Once you understand that there is a point where all things can be toxic, even water, then you start to understand how food is neither bad for nor good for you. Food is a form of fuel. That’s it.
There are better choices for your goals, but there are also choices which don’t align with what you want to make happen. For most of us, despite my advice to set non-superficial goals, we are trying to shed body fat.
Sigh. If you must, then let’s talk about a few items which you should enjoy sparingly, no matter how “healthy” you think they are. (Not to confuse things, but they are healthy.)
It’s true, nuts are awesome. We could all use more nuts in our lives.
Almonds pack not only protein but fat and fiber. BUT, and that’s a big but, they are caloric. Your body has to do something with those calories. If you are eating more calories than your body can use, guess what it does with them? Boom, your hips. No, but it feels like that sometimes.
Eating more handfuls of nuts than your body can mainline into muscle won’t necessarily equal your worst body fat fears, not in the short run, but if you are grabbing handfuls of every day, then this may be why you’re struggling with said goal. But let’s drill a little deeper.
There is a less productive version of this, good ol’ raisins and peanuts, or GORP as boy scouts call it. You can say trail mix if you prefer. It’s the same difference, except when your GORP is really GORPM&Ms or GORPM&MsCHOCOLATECHIPS.
“Healthy” just took a hard right turn.
Handfuls of trail mix are great if you are at competition weight, training to climb a mountain or fight the contender. It isn’t the best choice if your daily grind is a cubicle, followed by an hour of Zumba.
Few are the gyms that don’t have smoothie outlet by the entrance, either owned by the gym or another proprietor. This is confusing because smoothies have all the good things in them that we’re supposed to eat, especially if we add protein boosters, right?
In some cases, you would be better off stopping at McDonald’s after the gym to have a chocolate shake. Smoothies are notorious amongst fitness folks for being calorie dense, as much as 1000 calories for a 20 oz smoothie.
The fruit part is not the culprit unless the smoothie-maker is using canned fruit, which usually adds sugar. High-fat milk, nut butters, sweetened protein boosters, and everything that is added to your smoothie could be to blame.
Alternatively, if it’s sweetness you are craving, then eat unadulterated fruit. A couple servings of fruit every day are great for your body, tending to cravings, or just getting more fiber. The skin of many fruits, like apples, contains the fiber that keeps you regular. Sadly, many smoothie makers strip the fruit of the fibrous peel.
Here’s the leaner route through this mess: Order a smoothie, but understand it’s a meal. Carefully consider additions like peanut butter, protein powder, and other add-ins.
Caffeine is one of the highest selling nutrients in the supplement market for a reason.
For one, people love to feel their supplements working. Multivitamin manufacturers add it to pills like pixie dust, so people can “feel something.” Consuming caffeine gets tons of airplay for weight loss advice, per the effects of stimulants. Takers will feel more energy, which matters if one is calorie diffident.
Caffeine is also diarrhetic, so the body tends to dump extra weight, which is good enough by many measures. Most importantly, stimulants decrease appetite, at least at first they do until they don’t.
All those reasons aside, coffee is loved around the western world. As a singular event, coffee is no biggie, but coffee is rarely a singular event, thanks to Starbucks. We don’t drink coffee anymore; we drink milkshakes with coffee boosters. Even a simple latte adds calories to a drink that is otherwise calorie free when black.
The best way down the coffee line is to order it black, then add a tablespoon of milk, a tablespoon of sugar or substitute if that’s your thing.
If I had a dime for every client who swore they were eating healthy, only to find out that their fruit intake exceeded my protein intake.
Yes, it’s true that fruit is often loaded with valuable micronutrients, and that fruit can deliver fiber and antioxidants. This is all way better than a candy bar, but fruit won’t always satisfy you in the long run.
If you’re trying to get by eating fruit, expect your satisfaction to be short-lived. The dangerous slope of this is what you eat after that fistful of bananas doesn’t fill you up.
You’ve simply added calories to your day. That’s great if you’re trying to gain weight or are training for a competition. It’s not so great if you are trying to nudge off those last five pounds for summertime beach activities.
A good rule of thumb is 2-3 servings of fresh fruit every day, but if you are trying to pack on weight, then by all means, eat up. Just keep in mind, what goes down, must come out. Ease into new foods.
Obviously, all three of these are great nutrient sources. Keep this rule: eat with your goals in mind. If you don’t know what that means, then a session or two with a nutritionist may be in order.