Can exercise cancel out a bad diet? Perhaps that’s the wrong question to ask.
Theoretically, you should try to eat a healthy diet either way. That means eating more fiber, less sugar and less saturated fat. In other words, you have to fight the food around you.
The so-called “western diet” consists of sugary foods and drinks, low fiber intake and high levels of saturated fat. Contrast that with an approach like that Mediterranean Diet, which is high in fiber, low in sugar and low in saturated fat.
These are the three things you need to watch out for if you want to lower your risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death in the US and worldwide). However, the role of exercise in keeping you healthy might be severely undervalued.
This study was just published in the Journal of Physiology. Researchers gave mice workout equipment, like a wheel, and let them workout as much as they wanted. They fed one group of mice a western diet and one group a healthier diet.
As it turns out, mice that exercised regularly were able to protect their arteries from the damage caused by a western diet. That means what they ate didn’t have an effect on their heart health. That’s a big deal!
There are a few important things to keep in mind when reading this article. The study was performed in male mice, which means the results may not carry over exactly in humans (although we’re physiologically very similar to mice). The mice that exercised walked the equivalent of 3-5 miles per day (that’s a lot for a little creature). This is also just one study, and research needs to be repeated to be validated.
This isn’t an excuse to eat what you want, but it follows a current trend in research: exercise is medicine. If this research pans out in humans, it means that exercise is as powerful (if not moreso) than following a proper diet. For the record, you should focus on both to see the best results.
-Coach Henry Halse