What matters more for healthy weight loss?

Are you ready to be the best version of you? Whether you’re a fitness guru, or a fresh face to world of health and movement, this column is your new home (gym). You can expect articles, photos and videos on sports nutrition, optimal weight and energy! As a certified nutritional practitioner and personal trainer who has worked with professional athletes, Olympians and celebrities, I’m ready to share my unique approach to health and fitness to help you thrive. 

A very hot and debatable question I hear in the health and wellness field from many of my clients is: Which matters more—fitness or diet when it comes to sustainable and healthy weight loss? Can we out-exercise a poor diet, or is food our foundation?

With so many controversial fitness and diet trends and theories such as clean eating, paleo, and juice cleanses (to name a few), it’s easy to be confused on what is best for sustained weight loss, or optimal weight. So what is my take on which is more sustainable for weight loss? Glad you asked

Sustainable versus short-term goals

While short-term fad diets and crazy workouts may work for a few people who need to get fit quick (for a fitness competition or bikini body), I will be discussing sustainable, long-term fitness and nutrition goals and how to reach them.

I believe that sustainable weight loss is a happy marriage between food intake and exercise output, I also believe that the quality of the foods you eat and the quality of your workouts play a key role to achieving sustainable goals. Studies have shown that while both food intake and exercise have individually been proven to be effective with weight loss, the combination of the two is most effective for long-term goals.

Fitness for weight loss

If you’re looking for a way of exercising that is sustainable and healthy, choose an activity that you enjoy. I know it sounds simple, but many people join fitness groups or activities that they absolutely dread because it’s the latest craze or they want a quick fix and will do whatever it takes. The downfall to this is that it’s unsustainable. I recommend taking a month to try as many different forms of activity a possible and see what you enjoy the most. Maybe you sample yoga, weight training, running and Crossfit to name a few. Once you find your fit, make a schedule and stick to it. Finally, find friends who can join you in your exercise routine, which in my opinion will excel your progress as you’ll be more likely to work out if you have the extra support!

Nutrition for weight loss

Sustainability doesn’t just apply to a successful workout routine, it also applies to what you eat. Notice that I never use the word diet? This is because I don’t ever want anyone to think they are on a diet. Rather, I encourage people to find a way of eating that is a happy medium between being pleasurable and beneficial to their body and the way they look. I believe and educate clients that eating whole, natural foods, and mostly plant-based, is optimal.

Every body is different and has different needs, but the one consistent rule of thumb when it comes to choosing foods for your grocery cart or your plate, is eating simply: fresh (local, organic when possible) foods from mother nature. The term nutrient density should be top of mind. Eating foods that have high amounts of vitamins and minerals should be a priority.

Food rotation and variation is also important. So many people are in zombie-mode when grocery shopping. Choosing your favorite foods every week (even if they’re healthy) can actually turn out to be stagnant in terms of nutrient variety. In order to get a well-rounded balance of nutrients in your diet, eat the rainbow! Select a variety of different fruits and vegetables and challenge yourself to try a new fruit or vegetable every week. Mix it up!

If you’ve ever heard the saying “70% of how you look is what you eat and 30% is exercise,” you will understand the importance of nutrition when it comes to optimal weight. As a personal trainer, I can see this in my clients. No matter how hard the work in the gym, if their food intake isn’t on point, it shows. This isn’t to say that exercise doesn’t have its benefits! Exercise, whether or not your goal is weight loss,  improves mood, increases energy and promotes better sleep. 

Both are extremely important in their own right, but it’s the proven combination of the two and how you approach them, that will help you reach your weight loss goals faster.

Bottom line: you cannot out-run a bad diet!

Written by: Jessica Morris

Originally published on: www.myvega.com


  1. Wu T, Gao X, Chen M, van Dam RM.  (2009). Long-term effectiveness of diet-plus-exercise interventions vs. diet-only interventions for weight loss: a meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews 2009; 10(3): 313-323.
  2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Accessed on 9/8/2014 from: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx