These 10 overpriced fake health foods will not help you lose weight any more than mere mortal food. Eating it doesn’t make you a better person.
Marketers love taking advantage of the “Health Halo” to make you pay more for something that isn’t necessarily better for you. Sometimes you are better off just having the real deal. Watch out for companies slapping health buzzwords all over their products. They know most consumers are insecure about their weight and want to feel like they are making better choices. This can backfire on the consumer if they end up eating more calories than intended because they believe they are consuming a healthier alternative.
It’s definitely a trap you want to avoid. If you want to lose weight, an indisputably effective way is to consistently hit your required protein, carb and fat requirements without overeating. Choosing fresh whole foods like lean meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains is a great way to feel more satisfied on less calories. If you choose fake health foods, often they are calorie dense and not very satisfying. Make sure you know what you are consuming. Avoid buying overpriced health foods if they aren’t any better than the real thing.
#1 PALEO MUESLI
Muesli claims to be the health conscious version of granola. People see the words Paleo or Primal and automatically think healthy. Not so fast. Comparing this popular paleo granola to a low cost traditional granola, you get almost double the calories per 100g. In a single serve of the paleo version you are getting just under 40g of fat. Most people will pour out more than a single serve and will easily overeat this sweet high fat breakfast food. Fatty foods that are sweet and salty are far easier to overeat as they are highly palatable. If you switched it out for traditional muesli without added sugar, you would be less likely to overeat and would have more calories left for later in the day. It’s about being smart with your calories and not believing that paleo means healthier.
#2 GRANOLA BARS
No surprises that granola in bar form can be a mistake. Things with low water content, low volume, high carbs or fat without sufficient protein just aren’t as filling as most whole foods. This doesn’t mean they are bad, but dieters want to avoid needless hunger where possible. Fill up on fruits and veggies, don’t skip the protein or have an overly restrictive intake. Even if it’s an organic, sugar free, grain free, dairy free, vegan.. you still gotta look at what actually IS in the damn thing.
#3 PROTEIN BARS
Some protein bars have a good amount of protein, but along with a bucket of fat and carbs added. Why? Simple. Because adding fats or sugars to foods makes them super tasty so you want to eat more. Others that are more ‘natural’ are quite low in protein but have ingredients like nuts and honey.. the sneaky way of adding fat and sugars while appealing to the “health conscious” crowd. You can get good protein bars, just check the label claims to see how many protein, carbs and fats it contains. Be mindful that choosing this option to up your protein won’t fill you up as much as choosing a whole food source that is higher volume per calorie. If it helps you reach your daily needs and is convenient, go for it. But if you really want a snickers and you have already met your protein needs, don’t think that it’s an evil option. No one food will make or break your diet in moderation.
#4 PROTEIN CEREAL
Trying to have a higher protein breakfast? One would assume a cereal with “protein” in the name would have significantly higher protein per calorie than your average breakfast cereals. With only 7g per 220calorie serve (or 11g with skim milk), Cheerios protein is a prime example of misleading labelling to appeal to the health conscious consumer. Without carefully examining the nutrition label, you would expect to get a decent amount of protein. Instead you have a low fat carb laden breakfast cereal that is easy to over consume without getting adequate protein. Instead of empowering consumers to make healthy choices, companies like general mills are taking advantage of the prevalent lack of nutrition knowledge. This is clearly a high carb, low fat, low protein option. The insignificant amount of soy protein isolate added to the product seems to be a laughable attempt to make consumers think they are choosing a higher protein option.
Avoid this trap by choosing whole food proteins like eggs, lean animal proteins, or supplement with a protein powder without excessive carbs and fats. Aiming for a 20g+ serving of protein per meal will help reach your protein targets and feel fuller throughout the day.
#5 HIGH CALORIE SALADS
You go to a restaurant, because fast food is so fatty and unhealthy right? You order a salad because you are watching your weight. It has a few added healthy ingredients like olive oil, feta cheese, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and some whole eggs and a bit of sneaky bacon, because it’s low carb right? Add a little cheese for good measure and you have a health halo option that will sabotage your fat loss goals in many cases. Most popular restaurants have salad options coming in at over 1000 calories per serve. While added fats aren’t unhealthy in moderation, it’s easy to have excessive amounts without knowing you are overeating and stalling your weightloss. You feel a little deprived but good about yourself for not choosing the burger (having a Big Mac in this case could have been a better option). You compensate later by eating a hearty dinner, when you’ve already surpassed your caloric needs before 3pm. If you are overweight, eating this type of salad can contribute overeating and therefore be worse for your health than eating a lower calorie Big Mac (if it helps you keep calories lower and protein higher, aiding fat loss, thus improving health markers).
#6 FAT FREE YOGHURT
When I first came to America my friends at gym in California told me that Frozen Yogurt was healthy because it had no fat or less fat than icecream. I wasn’t silly, I knew they added buttloads of sugar to make it taste any good. Many yogurt companies do the same. Promoting products as low fat and diet but piling them with sugar so you aren’t doing your waistline any favours. If you want yogurt, grabbing a plain low fat version is fine. Just add either calorie free sweetener, flavored protein powder, or fresh fruit to make it more helpful at keeping you satisfied without needless sugar calories. There are even high protein low fat icecreams that give you more volume and taste, while helping you eat towards your beach body.
#7 ORGANIC VEGAN GLUTEN FREE DAIRY FREE DESSERTS
Sticking as many trendy health buzzwords into your overpriced dessert slice doesn’t make it superior. It’s not a free pass. Just because a hipster barista told you it’s a health food – doesn’t make it so. It can often be more calorie dense than the regular human version.
#8 LIQUID MEAL REPLACEMENTS
Meal replacements often taste like disappointment promise the world. They aren’t the magic wizardy potion they suggest. They are an attempt to drastically reduce your calories for one or more meals per day. The better of the bunch have enough quality protein to help you reach an optimal intake. However many versions are overpriced low quality tasteless milkshake schemes that set you up for weight regain. Eating real food that delivers nutrients and satisfies you is going to be better long term. It allows you to develop a healthy relationship with food. This can subsequently save you from buying into a get rich quick multi level marketing scheme that encourages you to scam all of your friends and family into hating you and your sludge like concoction of empty promises. There is nothing wrong with supplementing with a good quality protein powder, but do your research and buy a reputable product.
#9 SUGAR FREE DARK CHOCOLATE
If you really want a milky way, having a small bar to satisfy your craving could be better than choosing a seemingly healthier option. Again the health halo effect can make us eat more calories and still feel deprived. Unless you love dark chocolate. But even dark chocolate can be calorie dense and no sugar doesn’t mean they haven’t added a “natural” alternative like agave syrup (which is still used the same as sugar in the body).
#10 ORGANIC JUICE
Juice cleanses to remove elusive “toxins” are getting old. It’s pretty clear they aren’t any miracle cure. Just a new way to starve yourself of key nutrients and calories. Somehow the idea that something that is natural and organic is going to be better than your average juice or soda. Organic juice is often processed the same as standard OJ but they get to jack up the price for making you think it’s any different.
Stop viewing foods as good or bad. Food does NOT have moral values. When it comes to losing fat and maintaining health, there are no secret ingredients that will give you an unfair advantage. Choosing a diet that has a balance of carbs, protein and fats to meet your individual needs from a variety of wholefoods and a little bit of fun stuff here and there is going to serve you better. Don’t be the obnoxious person eating a salad, judging your big mac eating colleague who is perfectly happy and healthy.