It’s 5pm and you have to rush home to take your kid to hockey.
Your stomach is rumbling,
You’re getting light-headed,
The thought of supper brings a little pool of drool out of the corner of your mouth.
There’s no time for supper until after the practice….
Like 3 hours from now.
So, what’s the harm in grabbing an energy bar from 7-11?
Or maybe a protein bar from GNC?
Or perhaps a booster juice from downtown?
Or maybe even some energy beans from your triathlon buddy?
They’re just as good as a healthy meal, right?
The label says they’re healthy, they wouldn’t lie to me…
Well, turns out that labels can be misleading.
Some supposed health foods are essentially what one of our athletes refer to as “legalized candy”,
“Legalized cake” and
“Legalized chocolate bars”.
So, just like there is poor regulation on what can be classified as whole grain and whole wheat foods, regulation about what can be classified as diet bars, fat loss foods, lean eats, fitness foods, health foods, performance foods, energy bars, sports drinks, energy gels, etc. can often be misleading.
It’s the wild, wild west in that anything can essentially claim to be health-promoting.
So, this includes some old favourites like Gatorade,
And even some protein powders
It’s actually crazy when you look at these foods and see their ingredient lists.
Check out this protein bar:
Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Corn Syrup, Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Powder, Whey Powder, Nonfat Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Almonds, Raisins, METAMYOSYN® V100 Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Dried Egg White, L-Glutamine), Glycerin, Soy Protein Isolate, Natural Flavors, Crystalline Fructose, Salt, Vitamin And Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin), Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin, Peanut Flour.
So, it goes without saying that these foods typically contain lots of sugar and lots of processing.
Speaking of sugar, let’s check out a booster juice:
86 grams of carbs (67 grams sugar)
4 grams of protein
And then let’s compare that to a mars bar:
35 grams carbs (31 grams sugar)
2.2 grams protein
The old saying goes that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
And these foods are no exception.
What seems like a wise choice based on brilliant marketing campaigns,
and the social proof of athletes endorsing these foods,
may not be the best choice.
But don’t forget to look at foods on a continuum.
We talked about this extensively here.
Is a protein bar better than a piece of double chocolate fudge brownie cheesecake?
Probably, in terms of it’s ability to contribute to your health, but it’s still not a piece of fruit.
And, recognize that there are exceptions to every rule,
but for the purpose of getting your high-performance body back,
whole foods are the way to go.
So, how do we go about creating our own fitness foods?
Would the real fitness foods please stand up?
Well, first off, recognize that the main reasons we eat these foods are because they taste like candy,
And we think they’re healthy.
So, what else tastes delicious, is convenient and is actually health-promoting?
Well, how about a 5-minute high-performance shake?
You know what else is super convenient?
Fruit…like an apple, banana, berries, etc.
Many times fruit comes pre-packaged (in their natural skin) and you can just grab-and-go.
You can also grab a handful of leftover oats, potatoes or sweet potatoes from the previous day.
And if you need some other “grab-and-go” type meal ideas, here are a few suggestions:
Fire up some mason jar salads
Whip up some cottage cheese and fruit
Buy pre-washed vegetables or salad
Pick up ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits (carrots, broccoli, celery, cucumber, apples, berries or cut-up pineapple)
Canned beans and lentils can give you a hit of lean protein and high-performance carbs
You can also grab a rotisserie-style whole chicken
The fitness and health industry is full of false claims,
And strategic marketing campaigns to trick you into believing you are eating a “health food” when you are actually just eating a chocolate bar.
Like really, if your protein bar comes in “birthday cake” flavour, is it really going to be a minimally-processed, whole food full of natural ingredients,
And nutrients to energize your body and power your performance?
Well, the old saying holds true that,
If something seems to good to be true, it probably is.