You Can’t Out Train a Poor Diet

I wasn’t the first person to come up with this phrase but I’ll share my thoughts on it.

As a fitness professional, I’m always emphasizing the benefits of exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise. Having said that, I’m afraid the majority of people use “cardio” primarily as a means to lose fat; but unless eating is controlled, you will end up spinning your wheels.

Consider the following example: a fit individual would have to work at a high intensity to “burn” 1000 calories in 60 minutes of working out. That’s one-hour of total body movement, sweat, heavy breathing, and feeling exhausted when the workout is over. What if an emotional trigger, social outing, or just plain bad moment triggers a trip to the drive-thru? One fast food meal (double burger, large fries, and a milkshake), aside from being a difficult-to-digest conglomeration, can easily pack 1500 calories. How long would it take to eat this meal? Maybe 15 minutes.

Get your priorities straight. In my experience, it’s best to keep a plan that you can stick to–no matter what, because the body will tend towards a “comfortable” body fat percentage if only guided by instinct. If you’re a sucker for what’s in your immediate environment, then you’re really at a disadvantage. So control your calories and plan ahead. See my formula for how to lose weight.

Once calorie intake is determined and managed, all extra movement would be an added bonus and should mostly be fun. There are so many options for physical activity that it makes no sense to torture yourself doing something you don’t like–especially if the added stress may justify a cheesecake! Furthermore, no matter what you do, make sure to include some weight training because let’s face it–85-90% of people train to improve their physical appearance, even if they’re doing it for health. It’s the muscles that give you fantastic shape once you’re already lean. It’s not about skin and bone; but a healthy appearance with well-developed muscle and just enough fat to round them out.

Enjoy the journey. It’s a lifestyle that pays off every day.

– Jason


3 responses to “You Can’t Out Train a Poor Diet

  1. Hi Jason,
    just out of curiosity: What does “some weight training” mean to you?
    I ask because the average individual is about as far away from being ready for “real” heavy weight training as I can imagine. I sometimes train people here in Munich (recently got a shitty certification, I am just doing this for experience) and am shocked about the number of people I had to send
    away saying: “The gym doesn´t make sense in your case: Try to do the bodyweight moves I´ve shown you and work up to 50+ pressups, 15+ chinups/pullups, do some squats etc…, and do cardiovascular exercise
    The average person sickeningly out of shape,inflexible, has no idea about the most basic activity level (two hours of mixed high and low intensity movement every single day to start with).
    The exception would be someone very obese not able to handle his bodyweight who would build his strength up on machines.
    Just some thoughts.
    Kind regards

  2. Exercises done for muscular strength (10 – 15 reps max) at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week.

    Out here in North America there is an emphasis on bodybuilding-style training even amongst gym-goers who train for general fitness.

    So there is a big area between no weights at all and training like a bodybuilder.


  3. Yes this seems to make a lot of sense.
    Here in Germany it´s different. Boot camp style stuff done outside in the park is in vogue and as I´ve said is perfectly reasonable for many people before they move on to heavier loading (heavy weight training 8 reps and below). Bodybuilding (or what the public perceives this to be) is shunned
    here in Germany, so all the issues presented previously in your blog ring
    true (fear of getting big, women and muscles etc…).
    Another question: Currently I have a 30 year old man who will not follow my advice despite paying me. Here is the problem: He strongly believes in High intensity training: It is a method of training where they preach doing less to grow bigger (1 work set on exercises done once a week).
    Since you are well-versed in exercise physiology, I would ask your opinion on what constitutes a well designed workout program in terms of volume (40 to 60 reps per lift per workout I learned in my course) as well as frequency (muscle should be hit minimum twice a week I learnt as well).
    I used reduced volume training out of “Beyond Brawn” in the past but realise that I was a beginner with low strength levels at the time.

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