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Food Over Fitness: Why Diet Plays a Larger Role Than Exercise in Health

Think if you go for a long run after smashing through a box of doughnuts you can dodge the consequences? Think again.

New research from the University of Sydney has found that, contrary to previous findings, high-intensity exercise cannot offset an unhealthy diet. Further, while diet may be more impactful than exercise, the study found that a combination of a quality diet and exercise is ideal.

The figures show that those ascribing to this lifestyle reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%, along with a whopping 27% risk reduction for a variety of cancers.

Many have long-hailed the 80:20 rule, suggesting that nutrition is responsible for 80% of weight loss, with just 20% riding on exercise. With this in mind, let’s take a look at why poor diet is a major offender when it comes to heart and liver disease, along with diabetes and obesity.

Leptin resistance is a key player when it comes obesity, with researchers finding that excess sugar intake is to blame. The reason for this is simple. Leptin is the hormone responsible for sending fullness ques to the brain after we’ve eaten a meal. When this begins to malfunction, satisfying your appetite becomes a challenge.

Here's where it gets worse. Some types of sugar are harder to burn than other foods, due to the build-up of visceral fat – and the culprit is fructose. The body is unable to break fructose down further – and unlike glucose, which is easily absorbed into the small intestine and then used for energy, fructose is metabolised by the liver. Now if we take in too much fructose, the liver just can’t cope.

These are just a few of the health issues associated with excess fructose intake:


With rates having tripled since 1975 and over 1.9 billion people living with this condition, obesity is one of the major health crises affecting the public. Studies prove that excessive sugar intake is a contributing factor in obesity. This is for a number of reasons, including the fact that it leads to the development of visceral fat – this is the kind that surrounds the abdominal organs and puts people at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.


As we touched on above, sugar consumption is tied in with the development of type 2 diabetes. One of the major reasons for this is that excessive sugar intake can cause insulin resistance.

Liver disease.

With a presence in a quarter of the population, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease rates are showing no sign of slowing. It’s projected to become the become the leading cause of cirrhosis (late-stage liver disease) within the next 10 years. Even children aren’t unscathed by this condition with one study revealing 12% of children have the condition. With sugar consumption one of the biggest drivers of this condition, it’s not a bad idea to make some changes to your plate.

These are only some of the conditions fuelled by sugar, it can also lead to – or exacerbate – autoimmune conditions, heart disease and even mental health conditions. One study found that people who drank 2 soft drinks a day had cortisol levels – the stress hormone -  22% higher than those who skipped the sugary beverages. Plain as day, we see the link between sugar and stress.


This is why it’s essential to maintain a healthy diet, whether you have weight-loss goals, maintenance goals or simply general wellbeing goals.

With all this talk about diet, it’s easy to forget that exercise does play a role, too. In fact, researchshows that combining a healthy diet with exercise leads to far better weight-loss results than those who relied on diet alone – not to mention the benefits to mental health. The American Psychological Association revealed that just 5 minutes of exercise can boost our mood.

But, as we know, poor diet is one of the major causes of obesity, with sugar right at the top of the list of offending foods. There are a few simple changes you can make to lower your risk.

What to eat instead.

  1. Complex carbs: foods like pasta and sweet potatoes provide slow-release energy that prevents those 3 o’clock slumps.
  2. Healthy fats: Avocado, walnuts and flaxseeds are packed with fats that keep you fuller for longer, thus curbing some of the sugar cravings.
  3. Antioxidants: Add some strawberries, green tea or onions into your diet to help lower you r blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.

If you’re looking to ditch your sugar habit but need a little help, join us on our 8-Week Program where we’ll be giving sugar the slip.

How does it work?

When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums for support and care.
  4. Support from us on the I Quit Sugar team.


The next round is starting soon, if you’re ready to bid farewell to poor health and low motivation, JOIN NOW!


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