Exercising A Bad Diet Away

The thought has probably crossed your mind before. You ate some junk food because you had a stressful week at work with little time to pack lunch, or cook dinner for yourself. You felt overwhelmed by all these responsibilities, and you needed to indulge in some of your favourite treats so you could feel better: ice-cream, fries, pizza, burgers, fried chicken, cake. You felt terrible but you couldn’t help it. The stress levels were high, and the cure appeared to come in the form of sugar, carbs and fat. You decided to come up with a solution: punish yourself at the gym to make up for all that food. On the surface, it seemed like a good idea. Eat badly then burn off all those calories with lots of exercise. After all, there’s nothing a bit of sweat and moving around can’t fix right?

Not quite.

Countering a bad diet with exercise is a common but wrong approach to overall fitness and wellness. Processed foods tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients, making them easier to consume but harder to burn off. As Jessica Spendlove, a sports dietician, said to the Huffington Post Australia, “[w]eight gain is caused by an increase in energy intake compared to output”. The article goes on to point out that to work off 260 calories from a chocolate bar, you’d have to swim laps for 30 minutes. So if you eat a bunch of fast food food for a week, you’d need to do loads of exercise to “compensate” − something unfeasible if you already have a busy lifestyle.

The best way to build muscle, tone up or lose weight is to combine a sensible exercise plan with good nutrition. This means avoiding a high intake of alcohol, sugar and fat, while including more vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds in your diet. Not only do these foods provide you with more energy, but your body processes them much better and faster.

Oh and be sure to take it easy on the stress! It has horrible effects on your body, and it can lead to other bad things like a lack of sleep or overeating.

According to The British Dietetic Association (BDA), a plant-based diet refers to “foods derived from plants, including vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits, with few or no animal products”. People who consume the occasional bit of fish are called pescatarians, while people who have a bit of poultry or meat are referred to as flexitarians or semi-vegetarians.

For this post, we’ll be focusing on vegans and vegetarians. Some studies suggest vegans and vegetarians are less likely to get certain forms of cancer than meat eaters, which has seen people champion these diets for being life-changing. But it’s important to keep in mind these studies are highly observational, meaning that either a small slice of the population was selected for them, there was no way of telling which part of their diet brought on the results, they might not have been smokers, or their risk for certain cancers might have been lower hereditarily.

If you do choose to go vegan or vegetarian, either permanently or temporarily, you should consult your GP, know what diseases to which you’re suspecible and keep tabs on your nutritional intake. As the website Heathline Network reports, vegans and vegetarians generally consume less omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamins D and B12. It’s important to take supplements so you can make up for any possible deficiencies and boost your immune system.

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