5 Nutrition Lessons That’s Changed the Game for our Fitness Journey

by on August 27, 2018

Mountain Dog fam, let us ask you a question…Have you ever learned something that was completely game changing?

Such as:

  • Never find your soul mate on tinder jk 😉
  • Carbs don’t make you fat, total calories do
  • Fellas, always show chivalry and manners to a lady
  • Doing hours of cardio isn’t the magic potion to getting ripped, you also need the nutrition component

Alright, you get it by now, but we feel you most likely at least once in your life have learned something that was game changing.
Look, to be honest, we’ve done a lot of stupid things in our lives…most of them having nothing to do with fitness and nutrition.

However, we have learned a lot of game changing lessons within our nutrition journey and luckily for you, we are going to share them with you, so you don’t make the same mistakes we did.

Without further ado…drum roll please…here are the 5 game changing nutrition lessons.

Game Changing Lesson1: Intermittent Fasting- Nothing Particularly Magical About It…

We remember we experimented with Intermittent Fasting (IF) for a while and at the end of our goal phase, we didn’t see any major changes compared to our other diets we tried, and to be honest it didn’t really suit our lifestyles (cant deal with the long eating gaps).

We can’t tell you how many conversations we’ve heard at gyms, conferences, YouTube/IG gurus, etc. about the magic behind IF.

How it creates super human powers (insert your favorite super hero) to drop more body fat compared to other diets.

How there’s some secret (shhh don’t tell anybody)-bio hacking physiological advantage to where you melt fat off easier.

The super powers and magic potions behind IF continue to go mainstream, a lot of gurus swear by it, and you even have celebrities endorsing it which is very mis-leading to the general public. And you know what…It gets under our skin and raises our caterpillar brows really high.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing particularly magical with IF compared to conventional dieting from a physiological standpoint.

We want to share some scientific evidence regarding IF to put the nail in the coffin for good:
“The weight of the research evidence has consistently shown that IF is not significantly more effective compared to conventional linear caloric reduction. It’s an option for some who prefer it, not the magic bullet for all.” 1

“Seimon et al recently conducted the largest systematic review of IF research to-date, comparing the effects of intermittent energy restriction (IER) to continuous energy restriction (CER). They found that overall, the two diet types resulted in “apparently equivalent outcomes” in terms of bodyweight reduction and body composition change. In addition, neither IER or CER was superior to the other at improving glucose control/insulin sensitivity.” 2

“Also, have a look at the recent ISSN position stand on diets & body composition, there’s a section on IF that concludes that it’s a viable option, but not a superior option.” 3

Hopefully this empirical and anecdotal data of ours has helped shed light that IF is just a dieting concept and if it works for your preferences and lifestyle, then, have at it.

Game Changing Lesson 2: Two Major Felons That Are Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic

It’s funny when having a conversation with people about the obesity epidemic, they love blaming it on carbs, good vs bad foods, the evil insulin fairy, etc.

When looking for explanations to the obesity epidemic, two major felons that are contributors are fast food options and a continual reduction in physical activity.

Let’s start with fast food…a 2008 systematic review showed that inexpensive, highly palatable, supersized fast-food has led to overconsumption in calories. 4

We know from previous data5 that total calories are the main determinant for weight gain, maintenance, or loss.

Now with the continual reduction in physical activity… a 2012 study out of the journal of the international association for the study of obesity showed with all the technology advancement the past years, it has progressively led to less physical activity and fewer calories expended. 6

As you can see, the two major felons that are contributing to the obesity epidemic are overconsumption of calories and lack of physical activity.

Here’s what we suggest to putting these two felons behind bars:

  • Make sure your nutrition program consists mainly of eating whole and minimally refined foods over fast food, highly palatable, or processed foods
  • Use an 80/20 or 90/10 rule so you can have 10-20% calories come from those highly palatable and processed foods
  • Make sure to have a sound exercise program that you can realistically adhere to each week
  • Move more! Go for more walks, park further away from places, take the stairs instead of the elevators/escalators, have a daily step count to hit, etc.

At the end of the day, you have complete control over these two felons that are major contributors to the obesity epidemic.
Time to put these two felons away for good.

Game Changing Lesson 3: Ice Cream Is Better for You Than a Sweet Potato…

If we were to rewind the clock 10 years ago and we were standing in a grocery store holding a bag of sweet potatoes in one hand and ice cream in the other, we would have freaked out and had what the movie “White Chicks” made famous, called “A Bitch Fit.”

All joking aside, let’s compare ice cream vs a sweet potato.

Obviously, a sweet potato is healthier due to being a complex carbohydrate source, it’s more nutrient dense, lower energy density food (lower in calories), more vitamins and minerals, keeps you fuller, etc.

On the contrary, with ice cream, it’s not as nutritious, high energy density food (higher in calories), and is considered “fattening” or “a dirty food.”

But what if ice cream was your favorite food and you couldn’t eat it for a 20-week diet due to being on a rigid meal plan that restricted certain foods?

We almost guarantee the craving for ice cream will override the strictness and rigidness of the meal plan and you will end up blowing your diet and having ice cream, then feeling guilty and ashamed, and then a bad relationship with food cycle begins from there.

Now, what if you had some flexibility and you used flexible dieting and you could have a small serving of ice cream a couple nights a week so long as it fitted into your daily/weekly calorie intake?

Do you think you would end up blowing your 20 week diet now?

The point is ice cream is not better for you than a sweet potato, but what if that ice cream refrained you from completely blowing your entire 20 week diet, you got great results, you maintained a good relationship with foods, and you enjoyed life a bit more?

Game Changing Lesson 4: Is the Alkaline Diet Really Better for You?

Alright, alright, time to pick on this myth of Alkaline water or any dietary suggestions that have to do with alkalinity and acidity being better for your health, helping with fat loss, improve hydration, blah blah blah.

Your body has a pH level that establishes whether something is acid, neutral, or basic (AKA more alkaline heavy). Your pH balance runs on a 14-point scale, with 0-6.9 being acid, 7 is neutral, and above that is basic. 7

There’s this growing belief that certain foods or diets are ruining the pH of your blood, making you more acidic, and bringing on diseases like cancer.

This is a myth because food cannot change the pH of your blood. There are many systems in place to prevent that from happening. If the pH of your blood changes, that means you’re in critical health danger. 8
Now, some people will confuse you by having you test your urine and show how your pH changes. But looking at your urine as an indicator of acid level is very misleading. Your stomach is very acidic because it helps break down food. 9

So, if you eat an acidic food, when it passes through your stomach, naturally, you will excrete acid. This does not mean that your body is in any sort of danger or out of balance. 10

Now, here’s the kicker with these Alkaline diets:

  1. Many foods that are less acidic just happen to be good for you such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes
  2. A lot of companies that sell alkaline water/diets fund small tests to make it look like it works

If you want to spend your hard-earned money on these Alkaline Diets and products, feel free to do so, but here’s what we suggest instead:

  • Have a diet that’s 80-90% predominated by whole and minimally refined food sources, have 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Have a high protein diet, around .8-1g per body weight
  • Have sufficient water per day, around 70-80% of your body weight
  • Get sufficient sleep, at least 7 hours per night
  • Exercise, stay active, exercise, and stay active so more

These suggestions above will keep you healthy, fit, and will help refrain from having to buy into the whole Alkaline Diets and Products.

Game Changing Lesson 5: Three Reasons You May Want to Start Tracking Your Food Intake

Buying a digital scale, learning how to use it, what to look for on a nutrition label, how to estimate nutrient values when eating out, what needs to be counted, what environment/phase to weigh food in, weighing everything to the gram, coming as close as possible to your target macronutrient goals, etc.

This all can honestly get stressful and vary tedious for most fitness enthusiast.

But after working with over a thousand clients this past decade and tracking our own food intake for over a decade, and we’re sure John can attest to this, we’ve found three key reasons a fitness enthusiast should at least try tracking their food intake:

  1. You can determine your own individual calorie requirements and assess if your continual macronutrient intakes are in appropriate ranges for your goals
  2. When you weigh and track your food daily, you build habits that lead to eating more mindful, being able to eyeball portion sizes from protein, carbs, and fats, and it helps embed daily accountability
  3. Whenever you hit a plateau in weight loss or gain, you have the quantitative data from daily tracking to figure why you are plateauing

Despite the beauty behind tracking your food intake and the flexibility it allows, it still requires a significant learning stage and basic nutrition knowledge to implement. It should be introduced as a step wise manner specific to the “level” of the fitness enthusiast such as the beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.

We hope this post helped shed some light on why its important to at least try tracking your food intake.

Wrap Up
Like we mentioned in the beginning, we have made a lot of dumb mistakes in our lives, however, in the context of nutrition, we have learned a lot of game changing lessons like the ones we just shared with you.

We hope these 5 games changing nutrition lessons added value and will allow you to get more results and fulfillment within your nutrition journey.
Always remember, your fitness and nutrition journey is a series of lessons, a marathon not a sprint, and it’s a constant continuum.


1. Sundfor et al. 2018

2. Seimon et al. 2015

3. Aragon et al. 2017

4. Rosenheck. Fast food consumption and caloric intake: A systematic review of a trajectory towardsweight gain and obesity risk. 2018

5. NHLBI 1998; Wing 2001; Jakicic 2001

6. NG SW et al. Time use and physical activity: A shift away from movement across the globe. 2012

7. Whitney et al. Understanding Nutrition. 2013

8. Silverthorne 2009

9. Silverthorne 2009

10. Silverthorne 2009

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