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You'll Burn It Off; Just Workout More, No Worries!
You ate and/or drank way too much, no big deal, right? It's an easy fix, just eat less tomorrow and work out a lot more and you'll burn it off, right? Well, on the surface, it sounds right; it almost seems to make sense. When we "trip up" nutritionally, just buffer it with less food and more exercise the next day and it should all work out just fine. If this is your mindset and you have tried to execute this, you have quickly realized that not only does this not work; it just completely backfires each and every time.
We always have to keep in mind that if body composition change (meaningful and sustainable results for a lifetime; not just a quick weight loss followed by an even quicker weight gain) is our goal, we can never out-work, out-train or out-exercise improper nutrition. There is no better example than looking at the world of endurance sports (half Marathon [13.1 miles], Marathon [26.2 miles], half distance triathlon [1.2 mile swim-56mile bike-13.1mile run], full distance triathlon [2.4mile swim-112mile bike-26.2mile run]). As you can imagine, to be properly prepared for such endurance events takes a ton of training. It's not uncommon at all for endurance athletes to train 15, 20, 25+ hours per week.
I share this example with you because a very high percentage of individuals competing in these sports are overweight and obese, despite this super-high-volume of working out (keep in mind that a big reason they chose to train for such an event was to lose weight. They thought it would be like shooting fish in a barrel because in their mind, if they are going to workout this much, the weight is just going to ‘fall off’). In addition, what is also very common with individuals training for these endurance events is that they actually gain weight and increase body fat with this high volume of training (read Weight Gain During High-Volume Training? How To Avoid The Endurance 15).
You now may be asking yourself, "How can someone workout 15-20-25+ hours per week and not lose weight and body fat and actually gain weight and increase body fat?" Well, it all goes back to the aforementioned; we cannot out-work, out-train, out-exercise improper nutrition. It's very, very common for individuals to have the mindset, "I just rode my bike 4.5 hours and then ran 1.5 hours; I'm going to reward myself and I can eat whatever I want." This is the mindset of many individuals and it's also the mindset that leads to the body remaining overweight and/or obese despite high volumes of exercise and workouts.
Over eating and/or drinking and then thinking that you can just burn it off tomorrow by eating less and working out more is similar to making a splurge-purchase that puts you in a lot of debt. When you wake up tomorrow, no matter how little money you spend the next day, the debt is still going to be there and it's going to take a very patient and methodical approach to reduce this debt. The same holds true for improper nutrition, over eating, binge eating, etc. We cannot just erase this "nutrition debt" by eating less and working out more the next day, that's going to backfire every time. Just like reducing the financial debt, it's going to take a very patient and methodical approach.
Keep in mind; this is not about right versus wrong. Rather, it's simply about choices and consequences. If individuals are perfectly fine with remaining overweight and obese despite working out a ton, that's perfectly fine; that's their decision and their choice. But, if individuals are looking for body composition change, reducing body weight, decreasing body fat and achieving meaningful and sustainable results for a lifetime, it's going to have to start with a mindset change. Because when the mind is right, the body will follow.
Dr. Rick Kattouf II
2x Best-Selling Author
Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year