Some of the best tasting foods are not good for us. This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who follows a fitness lifestyle. But, what’s more, some of the foods that may seem good on the outside and are categorized as ‘healthy’ may not actually be! Some of these foods could be limiting your body’s ability to build muscle, or even worse, could contribute to health issues later down the road.
The simplest rule to follow when it comes to healthy eating is to always choose food closest to its natural source—always read the nutrition facts panel to understand what exactly you are really getting. Your fridge should be loaded with food that supports muscle building, burns fat and optimizes your metabolic rate! So, simply cross these foods off your next grocery list, and you will be taking a step in the right direction!
Low Fat Foods
Fat is needed to help balance hormone levels, support joint health and preserve muscle tissue. Low fat foods typically make up for its removal with higher carbs, more salt and more sugar—not to mention most are processed! Ditch the processed food pronto, and if you have been choosing the low fat varieties of yogurt or cottage cheese, it is not always necessary. The full fat versions can boost saturated fat, which is good for supporting healthy hormone levels. In addition, the higher fat varieties usually contain more protein than most of the low fat versions. Obviously, keep your daily fat intake in line with your macronutrient goals. Approximately 20 – 30% of your daily calories should come from fat.
Although it does not contain the sugar of regular soda, diet soda is not that much better for you. Although diet sodas do not contain calories, the artificial sweeteners can cause the same spike in insulin that regular soda can. Overtime, this can lead to insulin resistance or the body’s ability to process sugar. In fact, a recent meta-analysis found that artificial sweeteners in diet soda could lead to weight gain. This study incorporated 40 years of research on the effects of artificial sweeteners and the health problems associated with diet soda.
Although granola is considered a health food, it really depends on the brand you buy. Be sure to read the nutrition facts panel. You will most likely find nuts, oatmeal and dried fruit, but many are also high in sugar too! Instead of granola, try oatmeal. It’s higher in fiber and has no sugar added. Then, add your own nuts or fresh fruit to the mix.
Sure, juice provides an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, but it is also full of sugar. If you’re not careful, when extra sugar isn’t burned off, it gets stored as fat. Instead of reaching for a glass of OJ first thing in the morning, have a glass of water with lemon or a cup of green tea. Tea is also loaded with antioxidants without the added calories or sugar.
Processed meat might serve as a fast protein source, but it is loaded in salt and nitrates. Nitrates are preservatives that are used in processed foods to maintain color. But, when cooked or baked at high temperatures, theses nitrates can become carcinogenic. Most processed meat also tends to be higher in fat and cholesterol. If you must indulge in the occasional piece of bacon, try the nitrate free, low sodium variety.
If you have white rice, white pasta or white bread in your kitchen, replace them with whole grain varieties. These simple carbohydrate sources will provide you with a quick hit of energy followed by a blood sugar crash. Over consumption of simple carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance. Once you can’t control this hormone, you can forget about trying to build muscle or even lose body fat! Insulin is the most anabolic hormone there is, so timing its release is important and ensures we drive the right nutrients to muscles to be used as energy, instead of being stored as fat. Switch your simple carbs up to complex carbs like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or whole sprouted grain bread.
Swithers SE. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.