Let's talk about marketing for a second. These marketing people really are geniuses. They know exactly what to say to make an item way more attractive to us, it's almost like magic. I remember when the gluten free trend became big Chex started advertising their cereal as gluten free.... news flash, it was always gluten free because it's corn based. That was just never an important fact to people before they thought gluten made them fat.
It's really easy to see why people can get so confused as to what actually is healthy and what's not. Here's a list of foods that are commonly considered healthy..... but really they aren't. Thanks clever marketing.
1. "Fat-Free" items: First of all, fat-free does not mean calorie free. Sometimes we tend to over-indulge because the label says there's no fat... but you're still getting calories. Secondly, when you remove fat from an item that naturally has fat you have to replace it with something. Usually it's replaced with sugar, thickeners, and/or salt. Finally, fat is good for you! Your diet should consist of 25-30% fat.
2. Nut Butters: Okay, let me explain this one. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on a peanut butter jar? You're thinking it should say peanuts and maybe some salt, right? Well, if you get the right kind then that's what you'll find... but your skippy and JIF are full of lots of crap. Stick to nut butters that have one or two ingredients and you'll be in the clear.
3. Flavored Yogurt: This is a big one. Those little flavored greek yogurts that have become popular? Yea, they're junk. Full of sugar which means carbs... and the protein content is laughable. Did you know a cup of plain greek yogurt has about 23 grams of protein and 9 carbs.... if you buy the flavored kind you'll find 9 grams of protein and 23 grams of carbs. My suggestion? Buy the plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit and sweeten it with a touch of raw honey.
4. Smoothies: This one kills me you guys. Every time someone posts a freaking 32oz smoothie from Jamba Juice thinking they're being healthy I die a little inside. Their SMALL Strawberry Surf Rider smoothie packs 320 calories and 78 carbs. What. The. Heck. And I don't mean to just pick on Jamba Juice, you can add the Starbucks smoothies and anywhere else to that list. Unless you're making your own and adding some serious greens and a tiny bit of fruit, don't do it.
5. Sports Drinks: Another one of my favs. Here's the thing... serious athletes need sports drinks. When you're sweating beyond belief you're losing electrolytes and those need to be replaced. However, it kills me when I see people run two miles and down a gatorade. Your sports drinks have calories, and they probably have more calories than you just burned on your run... so you kind of end up shooting yourself in the foot. You really don't need to replace electrolytes unless your workout is longer than 60 minutes. Once you hit that 60 minute mark you can alternate between a sports drink and water.
6. Granola: Eat this and you'll be consuming a whole bunch of trans fat and sugar. Yea, that's right... this stuff is jam packed with it. However, there are some healthy options out there... check your ingredient list, if you see sugar as the first two ingredients, just say no.
7. Wheat Bread: Yes, you read that right. Here's where more of that tricky marketing comes in. You have to read ingredients (if you haven't noticed that's been a common theme with the entire list). If it says bleached or unbleached enriched wheat flour you're not getting a whole grain, which means you may as well be eating white bread. Look for something that has 100% whole grain wheat listed in the ingredients.
8. Agave Syrup: This one might be surprising. This bad boy acts functionally and nutritionally pretty much just like high fructose corn syrup. It's highly processed and definitely not the best choice. Stick to raw honey, raw sugar, or natural stevia.
That's it guys. Reading your food labels is probably the most important thing you can do for your health. Look at the ingredients, take notice to what you're putting into your body. The fewer the ingredients, the better. The more natural, the better.
Until next time,