Can You Really Work Off a Bad Diet?

Here's how far exercise alone can get you.

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After downing a delicious slice of pie, you might think to yourself, I'll just work it off later. But is it really possible to burn off a bad diet?

In the video above, the guys at AsapSCIENCE do a great job of explaining why your diet wins in the popular debate, largely because it takes more effort to burn off calories than you probably realize. For instance, that slice of pie — which can easily add up to more than 800 calories — would take more than an hour-long run to burn off. An hour and 20 minutes, to be exact.

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Basically you have two decisions: You can either have that piece of pie for 800 calories, or you can simply not eat it and save yourself a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears during a crazy-long run or other workout. Not to mention very sore muscles tomorrow.

When it comes down to it, diet does play a bigger role in weight loss than exercise. According to AsapSCIENCE, a study of 3,000 adults found minimizing calories was linked to more pounds dropped than exercise alone.

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What's more, a January 2017 study in PeerJ shows moving alone isn't going to keep you from gaining weight. Researchers from Loyola University Chicago looked at almost 2,000 adults in four different countries and found that people who exercised the recommended 150 minutes per week actually gained more weight on average than those whose weekly step count fell short.

But just because not eating that slice of pie is easier in terms of losing weight doesn't necessarily mean it's always the best choice. Our bodies need exercise to stay healthy, regardless of how many slices of pie we avoid. Plus, people actually eat more after cutting calories than after exercise, so working out may help curb your cravings better than just avoiding the bad-for-you food, according to the findings of a March 2016 study from Loughborough University. Not to mention that our hearts and minds need guilty pleasures. (Seriously, it's a thing.)

Part of living The Good Life is finding balance, right? So don't plan on munching on lettuce for every meal for the rest of your life and avoiding working out altogether; finding balance between eating well and treating yourself — as well as finding balance between staying active and taking breaks — will give you the best results and keep you feeling (and looking) like 100 bucks.

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