Sales and marketing dominate our culture.
When your coach is trying to convince you to do Split Squats, they are SELLING the idea that if you just endure this little bit of pain, you’ll be stronger on the other side. When I’m writing these emails, I’m not selling you coaching or a membership, but what I AM selling you is the idea that this whole health and fitness thing can be a lot simpler and easier if we can just learn to focus on what matters, and ignore what doesn’t.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets sold more than “HEALTH” food. I’m sure you’re familiar with the following messages:
- Gluten Free
- All Organic Ingredients
- Now with Added Protein
- Loaded with Antioxidants
- Packed with Probiotics (alliteration is always alive in ads)
A good rule of thumb is to to treat grocery shopping sort of like a first impression when meeting somebody new: The more somebody has to sell you on how great they are, it’s probably a red flag. The same applies with food.
You never see a sign at the grocery store next to the apples or broccoli explaining all of their health benefits. It just goes without saying. Chicken breast doesn’t have to tell you that it is “packed with protein.” But as you stroll down the aisles of any supermarket, you’ll see all kinds of potato chips made with extra virgin olive oil, cookies made with all organic ingredients, and gluten free bagel bites. Or the best, ice cream made with coconut milk! In some stores the food is so pretentious it even gets its own “health food” section.
For most people looking to improve their health, dropping at least a little bit of body fat is part of that plan. We’ve talked before about how all that matters when it comes to “fat loss” is how many calories you’re taking in per day compared to what you’re burning, and getting enough protein to help maintain/build muscle.
So is a cookie made with all organic ingredients HEALTHIER than one made with traditional ingredients?
Sure, the overall ingredients might have a slightly better nutrient profile. But guess what? If that cookie is still 300 calories, it’s still going to have the same effect on your body comp goals.
How about Gluten Free?
If you have an actual intolerance you don’t have a choice, but if you’re not really sure why you’re doing it, please realize that most gluten free products actually have a higher caloric content than their non gluten free counterparts. So you could actually be making a WORSE choice for your goals.
Sugar, while fine in moderation, is really no different if it is raw, white, or “agave” syrup.
The amount of calories per serving is relatively the same, so pick whichever one you can use the least of.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is packed with antioxidants, helps reduce inflammation, is great for cardiac health, but also has 15g of fat per tablespoon.
Just because it has health benefits doesn’t mean you can use 3 tablespoons of it as salad dressing (45g of fat and 400 calories) and expect to make progress.
Grass Fed butter has a great nutrient profile. However, I don’t recommend putting two tablespoons of it in your coffee because some health hacker on instagram said so, and adding 22 grams of fat to start your day.
I love a good Grass-Fed New York Strip. But the bottom line is it is a lot higher in fat content than other cuts of meat. So when I want to enjoy that, I have to keep my other meals for the day a bit lower in calorie count.
Last one I promise.
Tequila pulled off one of the greatest branding moves ever when it was able to convince drinkers that it was somehow “healthier” because it was made from the agave plant, and not grains or potatoes. Enjoy whatever alcohol you want if it fits your goals, but don’t think tequila is somehow helping you get to your goals faster.
Please, don’t take away from this article that you should avoid any of the foods I mentioned. They all can and SHOULD be included in a balanced approach to diet and health!
The more you can understand the WHY behind any of this stuff the easier the HOW becomes. It also gives you a better chance of defending yourself when your friend from high school hits you up on Facebook with a new health food pyramid scheme they want you to try.
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Keep Moving Forward,