Why You REALLY Can't Out Train a Bad Diet
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen”— and if you’re like most people, including me, you’re still looking for that missing ab making kitchen.
What does that expression even mean since it unfortunately doesn’t seem to be a literal expression? Aren’t great bodies built in the gym?
No, actually they aren’t. And in fact, the things you do in the gym— no matter what you do or how hard you go— aren’t enough to get you to your body goals… even if you aren’t intending to look like a bikini model.
Let’s look at some mathy-science. We teach 30 minute circuit style classes—and there is a level for our most advanced participants that features maxed out High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Those that take this level of the class are fit and are working close to their max heart rate for a solid half hour. They aren’t capable of lasting much longer, at least not without longer breaks. Trust me, it feels like you should have burned at least 500 calories. But the truth is that most of our participants (who are mostly women), have actually burned around 220-250 calories. Say an individual did this three times a week. They’d burn a max of 750 calories in a week. Since there are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat, it would take 4.6 weeks to burn one pound of fat. Even if they did this 5 times per week, it would still take nearly 3 weeks to burn one pound of fat.
The numbers are quite similar for a 200lb person weight training with a 90 second rest between sets. They are burning about 250 calories in a 30 minute session. (And this is if they’re actually training that time— a lot of people are in the gym a lot longer than they’re actually training.
For a 150 pound person jogging at 6 miles per hour (a 10 minute mile), the caloric burn is about 345 calories in a 30 minute period. At three times per week, it would take over 3 weeks to burn one pound, or two weeks training 5 times per week.
It would be even harder to try to do this by walking. Keeps checking your inbox-- soon we'll send out an article on this very topic: Walking for Weight Loss is Worthless.
The truth is that most people can’t work hard enough to burn off excess calories. And a harder truth is that the numbers above assume that an individual’s nutrition is on point. But say it isn’t. Which is, of course, a lot more common.
So let’s take the opposite approach. You’ve seen those “How much would it take to burn off (insert favorite crap food here)” articles. They’re especially popular around holidays, intended of course, to make you mindful of what you eat.
But before we even go there, remember something: If everything about your nutrition was perfect, except that you went 100 calories over what you needed every single day, you’d be 10 pounds of fat heavier in a year.
Have a sweet tooth? Consider your average slice of cake from your local deli or bakery. One slice is usually 1/16 of a cake…which is about 500 calories. Figure it would probably take you about eight bites to eat it. For a 180 pound man (who could burn more calories training than a lighter person),
Here’s what it would take to burn off that slice of cake:
-a man has to do 100 full plank pushups in five minutes to burn 34 calories, which means it would take 1470 pushups in 74 minutes… to burn off one slice of cake!
But maybe that cake doesn’t sound so good after hearing that, so you only want a little of it.
To burn off a bite (one bite is1/8 of your 1/16 slice...or 62 calories), at 1 calorie per chin up, this same person would need to do about 62 chins to burn off ONE bite. Or if you’d rather use box hops— you’d be burning about 15 calories per non stop minute, so you’d need to do 4 straight minutes of box hops (30 hops per minute) to burn off ONE bite. Just in case math isn’t your thing, that’s 120 box hops.
Ok, so maybe cake isn’t your thing. Here are some other real world examples that might hit closer to home.
-Black and White mocha from Starbucks: grande 430 calories -3 tablespoons of peanut butter, plus 5 crackers... 420 calories
But it gets worse:
-1 cup cooked pasta is 220 calories. Most people eat 2 cups! (440 calories!)
-1/2 cup ice cream is 150 calories. Most people eat 1.5 cups (450 calories)
-1 roll most any place you go... 150 calories. Most people have 2-3 rolls.
-1 Medium Sweet Tea from MCD (with ice) 185 calories. Most people drink 2.
Think for a second though: using the examples of the box hops and pushups from above, that’s assuming the person weighs about 180 pounds. If you weigh 120 pounds, you’re going to have to work even harder. I’ve worked with a lot of people that weigh in excess of 200 pounds— and many of them are not capable of doing a plank pushup or a box hop. And I don’t know many men that could come close to doing 1473 pushups.
So remind me how it is that you’re going to out train this diet?
How Does Anyone Actually Lose Fat Then?
The only possible way to successfully hit your fat loss goals is by pairing exercise and nutrition together, which is why following a meal plan is essential. Don’t have a good meal plan? Please contact me! I’d LOVE to help you eat to succeed!