Working out or getting any form of exercise on a regular basis is a great way to improve your overall health, to increase your confidence and to bring about a huge number of positive changes that can enhance your quality of life. But many people aren't interested in all those things. For some people, exercising or working out represents a means to eat more junk and get away with it. They train in order to give themselves a 'green light' to pig out. Which is fair enough really if you enjoy eating that much…
But does it really work like that? Can you really eat whatever you want if you train the way you want?
Your Goals and Your Diet
To answer this question you're first going to have to examine your goals. Your goals other than being able to eat what you want that is…
Because if you're hoping to simply maintain your current shape while eating more – or if you want to lose weight while eating more, then you're probably going to be disappointed.
The thing you need to remember in these scenarios is that in terms of calories burned, exercise isn't actually all that game-changing. Even running for an hour at five miles an hour is only going to help you burn about 6-700 calories. Now if you consider that a Mars Bar contains about 280 calories… that's really just over two Mars Bars worth of calories that you've burned.
If you ran for an hour every single day you couldn't eat whatever you wanted and not gain weight – even just eating two Mars Bars would put you back at square one. Also, bear in mind that you probably burn around 2,000 calories a day without exercising.
And what you need to remember moreover is that most of us aren't going to run for an entire hour seven days a week anyway. And nor should we.
There are a few things we're leaving out here: such as the effect of exercise on your hormones (which lead to more fat burning and muscle and such as the thermic effect of some foods), but still overall the point is that you can work out a whole load, and you'll still put on weight if you have two extra Mars Bars. Sorry!
So no, you can't eat whatever you want because you're exercising. There is one caveat though, which is to say that things are slightly different if you're just trying to bulk. If you're lifting very heavy amounts, eating lots of protein, and getting lots of rest and your only goal is to grow in size then you not only need to eat lots of protein but also lots of calories to aid with recovery, to give you energy for workouts and generally to gain weight to increase strength. At this point in training you actually can get away with eating a lot more – including carbs – though you should still make sure to get a balance of nutrients and to avoid eating too many sugary foods.
Most people aren't in this boat though, so to conclude… nope, you still need to choose what you eat carefully! Which isn't to say you can't enjoy eating, you just have to be smart about it and to enjoy everything in moderation.