Elite athletes out-train bad diets all the time. Whether it’s Michael Phelps’ nearly 10,000-calorie per day eating plan or Usain Bolt’s McDonald’s habit. All across the most elite athletic spectrum—where you would think diet needs to be extremely on point—you’ll see top athletes in the shape of their lives, out-training what we consider “bad diets.”

They literally MOVE so MUCH and with so much intensity and effort that they can literally eat damn well however they please. From studying how top athletes eat, it is obvious that training has a much more powerful effect (signal) than diet (noise).

Can this be applied to the average person? First of all, yes. The underlying principle involved can be applied to the average person. I’ve been doing precisely that for over 15 years.

The fitness industry will tell you that diet is responsible for 80% of your results and training for merely 20%.

And I will tell you that for the vast majority of people, for the vast majority of time, the above is false.

What I’ve come to observe and believe is that training is actually responsible for 80% of your results, and diet provides the final polishing touches, the final 20%.

And after 15 years of honing and refining this idea, I’ve concluded that this is true for the vast majority of people, for the vast majority of time.

I’ve worked with thousands of clients (as in over 2,000 personal training clients—so not in groups, but as individuals) over 15 years and my assertion is that the general fitness industry narrative of 80:20 (80% diet: 20% training) miserably fails when put to the test. But it is so deeply ingrained, so dogmatically adhered to and so fundamentally unquestioned that for me to say anything is heretical and worthy of dismissal by the priests of the fitness church.

Bringing It Together

What I’m suggesting is that our primary way to get lean and strong and to get out of this worldwide obesity, lack of fitness and generally declining health crisis is to add movement back into our lives.

Because this hyper-concentrated focus on “fixing” diet IS NOT WORKING.

And we know it isn’t working because 97% of diets fail within a year AND we are getting fatter and sicker every year. Now, this isn’t to suggest that controlling or optimizing diet isn’t an important part of the fitness equation, because it is. That much should be obvious. But to miss the fact that we barely have any physical movement left in our natural day to day life and that this is a MAJOR contributor to our epidemic (of excess comfort) is really missing the forest for the trees.


—– Amir Siddiqui