Can’t I just ‘burn off’ bad food with exercise?

We’ve all probably said it at some point. “I work out because I love to eat.” Or, “I can eat this double bacon cheeseburger with extra large fries and a milkshake, I’ll just run a couple of extra miles today.” While working out obviously does burn calories, it’s a little more complicated than just that.


First, it’s hard to know exactly how many calories you’re actually burning. If you have a good heart rate monitor, you can come close, but it’s still not exact. Same thing with figuring out how many calories you should eat in a day. Unless you go and actually get your metabolic rate tested, you’re just going to be making an educated guess.

Not only that, but, eating unhealthy foods or too much of a food group affects your body with more than just extra calories. For instance, in the example above, eating a double bacon cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake could be anywhere from about 1000-2000 calories at one sitting. First of all, that’s a LOT more running than a few miles. For me, that’s more like running 20 miles. Seriously. BUT also some of the sugar from the milkshake gets stored as fat. The carbs in the fries and the bun that your body doesn’t need for fuel gets turned into sugar and stored as fat. You’ll be storing more than you can burn. Even if you work out. And I don’t know anyone who has a metabolism good enough to actually metabolize 2000 calories in one sitting.

Having said all of that, I don’t want to make you think that working out doesn’t help with eating some unwise choices. It still does. It’s still better than eating all of that and then sitting on your couch the rest of the week. My point here is to try to help you realize that it’s more than just ‘calories in versus calories out’. If you want to be fit, lose weight, be toned and feel amazing, you will have to consider  your choices. Eat healthy most days. Definitely indulge once in a while. It’ll keep you sane. Just try to keep your indulgences small. Instead of that double bacon cheeseburger, fries and a shake, have a regular cheeseburger, small fry, and split the shake with someone. And don’t do it more than once a week.

There’s another point here that should be brought up as well. If you have the mindset of essentially punishing yourself for bad food choices with a workout, then you’ll come to resent your workouts. Your workouts should be your reward. Your happy time. Doing something good for yourself. Be proud of it!


Love that picture. Not only the message, but how strong and fit she is. Folks, I’m telling you right now, she doesn’t eat unhealthy stuff often. Not looking like that. The good news is, once you get the junk out of your food, you will feel amazing and you won’t even crave it very much anymore. *I speak from experience*

And now that you know that excess carbs and sugar get stored as fat, consider spacing out your carbs into small amounts throughout the day. Your body needs some carbs, so don’t cut them out, but just keep your portions small  and spaced out so your body can use them. In fact, try timing your workout to be about an hour after eating a meal that includes carbs. This will help your body to actually use them as fuel instead of store them as fat.

So tell me, since we’re talking about food choices, what are some of your favorite, healthy snacks? I’d love to know, and I know my readers are always on the lookout for good snack ideas.

(BTW, I just looooove Pinterest. That’s where I got those photos, in case you were wondering) 🙂


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  1. #1 by odszkodowanie w anglii on March 5, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    Well said. Thanks.

  2. #2 by Amy on March 5, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    Totally agree! Also when you pick those unhealthy foods, your body starts to crave them and it becomes a habit. Of course I speak from experience! ; ) I seriously think the best thing I did was give up fast food. I know I have other eating issues, but I’m so glad I took that one step. You don’t realize how much you come to rely on just swinging by and picking up a burger, and then you HAVE to get the fries to go with it. I still have my burgers and fries, I just make them myself w/lean meat. Still not the best for me, but better than other options!

    Can’t wait to hear the healthy snacks…I need some ideas for work. Fruit is good, but sometimes I need more substance.

  3. #3 by Amy Romero on March 5, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    Heck yeah, the less you eat of something, the less you crave it (luckily!) — and I’m SUPER excited for you that you’re still happy without fast food! The extra crud in there is no good for anyone…and it’s waaaay higher cal and higher fat than stuff you make at home. I’ve gotten better about at least not doing fast food burger joints. Still love chick fil a & jersey mike’s though! 🙂 If there’s no healthy snacks replies, I’ll do a blog post on some that I use.

  4. #4 by Amy on March 5, 2012 - 5:01 pm

    Oh don’t worry…I didn’t give up Jersey Mikes. I know it’s all one in the same, but my rule was anything w/a drive through window (majority rules…if there is 1 Jersey Mikes with a drive through, I still win) then it’s fast food. So it’s been over a year since I’ve had McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Chick Fil A, Arbys (the one I miss the most) and Taco Bell. Other than Arby’s and ChickFilA every now and then, I don’t miss a thing other than the convienance. Especially on nasty rainy days and trips out of town!

  5. #5 by Jerica Liao on November 4, 2012 - 8:35 am

    I am always very conscious about food calories because i want to keep my weight down. ”

    Most interesting piece of writing on our own web blog

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