Nutrition is sometimes rightfully regarded as the hardest part of bodybuilding and fitness and general. When you think of it, it’s true. Training takes only 1-2 hours of your day, but proper nutrition needs to be kept throughout the entire day, except when you’re sleeping of course.
There’s food preparation, calorie counting, lots of formulas to predict your perfect macro-nutrient ratio and a constant need for self-restraint. Even if you’re one of those people that love to cook, this process of being constantly on point with your diet can become really tiresome and tedious.
If only we could speed up technology a few decades and have some kind of a device which could monitor our metabolic rate and blood glucose in real-time and alert us about when we need to eat based on our next scheduled workout session and current vitals. This technology is sure to come someday, but in the meantime, we will still need to make careful calculations and lots of times informed guesses about what our body needs.
This is certainly not easy to do with the diet trends that pop up every day, new nutritional supplements and personal trainers who are trying to sell you their own version of what you need to eat and how to train. Making the distinction between real science and the pseudoscience can be sometimes very exhausting. In our modern busy lives, no one has the time to read all the latest medical studies and prepare a week’s worth of steak, rice, and broccoli.
So, in order to save you some time and energy, we have compiled a list of the biggest offenders on the “pseudo-healthy” foods. The snacks you always thought were healthy might be the main cause for that layer of fat that’s still covering your six-pack, and the foods that you’ve so diligently avoided might not be that bad for you after all.
Purging the kitchen: “Healthy” foods to avoid
We start off with the foods which conventional knowledge deems as okay, even healthy. If we take a look back over the last fifty years, we would find that it was very often profitable for companies to market these foods as a diet food, or to be regarded as healthy when placed alongside all the other, sugar-filled foods being introduced into grocery stores. Here are the biggest offenders:
- Yogurt is widely regarded as one of the best breakfast foods. The truth is that plain, low-fat Greek yogurt is not that bad for you, however, most of what’s available in stores are sugar-filled yogurt with some type of fruit, either in the form of chunks or resting on the bottom. The aroma used adds a lot of sugar, and every time there’s a piece of fruit at the bottom of the cup, it feels more like eating jam by the spoonful.
- Even though juices can be incredibly delicious, they are also a great way to consume some empty calories from all the sugar in it. The majority of juices deceive the buyer the same way yogurt does – because there might be some tiny chunks of real fruit in it, then it must be healthy, the logic goes. However, juice is all the sugary part of the fruit without any of the nutrients, helpful fiber or the carbohydrates. If you plan to fast or lose fat, avoid juice and look for bone broth.
- Granola is still popular because of its crunchy, health-conscious vibe around it. But the reality is that granola was originally developed as a high-calorie, lightweight snack that could be carried by hikers and backpackers. Modern versions of granola are filled with sweeteners and its nutrition profile is much more similar to a dessert than the high-fiber snack it’s advertised as.
- This is more of a general advice than suggesting that you avoid a certain food. The advice is: be cautious of anything trendy. This may be hard to discern at times, but if something pops out and suddenly becomes wildly popular, being touted as a super-food, or related to a special diet, it’s most probably because someone is making huge money off it. In the last decade, chia seeds, acai berries, and cauliflower pizza have all had their turn. Each of these “superfoods” is good when consumed in moderation, but they aren’t an easy fix for your diet.
At first, it may seem that breakfast and morning snack are an easy target, but if you compare them to lunch and dinner, then it’s more likely that you’ll make mistakes in your morning nutrition. Even though most things are way better than sugary cereal or pop tarts, avoiding the processed foods is not the only way to creating a balanced, nutrient-rich breakfast. If you don’t know what to eat in the morning, try omelets, egg bakes, breakfast wraps or simply yogurt with a piece of fresh fruit.
Foods that undeservedly gained a bad reputation
The same way there are sugar-filled foods marketed as “healthy”, there are also foods that have been gotten a bad reputation and have been neglected by the general population. But when you start researching a bit more, you’ll find out that they’re really not that bad. As with all other things, moderation is the key, and it might be the time for you to reconsider including these foods back into your diet plan.
- Bread consumption suffered greatly from the Atkins diet, and this is still the case, partly because soft white bread you can buy at your store has little nutritional value. So, if you’re a sandwich or a toast lover, buy sprouted bread. This type of bread has fewer carbs and a lower glycemic index, which means you won’t experience blood sugar spikes. Additionally, when the grains are sprouted before being milled, you consume an additional 4 grams of protein over 12-grain bread, less gluten, and extra fiber.
- Egg yolks were also hit badly when the medical industry started producing research about cholesterol and its link to heart disease development. The egg yolk contains dietary cholesterol, which made a lot of people throw away the yolks and eat the egg whites only, or skip eggs altogether. Numerous studies have contradicted this claim many times, noting that having high cholesterol levels are influenced by saturated fat than dietary cholesterol. Even though the general recommendation is to eat no more than an egg per day, this amount may vary based on physical activity and overall fitness level.
- Cacao is a delicious way to include some micro-nutrients in your diet. The unsweetened chocolate powder, which is not the same as cocoa, has anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants in it, which help to reduce stress in the entire body and also reduce the risk of developing heart disease. It also improves your mood and the immune system, so the next time you’re in a bad mood or you’re craving for something sweet, go ahead and mix some cacao into your smoothie, or grab a piece of some dark chocolate.
- The last entry on the list is reserved for an honorable mention which goes to spicy foods. For so long, it’s been generally assumed that eating spicy food can upset your stomach, cause heartburn and trigger other digestive problems. Extreme heat can really make you feel uncomfortable, but eating moderately hot spices can have a lot of health benefits. Eating hotter spices provides anti-inflammatory nutrients, fewer bacteria, an improved immune system, and added longevity. Additionally, the heat can really rev up the metabolic rate. If you monitor your calories closely during a cut, it might not help much, but it can certainly push you over the plateau. There’s no harm in trying, you just need to make sure that you keep the Scoville units to a tolerable level, and opt for turmeric, ginger and chili peppers in order to get the greatest benefits.
If you’re thinking what to eat for breakfast, why not try a couple of whole eggs or perhaps an avocado toast. Cacao powder can be mixed into a protein shake or smoothie for added richness without too many calories. Spicy foods may be the easiest of all to consume – buy some ground spices and sprinkle them on meat or salads. A little heat will really bring up the other flavors in a meal without adding unnecessary calories or putting rich sauces. You should make sure that you buy in bulk since it’s cheaper that way; buying them by the jar can be pretty expensive.
How to improving your meal plan
It may feel more tedious to include new foods into your diet when you’ve already got yourself a solid diet plan. That’s why, instead of trying to completely re-organize your current regimen, try looking for places where you can make some simple swaps and add some new foods here and there.
Basically, you should know that most naturally occurring foods certainly won’t harm you, you should just consume them in moderation. Bread is most definitely processed, however opting for a sprouted grain will grant you greater benefits than avoiding it completely.
Enjoy whatever foods you like, just monitor your macros closely and pay attention what your body best reacts to and perform; most bodies like varied food intake. Make a toast with some sprouted bread to sop up the egg yolk, or find some dark chocolate as a dessert. Your body and mind will thank you for it.