Is Watching What You Eat Necessary At All If You Exercise?

“I don’t need to control my diet, I run every day!”

“Oh, I couldn’t resist that dessert. Don’t worry, I’ll do some extra time on elliptical tomorrow.”

“Do I really have to count calories? I am doing Yoga these days.”

These lines are very common to hear in our daily lives. Since it is a pretty established fact that exercise burns calories, people try and compensate divergence in their eating habits by working out. Today we address the question that if we exercise regularly, do we still need to control our diet?

 Diet versus Exercise for weight loss

Food Vs Exercise

The basis of science based approach in any field is in the proof of that hypothesis. And what better way to do it but through hard cold numbers. Quantifiable facts speak for themselves. Let’s settle this debate through some examples:

Example 1:

For this example and the ones to follow, the data from the CDC website is for an adult weighing 70 Kg. If you weigh more than that, you may burn more calories for the same exercise. If you happen to be weighing less, you’d most probably burn lesser calories than the numbers listed here.

Moving on, let’s say you were on a post-dinner walk and happen to see a ice-cream store. That post dinner sweet craving is still there and you’d think that what’s wrong in eating a cup of ice-cream. A cup of ice-cream roughly contains 220-300 calories depending upon flavor and toppings (add more calories if you eat it with a cone) which is equal to walking 5.5 Km roughly. Think again, is your after-dinner walk that long?

Example 2:

We all go to movies and one of the things that you’ll see is the amount of combos available at each place. More often than not, there is at least 1 soft drink in it. So, if earlier, people were just buying popcorn, now they buy a coke along with it. The problem is that a single coke can contains 140 calories, according to Coke’s own website. This roughly Dexter-and-the-donuts-dexter-2632723-500-591equals cycling for 30 minutes. How about throwing in extra 30 minutes on a stationary bike when you go to the gym? How’s that for a combo?

Example 3:

Is any reader a fan of Dexter here? They’d remember he brought donuts to the workplace pretty often. That pretty much explain the sizes of Sgt. Batista and Lt. LaGuerta (Masuka just had a freakishly high BMR may be). According to Dunkin Donuts website, most of their filled donuts are in the range of 360-500 calories range. This is an insane amount if it comes on top of your calorie maintenance because this is equivalent to an hour long vigorous weight training session (yes we mean squats, deadlifts and bench; bicep curls are not vigorous). This is also equivalent to a running session of 7 km. Got our point?


Micro-nutrient Replacement

Even if you manage to burn those extra calories with exercise, these options may not be the best for your physiological health since most calories in junk food comes from sugar, corn syrup, refined flour etc unlike whole fruits, dairy, veggies, eggs which are full of vitamins, minerals, fats & proteins which is what your body needs to stay healthy.


To conclude, it is hard to out-exercise your diet. Of course, a chocolate scoop on a Saturday or a caramel donut at a monthly retreat won’t hurt and can be compensated but everything adds up and thus needed to be kept in check. After all, the Devil lies in the details.


In Lucem Scientiam (In the Light of Science)


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