These 5 Health Foods Are Totally Overrated
By Brandon Epstein
I hate to be a hater, but sometimes you need to shine light on health foods that are over marketed, but underperform.
I live down in South America and once in a while I see some pretty silly health and fitness marketing campaigns. Recently, I saw a billboard with a healthy, beautiful woman working out next to a loaf of white bread. The white bread was marketed as bimbo fitness bread.
Obviously, the ploy was to get you to believe that if you ate that white bimbo fitness bread, you would look like the fit women in the photo.
I know you are too smart to fall for that, but marketing efforts can be very tricky when they start playing with your psychology. Especially when you are seeing the messaging over and over again, it becomes confusing to know what is super healthy and what is just being marketed very, very well.
Though I cannot dispel every fitness marketing myth out there in this one post, I am going to do you a solid by pointing out 5 of the most overrated health foods out there.
These foods are not necessarily bad for you, but they are not going to help you lose weight and many of them aren’t that nutrient dense either.
Let’s get started with the shame train:
1. Whole Grain Everything
Marketing ploys have been pushing whole grain everything for as long as I have been alive. Whole grain pasta, bread, muffins, pancakes, cereal… A lot of these whole grain foods are highly processed, so of course they taste great. The great taste and health marketing makes it super easy to rationalize eating these foods all the time, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are going to have very high amounts of refined carbohydrates in them. High amounts of refined carbohydrates in your diet is a recipe for weight gain.
Instead of eating the traditional whole grains, look into eating homemade baked goods made with coconut or almond. Also, aim for homemade products rich in fibrous nuts and seeds as well.
Somehow, granola got a big marketing boost as a super healthy food associated with nature and healthy eating. Here is the deal with most granola, it usually has high amounts of sugar, oil and refined carbohydrates in it. Unless you are a nature man/woman hiking miles upon miles a day, I would steer clear of this food.
Instead of granola, swap in some steel cut oatmeal for your breakfast (not that instant stuff and definitely not the flavored varieties). Oatmeal is very slow digesting and will provide you hours of energy without risking having those calories stored as fat.
3. Vitamin Fortified Drinks
Vitamin fortified drinks that will remain nameless do an awesome job of marketing their products as healthy performance-enhancing beverages. Often times, these drinks are accompanied by excess sugar as well. The nutrients that you are supposed to get with these drinks are often not the high quality micronutrients either.
Instead of drinking a vitamin C drink, opt for a piece of fruit, such as an orange. The same goes for any of those drinks. If you really want something fast, opt for a cold pressed juice, preferably heavy in greens and low in fruit, that contains the natural form of the vitamin that you want to consume.
4. Fruit Smoothies
Everyone loves their fruit smoothies and why shouldn’t you? They taste delicious and are full of tons of nutrient dense ingredients. My advice is to be careful though. Not only do fruit smoothies have a ton of calories, they also are very high in sugar. Things get worse if you buy store bought smoothies. A ton of the smoothies you buy in the store are infused with extra syrups and refined sugars.
Instead of a fruit smoothie, I am going to encourage you to get a fresh, cold pressed juice. You can get a couple pieces of fruit in there to sweeten it up, but try to have most of the ingredients coming from vegetables.
If a smoothie is what your heart desires for the fiber and extra protein and fat, give this recipe a try:
- 1 scoop plant-based protein (vanilla)
- 2 cups leafy greens (spinach, romaine, collards)
- 1 Tbs. almond butter
- 1-2 cups almond milk
- ¼ avocado
- ¾ cup blueberries
- Dash of cinnamon
- 1 scoop Organifi (optional - really makes this smoothie shine)
- Blend all ingredients. Enjoy!
Yogurt has been considered a healthy option for breakfast for far too long. It’s time to dispel that myth. Most yogurt is very high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates. In general, I am not a big fan of eating dairy unless it’s for a special treat. The marketing ploy yogurt has been using for a while has been that it’s low-fat. The fact is though that fat isn’t bad for you, so stating that something is low in fat should not change your mind about eating it or not.
If you have to get your yogurt fix, I would recommend unflavored, organic greek yogurt. In general though I would try to consume other foods for breakfast or a snack instead. If it’s the convenience that attracts you to yogurt, I would recommend grabbing a whole food protein bar or shake instead. Again, just watch the sugar content, as these also tend to be loaded unless you are making these at home, in which case, kudos to you!
As I stated in the beginning of this article, I am not going to say these foods are bad for you. I don’t think any natural whole food is inherently bad for you. I will tell you that the foods I just mentioned are very overrated and that if you are looking to lose fat, than you should stay away from them. If one of these foods was your usual breakfast – check out this recipe as a great option instead.
Brandon Epstein is a former college football player, turned professional fitness model and serial entrepreneur. These days he spends his time helping people look great and feel awesome over at ZenDudeFitness.com. He can also be found hosting the Zen Dude Fitness Podcast where he’s always looking for new ways to make fat loss fun, simple and efficient for everybody.
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