As athletes, we spend the winter hibernating (some of us anyway). Then we obsess about how we will lose the winter weight in the spring. There are a number of reasons the body puts on weight – less activity, more ‘comfort foods’, more ‘carbs’ and more conveniently wrapped packages of food. Although processed foods are convenient, their ingredients are not going to help with the battle of the bulge. When looking to lose weight, we need to balance the blood sugar, eat ‘clean’ and most certainly we have to read the ingredients list!
Why are ingredients so important? Well, the products we buy may be convenient, but they are not usually healthy. Our bodies do not work well on foods with ingredients that impair our metabolism, zap our energy or ones that cause us to crave more and more food like ‘carbs’. Here is a quick list of ingredients to avoid – and you might spend a bit more time initially looking at the ingredients list, but after awhile you will realize that you will spend less time reading as you get used to what to look for!
1 – Trans fat = hydrogenated fats. This is only in processed foods. Hydrogenated fats are fats that have an additional hydrogen molecule added to extend shelf life – the fat won’t naturally degrade quickly like most fats). No nutritional value. It can be in crackers, peanut butter, non-dairy creamer, baked goods or anything that needs to have a longer shelf life. It does not matter whether it is partially hydrogenated, or fully hydrogenated – you need to steer clear of it.
You may remember I wrote a blog about including Pumpkin Spice creamer into my coffee during the holidays – one main ingredient is partially hydrogenated fat. Within a week or two, I not only gained weight (unintentionally) but I gained it all as a mushy muffin top. YUK! And the pain in my hip got worse, too. So even a little bit in your coffee or a little margarine on your toast will cause you to hold on to weight (by way of increased inflammation). So try to avoid this ingredient. It will help you drop weight and fit into those tight cycling shorts.
NOTE on Low Fat or Non-Fat products. Ever read the label on yogurt, cookies, or mayonnaise? Read the regular mayo for example, just 6 ingredients: oil, mustard seed, vinegar, egg yolks and seasonings. Now read the lowfat or non-fat version and you will see a few additional items all to help replace the fat ‘feeling’ in your mouth. But most of these ingredients are toxins or chemicals not normally found in mayonnaise! Some of these include modified food starch, phosphoric acid (this is like your Lime Away for lime scale – yuk!), propylene glygol alginate and preservatives.
2 – Chemicals and preservatives. I listed a few of the chemicals above, but there are others! Doritos corn chips have diisocyanate. If it sounds like a chemical or you cannot pronounce it, you should stay away from it. You can replace Doritos with organic corn chips or Garden Of Eatin’ brand which has loads of flavorful varieties. You will have to eat them within the shorter shelf life date as the fat they use will go bad after that. (this is actually what you want – you want your food to spoil in less then 3 months!)
Preservatives include EDTA, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrate, calcium disodium EDTA, citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. All made to increase the shelf life of your foods, but your body does not know what to do with these chemicals. So it stores some of them in fat cells and some in the liver! (I am not sure of this, but I think your body will create a few extra fat cells just to store the extra toxins!)
3 – Artificial colors. These are particularly a problem when it is colors yellow, red and blue. Some will get over-excited from the toxicity of these colors. For children who have ADD and ADHD, this is one of the more important things to eliminate to keep children calm and able to sit still. here is a link for the dangers of artificial colors.
Check your sports drinks as many of them will include red dyes instead of beet juice to make things red. If it stains your water bottle orange, you may want to find something that is colorless.
4 – GMO grains, corn and soy products. This might be the harder ingredients to avoid. Truth in food labeling does not ensure that products to be labeled as GMO. Only those companies who want to list GMO free products do so. But those who do not want to list their GMO products, do not have to. I personally would like to know this information! So I tend to avoid soy, corn, wheat and dairy as a result of this GMO byproduct effect. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Anything that has been altered from its original state is considered GMO. Tomatoes also fall into this category! So what does this do?
The body is designed to eat foods in their natural states. For centuries we have eaten corn, grains and various fruits and vegetables that were in their original state. Enter the industrialization of foods, and companies like Monsanto use their labs to create products that grow faster, that are resistant to pesticides and certain pests. This now becomes a lab experiment and we are the human guinea pigs. These foods alter our genetics unintentionally. They are hormone disruptors affecting our thyroid, adrenals and digestive system. We are getting sicker because of these foods! Here is a link to dangers of GMO to our health. And yes, they (the industrialized farmers) are using these modified grains, corn and soy to feed their cattle and chickens. If you saw the movie Food Matters, you would see how the removal of these items in the feed, allowed for healthier animals. If the cattle do have the genetically modified products in their system then you are ingesting them. If the cattle are constantly sick and being injected with antibiotics, how will that help you?? It doesn’t. It just makes you sick and tired, and fat. Choose organic whenever possible and if you can get products at a local farm, you may be able to lose some of those extra pounds because the food is not going to make you gain weight because it is genetically modified.
5 – Artificial sweeteners. Although some will disagree about what these artificial sweeteners will do, they are really chemicals. And we do not want chemicals in our bodies. There was nothing ever wrong with sugar – we just need to eat the raw, organic sugar and eat it in moderation. When baking, use half the amount of sugar in the recipe. When you use artificial sweeteners, you tend to crave more sugar as a result. Have you ever noticed when someone uses artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, etc), they use 2-3 packets of sweetener. If the sweeteners are all 600 times sweeter than sugar, shouldn’t we be using barely a sprinkle? There is an addictive effect and we consume more and more sweetened foods like pastries and desserts brought to the office. This will cause inevitable weight gain and will not help your waist line!
Some sweeteners, when digested, break down to formaldehyde and methanol! Eew! Avoid the low-calorie versions of foods that use the artificial sweeteners. You can save yourself plenty of health issues associated with artificial sweeteners if you just use real sugar.
if you are struggling to lose some weight, it might be time to start looking at the ingredients of the products you purchase. If you are trying to be more healthy, and achieve your optimal weight, the above list is a good place to start with ingredients to avoid. Increasing your daily intake of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and good oils along with root vegetables and high quality grass fed meats, you will be able to attain the healthy weight you should be at without cravings and fighting your own body’s reaction to the foods you eat. Eat real food. Eat less processed foods. Pretty simple but highly effective. Yet sometimes you need some help knowing where to start.
If you need a more personalized approach to sports nutrition and health, please visit www.n-im.net or email email@example.com for information about nutrition topics. Healthy living for every day living!