For a Limited Time, Get My 200 Page Book
The Raw Secrets for FREE

Focus on Diet First

The biggest bang for your health may not be on the treadmill.

By, Bill Kranker

The other day I was watching an old episode of a TV show called “Magnum PI” which stared Tom Selleck.  In many of the episodes Tom’s character was shown doing some type of athletic thing like jogging or swimming or running a marathon which is all really great but often he would also be shown reaching for a beer just after a run or as he was drying off after a swim.  Back in the 1980’s, when the show was popular on TV, I would have thought nothing of this as I was not much better myself. I would go for a run or workout and then have a steak and potato dinner with ice scream for dessert.   The theory back then was that it did not matter much what you eat because you could just work it off later.  But is this really the case?  Can you just work off any type of food that you put into your mouth?  Let’s look at a few facts:

First, what about working off those excess Calories?  According to, running uses up about 105 net calories per mile (this is net calories over what you would use just lying on the couch. For women it would be about 74 calories net).  I have seen people (Including myself!) easily consume over 800 excess calories per day on a regular unhealthy diet. So using the above formula we would need to run about 8 miles in order to burn up those 800 extra calories.  In reality how many of us are really going to do that much running every day?  Or maybe, you think that just walking will burn off that extra indulgence.  Walking only uses up about 52 net calories (43 for the ladies) so you would need to walk the equivalent of a half-marathon in order to remove the caloric excess!  That is a good amount of exercise for the average person.  And as for Mr. Magnum he would need to run about an extra 2 miles just to work off that 200 Calorie beer.  (Calories of beer courtesy of

Second: Not all calories are created equal.  When people take in too much it is usually the fat calories that they add in excess.  800 Calories of fat such as animal foods or even healthy fats like avocado are much harder for humans to use up because we are not very well equipped for digesting fat (we lack the required digestive enzyme) so any extra calories from fat will get set aside (around our waist and hips) for later disposition while the body concentrates on the useful carb calories it needs for energy.  So a run on the treadmill is likely not very effective against these fatty calories.

Third: a lot of the calories we take in are pure chemical junk and will have to go through a much more complicated process than simple digestion and conversion to energy.  Often these bad calories are stored in our fat layer or diluted with water for later disposal when more energy is available.  Often this extra energy does not become available and these bad chemicals just hang around in our padding.  In essence, we become a storage unit of toxic waste! So what are these junk calories?  How about “artificial flavors” or anything on those ingredient labels that you can’t easily pronounce. Again, this type of calorie is not easy to “Work Off!”

So if you are really interested in becoming healthy I would start with making the necessary dietary changes first as you will get much more accomplished by changing your diet than you will with all of those hours spent on the treadmill!

So what are some of those dietary changes you ask?  The following are my basic rules for food:

1)      Stay away from packaged and processed foods as much as possible.  If it comes in a can, box, bag or bottle you should probably try and avoid it.  Also if it has a nutrition label on it, don’t bother reading all of that fine print, just pass it by!

2)      Make the majority of your food intake from fruit.  Fruit has the highest calorie to weight ratio of all of the fresh unprocessed foods.  Fruit is also composed of healthy carb calories that provide us the cellular energy we need.  In this case these calories are the good calories!

3)      Make sure to also get some greens and healthy fats into your diet.  Greens, such as spinach, collards or kale, have the minerals you need and the fats such as avocado and nuts provide fuel for your brain.  Just keep the fats to a minimum though (about ½ avocado or a small palm full of nuts per day average at most)

Don’t just take my word for it.  Keep studying and researching.  A good place to start is with some of Frederic’s great books that have a wealth of healthy info and recipes in them.  It is better to learn from the success and failures of others than by trial and error yourself!

So change your diet first and then let the workout begin!

Until next time make at least one change for the better each and every day!


Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.