Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can You Outtrain a Bad Diet?

How many of us have read about the inhuman amount some athletes eat? Think Michael Phelps and his 10,000 calorie a day training diet. For the majority of us, that would result in us looking more like sumo wrestlers than Olympic swimmers.

When I started CrossFit, I knew that I would be working harder than I had ever worked before, building muscle, and building calories. I hoped it was the magic trick that would allow me to eat whatever I wanted, slim down, and be healthy. Not so, unfortunately.

Compared to most people, I eat pretty healthfully, even on my cheat days. My biggest problem is the amount I eat and drink (wine has a LOT of calories unfortunately). And all the effort has not been able to make a dent in the problem.

Outside Magazine March 2013 cover

The March 2013 issue of Outside magazine came just at a perfect time, as I was reflecting on the lack of a magic bullet. It helped put things into perspective and gave me some inspiration to do better.

Articles like Bill Gifford's "Stranglehold" (Your fat has a brain. Seriously. And it’s trying to kill you. The only thing that can save you is fat’s worst enemy: muscle.)


Nick Heil's behind the scenes look at nutrition at the Olympic Training Center.

What these articles (along with other food-related ones in the issue) make clear is that, while you think that training will overcome problem eating, it won't. To be at your fittest, your healthiest, you simply cannot cheat.


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  1. I think in a lot of ways you CAN out train a bad (high calorie) diet, but only if you're doing an insane amount of training, like where your training IS your job. For regular people, not so much.

    I loved getting Outside when we subscribed years ago. Now I'm wishing we had it again, but getting a subscription now might be dangerous. :)

  2. This is the one thing I have to get over. I cannot eat whatever I want even if I burn 1k plus calories a day. Not all calories are created equal. I'll have to check out those articles.

  3. The only time I out-run my diet is when I am near peak mileage of marathon training, otherwise, my weight stays pretty stable. That is, unless I stop exercising and gain weight!

  4. This is very interesting to me, because this is my exact problem too. I eat whatever I want since I workout so much, and then I am really not in good shape to work out! Eating more healthfully has been hard!

  5. This is the truth. In trying to push myself to the next level athletically I put in many, many hours of training. It work but not to the extent I wanted and it became apparent that my diet needed to be seriously rebuilt. So that is what happened over the last 4 months. Can't wait to see if it worked (-:

  6. Like you, I eat pretty healthfully, but my biggest problem is the amount I eat. I eat more than ANYONE I know. Maybe calorically (that's not a word) I don't eat as much but it sure feels like I do. I have to say, I feel like running has allowed me to eat a ton and maintain a pretty low (but healthy) weight. Thank goodness! CrossFit is a whole other beast. I'd probably eat EVEN MORE if I did CF!

  7. yeah...I think this is unfortunately true. I think you can get away with it to an extent in your 20s and 30s, but 40s? Nope. It is harder and harder for me to maintain weight.

    Love any article in Outside!


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