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Out-running ‘bad’ diets: beyond weight loss there is clear evidence of the benefits of physical activity
  1. Stuart M Phillips1,
  2. Michael J Joyner2
  1. 1 Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stuart M Phillips, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton ON L8S 4K1, Canada; phillis{at}

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You cannot outrun a bad diet has become a rallying phrase for diet-centric approaches to counteracting obesity and poor metabolic health. The phrase is, in our view, often taken to mean that you simply cannot do enough exercise to successfully lose or manage weight over time. Nonetheless, all weight loss paradigms run through energy balance,1 and the concept that you cannot outrun a bad diet is, in our view, inaccurate. Importantly, the simplicity of the phrase does not consider the multitude of other positive effects that physical activity/exercise (ie, running) have on health beyond weight loss. Evidence shows that you can out-exercise/out-work poor nutritional choices, but most people do not since they do not/will not/or cannot, practically, expend sufficient energy to do so. It is incontrovertible that exercise can and does result in weight loss.2 Nonetheless, behavioural and/or metabolic compensatory mechanisms often lessen the predicted weight loss with exercise induced as opposed to diet-induced energy deficits.2 Viewed through the lens of a weight loss approach to …

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  • Contributors The article was conceived, written, verified for content and approved by both authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.