly eating plenty of calories to keep it spinning and your resistance training which is point one, assuming you are doing it and following a good program, should be keeping your muscle mass going in the right direction. With that covered all you have to do is burn up all the extra fuel from the extra calories which is point two. How you get that done is up to you. Sprint, run, bike, swim, whatever you choose will work. You simply just have to do enough. There are plenty of people out there that compete in zero sport competition but run 10 miles every day. It’s not my thing at all, but it burns incredible amounts of excess fuel or calories. I’m not a fan of elliptical machines, but they have their place. They are low impact for really heavy people that need to let their joints catch back up for a while. Anything that gets you moving A LOT will burn up that extra fuel. The choice is completely up to you.

Let’s go back to my Fight Club reference for some final thoughts. The major take away thought from that entire movie for me is this. If you believe in yourself and you believe in what you are trying to accomplish, you can get amazing things done that most everyone else believes not possible. Here’s the negative side to out exercising a bad diet. We are still eating a bad diet so our optimum performance is likely to be compromised. You are always better off to clean up your diet and eat within lines of sanity for your chosen lifestyle. I stayed on the caloric quantity side of this topic for this article because the general argument here is quantity of intake instead of quality. Quality of food is very important and a topic for another day. I’m going to ask the question one final time? Can you out exercise a bad diet. Of course you can. The deciding factor lye’s within oneself. Whether we are talking about a bad diet or the next big hurdle in life you chose to beat, finding your personal drive and motivation is all it takes. You just gotta want it bad enough.

Push Harder.


  1. I agree to a point here. Dietary rules can be over thought and over played just like anything else in life.

  2. Diet is very important. There is no question there. I wrote the article in a generic way to prove a generic point. Where real fat loss and long term health is concerned, a caloric deficit is only one part of the equation. If the system is dirty, it will misfire until appropriately cleaned

  3. Of course these are just the basics to get you on the right track. Along with the proper diet you need to know how much to eat of each food group, when to eat, and why.

  4. Between exercise and carelios: they play hand in hand. If you eat, let’s say, 2000 carelios and burn only a 1000 you will not lose weight.Between DIET and exercise (meaning what and when you eat vs. exercise): Diet. Diet is the most important factor in weight loss.References :

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