The Dirty Dozen- So Called ‘Healthy’ Foods To Avoid To Lose Weight
So many people struggle every day with diets that do far more harm than good to lose weight and get themselves in shape. Thanks to the multi-billion dollar bonanza created by the public need for weight loss solutions companies spend an enormous amount of money to influence what we think is healthy. From public relations campaigns where their products and foods are touted in the press and endorsed by celebrities and at times government organizations to studies funded by food lobby groups to find healthy attributes in foods with questionable health properties.
Never before has it been harder to get unbiased information on what you should and should not eat if you want to lose weight, stay healthy and avoid diet related diseases. The misconceptions are so numerous that I thought I might help a bit by going over the definitive no-no’s to keeping your tummy tight and your body in the best shape possible. Remember that words like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ are marketing terms that refer to the foods ingredient but have no bearing on whether the food is actually good for you or not. Nightshade berries for example are organic, natural and are high in vitamins anti-oxidants – but it doesn’t make it a good idea to eat it as it is the most poisonous plant in the Western Hemisphere! The same applies to our foods- don’t be mislead by hype about the great properties a food product is supposed to have- in fact I would venture to say that the more of a health food it is supposed to be the more you should avoid it! We are today eating more ‘organic’ and ‘health’ foods in the United States than ever before but our rates of obesity and diet related ailments continue to climb so obviously there is something fundamentally wrong with Western processed foods. Here is my definitive dirty dozen of hidden dangers in what most refer to as healthy foods:
‘Healthy’ Foods To Avoid To Lose Weight
12. Bran Muffins
It always amazes me that people still think that there is some inherent good in having bran muffins for breakfast. Trust me, there isn’t, even though they do contain some fiber, bran muffins are notoriously high in sugar and have a very high glycemic index. It is are refined carbohydrate and often also contains a fair amount of partially hydrogenated oils- (trans fats)- exactly what you want to stay away from if you want to get into shape. Carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index will give you a nice sugar rush, followed by a nasty crash. Whenever your body consumes a high glycemic rated food your insulin levels will go up dramatically. Increased insulin levels make your body store fat– which I am sure is not your goal nor are they healthy for your body as over time it can lead to pancreatic problems and the onset of type 2 diabetes. The key is to eat only complex carbohydrates that are naturally occurring foods not their refined cousins that are man made.
“You must drink orange juice everyday to be healthy and get your Vitamin C!” is what most of us grew up hearing. Oddly enough, fruit juices are devoid of almost all naturally occurring vitamins as the refinement process destroys them and thus vitamins have to be added back into it. Basically when you drink a glass of orange juice all the vitamin C that you are getting comes from a dissolved vitamin tablet (which explains the taste) which our body cannot use as efficiently as a naturally occurring source. Juices of all kinds should be avoided if you are really trying to slim down as they are high in simple sugars and low in fiber. As strange as it may seem but juices are very much a foreign entity to our bodies as we are not at all designed to drink them. In nature, sugar occurs in fruits in the presence of fiber. This fiber is a key factor in how our body processes the sugars and serves to reduce any severe spikes in insulin levels after consuming it. The naturally occurring fiber also helps tell our brain when enough is enough. Anyone can easily drink a glass of apple juice in a couple of seconds but it takes anywhere from 6-8 apples to make one glass of juice and our bodies are not made to ingest that many apples at one time. In fact I don’t know of too many people that could eat more than one or two apples at a sitting as the high fiber content would prevent you from overdoing it. Take away the fiber by juicing it and voila you have just transformed a perfectly healthy food into a refined food product that isn’t good for your health or your waistline.
Don’t fall for the nonsense marketing of the health benefits of juicing- it’s a great way to sell juicers but don’t think that you can get your servings of vegetables and fruits by gulping down a glass- even vegetable become refined food products if you use a juicer because the concentration is unnatural to our bodies. So if you want the nutrition of a fruit and vegetables just do what we’ve been doing for the past 150,000 years without any problems- just eat fruit and vegetables. You’ll lose weight, save money and stay healthier.
There is no getting around it, soda is evil. Every year Americans guzzle over 15 billion gallons of it and I cannot understand why. Simply put, soda is loaded with empty calories and simple sugars. One can of soda exceeds your USDA recommendation of sugar requirements for the entire day! What about diet soda, you ask? That couldn’t be too bad, right? Wrong! Diet sodas contain high amounts of phosphoric acid, which can destroy your teeth and gums. The phosphorous in soda also weakens bones by interfering with calcium absorption. Additional studies have found that diet soda also can lead to weight gain. So don’t fool yourself at the checkout window by thinking that you are doing yourself a service by having the diet soda instead of the regular kind. Having a diet soda instead of a regular one like jumping from the 70th floor instead of the 75th. The only healthy choice is a little known beverage called water but thankfully it isn’t that hard to find.
9. Processed Meats.
Lunch meats and cold cuts are among the most disgusting and revolting foods on the planet and I intrigued by the fact that they are allowed to get away with labels that proclaim some form of health benefit. You’ll see tags saying that they are ‘99% fat free’ and such but it is still junk and really bad for you. Pregnant women are advised to avoid cold cuts and deli meats and for good reason. Keep in mind that these meats have only a quarter of the protein value of real meat per serving size. The other 75% is made up of preservatives and nitrates designed to keep them ‘fresh’ as well as fillers and binders made from questionable animal parts to make up the extra weight. Consider how old the meat that you are eating might be– do you really think eating meat that is several months old is a good idea? The extremely high sodium levels also won’t help your blood pressure and your physique. But there is more cause for alarm, according to a recent study in the journal Circulation- eating just one serving a day of processed meats like bacon, sausage and deli meats was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Interestingly enough, there were no risks at all associated with eating the much maligned red meat as long as it was unprocessed. Remember our forefathers ate red meat for hundreds of thousands of years without any problems- it’s the processed meats that will kill you.
Here’s the deal, if you start your day with cereal, resign yourself to end it without looking and feeling great. Most cereals claim to be low in fat and that may be so, but they are still highly refined and processed, which means that most of the inherently good nutrients are lost. Refined carbohydrates also have a high glycemic index, which we talked about earlier which will make you ‘crash and burn’ as well as help put on some unwanted pounds. All cereals are bad, and many are high in sodium as well even the so called ‘organic cereals’. Be smart and stay away and keep your kids away from it as well. You are better off eating something like oats as a carbohydrate source in the morning for breakfast. Read my article on oatmeal as a breakfast food here.
Quite often I my clients whether or not they drink and the answer is often “Only a little on social occasions.” I have been able to catalog the effects of alcohol consumption on the weight loss progress of my clients over the past fifteen years and my notes clearly show that as little as one drink a week reduces the rate of weight loss by as much as 50 to 75% when compared to non-drinkers on the same diet and training program. This holds true for all ages and levels of fitness and comes with a significant decrease in performance during training as well. There is a great deal of media coverage given to to research about the benefits of moderate alcohol intake in reducing your chance of heart disease (thanks to a lot of money spent by wine and alcohol lobbies). Granted there may indeed be benefits, but there other, safer ways to reduce your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, like good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight. Last time I checked alcohol didn’t help too much with the latter two categories and the risks far outweigh the benefits. Alcohol contains 7 empty calories per gram. It can also wreak havoc on your hormone levels, damage your liver, dehydrate you, depress you, impair your judgment, addict you and leave you with an always fashionable beer belly. Keep in mind as well that the positive studies were underwritten by the wine industry and aren’t by any means conclusive. Read my article on alcohol and weight loss here.