Will One Day Of Unhealthy Eating Ruin My Gym Progress?

August 5th 2019

So, you ate a lot of junk food and unhealthy meals today. The big question is should you still go to workout today? Believe it or not, this question is more common than you think. For a lot of newer lifters, the start of a New Year’s Resolution is one big milestone they placed on themselves. With losing weight, there are a ton of details that go undiscussed. Going to the gym regularly, eating consistently and staying out of bad habits are just some of the big strategies for ensuring that you keep the weight off in the gym. So, let us further evaluate whether or not you should still workout even though you may have eaten badly today.

I ate bad today, should I still workout?

Yes, you should still workout. One “bad” meal or day will not drastically affect your workout. However, consistently deviating from your gameplan will show compounding negative results in the future.

You may be worried that eating bad for one day will result in zero progress in the gym. For many beginner lifters, you may even think you went backward in your journey. If life was black and white, we would be in a much better place in my opinion since we will be in direct control of our results.

But that is not the case! Life is much more complex than that. In fact, here are several reasons why you should still workout regardless of what your diet issues are:

1. You are establishing a long term habit

It takes 21 days to establish a new habit. It probably takes even longer for you to fully ingrain the habit into your lifestyle but for simplicity, you should try to maintain a consistent schedule for 21 days.

So, if you chose to do Starting Strength, you will go to the gym three times a week. So, you will maintain this schedule for the next three weeks in order for your brain to recognize that this is something important that you must do. Often times, we may try something for a day or two and just abandon the idea because “we did not enjoy it.”

I take that approach from a different angle. I would need to dive deep into whatever hobby, skill or habit I want to achieve and give it nothing less than 100% effort. If I am unable to promise to myself that I will give this new habit my best effort, then I am simply just wasting my time.

So, where am I going with this? Yes, you ate crappy for one day. Guess what? You still have another 364 days to eat better! As long as one day does not turn into weeks and months, you will be in good shape. The key is to not worry about these smaller points and focus on just being present in your current activity.

2. You are challenging yourself

This is also a perfect opportunity for doing something new and unknown. If you ask this question, this probably has not happened to you frequently. So, my stance would be for you to continue to workout. 

Even though you may not feel like working out, that does not excuse you for having to do something vital for your growth as a person. Being able to tackle new challenges will be a constant theme in your workout quest. You will always need to challenge your body and your mind. So, how is working out after a bad diet day any different?

3. Are you just going to give up?

What is the alternative if you do not workout today? Will you not workout if you had a bad eating day? Just imagine if you ate bad 2 days in a row… will you not workout then? Life is not a smooth sail across the ocean.

You need to be prepared for battle, especially if you have any goals within the health and fitness space. There will be countless obstacles you need to face and each one will probably be more difficult than the last.

Quit complaining and start doing. The more you analyze why you cannot do something, the more you give yourself reasons for not doing what you are supposed to do. So, for these people, you need to just act and commit to your fitness and physique goals. 

4. “You can’t outwork a bad diet” mentality

There may be some truth to this school of thought. It can probably explain why top athletes stay disciplined with their eating habits. Very rarely do they ever gorge or feast on unhealthy meals. It could be from all the brainwashing of schools, academics, and current research out there but how can the average person know for sure?

So, instead of getting into a huge debate and get trapped in analysis paralysis, people should just eat in a way that they are confident in while being good for their body. What do I mean?

You should eat what you can replicate every day because you will be able to maintain consistency more easily. At the same time, we cannot throw out all the research as being controlling; proteins are used for building muscle, carbohydrates and fats are used for energy. These are the fundamental building blocks for you getting results and to ignore these truths is like shooting yourself in your foot.

Eating a high protein, low carb diet works for many people in that it maximizes the amount of amino acids in your body while minimizing the amount of carbohydrates being stored as excess fat. 

How to reset after a bad day of eating?

On the very next day, pick up from where you left off and do not worry about what happened yesterday. Bad habits will compound if you let it. So, take control of your mind before you let unwanted thoughts enter your brain.

Working out and eating bad food, can it be avoided?

It is believed that eating “bad” food and working out should not mix. However, even “bad” foods still contain building blocks for growth - fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. It is more likely that bad food has a higher fat and carbohydrate to protein ratio, which means that your body will have an excess amount of carbohydrates which will be stored as fat.

Can this be avoided? If you are a busy person, you will need to be on top of your meal prep. But for the most part, the average person will not want to be bothered by doing extra work. This is exactly the reason why the average person will only get average results. It is the attention to detail and the drive to want more that really pushes certain people to achieve more than just average. Does this sound like you?


You ate bad today. So what? Life continues! We are not here to make excuses for why you cannot do something; that is not the way of the Spartan. We are here to eliminate negative thoughts in our minds and to reach for our goals in every way possible. 

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