Fitness Myth #5
If You Exercise, You Can Eat
Whatever You Want

Welcome to Week 5 in “Debunking Fitness Myths.”  Last week we covered “Muscle Weighs More Than Fat” where we debunked the idea that muscle is heavier than fat.  Continuing with fitness myths, this week we will debunk the common belief that if you exercise, you can eat whatever you want!

fitness myths if you exercise you can eat whatever you want
It’s fine as long as you workout, right?!

There seems to be a popular belief that as long as you exercise, you can eat whatever you want.  All the indulgent calories that you consume will just be offset by all the exercise, right?  Sadly, no.  Although it sounds like a wonderful concept, it just doesn’t work this way due to science.

“You just simply cannot out-exercise a poor diet”

It is true that some people do have a higher performing metabolism and are able to indulge more than the next person and not gain weight.  We all know people like this who fill their face with cupcakes, pizza, and ice cream and still rock a toned, beach ready body.  Don’t you just love them?!  Regardless of the fact that they may be genetically blessed, keep in mind that they are still doing their body quite the disservice by filling it with junk food.  There’s nothing healthy about a poor diet.

fitness myth if you exercise you can eat whatever you want
The doctor doesn’t approve!

It’s easy to look at these people who can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, all while exercising regularly and never gain a pound and think that the same rule will apply to you.  However, for the general population, science is why this doesn’t work: calories in vs. calories out.  If your goal is weight loss, you should be tracking the amount of calories you consume versus the amount of calories you expend.  Remember that 3,500 calories equals a pound of fat, so you need to create a deficient of 3,500 calories throughout the week in order to lose a pound per week.

For example, let’s say you are actively trying to lose weight and you’ve done the math and you currently consume 2,000 calories a day.  If you are to cut your diet by 500 calories a day and keep this up for seven days a week, you will have a deficit of 3,500 calories at the end of the week and be down a pound in weight.  Sounds easy right?  The issue is that many people don’t track calories and assume since they are working out, they are burning the amount of calories that they need to create that deficit.  Additionally, many people think they know what they are eating throughout the day but if it’s not being tracked to the exact calorie, it’s very easy to be off a few hundred calories and for the weight to remain stagnant.

Another issue with the mentality, “if I exercise I can eat whatever I want”, is that food is often times viewed as a reward.  Doing so can easily create a bad relationship with food which is unhealthy for the body and the mind.   Think about this, if you burn 500 calories doing circuit training and then binge on 500 calories worth of pizza, it’s pretty much a complete wash.  Binging on pizza after your workout is not only rewarding yourself with food, but you’ve merely just replenished the calories you’ve worked so hard to burn off at the gym.  Furthermore, you’re refueling your body with refined carbohydrates, which will not only leave you feeling hungry in a few hours but it will leave you feeling less than stellar!

if you exercise you can eat whatever you want
Does your post-workout look something like this?

Aside from the obvious harm that junk food has on your body, making poor food choices while implementing an exercise routine is contradictory to one another.  It’s not efficient nor is it effective to help you reach your goals and perform well.  Instead of loading up with poor food choices, fuel your body with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Doing so will allow your body to recover from your workouts more efficiently, build strong muscles, and provide you with plenty of energy.

Now if you are logging in a lot of gym time and working hard, you can indulge responsibly as long as it’s done with moderation and control.  It’s fine to treat yourself once in a while as long as you take into account the calories and accommodate for them in your weekly calorie count.  In other words, if you are trying to lose weight and treat yourself to an ice cream cone, then you must make up for those 500 calories at the gym or within your food choices.  This way, your weekly calories will still be balanced and on track for weight loss.

Do you have any questions about what you just read?  Please feel free to contact us! 

Catch last week’s myth, “Muscle Weighs More Than Fat” and stay tuned for next week where we’ll be debunking, “No Pain, No Gain!”

Written by Sophie DeHenzel
“If You Exercise, You Can Eat Whatever You Want”

Photos courtesy of (from top to bottom): ariwasabi/,  mr.alliance/, yastremska/

nutrition coaching for women sophie dehenzel copy

Hi, I’m Sophie. I’m Co-Owner of DeHenzel Training Systems, Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certified, Certified Personal Trainer and Pre/Post Natal Specialist. I’m also a wife, mom, tennis beginner and ice cream lover.

Most importantly, I love helping people just like you gain control of their health for good. If you’re tired, frustrated and still struggling to rein in your diet and get moving, check out our nutrition and personal training services and take the first step today.

About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia and Washington DC.  Aside from in home, we offer Virtual Personal Training is also available everywhere in the world. Workout anywhere, anytime.

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