I get asked this question a lot by my clients. To put it simply, the answer is no. While exercise is an integral part of health and wellbeing – keeping your bones and heart strong, clearing your mind and relieving you of stress – you can’t out-run a bad diet.
Getting up at the crack of dawn and going for a 20km run just so you can have a large double-cream caramel latte, or thrashing yourself at the gym for an hour or two before you pick up two curries, rice, a large garlic naan and a bottle of wine on your way home, isn’t going to save your health.
You’ll end up exhausting yourself, feeling lousy and possibly becoming even hungrier due to over-exercising and eating poorly. You might also end up becoming dependent on exercise to burn off the extra kilojoules you eat from junk food.
I do have some good news, though. It is possible to have a healthy lifestyle, choose nourishing foods and still have a few extras, treats or the occasional junk food on the side, without stacking on unwanted weight. It’s all about budgeting your food choices.
Each person’s kilojoule budget is different – age, gender and activity having the greatest effect on it. When you’re young, active and have sizeable muscle mass you’re a fuel-burning machine, meaning you can eat more.