Does this sound familiar? You’ve been on an exercise regimen that you enjoy. You are more active. You think you’re eating right. But even though you seem to be building muscle and maybe even losing weight, you’re still not feeling like you’re at the top of your fitness.
Maybe your gut feels a little bit off or maybe you’re still hitting that mid-afternoon wall where you feel like you need a nap. If you recognize any of these, there’s a good chance that you may still be eating foods that are stopping you from being at the top of your fitness and health.
I’m going to stay away from the obvious (starches like potatoes and white rice) and focus on ones that might take you by surprise. Here are 10 culprits, in no particular order, that you should consider kicking to the curb if you really want to be fit and healthy.
You might think that these would be okay, especially if you get the “fat free” or “lite” versions of your favorites. But most store-bought salad dressings contain bad oils in them. Look at the bottles and you’ll see soybean or canola oils, or (worse) corn syrup.
The same ingredients can often be found in store-bought sauces and marinades – so those should go also.
That low-fat, low-calorie yogurt may seem like the perfect diet food that also satisfies a sweet tooth. There’s a reason for that. When they take the fat out, they often add sugars for flavor. You’re actually better off with plain full-fat yogurt sweetened with berries.
Whole fruits in moderation can be beneficial to a healthy diet. But fruit juices, especially those cold-pressed ones that look so appealing in the store, are lacking the fiber that you would find in whole fruit. Not to mention that there are often sugars added to make the juices taste better.
Say it ain’t so! Smoothies are supposed to be the “healthy” alternative to milkshakes! This is only true if you look carefully at the ingredients in the smoothie, especially if you are buying ones that are pre-made. Just like fruit juices, smoothies often have added sugars or artificial sweeteners to make them taste better. If you choose to make your own smoothies at home, there’s another ingredient you need to be wary of.
These are considered a supplement, so they are not subject to the same regulatory controls. As a result, some may contain additives (including sugars). As with previously mentioned foods, make sure that you look carefully at the labels before you purchase a protein powder.
Makes sense, right? If protein powders may contain sugars or additives, so must protein or energy bars. But again, check the labels. Just because something is in the health food aisle among other “healthy” foods, doesn’t necessarily mean it belongs there.
Very similar to protein bars, not all granolas can be considered healthy. The more well-known brands often contain (you guessed it) sugars, oils, or sodium that make the grains taste better. And, just like salad dressings, they may even contain corn syrup. How else do you think they hold the pieces together in a bar shape? Once more, take a look at the ingredient label to find the lowest number of “healthy” ingredients in the granola. By the way, are you seeing the pattern in store-bought foods yet?
I hate to be the one to tell you, but if you believe that veggie burgers are a healthy alternative to red meat, you may have been fooled. As with previous foods mentioned, not all veggie burgers are equal. Many of them are highly processed (a sure sign of unhealthy aspects) and they often contain soybean products which have proven to cause weight gain. If you must have a veggie burger or meat alternative, look for one that contains minimal ingredients that haven’t been overly processed.
A long-term staple “diet” food, rice cakes can be one of the sneakiest foods in your diet. While they are low-calorie, they are also low in fiber – which means they are also low in nutrients. If they’re that low in everything, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re lite...right?
Maybe. But that in itself is a problem too. Because they often taste like nothing (I’ve heard people describe eating a rice cake like eating air), it’s very easy to eat more than the recommended serving size. Plus, flavored rice cakes can contain (you guessed it again) additives to make them taste better.
Here’s probably one of the most surprising ones on the list. Coconut oil has become very popular, especially as an aspect of a fat-forward diet like Keto. However, if you are going for a low-fat, low calorie diet, coconut oil is not your friend. It actually contains more saturated fats than other oils and raises both types of cholesterol. Obviously, that’s not very healthy.
I hope you caught the common theme in many of these foods: read the labels. Don’t automatically assume that something is healthy because it’s in the right aisle. While the food itself might be, the way it is produced can make it completely counter- productive to a fit and healthy lifestyle.
So, the next time you go grocery shopping, look for foods that have minimal ingredients, that aren’t processed, and (for goodness’ sake) stay away from anything that has corn syrup or soybean products. Taking the time to read labels and choose the right products can go a long way to turning your diet back onto a fit and healthy track.
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