How many times have we walked into the local health food stores and marveled at all the healthy-looking foods on the shelves? “Wow, this agave syrup must be really healthy because it’s made with ingredients I’ve never heard of!” “Boy oh boy, that fat-free salad dressing looks super tasty, and it must be healthy because it’s fat-free!”
Big mistake! Just reading the fancy labels of your “health foods” is a great way to be duped, as you’ll have no idea what’s in them. You’d be amazed at just how unhealthy some apparently “healthy” foods can be…!
Athletes down these beverages like they’re the last Twinkie on the planet, and the truth is that they are great for those who are doing high intensity exercise and need to replenish the 600+ calories they’ve just burned. On the other hand, for the normal person that has just done a good 45-minute jog or free weight routine, they’re just going to be extra calories – and not in a good way. The average 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade and Powerade have about 8 teaspoons of sugar, plus around 130 calories. Not too calorie-intense, but way too sugary if you’re just drinking them because you think they’re the smart choice.
Whole Wheat Breads
“Yes, this brown bread must be healthy because it says ‘whole wheat’ on it and it’s a very dark color.” Wrong! Whole wheat breads sold in supermarkets are often made with enriched flour – flour that has had all of the nutrients bleached out and then put back in chemically. The bread has to specifically say “100% Whole Wheat” on the bag, or else it’s just the enriched stuff. You’ll know the difference by the texture: soft and fluffy, it’s enriched; harder and grainy, it’s real whole wheat. Grains and whole wheat are excellent for your health, but make sure you’re getting the real deal!
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Before you start eating this stuff by the spoonful (it’s just so darn good, am I right?), you had better be sure you know what you’re doing. Reduced-fat peanut butter may have less fats, but it has a whole lot more sugar than regular peanut butter. Sugar is worse for your body than fat, especially when you consider just how much sugar you’re putting into your body – compared to the amount of fat eliminated from the peanut butter. If you can find natural, unsweetened peanut butter, it will be full-fat but sugar-free – a much healthier choice, but one you should consume in moderation nonetheless.
Can you tell the difference between your average energy bar and a Snickers bar? Aside from the flavor, there’s not much! Many energy bars contain the same saturated fats, artificial sugars, and hydrogenated oils that candy bars do – all they have is a bit more protein. Meal replacement bars are another sneaky treat that may actually be doing more harm than good. They may be almost as bad as candy bars, and yet you eat them like they’re completely healthy. Check the label to find out just how much sugar, fat, and oils the bars contain before eating them. Only eat them if you are doing high intensity workouts, or you’re working out for more than 60 minutes a day.
Just like with the peanut butter, taking out the ‘fat’ doesn’t make a food healthy. Your body is able to process most fats, but it can’t handle the artificial sugars, thickening agents, and chemicals used to make these fat-free foods. You’re better off avoiding the full-fat foods you shouldn’t be eating (Ranch dressing, potato chips, etc.), or just sticking to small doses of the healthy fatty foods (here’s looking at you, dairy).