Four in ten Brits are only exercising to work off their unhealthy diet – an increasingly-common regime dubbed the Calorie Justification Programme (CJP).
Millions of exercise fans admit they only put themselves through their fitness regimes to burn off the excess calories they consume through their extravagant lifestyle.
And rather than focusing on getting fit and healthy, many are using it as a way of ‘balancing the scales’ – wiping out the unhealthy food they have already tucked into or giving them an excuse to eat more.
The poll, by New York Bakery Co, also found that over half of gym-goer adults treat themselves to an alcoholic drink or unhealthy snack after exercising because they feel they’ve ‘earned it’.
What’s more, the hours spent sweating it out at the gym are becoming increasingly counterproductive as 80 per cent of those admit they usually end up consuming more from their ‘reward’ than they actually worked off beforehand.
Joe Wicks, AKA The Body Coach, health and fitness expert and best-selling cookbook author said: “No matter how hard you train, you can’t out train a bad diet!
“If you’re exercising it’s really important to give your body the right fuel and it’s this combination that gives the best fat loss results.
“I recommend doing a 20 minute HIIT session and then eating a tasty carb loaded meal afterwards, such as a bagel stuffed with meat, egg and tomato, or a curry with rice or even meatballs and pasta.
“At other times, you can eat delicious protein meals such as steak and salad or stir fries.
“Of course we all get a bit guilty now and again, and that’s fine. The most important thing after a big night, or blow out meal is to get back on it.
“My ethos is stop calorie counting, throw away the sad step, get exercising, eat right and get lean.”
The study of more than 2,000 adults also found the average adult is exercising six times a month for a total of about four hours – well below the recommended amount of nearly 11 hours per month.
But while getting healthy, fit or toned are the most common reasons for heading to the gym, more than a third go in order to make sure their body looks as good as it can, while almost a quarter want to fit into certain clothes.
Meanwhile, almost half see the calories burned during exercise as extra food and drink they can then consume rather than energy units they have lost and need to avoid replacing to keep their weight down.
The study also found 46 per cent of people will head to the gym or exercise before a big meal or night out with friends to ‘bank’ some of the calories they know they will be consuming.
Thirty-eight per cent also exercise so they can enjoy a more unhealthy diet than they would otherwise.
Researchers also revealed a lack of time is the most common reason for not going to the gym, along with having no motivation, being too tired or simply not enjoying exercise.
Other reasons include having no money, the gym being too busy or being too intimidated to exercise alongside people who may be fitter or slimmer than you.
The research also reveals that pet peeves could play a factor in Brits avoiding exercise, with nearly two thirds listing their top hang-ups.
Busy gyms were found to be the nation’s biggest gripe, followed by people leaving machines soaked in sweat or hogging them entirely.
People who take it too seriously, look in the mirror as they work out or make unnecessary grunting noises also feature on the list.
Marketing Director at New York Bakery Co, Chris Collis added: “It’s important to prioritise your health and look after yourself in the best way possible, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favourite foods in moderation.
“We spend a lot of time feeling guilty in our hectic modern lives and people will do anything they can to ease that.
“Feeling you’ve earned a treat adds to the enjoyment of it, but as with all things, if done in moderation and in combination with a good exercise routine, then a little indulgence can be a good thing.
“It’s also really important to note that we shouldn’t get so caught up in our exercising and eating habits to the point that we’re avoiding important foods groups such as carbohydrates, which are essential to sustain energy levels and will ultimately ensure we’re able to hit the gym again the next day.
“That’s exactly why we’ve teamed up with Joe Wicks – we’re working together to help people understand this balance and are encouraging the nation to move more and fuel their bodies with healthy foods.
“Our ‘Build Up Bagel’ campaign will help to inspire Brits to keep fit by incorporating starchy carbs with fruit and veg into their diet – we hope this will help people to strike this balance in a sustainable and long-lasting way.”
Top ten reasons for exercising:
1. To feel healthy
2. To get fit
3. To tone up
4. To look good
5. Because I feel like I should
6. To build muscles/strength
7. To fit into certain clothes
8. To prepare for a holiday
9. To be able to eat more unhealthy foods
10. To justify a big meal or night out
Top ten ‘after-exercise rewards’
1. A bar of chocolate
2. A glass of wine
3. A slice of cake
5. A packet of crisps
6. A takeaway
7. A pint of beer
9. An unhealthy meal
Top ten reasons for not exercising or not exercising more:
1. A lack of time
2. No motivation
3. You’re too tired
4. Bad weather
5. Don’t enjoy exercise
6. No money
7. It’s too busy
8. No-one to go with
9. No confidence/too intimidated
10. A bad day at work
Top ten gym pet peeves:
1. Busy gyms
2. People leaving the machines with sweat on them
3. People hogging a machine
4. People who take it too seriously
5. People staring at themselves in the mirror as they workout
6. Unnecessary grunting
7. People waiting right next to you for you to finish on a machine
8. People hanging around the machines chatting
9. Running next to someone who is super fit or skinny
10. People who treat the gym as social hangout