7 “Healthy” Foods that Actually Suck.

If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a while, you’ll know that us rebels here at the Nerd Fitness Rebellion aren’t a big fan of the Empire.  They try to keep us down, trick us, sell us crap we don’t need, and convince us that the “healthy” foods and products they’re marketing are actually healthy.

I say no more.

Today, I’m exposing the Empire’s plan for world domination. They might not be rebuilding the Death Star (yet…), but that doesn’t mean they’re not still causing mayhem.  In case you haven’t noticed, despite all of these “scientific breakthroughs” and healthy products readily available for sale, we’re certainly not getting any skinnier as a country.  Something needs to change, and it starts with where we spend our hard earned money.

Here are seven foods that have been created by the Empire to prey upon the ignorant masses trying to get healthy.  Have you fallen victim to any of these marketing Sarclacc pits? (see what I did there?)

VitaminWater and Gatorade

The official beverages of Storm Troopers galaxy-wide!

From the VitaminWater website: “For more responsible hydration, vitaminwater is a nutrient-packed great tasting water with added electrolytes. it can provide a step towards better health…”  After reading that, how could anyone be led to believe that VitaminWater is anything less than a healthy alternative to water?

As it turns out, VitaminWater is nothing more than sugar-water with a bunch of synthetic chemical vitamins added. At 32 grams of sugar per bottle (which they disguise by putting 2.5 servings in each bottle), it’s not much better than a can of soda.

Earlier this year, the makers of VitaminWater (Coca-Cola…ruh roh) were sued for making false claims that vitmainwater was healthy.  Want to know how Coke’s lawyers decided to defend themselves?

“…no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.”

Epic fail.

Unfortunately, our pal sporty Gatorade doesn’t fair much better. They’ve positioned themselves as the beverage to consume while exercising thanks to the fantastic combination of Electrolytes!  Welp, unless you are running marathons and at risk of severe dehydration, you’re probably consuming more calories than you just burned in that one-hour cardio session (thanks to Gatorade’s disgustingly high sugar content).

Not cool.

“Whole grain” bagels, muffins, and cereal

Everything is “made with whole grain!!!” these days.

Thanks to the Empire telling us that we need to be eating 6-11 servings of whole grains per day, we’re all loading up on things like whole grain bagels, bread, muffins, and cereal!  They’ve been pushing this on us since the 80s, and look where that has lead us.

Want to know how bad it’s become? These are the cereals that are being marketed to our nation’s youth (and the ignorant parents who buy them) as a healthy way to start the day:

General Mills, you’re trying to tell me that Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms are GOOD FOR YOU?

What planet do you come from!? (a valid question in this Star Wars-themed post).  These cereals are so freaking loaded down with sugar and carbohydrates that it’s no surprise that our children are getting bigger and bigger.  For more information, read this article from Businessweek on the fallacies of the food industry when it comes to whole grains.

Let’s look at another “healthy” breakfast food – bran muffins! Bran is allegedly good, these muffins are made with whole grains, what’s not to like?  Unfortunately, muffins are pretty much cake that’s consumed before noon.  They’re so calorically dense that they can be used as a flotation device (don’t quote me on that).

And for those of you that decide to go with a bagel instead of a donut to be “healthy,” it’s possible for bagels to contain twice the number of calories as a donut.  They’re both created with processed, bleached flour and loaded with a comical amount of carbohydrates.  They’re like brothers from another mother.

So what’s wrong with all of these carbs and sugars? Unfortunately, once they get into your system, they’re converted to glucose to be either immediately burned as energy or stored as fat.

Rather than explain why this can make you fat, here’s a fantastic video that I’ll reference until the day I join Obi-Wan:


“Why You Got fat” video

Granola bars

Hippies eat granola bars, and hippies are skinny (usually); therefore, they have to be good for you, right?

Take a look at any granola bar’s packaging and you’ll see a beautiful environment that looks like it came from the forests of Endor.  Check out at Nature Valley’s website if you don’t know what I’m talking about.  Nature, goodness, whole grains, healthy, earth – that’s the vibe I get.

Unfortunately it’s way off.

I practically grew up on Oats n’ Honey bars. Years later I looked at the ingredients label and learned how terrible they really are.  These are the top seven ingredients in this healthy bar:

  1. Whole grain oats (there’s that “whole grain” again)
  2. Sugar
  3. Canola Oil
  4. Yellow Corn Flour
  5. Honey
  6. Soy Flour
  7. Brown Sugar Syrup

Uggggghhhhh. Other granola bars can be better, containing more raw nuts, less processed ingredients, and some dried fruit (which can be very sugary too, so watch out),  but for the most part, store-bought granola bars (especially ones from Quaker Oats, yikes) are a poor substitute for real foods.

They’re also incredibly tiny but very heavy on calories, so you’ll quickly be ready to eat again after finishing one (or two, or three…)

“Low Fat” and “No Sugar Added” Labels

Mind tricks from the dark side, my dear rebel.

Everything is “low fat” these days. After all, fat makes you fat, right?!   Wrong; few people (outside of the smarty pants here on NF) realize that there’s a far stronger correlation between carbs/sugar and body fat than dietary fat and body fat.

If you’re curious as to why fat is wrongfully vilified in today’s society, read these two articles and your mind will be blown:

Despite all of the evidence that exonerates poor fat, change is extremely slow to come.  For a laugh (okay it probably won’t make you laugh), next time you’re in the super market take a look at the back of a regular Oreos package and the back of a LOW FAT Oreos package.  The low fat package contains more calories and sugar than the regular package.  This isn’t an isolated incident either; it happens in low fat foods all over the place.  In order to make the low fat foods taste good, they remove the fat and replace it with more sugar and sodium!

You have failed me for the last time.

I think the one that makes me laugh even harder is the “no sugar added” labels. Want to know why there’s no sugar added to your new favorite juices, ice cream, and other foods?  It’s because they’re already LOADED with the stuff!  Be smart and look at the back of the label, not the front of the package.

Fruit Juice

Do you start your day off with a huge glass of apple juice or orange juice? I understand why you do, but here’s why you shouldn’t.

Apple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, grapejuice, etc. might as well be labeled “sugar water.”  Why is that?  When the fruit is squeezed to make juice, you get all of the sugar and none of the fiber.  Throw in some preservatives, extra sugar for flavor, and a few other ingredients and you have yourself a “healthy juice drink made with real fruit!”

Here is a typical amount of sugar for four popular beverages (stats from DailyBurn):

  • Orange juice – 21g of sugar
  • Apple juice – 28g of sugar
  • Cranberry juice – 37g of sugar
  • Grapejuice – 38g of sugar

For reference, a can of teeth-rotting, insulin-spiking, fat-inducing Coca-Cola has 40g of sugar.  Here’s a similar statement coming from the LA Times.  Still want that fruit juice, young padowan?

Learn to love water, you will.

Here’s a little known fact that you won’t learn anywhere else:

Darth Vader was a huge fan of cranberry juice cocktail.

Real Fruit Smoothies

Juices might not be healthy because they’re squeezed, but smoothies have the ENTIRE fruit blended in there, so it has to be better, right?

It’s a trap!

When you swing through a smoothie shop and ask for a real fruit smoothie made with real fruit juices, you’ll get some funky concoction with a few pieces of frozen real fruit, eight ounces of “fruit juice,” along with possibly a few other things, resulting in a beverage that has enough calories for an entire meal and enough sugar to make a tauntaun go berserk.

Let’s look at the nutrition content from the 32 oz. smoothies from Smoothie KingPay particular attention to the sugar column:

GOOD LORD. I look at the sugar column, and weep for the fate of the galaxy.

I generally advise people to try and keep their sugar content at or below 30g per DAY if they’re trying to lose weight quickly.  Order an 32oz Orange Ka-Bam and you’ll be consuming the equivalent of four cans of coke in one 32 oz. beverage.  Drink enough of these smoothies with regularity and you’ll book yourself a one-way ticket onboard the nearest Imperial Star Destroyer to the lesser-known planet Type-2 Diabetes (weird name for a planet, I know).

If you want a smoothie, make it at home with your own ingredients. Go with either water, reduced sugar juice, or almond milk for your mixing beverage, and your body will thank you.

Salads

Hopefully you know this already, but there is a WIDE range of various foods that can be considered a salad. When thinking about unhealthy salads, I’m always reminded of this Real Men of Genius commercial:


Taco Salad Inventor Commercial

Sure there are green things in salads (yay vegetables!), but the salads are also usually loaded up with croutons, high-calorie, high-sugar, high-sodium salad dressings, and even sometimes fried chicken or other extremely unhealthy.

May the Force Be With You

Hopefully at this point you already know why all of these grains, carbs, and grams of sugar are bad for you.  If not, brush up on your knowledge by reading my Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet, which explains why our bodies aren’t biologically equipped to deal with those types of food.

May the knowledge learned from today aid you in the fight against the tyrannical Empire for years and years to come.  If you’re curious about a particular type of food and whether it’s good or bad for the Rebellion, read the back label carefully – explored the serving sizes, total number of calories per servings, and amount of carbs, sodium, and sugar.  Keep those numbers down, and the battle will turn in your favor.

What other “healthy” foods have I left out?  I would love to add to this list so that people know.

Until Monday from Massachusetts, may the force be with you.

-Steve

Today’s NF Rebel Hero of the day – Shawn D., or Dawsy as he’s known around the Nerd Fitness message boards, is officially the first person in Australia to own a Nerd Fitness shirt.  When he sent this picture to me the other day of him wearing it, I couldn’t help but smile.  With today’s article being Star Wars-themed, I couldn’t think of a better time to share it.

Have you ordered your Nerd Fitness shirt yet? Pick one up and send us a photo at contact@nerdfitness.com so we can feature you!

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