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Are THESE Foods Killing Your Fitness Goals?

nutritional program

When I was a young coach I would believe SO many of the common myths that get perpetrated even today. I mean, you start reading someone’s book (today maybe listening to someone’s podcast) and they seemingly make SO much sense about why certain foods could be killing your fitness goals. They even mention there is research (that most rarely ever actually look into including myself at the time) and make it sound so legit.

That is one thing almost 30 years of coaching has taught me. A LOT of the discussions around certain foods or even diet programs being superior to one another or being the reason that a fitness goal isn’t achieved is actually rarely the issue. ESPECIALLY when we start talking about some of these really common, but misleading foods that make people feel like reaching their fitness goals is impossible.

Like what? Well here are some great examples…


I recently saw someone share some interview with an “expert” talking about how oatmeal was so bad for people and killing their fitness goals because it gets so quickly absorbed in the bloodstream that it not only spikes our insulin levels, but also increases our hunger. The reality is there is a little truth in the comment, but we have to be a lot more nuanced than that!

The truth has to start with there are really three primary types of oatmeal. There is steel cut, rolled, and instant. When you compare those three, steel cut and rolled oats do spike blood sugar far less than instant. However, the moral there isn’t that oatmeal is bad for you at all, rather, the more processed a food becomes, the more potential it has to less nutrition for us and even cause some undesirable effects.

However, if you find yourself where all you can eat is instant oats, does that mean your fitness goals are dead? No, not at all! The research that is often referenced about spiking blood sugar and making one eat more, is done with only eating instant oats. If you add some nut butter, some protein powder (or have protein on the side), it COMPLETELY changes the impact the instant oats have. The lesson once again is realizing that having some balance in your meal is going to negate a lot of the undesirable effects of some of these foods which is good for us anyways. Dietitian Megan Berner explains below…


I’ve been hearing the fruit debate for almost the entire 30 years I have been in the fitness industry. There has been this long running story told in fitness that if you want to achieve your fitness goals you better either eliminate or greatly reduce your fruit intake because there is sugar in fruit and that will mess up our metabolism. For one, the idea that people are eating too much fruit is something I WISH was actually happening in our society. Imagine if one of the biggest reasons for weight issues and not achieving fitness goals is that people were just eating too much fresh fruit, would be crazy right?!

According to the USDA, the average American eats .9 cups of fruit a day, that is actually half of the 2 cups that are recommended. No matter how you feel about the general recommendation, stop and think about how little .9 cups are in real life.

If you need a reference point, the above shows what one cup of fruit would look like, so the average American is eating LESS than this a day. Having 1-2 cups of fruit is NOT a problem in our society and it is not making us overweight or killing our fitness goals. What about the sugar in fruits?

Research can be confusing and you have to read what was actually done, but generally speaking the vast amount of research on fruit intake and gaining weight finds that actually eating more fruit REDUCES bodyweight (not talking fruit juice, but actual fruit). In fact, this 2016 paper in the journal “Nutrients”

“Fruit contains large amounts of simple sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose, etc.), which are well known to induce obesity. Thus, considering the amount of simple sugars found in fruit, it is reasonable to expect that their consumption should contribute to obesity rather than weight reduction. However, epidemiological research has consistently shown that most types of fruit have anti-obesity effects. Thus, due to their anti-obesity effects as well as their vitamin and mineral contents, health organizations are suggesting the consumption of fruit for weight reduction purposes.”

Like our oatmeal discussion, if you are somehow still worried about the sugar in fruit, all you have to do it is put it in a protein smoothie, or add some nut butter and again, you will negate any concern about the impact of the sugar on your fitness goals.


As I am writing this, Jessica and I are going to be heading over to a friend’s house for the New Year. We know many of the people that are attending all care about fitness in some way or another. It is funny to watch people be so scared of eating things and if there is ONE type of macronutrient that gets talked about THE most is carbs. So, are carbs really the issue for weight gain and making sure those fitness goals never occur?

To answer this, let me tell you a brief story. It is 1999 and I am attending a nutritional seminar by a highly respected powerlifter, nutritionist, and doctor. A lot of the presentation was discussing issues like the glycemic index and how the higher the glycemic index response of food the more we can potentially cause weight gain and other issues (there were times we would want to spike GI levels, but overall). If you don’t know the glycemic index scale is relates to how fast your blood sugar spikes due to the intake of a specific food.

In general, foods high in sugar, those that are highly processed and even some natural foods like potatoes make the high GI list. Foods such as proteins, those with more fiber, less sugar and less processed are generally lower. However, the GI list can be a bit misleading if we don’t use some common sense with it. For example, chocolate cake rates around a 42 (pretty low) on the GI and watermelon is around 72. If we follow the GI blindly, then we would say chocolate cake is better for us than watermelon, do we REALLY believe that?

Things like the glycemic index can be a tool, but have to be used with the right context though too. Back to my story, after the seminar, a bunch of people went out to dinner with the doctor and there was a bread basket brought out. Everyone was terrified to grab a piece of bread even though everyone was really hungry from a whole day of not eating what we are use to in our daily lives. We had just learned that bread was high on the GI and therefore no one wanted to touch it. To everyone’s surprise the doctor was the first one to grab a piece and put some olive oil on it and said, “lowers the glycemic value”, a huge sigh of relief came over everyone and people grabbed a piece of bread and all put some olive oil on.

You see, when you combine fats, proteins, and carbs to a food, the GI levels drop pretty substantially. However, is that all there is about carbs?

Overall research has not shown a clear connection with carbohydrate intake and obesity when overall calories are normalized. In fact, in the European Journal Of Nutrition they found..

“There is no clear evidence that altering the proportion of total carbohydrate in the diet is an important determinant of energy intake. However, there is evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages do not induce satiety to the same extent as solid forms of carbohydrate, and that increases in sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption are associated with weight gain. Findings from studies on the effect of the dietary glycemic index on body weight have not been consistent. Dietary fiber is associated with a lesser degree of weight gain in observational studies. Although it is difficult to establish with certainty that fiber rather than other dietary attributes are responsible, whole-grain cereals, vegetables, legumes and fruits seem to be the most appropriate sources of dietary carbohydrate.”

THIS type of evidence seems to be more standard than “carbs are good or bad”. Using non-processed, higher fiber carbohydrates are good for us and supply energy and important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more. They can make us feel fuller and help with a host of health issues. What seems to be MORE the issue is highly processed forms of carbs that are more common today, as this 2018 literature review states, “Mounting evidence exists, however, to indicate that the obesity epidemic has occurred during the industrial food era that has promoted the increased intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars.”

If we want to live better, feel better, and yes, achieve our fitness goals we generally should be eating whole foods that have elements of proteins, carbs, and fats. The less processed and the more real foods are, the more they are probably in line with our fitness goals and we don’t have to be so scared of foods. One of the best pieces of nutritional advice I EVER heard was to shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store. That is where more of the fresh foods lie and if we follow balance and real food for our nutrition then we are far better off in achieving our fitness goals.

Want to learn more about how to build good habits and the keys to good nutrition and a diet that will help you sustain your fitness goals? Don’t miss dietitian and fitness coach, Megan Berner’s “Blueprint For Success” program where she breaks down these ideas, gives you an awesome workbook, an easy recipe guide, and for a limited time, our 12 week DVRT Jump Start program too! Best of all, it is 30% off HERE