I remember glancing at an article saying that exercise can counteract the negative effects of diet. I was wondering if anyone has the links to that body of research.
Even if such a research exists, you should discard it because it's likely based on inaccurate data. While exercises can counteract the negative effects of diet on the short term, it cannot do so on the long run. This is because
- 1. Unless you're an athlete or someone who does extreme manual daily, you will not burn more calories than you consume daily. Those extra calories will increase your size over time. Even athletes (such as basketball and football players) who consume bad diets feel the effect months later.
- 2. Bad diets are not usually loaded with good nutrients. As a result, the body is constantly deprived of its needed nutrients. Either you'll have to obtain the nutrients as supplementary pills or your body will have to do without it, which will put it in a vulnerable state.
- 3. Unless your career depends on exercising, you're likely to stop exercising because your body will not reflect the effects of the exercises.
- 4. Given the combination of 1 and 2 above, you're likely to develop some high risk diseases (your body is being pummeled through exercises but it's not obtaining the required nutrients).
Caveat: If you're young (14 - 22), it's possible to counteract bad diet with exercises because your body's still developing and your metabolism is high; however, it still won't be sustainable over time. Although there are articles about ectomorphs that claim they can eat anything without gaining weight, many are being debunked.
To answer your question, I cannot find the article (it probably was taken offline because it's inaccurate :)).
Excerise absoultely cannot counteract a "bad diet".
A bad diet is more than just consuming more calories than required. Yes, in that single case exercise would be beneficial. However, a bad diet can also include not consuming enough of the right foods. Chronically low intake of good foods, or chronically high intake of bad foods will lead to health issues, and exercise cannot counter act this.
Not consuming enough fresh fruit and vegetables, leads to poor vitamin C levels. Chronically, this would result in scurvey, and surprisingly, this has happened in recent times. Exercise cannot counter act this.
Same with low calcium levels leading to brittle bones. Chronically low-fat consumption would lead to decreased absoption of fat-soluble vitamins. A diet low in protein (or complete proteins) would lead to slower muscle growth. A diet very high in apex fish such as tuna can lead to mercury build-up. None of these are health states to be in.
A good diet, based on a varied intake of whole foods is fundamental to good health and fitness. Where required supplements help, but should be just that, supplementary to a good diet.