If You Workout, Can You Eat Whatever You Want?

20080812-phelpsIt’s a new year - and many people are making resolutions to exercise. Great! But many people mistakenly believe that working out is a free pass to eat whatever you want.

A few years back, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps gained a lot of attention for his alleged 10,000 calorie-per-day diet including lots of “pizza and pasta.” Most experts believe that Phelps’ actual diet is likely closer to 6,000 calories as it’s nearly impossible to eat 10,000 calories in a day.

Still… for the rest of us non-Olympians, Phelps’ legendary diet helps fuel the popular misconception that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise. Simply put, this is untrue.

On one end of the equation, each of us burn a set number of calories during the course of the day. If we exercise, we can certainly boost that number. At the other end of the equation, each us consumes a certain number of calories through the foods we eat. At the most basic level, if calories in is greater than calories out, we will store those extra calories as fat.

It’s true that regular exercisers have higher metabolisms and thus need more calories on a daily basis. Many people, for example, are surprised by the amount of food that I consume even though I’m just 155 pounds. But if I ate beyond my body’s daily caloric needs - even despite my rigorous workout routine - there’s no doubt that I’d gain excess fat.

And working out doesn’t prevent an individual from developing nutritional deficiencies. As such, it’s not a free pass to eat a diet of French fries and cheeseburgers. On the contrary, it’s still important to eat with health in mind - and it’s important to give your body the fuel it needs to power through workouts and maintain muscle mass.

Bottom line: The idea that you can eat whatever you want if you workout is a total myth. All of us, regardless of our activity level, must pay attention to the foods we eat.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. So true Davey. I’m 52 and have gained 9 lbs. of muscle in the past 14 weeks thanks to an awesome IFBB bodybuilder who’s my trainer. I eat 6 meals a day, and get one cheat meal a week to eat whatever I want. But I still have to be on task for the other 5 when I do. I eat what he tells me, which has to be weighed and measured. While it’s a lot of food, it’s specific types and requires consistency to stick to a diet that varies little from one day to the next.

    But if you want something badly enough you do what you have to in order to succeed. That means NOT eating anything I want just because I work out 5 days a week. I think a healthy body is formed more in the kitchen than it is in the gym. What you eat and how you work out will determine how your body reacts and in the end, looks.

  2. Davey, may I ask how tall you are?