Bad diet & good exercise vs. Good diet & no exercise

Is it better to have a bad diet but exercise everyday or have a good diet but barely excercise?

There’s a majority of people who think that fitness requires more exercise and less nutrition. But at the same time, there are also people who have done fitness for decades and believe that diet matters more than exercise.

In reality, very few people understand just how important both diet and exercise are when taken together.

If you want muscle gain or fat loss or even fat gain, you have to rely on a good diet and sufficient exercise. If you want to be the same weight but increase your fitness levels, you have to rely on a good diet and sufficient exercise. Whatever your goals are you have to rely on both these things.

One is not more important than the other, despite what many people will say.

The mentality of “70% is in your diet, and 30% is in your exercise” will not get the results you want. On top of that, rest times are important. Recovery is important. Sleep is very important. Sticking with a routine on a consistent basis is important.

It’s a complex equation, it requires effort from all sides.

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I’ll assume by “bad diet” you mean really bad diet. Not just “junk food on the weekend.” And by “good diet,” I’ll assume you mean really good. Not just, “salad and green tea for dinner.”

I believe a really bad diet will likely shorten your life. Even if you exercise.

A really good diet will likely not shorten your life. Even if exercise isn’t part of the equation.

A good diet is bad if you eat too much of it. You can get fat. That’s bad. At the same time there are people who are ripped on a bad diet. And so on.

I have known people with terrible diets that worked out and looked really good. Blood tests can often show something else on the matter; bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc. “But I look great!” A guy I knew who seemed very fit, like a fit runner, and died at the age of 35 of a heart attack. He was out on a landscaping job said he didn’t feel well (probably due to the heat), went home, and was found dead on the couch. He drank three pots of coffee a day and ate almost nothing but fast food. He always said he could eat whatever he wanted and not get fat.

But at the end of the day, why choose between the two when it is so well known that a reasonably good diet alongside a reasonably active lifestyle is absolutely the way to go?

Diet and exercise go hand in hand.

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If I had to pick between the two, I would say it would be better to have a good diet and barely exercise.

Your body composition is mostly determined by what you eat, it’s the fuel you put in your body.

Training is important, but its effects can be almost entirely enhanced or diminished by proper nutrition. You can affect your body much more with proper diet and minimal training than you could with tons of training and a really poor diet.

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I think one in the absence of the other will not necessarily increase your chances of living longer and more healthily, so you will need a lifestyle strategy that incorporates a balance of both. It is like asking what is most important feeding, drinking or breathing? All are necessary to sustain life. It is just a matter of how long the absence of any of them would take to kill you or make you really ill, since in the long run we all have an expiration date.

Having said all this, I would say that a health diet with a moderately active lifestyle would trump a regular exercise routine without regard to your dietary habits since, after time, the continued metabolic stress would overpower the body’s ability to get rid of oxidative stress.

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In the absence of exercise, I am very careful about what I eat, and how much. You can at least maintain a healthy weight, and good metabolism, without exercise.

I can’t see working out hard, and not aiding that with good nutrition. That would be disappointing, because I wouldn’t get the sort of results I’d be after. Even the big bulky power lifters pay attention to nutrition, because you can’t build that strength without intentionally going after a lot of proteins. The guidance is 1-1.5G of protein per pound of body weight. For a 250 pound power lifter, that could mean 375G of protein, daily. For perspective, that would be 60 hard boiled eggs. That’s two and a half pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast. Other athletic goals require different nutritional focus, but the power lifter seems like the athlete who would need the least attention to diet, but no. You don’t eat 2.5 pounds of chicken every day by accident.

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It depends on your priorities. Generally, if you want to lose or maintain your weight, then diet is more important than exercise. However, if you want to gain strength and build muscle and endurance, then exercise is more important than diet. Exercise is the sole reason why your body builds muscle in the first place.

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