It is easy to think that you are on track nutritionally when you read fitness magazines and listen to the “experts.” But what happens when the advice they are giving you is wrong? The fact of the matter is most nutritional counselors and health professionals recommend foods that not only do not prevent fat loss but even encourage weight gain and wild spikes in blood sugar. These foods are often included in “healthy” eating regimens but can be surprisingly detrimental when it comes to stripping body fat.
- Frozen Healthy Meals
This is the number one culprit in my opinion when it comes to foods people buy to lose weight that actually hurt their chances of losing weight in the long run. Every time I go to the grocery store I see at least one person loading up their cart with as many healthy choices or lean cuisine chicken & rice bowls, french bread pizzas, and vegetable lasagnas as they can, and then cover that pile in Jenny Craig chocolate puddings and oreo cheesecakes for dessert. And while on paper, these meals advertise they are great low-calorie and healthy meal options for people trying to lose weight, they are almost guaranteed to fail you in the end.
For one, microwave foods may be lower in calories than their alternatives, but they do not teach you HOW to eat healthy foods on your own. People who initially lose weight on these diets usually gain it right back (and then some) when they are unable to access these quick frozen meals. They end up having no idea how or what to eat when faced with making or ordering food on their own. This is also because rather than offering legitimate healthy meal options, these foods create “healthier” versions of junk food like pizzas, pastas, and popular takeout options. Getting to eat these foods supports a taste and interest in the junk food you were eating before, and does little to discourage dieters from eating these high-fat and high-calories meal options when not eating their frozen cuisine.
Also, the foods in these pre-packaged meals are heavily processed and loaded with preservatives & artificial ingredients to prolong their shelf/freezer life, as well as, to add color & appeal to an otherwise bland meal alternative.
Instead of dropping serious money on these artificial foods, try preparing your own meals, dividing them up into Tupperware and freezing them. This way you will be confident they are the healthiest possible option and you will learn how to prepare healthy foods without the aid of big processed food companies.
- Green Smoothies
Green juices and smoothies are becoming more popular these days, and can now even be found in most convenience stores and supermarkets. Even though these drinks seem to be dense with nutritional goodness (veggies, greens, vitamins), they are also deep and dangerous potholes on the highway to a lean physique.
These green juices (when store-bought) are usually made with different fruits and sugars to make them more palatable and flavorful, as well as to prolong their shelf-life and make them more appealing to young people or picky eaters. Adding these foods into smoothies and juices can often add as much as 30 grams of sugar per serving and help to turn what was a healthy mix of vegetable juices into the nutritional equivalent of a Sprite.
In addition to the added sugar, juicing these foods removes almost all of their fiber content, which is largely what makes fruits and vegetables healthy foods. Stripping these foods of their fiber content raises the Glycemic impact of them on the body, more acutely raising blood sugar levels and limiting, if not eliminating, the sense of satiety one feels after eating them.
Keep your fruit and veggie intake to whole foods or make smoothies on your own. This way you can ensure to include only healthy ingredients and not lose any fiber or nutritional content that would be stripped by buying a commercially produced juice.
- Protein Bars
Walk into any 7/11 or grocery store nowadays and you will quickly be knee-deep in protein snack and meal bars. While these so-called “muscle-building” meal-alternatives advertise tons of healthy benefits, they are often nutritional trap doors that prevent fat loss and spike blood sugar levels.
Compare your average convenience store protein bar to the average candy bar and stop short of looking at protein content. Odds are that most of the nutrition facts (carbs, sugars, fat, saturated fat) will be similar if not almost identical. This means all that separates a “healthy meal alternative” and a Snickers bar is 20 measly grams of processed artificial protein.
Protein bars are a lot like anything else in this world; the more widely available and inexpensive they are, the lower the quality tends to be. This does not mean you cannot find a decent meal alternative at your local 24-hour supermarket, it just means that without being very particular about reading labels and knowing ingredients, the likelihood of downing a sugar-laden calorie bomb rather than a healthy protein supplement is incredibly high.
Eating clean is really as simple as picking the right foods, knowing where to find them, when to eat them, and how to recognize foods that do not fit your program! Make sure to check out our Tuesday night Facebook LIVE broadcasts where we can break down more healthy foods for you!