Can You Out Train Nutrition?
Nothing feels better than a good workout. The sense of accomplishment is real. It doesn’t matter if you went for a long walk or did sprints and kettlebell swings. That release of adrenaline feels great! But, spoiler alert, it can’t make up for poor nutrition. I just want to provide some simple science behind why you can’t outtrain nutrition. Specifically, when you are looking at weight loss, there are some specifics to how you can train that will help accelerate the process, but honestly, most of us lose weight through nutrition, not necessarily the way we train.
Really, weight loss boils down to calories in and calories out. However, the calories in add up much faster than the calories out. Here is what I mean:
How many calories do you actually burn during a workout? It depends on size, age, type of training, intensity of training, your personal genetics, and much more. BUT!!!! It isn’t actually all that much different for most of us. On average, you burn about 90 calories during a 30 minute session. If your training is really intense and you are a genetic phenomenon, then maybe you double that and burn 180 calories. What is that, you say? Your sport watch that tracks calories tells you that you just burned 800 calories in a 30 minute run around the lakes?! Well, sorry to tell you that it’s probably not as accurate as you think, even if you entered age, gender, and activity level. Of course, your watch wants you to think you burned way more calories, because you will like your watch more that way and there is no governing body that has the FDA stamp of approval for calorie expenditure.
I once watched this lady run a 5K race and she was loaded up with a belt that held like ten different gels and bars, along with two jugs of sports drinks on each side. Our bodies store 2000 calories of carbs that are readily available for use. Until we run out of those, we don’t need to replenish. And even after we run out, we store a ton of body fat, about 4000 calories per pound of body fat, and we can use that as energy, as well. My point is that it would be shocking to actually burn 2000 calories in a workout. So, when we think we are training and making a dent in our calories out, we aren’t really moving the dial that much. We have so much stored energy that even what we burn during training doesn’t really affect weight loss all that much.
I am not saying don’t workout or don’t workout hard. The benefits of working out and moving are key factors in health when it comes to hormone optimization and disease prevention and, yes, they can help with weight loss for sure, but as we get more fit and healthy, it becomes more about nutrition and less about weight loss.
Sooooooo, what should you eat and what diet should you follow???? Honestly, there isn’t a single diet that works for everyone. It’s more about finding what works for you individually. For those of you who find yourself in the yo-yo of weight gain and weight loss, I’m sorry to say, there is no simple solution. Go dairy free, give up grains, do a detox, etc... None of these are sustainable and the research shows that most people who follow these fads will end up going back to the same or even gain body fat. It’s just not practical to say “I’ll never have another donut ever again!” A slow, steady approach to eating whole foods, not overeating, getting good sleep, staying hydrated, and moving each day are the key components of nutrition that are sustainable.