By Tammy Parkinson, CPT, ACSM, NASM, Nutritionist, Body Firm Personal Training & Nutrition
In my line of work, I hear a lot of terrific tips…as well as a lot of very confusing marketing “ploys”…
Here’s a little test for you to determine what’s a myth and what’s truth in every day grocery life:
- Sugar is fattening
- A salad is always your best option
- To remove all the fat from poultry, remove the skin
- 2% milk is considered low fat
- No sugar added means there is no sugar in the product
- Reduced fat is considered the best choice for a low fat meal
- Always choose peanut butter without cholesterol
- Chili, green tea and ginger speeds up your metabolism
- Nuts and cheese are great protein options
- Cereal is a terrific breakfast choice
- Sugar as a nutrient (Carbohydrate) doesn’t have fat…however, if one eats too much of it, the body cannot expend the extra calories and a person will put on fat!
- Although I’m a huge fan of salads, if the salad has dressing on it, this can add up to 300-500 kcals! Most salad dressing are high fat, high sugar and high sodium. Choosing your dressing on the side and choosing a nonfat version is ideal. Balsamic vinegar is a great choice and available at most restaurants. Also consider if your salad has high fat options (especially saturated fat options) the salads can actually be unhealthy. Land mines in a salad are egg yolks, cheese, sugary nuts, oil laden croutons and bacon bits. Not to say you cannot have a little of these on your salad, but a truly yummy nutritious salad is loaded with vegetables and lean protein~ saving you potentially hundreds of calories, if not more!
- Removing the skin off of poultry is terrific! However, poultry and actually all meats have saturated fats running within the meat itself. The leanest meats like white meat chicken and turkey have the least amount of fat. As a side note, fish also has fat running through it; however this is a healthy fat and not a saturated. The fats are rich in omega 3 which help inflammation, memory and moods, just to name a few benefits!
- 2% milk is actually 35% fat! What this means is the 2% is the weight of fat in the product, but not the caloric balance. 1% would be a better option if you drink milk or have dairy in your diet!
- “No sugar added” means that even if the product already has natural sugar (i.e. apple juice for instance) the manufacturer hasn’t added more sugar! Be careful on this one, it can be misleading. A high sugar food can be natural! At least though, fruit, even though might be high in sugar, (some) is loaded with antioxidants and fiber!
- Reduced fat is certainly better in all cases…however if you have a piece of cheese for instance which is 80% fat and it is a reduced fat version…it just means it has lower than the full fat version…but can still be 70% fat. Look at your labels and check out how much fat is in your product even with reduced fat. When you see low fat…this is a solid choice over reduced fat.
- While you will want cholesterol free peanut butter…know that all peanut butter should be cholesterol free. Cholesterol comes from land animals so unless the peanut comes out of the cow, you are pretty safe here. As a side note however, you might be choosing some nut butters with trans-fats. This means there is a dangerous hydrogenation process which gives the product a much longer shelf life. Check out the ingredient section for the words partially hydrogenated or fully hydrogenated.
- While these great spices are fabulous and highly encouraged…they will speed up your metabolism a very very very small amount. Use them for their antioxidant powers vs. the magic pill to lose weight.
- Nuts and cheese do have protein; however 80% of their caloric make up typically is fat! Caveat emptor!
- I used to love cereal; especially Frosted Mini Wheats! However, most cereal products are very very high gluten enriched carbohydrate foods with a lot of sugar. If you really want cereal, look for a higher protein option (protein is ideally 1/2 of the macronutrient as the carb) and add a little protein to it like protein powder mixed with the milk (almond or regular non-fat). Greek yogurt is also an option with cereal. If you are gluten intolerant, check out gluten free options which are also low sugar. It might be difficult to find these, so consider transitioning to higher protein breakfast options like egg white scrambles, Greek yogurt mixes, protein shakes with berries and /or plant smoothies with high protein additions.
I hope this cleared up at least a little of the misconceptions in the marketing world!