I just beasted it in the gym, will I undo all that good work if I go out for food tonight??

It's only a night outI got asked a question the other day:

“I just beasted it in the gym, will I undo all that good work if I go out for food tonight??”

And the answer is yes and no.  And here is why…

Define terms.

First of all, we need to define terms so we actually know what the hell we are asking and answering.

What did you want to achieve in the gym?

Most people who ask if a night out will “undo” their gym work, go to the gym to “burn calories” or “fat burn”.  These are 2 of the worst, most pointless reasons to go to the gym.  If these are your reasons, then I’m afraid you will almost certainly fail and end up miserable.  Unless you are already pretty bloody fit and strong, you will struggle to burn much more than about 500 calories in an hour.  (See this table showing how many calories various activities burn in 30 minutes.)  And remember, a simple Big Mac is over 500 calories (http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/product_nutrition.beef.19.big-mac.html).

So if what you want is to lose weight, by far the quickest, easiest and most sustainable way of doing it is by changing what you eat and drink.  Click here for an absolute beginners guide to losing weight.

And might I suggest some far better things to try and achieve in the gym?

  • Improve fitness
  • Improve strength
  • Improve allover health and wellbeing
  • Feel better/happier/more alive
  • Improve your performance
  • Prepare for an event/competition
  • Enjoy the environment/company/activity

What did you actually achieve in the the gym?

Most people who ask if a night out will “undo” their gym work, tend to go down the “CV machines in the fat burning zone” route.  And unfortunately this means going very slow and steadily for a loooooong time.  Doing this means they will be burning far fewer than even those 500 calories in a single burger!

And even if you didn’t go down the “fat burning zone” route and did a really good training session, you probably only just scraped over the 500 calorie mark.

But here is the good bit…if you did avoid the “fat burning zone” and did a proper training session, complete with conditioning (getting out of breath) and weight training, some of the things you probably did achieve include the following:

  • You got a little bit fitter
  • You got a little bit stronger
  • You improved your overall health and wellbeing a bit
  • Your next performance will have improved a bit
  • You will be a bit more prepared for your upcoming event/competition
  • You will have had an enjoyable time


So, will going out tonight undo all the good work you did in the gym?

  • Yes, but only if your sole reason for going to the gym is to burn calories…which is a stupid reason to go in the first place and you were never going to succeed anyway.  Regardless of whether you go out tonight or not, so who cares.  You were flogging a dead horse anyway.
  • No, because your training will make you fitter/stronger etc and one night out is not going to reverse that.

So in short, going out tonight will only “undo your good work” if you were misguided and doing the wrong things for the wrong reason in the first place.