If the food your eating is anything other than what Katniss Everdeen would have eaten in district 12, it’s probably processed (Hunger Games reference for anyone that’s never seen it)… or you live on a farm! While a great level of nutrition knowledge can do you the world of good, if you’re unaware or unsure of what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’, settle for simplicity. Did old McDonald have an egg McMuffin or a dozen nuggets in a box? NO! He had grains, chickens and eggs, cows, potatoes, veg and fruit.
Processed foods are 150% (not quite factual) to blame for majority of nutritional problems we have and are also linked to a large number of medical problems. The main cause of this is excessive salt intake, responsible for high blood pressure. The average person requires 500mg of salt a day, but processed foods are found to have increased this to anywhere in the region of up to 3400mg!!! What’s the best way to cut back salt intake? Refrain from take away food and keep an eye on the RED colours of pre-packaged foods. And if for one second you thought that breads, pasta and (most) cereals were safe, think again. When was the last time you saw a twirly pasta piece grow out of the ground?
So aside from the salt factor, why are processed foods bad for us? There’s not anywhere near enough fibre in the products. Our bodies need the beneficial bacteria from fibre and it also slows down the absorption of food to keep our insulin levels steady. The average human requires 20-30g of fibre a day, but processed foods often have fibre completely removed. A lack of fibre can also heighten the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), such as stomach cramping and pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation and bloating and swelling of the stomach (no-one wants that after they worked so hard for their abs). As well as removing fibre from foods, manufacturers remove vitamins and minerals too!
There are, as a guestimation, 6000 different chemicals that are used within processed foods, not all at once, but in the industry as a whole. This stabilizes the structure of the food, covers up any nasty smells, preserves it, sweetens it, gives it colour and flavours it. So ask yourself, next time you’re eating your ready meal or KFC (not my choice, just an example), am I really eating food or just a handful of chemicals? If you want flavour, add spices or herbs. Your run of the mill caveman didn’t run around looking for a pot noodle and soy sauce sachet for a bit of flavour. Not did he run around with a 50% body fat percent (over exaggeration, my apologies).
Have you ever sat down, eaten two meals from Burger King and been absolutely starving an hour later? That’s a sure sign of processed foods, they often have vanishing caloric density. What does this mean? Basically, the brain is fooled into thinking that it hasn’t had anything as they’re digested super quick! Faster than sugar in fact. So if you want an insulin tsunami, be my guest.
Just in case you’re still not sure, processed foods to avoid are as below:
Frozen dinners, microwave meals, ready meals
Packaged cakes, cookies and brownies
Crisps, sweets, chocolate bars
BACON (capital letters, because I’m sure there are many bacon lovers out there that need to accept this)
BENEFITS OF AVOIDING PROCESSED FOODS
- You’ll avoid in-taking unhealthy and toxic chemicals
- You’ll start to enjoy REAL food
- You’ll be likely to eat a lot less sugar
- In turn, the chances of your having a better body composition and lower body fat percentage is increased
- You’ll have a greater chance of avoiding IBS
SO WHAT DOES OUR TEAM THINK? We’re not saying to NEVER treat yourself again and roam the supermarkets looking for caveman related foods. You can still cheat. Processed foods are impossible to escape these days, but keep it to a limit. After all, your body is a temple!
Power Moves Fitness Blogger
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Greatist. (2013). Secret Sodium: The Salt Hiding In Your Food. Retrieved from: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/secret-sodium-the-salt-hiding-in-your-food.html
Henriques, T. (2012). The Simple Diet. Retrieved from: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/simple-diet
Getting lean is simple, just not easy. Here are some uncomplicated rules to follow about food, cheat meals, and more.
Luoma, TC. (2017). The 9 Worst Things About Processed Foods. Retrieved from: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/the-9-worst-things-about-processed-foods
You know to avoid most processed foods, but you probably don’t know the whole story. A few of these will surprise you.
Poliquin Group. (2014). Six Reasons to Avoid Processed Food Like it’s the Plague. Retrieved from: http://main.poliquingroup.com/articlesmultimedia/articles/article/1228/six_reasons_to_avoid_processed_food_like_its_the_p.aspx
There are many reasons to avoid processed foods in favor of whole foods. Here just a few of the benefits: