70% diet, 30% exercise?

21-07-2020 | 
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We've heard it countless times: someone does cardio in hope of nullifying the mistake of eating junk food, candy, chocolate, ice cream, etc. We'll show you two examples taken from real life:

"I ate a cocoa roll, but it's okay, I'll burn it away during my workout!"


"I had a great workout today, so I can eat this cocoa roll right now!"

If you've recognized yourself because you like to say things like these, we have some bad news for you. So bad that we should lend you a Xanax receipt for reading.

So here it goes, are you ready? You can not out-train a bad diet. You can only make things a little bit better after ruining everything. Think of this: you are losing a soccer match by 3 to 0, and you score a goal in the last second. Did it feel good to make things a bit better? Hell yeah, it did. But have you won the match itself? Hell no, you've lost it.

If we'd make diet and exercise sit on an imaginary teeter, we'd see how much diet overweighs exercise. Let us help you with the imagination:

diet vs. exercise

An experiment with YOU in the main role

To make you instantly see that the food you eat is how much more important than how much do you work out, let's do a little experiment together. Yes, you and me.

But first, we should note that the number one rule of weight loss is the caloric deficit, meaning:

  • if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight,
  • if your caloric intake is lower than the number of calories your body burns a day, you will lose weight
  • if they are both the same, you will maintain your weight, but you can change the body composition according to what macros you eat

So being in a caloric deficit must be your primary goal when trying to lose weight.

With this out of the way, let's get to the actual experiment. Count how many burpees you can do under one minute. We know that this exercise requires a lot of energy, it burns a lot of calories per minute, maybe the most out of all exercises. But does this count as a lot of calories in real life? You'll know soon enough.

The exact number of calories burnt with burpees depends on many things (age, gender, level of fitness, weight, muscle mass, etc), but approximately, if you were good, you burned 15 calories under 1 minute. If you weren't that intensive, then 12 (if your weight is over 100 kilos, a bit more, but if you are 45 kgs, a bit less).

Here comes the second challenge, but it's not for the faint of heart: do some burpees again, but this time do them for 5 minutes straight, without taking a rest. And now comes the shocking news. Do you know how many calories does a cocoa roll contain? About 500 (in a big one). Five hundred. And you have just burned away like 60 calories with the second hardcore burpee challenge, and you are sweating like a pig.

Do you still say that burpees burn many calories?

Taste this, not that cocoa roll!

And before you think I'm being too harsh with you, think again, because I have only just begun. But it's better if I'm harsh with you than your scale! I will ask you an even more painful question: do you still think that you can out-train a bad diet?

If you are still doubtful (although I doubt it!), let's do the math: for how long should you be doing burpees to burn 500 calories? Well, if we stick to the very generous 60 calories per minute number, you must perform burpees for 33 straight minutes to burn 500 calories. For 33 minutes, with full power. This is the ultimate challenge – if you can do this, you are my guest for a cocoa roll. But you will fail.

And don't think that you can burn more calories per minute with running, weight training, aerobic, or anything else, we did the math with the caloric-burning KING of exercises.

With that being said, we should add that an intensive HIIT-style workout can increase metabolism, therefore your body burns calories even when you are resting, more than it would without working out. But the question remains: is this change really significant? Does it really matter? Again, let's see the numbers.

A study1 has shown in young girls that weight training increased their metabolism by 4.2 percent. That ain't much, but okay, with a little bit of kindliness, let's say that instead of 33, you need 28 minutes of burpees in order to burn 500 calories – this is still almost impossible to do.

But can you imagine a method for burning 500 calories that is far less inconvenient than this? We can: do NOT eat that cocoa roll. Incomparably easier, isn't it? And here comes the catch:

The 70-30 rule

You may have heard before that successful weight loss consists of 70% diet choices and 30% training. As you have experienced this on your own body, this is pretty accurate. Of course, it is a bit extreme, because you have to do your best (100%) in each to achieve the best results.

Yes, you can lose a lot of weight without training, and you can also lose some weight if you don't change your diet but you start to do a sport. But you gotta do both seriously. You'll achieve your weight loss goals faster, you will be healthier, and your physique will look nicer if you give 100% in both activities, whether you're a woman or a man.

You know the saying: "Do or do not. There is no try."

This doesn't mean you have to eat like a Mr. Olympian bodybuilder since you're not one. From time to time it's OK to have a cheat meal, but don't do it regularly, and more importantly, don't believe that you can "burn away" the cheat meal with training.

But let's say purely theoretically, that you can because you train 3 hours a day. This is still not the right way, because you don't train to burn away the fatty cheat meals, you train to lose your own body fat.

So, we're terribly sorry: only because you worked out today, you don't deserve a cookie.

1: Effect of Acute Resistance Exercise on Postexercise Oxygen Consumption and Resting Metabolic Rate in Young Women

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