The Following is a post from our IRON JEFF AMERICA Blog:
Everyone is always looking for a ‘Rule of Thumb’. What that basically means is they want you to give them a spitball guess at what should be done in any specific circumstance. That’s pretty hard because different situations have different variables. And there may be no area where there are more ‘Rules of Thumb’ given than in the Food and Diet department.
“Eat these Foods to Reduce Belly Fat” is probably the most pervasive and slimy campaigns in internet advertising today, ranking right up there with ‘Snake Oil’ for the biggest anticipated scams of all time.
There are also 1000 recommendations on Diets that you should embark on to maximize weight loss, build muscle faster, or increase the size of ….er…certain body parts. The Paleo Diet, The Zone Diet, Atkins, etc. I try not to judge any diet plan on its claims until I’ve actually tried it, but sometimes there just seems to be a lot of static around things that have to be bought, versus easy changes that can made in choices at the grocery store, that by themselves can help reduce weight and just plain feel better.
This list is a combination of a few lists I have seen from a couple publications, I believe some came from Dr. Oz, some more from a guide that P90X used to give away with their package, and some input as well from the book I routinely quote from here, Nutrient Timing, By Dr. John Ivy and Dr. Robert Portman.
The basic premise here is that there is a short list of food types and characteristics that have direct scientifically proven effects on your body, your metabolism, and the way in which your body responds to them, in some cases contributing to Type II diabetes and such. This is not an exhaustive list, there are certainly other types of foods that you can and should avoid, but let’s say this is a pie chart. These wedges make up a very large fraction of the total pie of things that should be avoided in a healthy diet. Here goes:
1. Enriched- The use of the word ‘Enriched’ on any product usually signals that the make-up of the original, natural food has been altered somewhat to achieve easier processing or production. The problem with that is that just about every possible positive nutritional benefit of the food has usually been stripped away, and by FDA regulations, the manufacturer has been required to put some of those vitamins and minerals back in so it’s not a complete bag of empty calories. Unfortunately you don’t get back what was taken out.
Don’t confuse Enriched with Fortified. Fortifying is actually a plus. Foods like Milk, some Cereals, other Health Food products and even salt are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals that were not originally in the product when it was created from raw ingredients.
2. Saturated fat- This is one of the biggest misnomers in diet claims on food of all time. When a product lists that it is ‘low in cholesterol’ that means that if you eat nothing but items low in cholesterol, then you will have low cholesterol, right? This is actually right AND wrong. By correlation, many foods that are low in cholesterol happen to also be low in saturated fat, but a food being low in cholesterol does not help in lowering cholesterol nearly as much as cutting down on saturated fat, which is the building block of LDL (low density lipids), and is most often found in fatty meats, butter, and high fat content milk and cream. And lets not forget that not all ‘cholesterol’ is even bad for you. HDL, or High Density Lipid carriers of cholesterol, actually help lower total cholesterol readings by rounding up your LDL, negative contributors to cholesterol measurements, and escorting it to the liver where it can be processed. Exercise (surprise, surprise), cessation of smoking, and some mono and poly unsaturated fats contained in foods such as peanut oil, olive oil, fish and nuts help build up HDL levels, and reduce the heart risk caused by LDL, which again, is created from a result of excessive saturated fat intake.
3. High fructose corn syrup- Often tabbed as the 20th century evil behind all obesity in America, that claim is not too far from from the truth. This high carb substance and mega food sin not only pushes your carb instake unnecessarily high, but it also travels straight to the liver and is immediately converted to fat to be stored everywhere you don’t want it to. And that’s not all! High Fructose Corn syrup also blocks the production of insulin, which, as we will see in another section as well, releases enymes that help us feel full after consumption of carbs. So you are no less hungry when you scarfed down that Devil Dog than before you ate it. Isn’t that awesome? NOT.
4. High Glycemic-The Glycemic index measures the extent to which certain foods, often times concentrating on carb rich foods, impact the release of insulin in the body. This is not exactly rocket science on avoiding High Glycemic foods, they are sugary foods like candy, soda, etc….obvious food sins. While there is a place for simple sugars in your workout plan (pre-workout primarily to avoid your body going catabolic and burning muscle during workouts), for the most part, these foods should be avoided at all costs.
Other less obvious high glycemic foods that aren’t generally considered as evil as those above are potatoes, fruits, and the whites: white bread, white rice, white flours (used in regular pasta as well), etc. These also generally fall into the enriched category as well, so its a double whammy food. Got to keep away from those whammys. Better choices and low in the glycemic index are green vegetables, wheat bread, whole grain pasta, and brown rice.
5. Hydrogenated/Trans Fats- Remember back in the day when there was such a big push to consume margarine because a) it was cheaper than butter, and b) butter was bad for you? Turns out that margarine, which has as one of its primary ingredients Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, is the food sins equivalent of ingesting hemlock. Trans fats have become used rampantly however in just about every fast food cooking application, most non-health claims snack food, and in many fried foods (cooked of course in partially hydrogenated oils). Does that rule out the use of cooking oils completely in all foods? Of course not! Some oils as mentioned above do not contribute to LDL production like Trans fats/Hydrogenated Oils do, such as Olive oil, Peanut Oil, and Canola Oil.
6. Alcohol- While consumption of alcohol has been linked to positive effects in the production of HDL, the bads, unfortunately, generally outweigh the goods, particularly in a fitness centered environment. Alcohol not only can affect your restful sleep pattern and is generally devoid of substantial nutritional value, but it also slows the proper processing of carbs and proteins into energy, and they are instead converted into fat. Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic and can result in significant dehydration. Alcohol will also impair your inhibitions, and increase your appetite, a dangerous combination in a fitness regimen, as under the influence of alcohol, you eat what you normally wouldn’t because of a mean case of the munchies and a reduced willpower to say no to them.
Now, we have entitled this article the Five Deadly Food Sins, but consumption of any of these foods, while they should be avoided to the max extent possible, aren’t overly deadly when consumed occasionally or sporadically. What we are saying is that eating a heavily marbled steak coated in a margarine based sauce with a side of potatoes and white rice, complemented by a glass of white wine and a Deep Fried Twinkie for dessert shouldn’t be on the menu very often.
THAT IS ALL.