If I Eat Unhealthy Food But Exercise Will I Lose Weight?

Weight loss is an attainable goal for anyone.

You don’t have to be on the “perfect diet” or work out three times per day to lose weight successfully. Many make weight loss out to be harder than it is. While it does require a lot of time, commitment, and dedication – it’s not out of reach.

When you start thinking like you cannot reach a goal, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to put yourself in a positive mindset when approaching your weight loss objectives. You also want to avoid falling victim to a lot of the myths out there about weight loss.

One of the biggest myths is that you need to follow a specific diet to lose weight. While dieting is certainly necessary, there is no specific diet you have to follow.

There is only one principle you must adhere to when looking to lose weight. Here is more information you need to know to effectively lose weight.

Things You Need To Know About Unhealthy Eating, Exercise, and Weight Loss


eating French fries from someone's hands over a black background

1. You Need To Put Yourself At A Caloric Deficit

This is the number one rule to follow when it comes to losing weight.

This is why tracking your caloric intake is imperative. You absolutely must track how many calories you are consuming and how many calories you are burning daily.

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Controlling how many calories you consume daily is necessary to achieve any sort of weight loss. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than you are burning, you will lose weight.

It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to make it out to be any harder, because it isn’t.

The reason why a lot of people don’t see the success they want when they are eating a lot of unhealthy junk food has to do with the fact they are taking in too many calories.

2. Are You Eating Too Many Calories?

This is the number one reason it’s better to opt for healthier food choices over unhealthy junk food.

One of the biggest problems with filling your diet full of junk food is how easy it is to overeat junk versus healthy food. It’s much easier to overeat a bag of chips than it is to overeat a bag of carrots.

Likewise, it’s much easier to consume 1,000 calories at McDonald’s than it is to consume 1,000 calories of vegetables. This is primarily why it’s better to go for healthy snacks over some of the unhealthier snacks.

However, if you can consume unhealthy snacks in moderation while counting calories, you won’t have a problem losing weight.

3. You Need Nutrients

This is another big reason why it’s better to go for a healthy diet when you are looking to lose weight.

You need to put yourself at a caloric deficit, but you also need to ensure your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs for various bodily processes.

If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs through diet, your metabolism could slow down and hinder all of your progress.

When you consume too many caloric-dense snacks that are more so empty calories, it makes it difficult to supply your body with all of the nutrients it needs to function efficiently.

This is the number one reason why you want to avoid adding too many unhealthy snacks to your diet daily.

4. Snacking On Cheat Days Can Help

When you are trying to lose weight, one of the main things you will notice is that you will eventually hit some sort of plateau.

This plateau usually occurs within a few weeks because your body becomes accustomed to things. Your body constantly strives for homeostasis. When you are following the same diet all of the time, your body learns how to adapt to the changes and it can stall your progress.

This is why shocking your system can prove to be an effective way to boost things up. This can help you boost your metabolism. This makes adding a cheat day to your dieting an effective strategy for enhancing your weight loss efforts.

When you add unhealthy foods to your diet, it forces your body to adjust which can keep you from getting stalled at the plateau you’ve hit.

5. It Depends If You Are Exercising Enough To Offset The Caloric Intake

The main thing that will dictate whether or not unhealthy snacking curbs your weight loss efforts when you exercise is whether or not you are exercising enough to offset the calories you are taking it.

Truth be told, it’s very difficult to burn enough calories through exercise alone to offset a lot of unhealthy snacking when done excessively.

This means that if you are consuming bags and bags of chips or processed foods, you likely won’t be exercising enough to offset those added calories.

However, if you are eating unhealthy foods in moderation and you are counting calories and sticking to a caloric deficit, your unhealthy snacking won’t curb your weight loss efforts.

This is why it’s hard to rely on exercise alone when you are looking to lose weight. You need to approach your weight loss goals with both diet and exercise simultaneously.

6. Add More Healthy Foods In Addition To Your Unhealthy Snacks

One of the main things you need to look to do is to add more healthy foods to the mix.

Instead of only focusing on removing unhealthy snacks, you want to focus more on adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet. The more healthy foods that are nutrient-dense that you add, the less hungry you’ll be.

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This can keep you from reaching for that bag of Cheetos because you’ll be full already.

If you are filling your diet full of healthy protein, healthy fats, and fiber – you won’t be hungry enough to consume too many calories through unhealthy snacking.

7. What Kind Of Exercise(s) Are You Doing?

Another factor that will influence whether or not the exercise offsets your extra caloric intake from unhealthy snacking is the type of exercise you are doing.

Not all exercise is created equal.

Likewise, it also will vary based on the level of intensity you have with each exercise. For instance, an average 155-person can expect to burn over 278 calories doing vigorous bicycling but only around 108 calories for general weight lifting [1].

First of all, it’s very difficult to create a caloric deficit through exercise alone [2]. Not to mention, studies have shown that a lot of people end up eating more post-exercise [3].

This could end up completely offsetting the caloric burn you achieved through exercise.

8. Are You Doing Everything Else Right?

Losing weight requires a consistent effort across the board.

There are a lot of factors that can go into whether or not you achieve your desired weight loss objectives. Your body needs a lot to lose weight successfully. While you don’t need to be perfect, you do need to do things that prime your body for weight loss.

This includes getting sufficient sleep. Sleep is very important to losing weight. A lack of sleep can increase your appetite making it much more likely you put on excess weight.

After all, the more you snack and eat, the more likely you are to consume too many calories. This will only increase your chances of putting yourself at a caloric surplus which is going to contribute to weight gain.

9. Is Junk Food Helping Your Energy Levels?

a man jumping with enthusiasm after eating a bunch of junk food

You will see a lot of elite athletes munching on fast food and candy before, during, or after games.

Why isn’t it negatively impacting them? The answer is because they are doing high-intensity physical activity. Some studies show that postexercise glycogen recovery and exercise performance isn’t significantly different between fast food and sports supplements [5].

This is primarily because of the sugar content of fast food. It’s very similar to what you’ll find in sports drinks and supplements. If you are consuming junk food and it’s making you work out more, it could be helpful to your weight loss efforts.

After all, if you are working out more because you are eating junk food, it’s going to help you burn more calories. While it’s unlikely you are completely offsetting it alone with your workouts, you could be moving more which helps boost your metabolism and keeps you from being too sedentary.

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Junk food could also be hurting your energy levels if you aren’t getting sufficient nutrition because of it.

It depends on how much you are exercising and whether or not you are getting enough nutrition into your diet to provide your body with sufficient energy.

10. What Kind Of Junk Food Are You Eating?

There are different kinds of junk food out there.

Some junk food is much more calorie-dense than others. Some would consider popcorn and other things to be junk food, but it doesn’t contain many calories.

Whereas, you will find a lot of calories in other types of junk food. It comes down to what kind of junk food you are eating and how bad it truly is. Some junk food is bad for you, but not necessarily bad for your weight loss efforts.

Some of it is full of artificial ingredients that don’t necessarily make you put on weight.

While there is a lot of debate about whether or not artificial sugar contributes to weight gain, they don’t directly add sugar and calories to your diet [5].

So, If I Eat Unhealthy Food, Will I Lose Weight?

Losing weight is much more than eating healthy food. If you are eating nothing but healthy food, but you are eating too much of it, you will gain weight.

It doesn’t matter how healthy the food is.

You are going to gain weight if you are consuming more calories than you are burning. This will be true no matter what. If you are eating unhealthy food and you are watching your caloric intake, you will lose weight.

You’re unlikely to get all of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy if you are only consuming junk food in your daily caloric intake, but you will still lose weight. As you can see, weight loss can be achieved regardless of whether or not you are consuming healthy or unhealthy foods.

The key is knowing how many calories you are consuming daily. Track your caloric intake and things get much clear.

You will have a good idea of whether or not you are putting yourself in a good position to lose weight successfully.


  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
  2. https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/-7lMvTw8WiPcc9xT8GhXggJbVHM=/0x0:1200×944/920×0/filters:focal(0x0:1200×944):format(webp):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/9969757/diet_200POUNDS_CHART.0.png
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2639700/
  4. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/physical-health/weight-loss-and-sleep
  5. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots