3 Misleading “Healthy” Foods You Should Avoid

Let’s say you drive a brand new 2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class AMG valued at over $225,000. The owner’s manual clearly says to only use Premium Unleaded fuel. When you go to the gas station to fill up, what kind of gas do you use? Premium Unleaded Fuel. That’s a no brainer. You use the exact type of fuel that you need to use in order to maximize the health of your precious vehicle.

Why is it that people can grasp this concept with a material item, like a car, but not with their own lives? Food is how you fuel your body, just like gasoline is how you fuel your car. Let’s start putting premium food only into our mouths because that’s what maximizes our health and general well being.

There are so many healthy options out there, but unfortunately, way more unhealthy options. To make matters worse, the unhealthy options are typically more convenient, cheaper and promoted with marketing campaigns. Often times, the combination of those three factors drive consumers into making an unhealthy decision.

Some brands even go a step beyond that. They advertise their products as healthy, when they are anything but. Here are 3 extremely popular “healthy” foods that are misleading.

#1: Low Fat or Reduced Fat Peanut Butter

pb

Reducing fat sounds like a great thing, doesn’t it? Usually it is, but in the case of Reduced Fat Peanut Butter it is not a good thing at all. First of all, why would anyone want to reduce the fat in Peanut Butter? Peanut Butter is a great source of healthy, mono and polyunsaturated fats which are linked to weight loss, improved heart health and excellent brain function. Why on earth would anyone want to reduce those benefits?

Let’s take a look at the most popular “reduced fat” Peanut Butter, made by JIF. At approximately $5 per 16 ounces, you’re basically paying more money for a product with nutritional deficiencies compared to its natural state. The fat that is taken out of this product is replaced by some shady ingredients.

PEANUTS, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, SUGAR, PEA PROTEIN, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SALT, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, MOLASSES, MAGNESIUM OXIDE, NIACINAMIDE, FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE, ZINC OXIDE, COPPER SULFATE, FOLIC ACID, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE. (1)

There are 17 ingredients in this Peanut Butter. How is that even possible? Reduced Fat is a synonym for increased chemicals. If I were you, I’d stay away from ANY product that has claimed to reduce its fat. That is an immediate red flag!

What to eat instead:

pb2

You can spend a pretty penny looking for a great peanut butter, I’ve seen them priced as high as $10 for a 12 ounce jar. If you can afford it, by all means, go for it but if you’re frugal like me you can go with the Smucker’s Creamy Natural Peanut Butter. Guess what its ingredients are? Peanuts and Salt (2). That’s it and that’s how it should be. Oh, by the way it’s about $3 for a 16 ounce jar, compared to the $5 you would have spent on a garbage reduced fat “peanut butter spread.” Other great Peanut Butter brands you can check out are MaraNatha, Peanut Butter & Co., Justin’s and Barney Butter. You should also check out the Almond Butters that those brands produce!

bar

#2: Protein Bars

Protein bars are another very misleading “healthy” food. I’m not saying that every protein bar out there is terrible for you, but a lot of them are glorified junk food. Take these two bars, for example:

Bar A has:

250 Calories

12g Fat

27g Sugar

120 mg Sodium

18 Ingredients

(3)

Bar B has:

270 Calories

4.5g Fat

30g Sugar

240g Sodium

33 Ingredients

(4)

Which bar would you rather eat? You’re probably not too thrilled about either of them but if you had to choose one, I bet you’d go with Bar A. It’s lower in calories, sugar, sodium and overall ingredients. If you chose Bar A, like I would, you chose a Snickers Bar. It’s not even a protein bar! Bar B, which is higher in calories, sugar, sodium and ingredients is actually a protein bar; it is the extremely popular Promax Cookies & Cream Protein Bar. Essentially, this protein bar is a candy bar with extra protein added. Sadly, many of the popular protein bars on the market follow this same trend. They’re extremely processed, chemically enhanced and misleading.

I have a confession. I have a little bit of a sweet tooth. 9 times out of 10 I can ignore the sweet tooth begging me to feed it, but every now and then I give in to the temptation. Instead of a cookie, cupcake or candy I feed my sweet tooth with protein bars. We all have our vices. It’s actually my New Year Resolution to quit eating protein bars in 2015, so I’ll let you all know how that goes. But, I digress…

Bottom line is that we should acknowledge that most protein bars are fraudulent and replace them with healthy options that are actually beneficial. If you eat protein bars, ask yourself why. Here are three primary reasons for eating protein bars, along with suggestions for making a healthier decision.

  • Increase protein intake for the day.
    • If you’re looking to increase your protein for the day try to get it from whole food sources like chicken, fish or grass-fed beef. An extra 1-2 ounces of these protein sources at lunch and dinner could give you the extra grams of protein you’re looking for with a relatively low calorie count. Not much of a carnivore? You can’t go wrong with Black Beans!
    • If your goal is to eat more protein and you’re dead set on using a supplement, try out Sun Warrior Protein Powder or Plant Fusion Protein Powder. These are two great plant-based protein powders with minimal ingredients, excellent taste and awesome health benefits when used correctly.
    • Lastly, if you’re stuck on the idea that a protein bar is for you, try out the RISE Protein Bar. These bars are packed with 20g of protein and taste excellent. They come in 4 different flavors and none of them have more than 5 total ingredients.
  • Quick, convenient and tasty snack.
    • Looking for a quick snack, but you’re not concerned about the protein? Try to snack on a handful of almonds or cashews. Not a nut person? You could always have an apple, pear or portable veggies such as snap peas. All of these are delicious and easy to eat on the go.
  • Fulfills sugar cravings.
    • This may be the most difficult of the three. A craving is a craving, we can’t control them but we certainly can contain them. Fresh fruit is a great way to deal with a sugar craving. I would even say it’s okay to eat a fruit you normally wouldn’t eat, that way it feels like more of a “treat.” Bananas, dates and mango would get the job done. 

#3: Subway

subway

Subway: Eat Fresh! Right? Not really. Subway prides itself on being a healthy fast food option, tricking people into thinking that Subway is “good for you.” Sure, a 6-inch Subway sandwich is healthy when you compare it to a Big Mac, McChicken and a Large Fry but in no way should it be considered to be a healthy option.

Money talks, as you all know. Subway is the largest single-restaurant chain globally with 43,000 locations in 107 countries. According to Forbes, the brand is valued at 6.6 BILLION dollars (5). They can go out and pay high-profile professional athletes to say, “Subway is the official training restaurant of insert name here.” That, mixed with Jared Fogle’s weight loss story is enough to make Subway look like a viable healthy eating option.

Subway will wow you with their lineup of low calorie, low fat sandwiches, but please read the fine print. The version of the sandwich they’re describing is drastically different than what the consumer usually gets. Subway’s nutritional statistics are taken from 6-inch sandwiches on 9-Grain Wheat Bread, with lettuce, tomato, green pepper and cucumbers. These stats do not take into account the fact that a lot of people are going to order a footlong, add a sauce, add cheese, add chips, add cookie and/or add a drink. By doing that, you go from bad to worse.

If you have the willpower and discipline to stand in front of a lineup of beautiful meats, cheeses, sauces and breads and STILL get the plain 6-inch… well, I commend you for that. Very impressive. But, unfortunately, you’re still eating junk.

Do you know what dimethylpolysiloxane is? I didn’t either, until I saw it on the ingredients list in Subway’s egg patty (6) used in their breakfast sandwiches. Dimethylpolysiloxane, obviously, is not a food. It is a chemical defined as a polymer of silicone used especially in pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations (7). Seriously, I Googled dimethylpolysiloxane and terms such as Silly Putty and Dermasil show up in the results. Of course, there are extremely small amounts of this chemical in the food, but why is it even there to begin with? How are the ingredients of Subway’s eggs not simply “eggs.”

It doesn’t stop there. One of the 20+ ingredients used in their chicken strips is “flavors.” If you want to get a good laugh, take a look at Subway’s official ingredients list.

If you’ve been eating Subway thinking it’s a healthy option, I think the notes above are enough to convince you otherwise. However, I do understand that we’re all busy. Subway is extremely convenient. There is practically one every 5-10 miles, so it seems like an ideal place to hit on your 30-60 minute lunch break from work. It’s also very cost efficient, which is always a great thing. If either, or both, of these are reasons you enjoy Subway I would like to challenge you to a meal prep Sunday. Next Sunday you should prep your lunches for the week, put them in Tupperware and bring them to work with you every day. I will follow up with a separate blog dedicated to “meal prep” within the coming weeks! I guarantee this will save you time and money compared to eating out at a fast food restaurant! Most importantly, it will be a way healthier meal for you, getting you closer to your fitness goals every single day!

SOURCES:

(1) “JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread.” JIF Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread. JIF. Web. <http://www.jif.com/products/reduced-fat-creamy-peanut-butter>.

(2) “Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter.” Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter. Smucker’s. Web. <https://www.smuckers.com/products/peanut-butter/natural-peanut-butter/natural-creamy-peanut-butter-65>.

(3) “Snickers Bar.” Snickers Bar. MARS. Web. <https://www.snickers.com/Nutritional-Info>.

(4) “Promax Cookies ‘N Cream Protein Bar.” Promax Cookies ‘N Cream Protein Bar. Promax. Web. <http://shop.promaxnutrition.com/Cookies-N-Cream/p/PMX-126690&c=Promax@CoreFlavors>.

(5) “World’s Most Valuable Brands.” Forbes. Forbes. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/companies/subway/>.

(6) “Subway Nutrition.” Subway. Subway. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <https://www.subway.com/Nutrition/Files/usProdIngredients.pdf>.

(7) “Merriam-Webster: Dimethylpolysiloxane.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam.Webster. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/dimethylpolysiloxane>.

Got Christmas Cash? Spend It On Fitness Gifts!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas yesterday full of joy with your friends and family! Let’s not forget about the gifts though, those are always a great part of the holidays too. I’m sure by now you’ve accumulated at least $50 in VISA Gift Cards, right? You may not know exactly what you want to purchase with your Christmas money yet, but here are some excellent fitness gifts you can go out and find! The best part? They’re all UNDER 50-bucks and will help you stay healthy and fit!

Use the arrow keys below to check out the slideshow of fitness gifts!

You can also use the left & right arrow keys on your keyboard.

5 Ways to Spend Your Christmas Cash

JVC Xtreme-Xplosivs Headphones

earbudsIt can be tough to workout without some musical motivation! Check out these JVC Earbuds for only $29.95 on Amazon! Use these bad boys to get through your toughest workouts with crystal clear audio and explosive bass from a high quality brand with a proven track record!

Hamilton Beach Personal Blender with Travel Lid

blender

For only $14.99 on Amazon you can grab yourself what I consider to be an ESSENTIAL part of living a healthy lifestyle. This personal, portable Hamilton Beach blender will save you so much time when you make your smoothies and protein shakes! The compact design is great for people who live an on-the-go lifestyle! You can also use this for more than shakes and smoothies; Try to experiment with salad dressings, marinades and baby formula.

Sunwarrior: Warrior Blend Protein

sunwarrior

You train like a champion, so why don’t you refuel like a champion too? Sunwarrior is a Non GMO, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, Hypoallergenic plant-based protein powder made from Organic whole food sources. This protein has a complete Amino Acid profile with 17g of protein, ZERO grams of sugar, and only 100 caolires per scoop.  Sunwarrior has changed my life. I wouldn’t drink anything other than Sunwarrior. It’s time to throw your Whey in the garbage! You can purchase 2.2 lbs on Amazon for $41.61 or shop around at other health food stores for a lower price. I HIGHLY recommend the Chocolate flavor! It’s easy to digest, mixes and absorbs well, tastes amazing in shakes and contains absolutely nothing harmful to your body. Don’t believe me? Do some research and you’ll soon find out this is THE best plant protein on the market.

Wahoo Blue HR Heart Rate Monitor

wahoo

If you’re ever curious about how many calories you burn in a workout, here’s the tool for you. The Wahoo Fitness Heart Rate Monitor is a wireless, Bluetooth powered device that reports your workout intensity with pinpoint accuracy via their FREE smartphone app (iPhone & Android). For around $45 on Amazon you can track heart rate, time spent in each heart rate zone, max heart rate, average heart rate, and calories burned while you work out – and have all of that data stored on your smartphone forever! I wouldn’t workout without one.

NIKE Team Training Air Max Bag

bagIt’s time to replace that worn down bag you’ve been dragging around with a Nike bag with quality guaranteed to last! You’re putting in the gym work, but you need a bag that can keep up. This bag is 100% Polyester, durable and large enough to fit whatever you need for before, during and after workout. Get it today for $45 on Amazon.

 

Make Your Breakfast Count

Ever since I was young, I can remember people telling me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Eating a well balanced breakfast first thing in the morning provides you with the energy and nutrients you need to jump-start your day. A healthy breakfast on a consistent basis has also been linked to successful weight control, brain function and improvement in overall wellness.

Seems like a good deal, right? Well then why does America continue to botch breakfast?!

I recently discovered that the most popular breakfast food eaten in America is cereal (1).

Cereal? Really? C’mon guys. We are better than that!

After finding out that our country is full of cereal killers, I decided to take a look at what the most popular breakfast cereal is. To no surprise, the most popular cereal in the country is Honey Nut Cheerios (2). There are currently twelve variations of Cheerios on the market and the Honey Nut variation alone makes up 12.5% of all cereal purchased in the US.

I don’t really recommend eating any type of cereal, or grain, but I really have to wonder WHY CHEERIOS?

The answer: General Mills does a phenomenal job of marketing their Cheerios brand as a healthy food. I can’t be mad at that. Every company dreams of having market control with their products like Cheerios / General Mills has. I hope that one day 1 & Only Fitness has similar success. The only difference is, we’ll be promoting truly healthy products and services.

If you go to the official Honey Nut Cheerios website you’ll see that the website promotes the “numerous health benefits.” Below is a screenshot of their spin on this product.

cheeriosbenefits

As you can see, they definitely image this cereal as a health food. Even the box is plastered with buzz words like whole grains, natural, vitamins, minerals and low cholesterol. Please don’t fall for these marketing tricks. Honey Nut Cheerios, in my opinion, are not a beneficial addition to your diet in any way.

I don’t want to go fully in-depth on why I believe we should avoid all grains in our diet, but I do want to highlight a healthier alternative to the most popular breakfast food in our country.

First of all, let’s take a look at the Honey Nut Cheerios ingredients:

Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Oat Bran, Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Rice Bran, Canola Oil, Natural Almond Flavor and Vitamin E. (3)

Right off the bat, the second ingredient catches my eye. Sugar. Side note: Ingredients on food labels are required to be in order by volume of that ingredient in the product. Besides the “whole grain” oats, sugar is the most used ingredient in this cereal. No bueno. Not to mention, the 5th and 6th ingredient (Honey and Brown Sugar Syrup) are also sweeteners that give Honey Nut Cheerios their 9 grams of Sugars per serving. 9 grams of sugar is about 1/3 of the daily maximum recommended intake, per the American Heart Association. (4)

Two other ingredients that rub me the wrong way are the Corn Starch and Canola Oil. Unless otherwise stated on the label, when I see these two ingredients I assume they are highly processed, GMO ingredients. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are any organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Doesn’t seem like something we should consume, does it? Corn is the most common GMO crop grown in America, with around 88% of the corn crops in the US being genetically modified. One of the many byproducts of GMO corn is Corn Starch, which is likely what is used in Honey Nut Cheerios. Similar to corn, Canola is also a huge GMO crop in the US. Between the sugars, grains, the potential for GMO ingredients (even though General Mills plans to try to eliminate GMO ingredients) and ridiculous chemical ingredients (Tripotassium Phosphate) I want nothing to do with Honey Nut Cheerios.

The reason I’m focusing on Cheerios so hard is because cereal is the most popular food eaten for the most important meal of the day – and Honey Nut Cheerios is the best-selling cereal in America. Aim for the king, right?

The nutritional content of Honey Nut Cheerios isn’t all that bad. They are relatively low in calories, fat and sodium. Unfortunately, they are also low in fiber and protein, plus extremely high in sugars. That’s also assuming that you consume ONE serving, 3/4 of a cup, of the cereal. No one has ever has just ONE bowl of cereal, have they? This is why I stress how important it is to look beyond the macronutrients (calories, fat, carbs & protein). Ingredients and serving size play a huge role in nutrition, you just have to look through the product marketing!

Make your breakfast count with a healthy breakfast made of whole food ingredients. One of the easiest, fastest and tastiest breakfast meals I have in my diet is a Spinach & Egg Omelette. Let’s compare this omelette with America’s favorite breakfast!

  • Spinach Omelette
  • 4 Ingredients
  • 1 Serving = 1 Omelette
  • 23 grams of Protein per serving
  • 2 grams of Carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of Sugar per serving
  • 15 grams of fat per serving (Omega 3, 6 and 9)
  • 250 Calories total
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • 12 Ingedients
  • 1 Serving = 3/4 Cups of Cereal (no milk)
  • 2 grams of Protein per serving
  • 22 grams of Carbohydrates
  • 9 grams of Sugar per serving
  • 1.5 grams of fat per serving (Not from healthy sources)
  • 110 Calories per serving (no milk)

RECIPE

Ingredients Needed:

1-2 Whole Eggs

1/3 Cup Liquid Egg Whites

2 Cups Spinach

1/2 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

1) Melt the Coconut Oil in a medium to high heat pan.

2) Add the Spinach to the pan at medium to high heat for a few minutes, until the Spinach starts to cook.

3) Pour the Liquid Egg Whites into the pan at medium to high heat. You can pour them right over the top of the Spinach.

4) Add your whole Eggs to the pan, still at medium to high heat.

5) Cover the pan and cook at medium to high heat for 1-minute, then set the temperature to a lower setting to finish cooking.

6) After a few minutes on low, flip the Omelette, cook for about 1-minute and turn the heat off. Salt & pepper to taste.

7) ENJOY!

Notice the clock in the background. It only took 9 minutes to prepare this meal, and another 3-5 minutes to eat it. Cereal may be quicker and more convenient, but would you wake up 15 minutes earlier to better your health? I know I would!

As you can see, this is not a top secret family recipe passed down from generation to generation. It’s just a really simple, healthy way to start your day! I really hope you learned some great info in this blog post. If you’re eating Honey Nut Cheerios or any of sugary grains for breakfast, I’d like to challenge you to try this egg dish for breakfast sometime in the next week. Try it one time and I’m willing to bet you’ll throw out the cereal when you see how easy it is to have a healthy meal first thing in the morning. It’s delicious, nutritious and will keep you full for longer!

In good health,

Justin

_____

SOURCES

1.) Langer, Gary. “POLL: What Americans Eat for Breakfast.” ABC News. ABC News, 17 May 2005. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/PollVault/story?id=762685>.

2.) Elliot, Stuart. “7 Agencies Will Tell You This Cereal Is No. 1.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 June 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/business/media/27adnewsletter1.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.

3.) “Honey Nut Cheerios.” Cheerios. General Mills. Web. <https://www.cheerios.com/en/Products/Honey Nut Cheerios.aspx>.

4.) “Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar.” American Heart Assoication. American Heart Association, 19 May 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sugar_UCM_306725_Article.jsp>.