As a San Diego personal trainer one of the biggest components of my job and what really affects the success of my San Diego weight loss programs is the nutritional component. Many people make the wrong assumption that if they just workout they can eat whatever they want. Unfortunately, that really is just not the case for so many reasons. A lot of my clients that start with me at the beginning think of me as their metabolism. They go out and drink and eat out at restaurants during the weekend, and come back Monday weighing heavier than they did Friday.
What many of us don’t realize is that eating healthy isn’t some crazy science. It’s actually pretty simple when you think about it. It goes back to the basics. Eating your foods in whole form. When you go to the grocery store and pick out your favorite box of cereal, frozen pizza, or granola bars and looked at the ingredients list. Do you ever find it odd that you have no idea what about half the items are on that list? Why would you put something in your body that you can’t even pronounce? About 90% of the money spent by Americans in grocery stores goes towards processed foods.
Let’s look at processed foods and their impact on various chronic diseases….
As far as our hormones and metabolism are concerned, there’s no difference between a bowl of unsweetened corn flakes and a bowl of table sugar. Starch is 100-percent glucose [table sugar is half glucose, half fructose] and our bodies can digest it into sugar instantly.
We are not adapted to handle fast-acting carbohydrates. Glucose is the gold standard of energy metabolism. The brain is exquisitely dependent on having a continuous supply of glucose: too low a glucose level poses an immediate threat to survival. But too high a level causes damage to tissues, as with diabetes. Processed foods have the ability to raise insulin levels very high when digested, and therefore should be avoided especially if you are battling with diabetes.
Many processed foods contain trans fatty acids, a dangerous type of fat. According to the American Heart Association, “TFAs tend to raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol … These changes may increase the risk of heart disease.”
Further, most processed foods are extremely high in salt, another blow to the heart. One-half cup of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, for instance, has 37 percent of the daily-recommended 2400 g of sodium.
Processed foods carry a lot of sodium and should be avoided not only for simple health reasons, but it also will lead you to look very bloated, and prevent you from looking lean.
A seven-year study of close to 200,000 people by the University of Hawaii found that people who ate the most processed meats (hot dogs, sausage) had a 67 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate little or no meat products.
A Canadian study of over 400 men aged 50 to 80 found similar results. Men whose eating habits fell into the “processed” pattern (processed meats, red meat, organ meats, refined grains, vegetable oils and soft drinks) had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer than men in the other groups. Men who ate the most processed foods had a 2.5-fold increased prostate cancer risk.
Yet another study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers, and Prevention found that refined carbohydrates like white flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup is also linked to cancer. The study of more than 1,800 women in Mexico found that those who got 57 percent or more of their total energy intake from refined carbohydrates had a 220 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who ate more balanced diets.
So there you have it. It is clear that processed foods do not provide the body with any real benefits. In fact, these three chronic diseases were not nearly as wide-spread until after processed foods became more popular in the US.
I understand that convenience is a big factor in why people purchase processed foods. That’s what Tupperware and sandwich bags are for. You can easily transport fruit, raw veggies, hard boiled eggs and cooked cold chicken. It’s all about preparation. I usually take two days a week to cook a large amount of food and then I put it in Tupperware and re-heat when I am hungry. If you are really stuck on carrying around bars, I recommend Lara bars. They usually have 5 or less ingredients, and you can actually pronounce them. Finally, I have included a recipe for making really delicious granola bars at home.
Granola Bar Recipe
178 calories, 6g of protein, 11g of fat, 16g carb, 50mg sodium.
- 1 cup raw oatmeal
- 2 cups granola or trail mix
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 cups natural unsalted nut butter (chunky type)
- Oil a 9×11 baking sheet.
- Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients and form into a firm paste. You may need to add more peanut butter or honey if the mixture is too dry.
- Press the mixture into the oiled container.
- Cover the pressed mixture with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Cut into 36 bars and serve.
- Store extras in an airtight container or wrap individually in plastic and store in the refrigerator.
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