Balance BadGood DietYou’ve probably seen this guy wearing a weighted vest, performing crazy exercise after crazy exercise at an intensity that makes you feel shattered just watching him.

He’ll probably hit the sauna for 30 minutes straight after his workout just to sweat out the last of the damage from the weekend.

His intentions are fine. There’s even some reasoning and theory behind it. All of us – including us PT’s - have all thought the same at some point too.

"I’m going to train harder and/or longer next week to make up for all this bad food."

So does it work?

In short, yes it can.

Many clients we see at the studio start with the line “I can’t really do much about my diet, so I’m going to make up for it with exercise”.

To a large extent we sympathise.

We understand that some peoples jobs and lives just doesn’t lend itself to structured eating plans and healthy eating 24/7. And in many instances, it should be applauded that this person in front of us is trying to do something to correct their downward spiral.

But, what we need to be aware of is that exercise doesn’t give you a “free pass” to go and undo all the damage – and in many instances, it often wont.

Here’s a short review on this strategy to weight loss:

Going back to our energy balance notion, we know that for fat loss to occur, we need to create a deficit in the number of calories we consume vs the number of calories we burn.

For many of the people we speak to, this is often a case of reversing a negative lifestyle that has led to weight gain over a sustained period of inactivity.

Often this can’t be avoided. Pregnancy, injuries, stress, work and lifestyle all lead to periods of time where you’ll naturally be within a surplus of energy – and gaining weight fast.

Depending on the size of this surplus, we are often able to achieve results by making just one to two small tweaks to our lifestyle – and a fairly simple way of addressing this would be to find a Personal Trainer and begin exercising.

200 Calories a day: Example...

Let’s say for the last few months you’ve been in a +200 k/cal surplus every day. You’ve been putting on weight at a fairly consistent rate and things need to stop. Instead of changing your calorie intake from food, you decide instead to exercise 3 x per week and burn 400 k/cal per workout.

200 daily surplus equates to = 1400k/cal per week (energy input)

3 x 400k/cal workouts = 1200k/cal per week (energy output)

Energy input 1400 minus energy output 1200 = 200k/cal surplus.

We’re still in a surplus! ☹

Now there are one or two other factors to consider, such as increases in muscle tissue and metabolism – but using the above example as a simple guide we’re able to see why this approach to fat loss isn’t the most effective in the long run.

Think of every beer as 200 k/cal, or an extra 30 minutes exercise, every slice of pizza something similar. The calories from a bad lifestyle soon add up!

You may actually look and feel much better than before. Chances are, if you’re training with weights you will be laying down new muscle tissue. We’ve certainly gone a long way to limit further fat storage. And you will no doubt be seeing strength and cardiovascular improvements.

But unfortunately that leaner, fat-free summer body you desperately crave is still a long way off. Eventually, after months of slogging your guts out, motivation wanes and you feel lost for ideas.

It’s time to find a different approach...

A diet maybe? Your friend has achieved some rapid fat loss with her new diet plan. Don’t fall down this trap – read up on the pitfalls of this approach, here

>> A review: The ‘dieters’ approach to fat loss.

Instead, try an approach that works. One that allows you to balance exercise and healthy living with the foods you love and enjoy… And one that offers long-term results. This is the type of plan we excel at, at MYPT!

>> A review: The 12 step strategy for long-term fat loss.