Regardless of all the junk food and lack of exercise you got away with when young, the simple fact is that you won’t manage to achieve weight loss with a poor diet into adulthood.

In fact, some experts believe that effective weight loss is down to 80 per cent diet and just 20 per cent exercise. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

“When it comes to losing weight, what actually moves the needle is always dietary change,” according to Caroline Cederquist, MD, from Florida. “People make the common mistake of going hard on exercise and then stopping when they don’t see results,” she adds. But their real mistake is often down to thinking that poor food choices don’t matter – we know they do.

At Motivation, we suggest clients focus their efforts towards changing what they eat and, once they start losing the weight, to add exercise in. We’ve had many clients who can’t exercise (either due to illness or certain injuries/disabilities) and guess what? They still manage to lose an impressive amount of weight because they learn from us what an optimum weight loss plan should look like.

Check out Lucy Flanagan’s story. Lucy was struck down with a virus that left a major impact on her life; it damaged her heart which meant that she could no longer work or do any exercise.

Still need convincing?

Have a read of our top four reasons why you just can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

1. It’s hard to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise:
It’s hard to exercise off excess calories and, although we know that exercise boosts your metabolism and raises the amount of calories you burn – even while you sleep – it’s still rarely enough of a hike to burn enough calories for weight loss.

For instance, to burn off two slices of pepperoni pizza it would take you almost 2 hours of walking, 50 minutes of running or almost 3 hours of cleaning. And bear in mind that many people could have four slices of that pizza!

Focusing on exercise alone, even a high intensity cardio session just burns about 600 calories per hour so you’d want to be doing that every single day to see any result and, at that, it would still only be 1 Ib off if you didn’t adjust down your calorie intake from food at the same time.

2. You won’t be able to reduce the size of problem areas:
Unless you seriously tackle your diet, that extra layer of fat around your middle or on your thighs or bum isn’t going anywhere, no matter how many lunges or squats you do. Yes, you’ll build some lean muscle tissue, but the fat will sit right on top of it and your shape won’t really change.

Those who have been exercising for years come to Motivation to finally tackle their weight loss. They soon discover that their food choices have an incredible impact on their body shape changes and, sometimes for the first time, they start seeing real results.

3. You need the right fuel to exercise in the first place:
All calories weren’t created equally and they all have different impacts on your body. For instance, if you derive a lot of your calories from sugar and processed carbs, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and deficit in the correct fuel needed for a decent workout.

Or the problem could simply be that you won’t have the motivation or energy to get off the couch and get active in the first place, no matter how many times you vouch you’ll ‘start tomorrow’. Whereas if your calories come mostly from high quality protein and low GI vegetables, with maybe a half cup of wholegrains thrown in, you’re then more likely to be able to give it some welly in the gym or when out pounding the pavements.

4. It’s not all about how you look on the outside:
Some gym buffs might swear that you CAN out-exercise an unhealthy, and that they’re living proof (ie not hugely overweight but they still manage to exist on a diet of coke and take-aways).

But it’s sometimes the ‘invisible’ effects that really threaten your health.

You can only eat so much unhealthy fat before your arteries clog; and you can only eat so much sweets before you get diabetes; and you can only drink so much alcohol before your liver gives up.

Regardless of what you got away with when you were young, unhealthy habits will and do eventually catch up on you. The fat remains, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle