First, let me just say that there are not many foods that I know of that I will categorically label as “NEVER EAT”. Sure, there are some foods out there that are completely terrible for you (I’m looking at you, Fried Kool-Aid) that by and large I will avoid like the plague, but there is nothing out there that I can honestly say that I never eat. I like pleasure, and California burritos bring me a lot of pleasure.
Without the double negatives, I generally eat everything…at least every now and then.
I can just hear the health community shaking their head if they were to read this, but it’s true and I don’t necessarily apologize for it. Sure, there are plenty of foods I recommend avoiding and certainly a lot that I will say never to eat if you are trying to lose weight, but if you are trying to blend weight management AND life pleasure then It all boils down to two words: consistency and moderation.
Consistency, as in what foods are you consistently eating? Hopefully, it’s a list full of the ‘green light’ foods. Moderation, as in eating these ‘red light’ foods in a very limited format if fat loss and leaning out is your goal on any level. Some foods that I’ll label as bad or ‘red light’ mean that I’ll eat them maybe once a week, once a month, maybe once a year or some of them never.
The key is knowing what’s actually bad for your health and goals and what should be avoided as staples in a diet.
The following ‘red light’ foods are labeled as such because they bring nothing to the table. They only take. They are like the mooch friend at Thanksgiving who always chips in with utensils and paper towels while the rest of us are making turkey and homemade sides.
If you abandon these ‘red light’ foods from your diet completely, I’m entirely positive you would see a dramatic improvement in your body composition.
(It’s important to mention that athletes should not be as concerned with food avoidance, as whole food calories are the name of the game. Athletes need more complex and simple carbs, and they need them more often than the rest of us….good luck training for a triathlon on a low-carb diet.)
Fruit Juice, Gatorade & Soda
Everybody reading this knows to avoid soda and is probably already doing so, and maybe there are a few of you already in the know that Gatorade’s not the greatest drink in the world for weight management, but I am betting that fruit juice might come as a surprise for most of you.
Take a look at the following macro profiles of these drinks.
- Drink A – 100 calories, 25g sugar, 0g protein
- Drink B- 120 calories, 30g sugar, 0g protein
- Drink C – 200 calories, 50g sugar, 0g protein
What do all of these drinks have in common? They are all absolutely LOADED with sugar, and Gatorade and Soda are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is some nasty, nasty stuff and this is a food product you should really try and cleanse from your diet.
What’s more shocking??
Drink A – Coke
Drink B – Fruit Juice
Drink C – Gatorade
Coke ranks the best of all three in terms of sugar content! Let the madness ensue.
With the average Gatorade serving coming in at about 50 grams of sugar, it does absolutely no favors for your efforts to stay lean and in reality, aside from the electrolytes it offers about the same terrible effect on your insulin as soda.
Are the electrolytes good for post-workout? Sure. But, you know what’s better? Fruit & Protein Smoothie, and chances are you did not work out long and hard enough to really need electrolyte replenishment.
Now, fruit juice. I know, I know. All of those OJ commercials that paint it as some miracle juice that will completely reinvent your day have to be true right?
Yesss…..commercials are always correct and sensible.
The issue with fruit juice is that it’s essentially the sugar of fruit in a liquified form without any of the health benefits of whole fruit. There is no fiber in fruit juice and no solidity to slow the absorption of the fructose into your system. It’s a total insulin spike, and when our insulin is spiked during the day then fat storage is promoted. This is why we try and tell people to save their fruit consumption for post-workout. That spike in insulin, along with protein will deliver essential repair and nutrients to your muscles.
Further, a glass of fruit juice is going to contain roughly 40g of carbs, and if you are trying to lose weight you are now roughly half way to your carbohydrate limit. That glass also provided absolutely no satiety to your hunger making it a tall, cool glass of pure empty calories.
Sorry to burst any bubbles, but fruit juice es no bueno.
Flour is made by taking cereal grains and grinding the ever living shit out of them until they are nutritionless, void of anything good for us white powder. It contains gluten, which hopefully you know by now is possibly very, very bad for us, and that doesn’t do it any favors when trying to make the argument that flour should be included in a diet.
Flour literally has no nutritional benefit, and like soda, its just pure empty calories whose only purpose is to spike our blood sugar, bring in too much insulin and make us feel like complete ass after we consume it.
Now, I know that people aren’t eating tablespoons of pure flour and while most people know which foods contain flour, let’s be perfectly clear.
- Breads (yes, whole wheat flour is still bad)
- Bagels, muffins, tortillas, donuts
- Chips, pretzels, 100 calorie snacks and all related cousins
Thing is, I love sandwiches and burritos. Love ’em. The guys at Rubicon Deli train at our gym and if I could be BFFs with Alberto, I would. I generally eat either at Rubicon or at Alberto’s once per week (always on the weekend) so I am not going to get up here on my soap box only to duck around the corner and stuff my face.
I will freely admit that I eat sandwiches and burritos on the regular. Are they a staple of my diet in the sense that I expect to get positive net metabolic benefit by eating them? No. By and large, I do follow most of the Paleo/Primal principle. I treat these splurges as strategic cheat meals after a workout or to enjoy watching the playoffs, etc.
For me, the negatives are more long-term health oriented than weight management since I am not trying to lean out. The key is to know your own goal and how decisions like that adversely effect accomplishing them.
There you have it. Stay away from Gatorade, fruit juice, soda, flour-based foods and all high-sugar foods and you’ll see some great changes in your body and daily energy maintenance. Eat plenty of vegetables, tons of protein and some strategic fruit. Have your snacks be whole foods and never add sugar to anything. Keep your weekdays air tight and let yourself live a little on the weekends.
It’s not rocket science, it’s just hard work and dedication.