You can't exercise your way out of an unhealthy diet

You can’t exercise your way out of an unhealthy diet

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Even if you exercise regularly, a new study finds that an unhealthy diet can increase your risk of many diseases and premature death. Robb and Julia Campbell / Stocksy United
  • New research has found that you can’t offset the impact of a bad diet simply by exercising more.
  • Regular physical activity and good eating habits go hand in hand when it comes to your long-term health and longevity.
  • Physical activity and diet also play a major role in preventing many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You can’t beat a bad diet.”

This phrase suggests that when it comes to calories, it is difficult — if not impossible — to create a calorie deficit through exercise when you’re eating poorly.

However, according to New studyThis statement seems to be true in another sense as well: your risk of death.

According to new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, high levels of physical activity do not counteract the harmful effects of a poor diet on mortality risk.

A study conducted at the University of Sydney found that participants with higher levels of physical activity and a high-quality diet had the lowest risk of death.

Compared to the physically inactive participants with poor diet, those with the highest physical activity and high-quality diet had a 17% higher risk of death from all causes.

They also had a 19% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 27% lower risk of certain cancers.

In other words? You cannot offset the effects of a poor diet simply by exercising more. Regular physical activity and good eating habits go hand in hand when it comes to your long-term health and longevity.

“This latest research raises a contentious debate,” he says. Brian Carson, Ph.D.،, an exercise psychologist at the University of Limerick and chair of the science and innovation department at WholeSupp.

“What should not be taken away is that one is prioritized or that it is more important than the other. Both diet and physical activity are important to our health, and there are synergies between them.”

So how exactly do these two important lifestyle factors work together to ensure you live a long, healthy life? And most importantly, how can you use it to your advantage?

“Food is not only the fuel your body needs to produce energy, it also contains all the building blocks (nutrients) needed to make new cells, as old damaged cells are replaced,” he explains. Sophie ChaplesMA in Food Science, Nutritionist and Co-Founder and CPO of Avia Live.

However, fitness cannot be excluded from the health equation. It keeps your muscles and bones strong, keeps your heart pumping healthy, and balances your mood and hormones.”

Physical activity and diet also play a major role in preventing many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

“One of the main – and most discussed – ways that diet and physical activity affect our health is through weight control,” Carson says.

“Excess fat is associated with the onset of many of the chronic diseases listed above.”

In addition to controlling weight, Carson says physical activity and diet can improve other aspects of your health, including regulating inflammation, immune function and muscle mass, which can extend life.

The phrase “a high-quality diet” is open to interpretation. In Chabloz’s opinion, the Mediterranean diet remains the gold standard for good lifelong health and reduced inflammation.

“It includes staples like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts, legumes, plenty of olive oil, and small amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy,” she says.

Various studies have confirmed the links between the Mediterranean diet and good health. One study In 2006, eating a Mediterranean-style diet was found to lower cardiovascular risk factors.

in Study 2011The Mediterranean diet appears to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

In addition to the Mediterranean diet, Chaplos says adding some fermented foods for optimal gut health and choosing unprocessed (preferably organic) foods as much as possible is beneficial.

One of the common reasons people often cite for not exercising regularly is lack of time.

Good news if you’re one of them: Getting the recommended amount of exercise may be more achievable than you thought.

“The World Health Organization revised its guidelines for physical activity in late 2020,” Carson notes.

“For adults aged 18-64, at least 150-300 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week or 75-150 minutes of more vigorous physical activity is recommended,” he explains.

That could mean walking for 90 minutes three days a week, spending 30 minutes each evening playing outdoors with the kids, or sweating each morning at the gym.

“It’s also a good idea to engage in strength or resistance training two or more days per week,” Carson adds.

Strength exercises are associated with improved heart health, increased mobility, and stronger bones, so it’s a good idea to add them to your existing routine.

Regardless of your physical activity now, Carson advises limiting sitting time as much as possible by replacing it with activity of any intensity.

Occasional exercise is also important, whether it’s walking up the stairs to work, jogging to catch the bus, or doing housework.

Now that you know what a high-quality diet looks like and understand how much exercise you actually need, how can you build healthy habits into your daily routine?


“Eat the rainbow,” says Chabose.

“Brightly colored foods (like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, matcha, pure cocoa, etc.) are full of antioxidants that help fight inflammation and oxidative stress,” she explains.

Therefore, one of the easiest ways in which you can improve the quality of your diet is to add colorful and fresh food to your plate.

Making sure you eat enough protein and high-quality fats is also key.

Chabloz says you’ll find protein in foods like legumes, lentils, and beans, as well as fish, eggs, poultry, and meat.

“Aim to eat 15 to 30 grams at each meal to keep your muscles and bones strong,” she advises.

As for healthy fats, you’ll find them in avocados, olive oil, salmon, nuts, and seeds.

Start adding these foods to your diet to balance your hormones and keep your skin looking supple, suggests Chaplows.

Playing sports

When it comes to exercise, Carson is an advocate for finding exercise you actually enjoy.

“People often ask me what exercises they should do. My answer usually is to do the one you are most likely to continue doing,” he says.

“If there’s a type of exercise you don’t enjoy, trying to follow it will only yield benefits in the short term as you are not likely to continue with it.”

Once you find a type of exercise you enjoy, Carson advises finding ways to include it in your routine. This may include sharing your exercise plan with others.

“Exercise can be a social outlet. It could be an opportunity to spend time with friends in pursuit of a common goal, or spend much-needed family time,” he points out.

“Instead of cutting out these interactions, consider creating a practice with others in your overall routine.”

Above all, start small. One of the easiest things you can do to increase your physical activity, Carson says, is to limit the amount of time you spend sitting.

“We’ve done research at the University of Limerick as well as building a body of evidence showing that prolonged sitting can negatively impact your health, regardless of your physical activity and exercise,” he says.

his advice? “Try sitting apart with ‘workout snacks’ for 2-3 minutes throughout the day.”

You cannot undo the ill effects of a poor diet simply by stressing out an extra session at the gym or lifting a heavier weight.

You need a high-quality diet and at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week for optimal health and longevity.

Prioritizing both diet and fitness may seem difficult, but by making a few small adjustments to your current routine, it may be easier than you think.

#exercise #unhealthy #diet

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