Diet vs. Exercise Royal Rumble

pizza diet fat lossWhat happens when you put 3 fitness experts in a room with a pizza, two cheeseburgers, two servings of edible cancer sticks (aka “french fries”), 2 sodas, 2 donuts, 2 giant chocolate chip muffins, 1 huge frappacino, 2 espresso brownies, 1 protein bar, a treadmill, a stairclimber, and a kettlebell?

Well, you have the Ultimate Fat Loss Royal Rumble, of course. The battle of “Diet vs. Exercise”. And while we have it ALL on video, I want to tell you about in gory bite-by-bite “how to ruin your fat loss diet” detail.

It all starts with this strange idea I had while walking Bally the Dog. I thought, “Hey, I really need to show folks just how futile cardio is in the fight against a bad diet. But how can I do this…”

Then it hit me. We could show folks just how fast they could consume enormous amounts of calories that ruin fat loss programs. We’ll do a skit called 1000 calories in 1000 seconds. That’ll be perfect. But then I did the math. That’s 1000 calories in almost 17 minutes. Anyone can do that…and no one’s watching a 17 minute video of me eating.

So then I had a better idea. Why not compare how much “diet damage” can be done in a short amount of time PLUS just how FEW calories you can actually burn in hard exercise?”

I was willing to be the exercise subject, and sacrifice some hard work in order to get the message across…but I needed some Guinea Pigs to consume a ridiculous amount of food in a short amount of time. My first thought was Bally the Dog, he likes to eat, but then I’d probably have PETA after me…bally the dog diet

So I thought, why not get nutrition expert Brad Pilon? PETA doesn’t care about him, and I know he can eat! Turns out Brad was down with the idea, so we got everything together and met in the gym late at night to film 5 episodes of Diet vs Exercise and test the limits of human (eating) performance!

Diet vs Exercise – Episode 1: Treadmill vs. Pizza & Soda

It doesn’t take a professional gambler to realize this was a mismatch from the start. First of all, it was two foods against one machine! You’ll love the video, but just to give you a quick rundown of the results, Diet scored a whopping 1100 calories to 43 calories victory over the Treadmill in just 3 minutes.

That’s right, Brad was able to consume over 1100 calories in pizza and soda in just 3 minutes, while I was only able to burn 43 calories while running at 10.5 mph for 3 minutes. It was no contest and we proved the point that “you can’t out-cardio a bad diet”.

Diet vs Exercise – Episode 2: The Stairmaster vs “Burger & Fries plus a Soda”

burger fries dietIn this battle, we had men’s exercise expert John Barban wolf down as many calories from a beefy burger, fries, and soda meal as possible in just 3 minutes, while I got relegated to 3 minutes on an old-school stairmaster.

Couple of things to point out here…First, according to the stairmaster, climbing a flight of stairs only burns 3 calories! So the next time you read a politically correct article from some lame fitness expert telling you to “take the stairs instead of the elevator”, just realize that doesn’t even cover one french fry’s worth of calories! What a joke.

Second, I found the stairmaster exercise to be easier than running on the treadmill, yet in the same amount of time the stairmaster reported I burned 59 calories (that was 16 calories MORE than running at a harder pace – in my opinion). That just goes to show you that you CAN NOT trust the calorie counters.

So the winner again was DIET, by a score of about 1100 calories to 59 calories – again, delivering the knock out blow in just 3 minutes.

We actually filmed 3 more episodes, but I’ll wait for those to hit video. You should get a good laugh out of fitness and nutrition experts stuffing their faces while I suffer through sprints, kettlebell exercises, and the indignity of using a stairmaster. How embarrassing.

But the point of course is not just to entertain, but to get across this extremely important message and the BOTTOM LINE: You can’t out-train a bad fat loss diet.

And hey, if you have any ideas for future shows, please let me know.What foods have high-calorie counts that need to be exposed? What exercise and workout torture would you like to see me go through? Just let me know in the comments section below!

Your fat loss diet is the key to burning fat and losing inches,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Turbulence Training

  • Hey Craig,

    That’s hilarious…and so true. Applying the 80/20 rule, many would say that getting in shape is 80% diet, 20% exercise. Citing these examples, you can see that it’s even more extreme than that (95/5 maybe)?

    I had a conversation with a co-worker the other day who wanted to try and lose a pound a week; she was eating a small bag of Doritos and drinking a 20 oz coke. There’s an extra 500 calories a day right there!

    Great article; puts a lot in perspective, I look forward to the other videos.

    -Steve @ Nerd Fitness

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Yep, if she only knew! Thanks Steve!

  • Hahahaha!!! Havent seen the video yet…but the article opens alot of eyes here.

    That’s really funny Craig and I can relate to that experience. To think I actually did something like that recently…man – what a waste of time it is. I’m laughing back at it now as I type this!

    And you’re right: IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO DO ENDLESS CARDIO TO BEAT BAD NUTRITION ESPECIALLY IN FAT LOSS. You just really can’t out cardio, out exercise a bad diet day (or days), Craig…it’s a waste of time and energy to think that way. The “Oh I ate 10 slices of pizza….now need to get some cardio in today.” Or the “I worked my butt in the gym…so I can have that Coke, Burger and Fries for lunch today”. The benefit of all this senseless cardio stuff: zilch.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      That’s absolutely right Andy!

  • Brian

    You and Brad have the best catch phrases and abreviations for stuff. Can’t our cardio a bad diet. I love it.

    So do you think we can show light weight exercises/single joint exercises vs Chicken wings and beer and celerey… I mean atleast they’ll get something kind of healthy.

    But the one thing you can get from this is that no matter what you think, overdoing anything is a bad thing. No matter what nutrional way of eating you follow, eating badly and doing it a ton at any time can wreak havoc on your body. Also shows that the most beneficial thing you can do is get over a food addition and get into an activity addiction. I can’t wait to hear about the other expereinces. Even the HIIT (I’m assuming that’s what you’re doing with sprints) and your kettlebells. I do have one question for you though. How you do you apply the calories burnt from the workout after the workout when using a kettlebell?

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Hey Brian! Thanks for the comments! Not sure what you mean by your question?


  • What exercise torture should you endure? Hmm… I’d suggest an elliptical machine but you didn’t mention having access to one. That’d be pure exercise torture there…

    Otherwise, I’d have to go with 3 minutes of non-stop Turkish get-ups with a kettlebell.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      might have to try that…not looking forward to it though!


  • Rocknrollgoddess

    I LOVED this and so true–what i would also love to “expose” is people drinking vodka, redbull and club soda and saying the calories dont count cause the alcohol has so few carbs…i see people at clubs complaining about their non-existant 6 pack while eating very little and exercising a ton–but downing 4-5 of these drinks…while it might not be a good idea to be intoxicated in the gym, i think this is one myth that needs busting!!!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Nice idea! We definitely need to cover the alcohol…that is killing so many fat loss programs.

      I’d never heard that rationale from people before though…they are kidding themselves!


  • Laura

    How about this for torture: 3 pushups and 1 tuck jump, 6 pushups and 2 tuck jumps, 9 pushups and 3 tuck jumps, and so forth, adding three pushups and 1 tuck jump to each set until you miss a rep. Then work your way back down the ladder. No breaks.

    Foodwise, how about those Jamba Juice concoctions? I get so annoyed by sugary calorie bombs masquerading as health food! At least milkshakes and fries don’t purport to be good for you.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      You are right, we need to expose the smoothie scene!


  • Brian

    Just based on some kind of EPOC (which I know is debated, but I still believe is there atleast until your body go back to norm), how would you add those calories in when doing kettlebell workouts, or would you just keep it with what was burned during the workout?

    And now my vote for torture is some kind fo aerobics class or step class. Maybe a little Sweatin’ to the Oldies?

    • Craig Ballantyne

      still not sure what you mean…how would i add those calories to what?

  • christineT

    Hmmm….torture you say??

    well what the heck, let’s go all-in with this–> 50minutes of moderate cardio every day for let’s say 3 days in a row??

    yeah I know I’m evil 🙂

    christineT (ChrisKT)

  • Brian

    To the calories you burnt while working out.

    Cals while working out + EPOC cals = ???


    Cals while working out…. and that’s it

    • Craig Ballantyne

      i’m not really into counting calories burned. we dont’ use that in our system.

  • mtnbiker

    Maybe I missed it, but I can’t seen any videos or link to them in this post…?

    • Craig Ballantyne

      videos aren’t edited yet

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  • Great post, and thanks.
    I am now trying the push-up burpee circuit which is a medieval torture method dealt to knights caught screwing the Queen’s sister.
    9 push-ups, 1 burpee, the 8 push-ups and 2 burpees, till you hit one push-up and nine burpees. The (NOT) funny thing is that in the first part of the workout, the burpees feel easy, and in the latter half, the push-ups feel easier, which is another way of saying the burpees kill you.

  • Great post, and thanks.
    I am now trying the push-up burpee circuit which is a medieval torture method dealt to knights caught screwing the Queen’s sister.
    9 push-ups, 1 burpee, the 8 push-ups and 2 burpees, till you hit one push-up and nine burpees. The (NOT) funny thing is that in the first part of the workout, the burpees feel easy, and in the latter half, the push-ups feel easier, which is another way of saying the burpees kill you.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  • Killing me with this post. 33 hours into a 40 hour fast after a very stressful day. Even celery would taste as good as greasy pizza about now.

    Pretty funny stuff though. Videos ought to be fun.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      why are you fasting 40 hours?

  • How about this comparison: calories consumed from Gatorade, gels, and/or energy bars versus calories burned doing cardio.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Great idea Jessica, we did a protein bar video but definitely need to do Gatorade and smoothies as well!

  • noname

    episode 3: michael phelps!

  • Craig Ballantyne

    The first episode is up here:

  • Love this, great idea mate!

    It was really thought provoking!

    Tom Godwin
    Foresight Personal Training

  • Cheska

    thanks so much for this! it really hits home. i have been training with a personal trainer 1x a week since july 2008 but of course, i didn’t change my diet until a month ago (though she’s been telling me to!)… i did gain muscle and all but my body fat % wasn’t decreasing as much as i wanted it to… so last month, i decided to eat healthier.. i love burgers so i started making my own using extra lean ground beef.. pan fried with no oil.. i eat it with ezekiel bread, pickles, mustard, ketchup, romaine lettuce.. it was really good and surprisingly, i did not miss the mayo! 😀 i also make my own light greek salad.. have hard boiled eggs for snacks.. protein shake… wasa crackers with almond butter.. fruits… cottage cheese… yogurt… brown rice.. sometimes i still eat white rice or have the occasional in-n-out burger.. but i skip the fries and soda.. (i love fries.. but now i just make my own baked sweet potato fries)

    well.. a month later… i lost 3 lbs of body fat.. down 2% body fat… did not lose any muscle mass.. i really wish i had listened to my trainer before!

    thanks again for your to the point but entertaining videos! it’s true.. i couldn’t out train my bad diet before!

  • ari

    can you give the same type of example using booze? beer, wine and some other type of liquor. everyone always talks about the food during the holidays. nobody talks about happy hour