Exercise Alone Won’t Undo The Damage Of A Poor Diet


In 2013, the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet reported that poor diet generates more disease than lack of exercise, alcohol and smoking combined. The article also stated that up to 40 per cent of people with a normal body mass index (BMI) show metabolic symptoms typically associated with obesity, which include high blood pressure, high blood fat content, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Part of this problem is the fact that Joe Public is flooded with misleading messages about maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ by counting calories. As we all know, all calories are not equal. 1000 calories consumed by eating processed and sugary foods are not the same as consuming 1000 calories by eating fresh vegetables. The bottom line is: Where calories come from is crucial. Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or ‘satiation’.

Exercise is only part of the solution

This skewed ‘a calorie is a calorie’ message is a direct result of food manufactures convincing people that ‘all calories count’. In fact, those exact words were used in Coca Cola’s £2.6 billion advertising campaign in 2013, in which they associated their products with sport, suggesting it is okay to consume sugary drinks as long as you exercise. However science tells us this is misleading and wrong. There is just no way to maintain a healthy weight while eating all the sugar you want and balancing calories with more exercise.

So, it’s no wonder that people also still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. That’s because no amount of exercise can counter the toxic metabolic effects of sugar. And those sugar-laden “sports” beverages that are supposed to boost your performance are preventing you from making any real progress on your health, or your weight.

In fact, a recent study examined the role of exercise on weight loss. For this new study, doctors investigated whether sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise cause obesity. While their results showed that physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions, it does not promote weight loss.

Instead, when it comes to shedding those extra pounds diet is key.

But the researchers did not leave their results to speak for themselves. No, they went one step further by accusing the Big Food industry of wrongly emphasising physical activity and sports as ways to prevent obesity. They wrote: “Members of the public are drowned by an unhelpful message about maintaining a healthy weight through calorie counting, and many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. This false perception is rooted in the food industry’s public relations machinery… confusing the public and even buying the loyalty of bent scientists, at the cost of millions of lives… You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

The fact is, over exercising can damage your joints, heart and kidneys damage and calorie counting weight loss programmes may work short-term but like the researchers of this latest study reiterated, long-term weight loss involves adopting a high-fat, low sugar and low-carb diet.

The researchers also added that athletes and non-athletes who exercise regularly should ditch the widely accepted practice of “carb loading” and instead eat more fat. They wrote, “fat appears to be the ideal fuel for most exercise. It is abundant, does not need replacement or supplementation during exercise, and can fuel forms of exercise in which most people can participate.”

Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


“It is time to bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity: you cannot outrun a bad diet,” Br J Sports Med 2015;49:967-968

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