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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Predators Out to Eat Your Weight Loss

Image from Flikr by By el_taytus
We have a new look here, as I'm sure you've noticed. I already talked a bit about that, so now down to business.

In our modern wilderness, we have a ton of predators to deal with.  These predators aren't after you, but are out to eat your weight loss gains.  Oh yeah, they're out there.  They're waiting in the weeds like a Rick roll, ready to smack you upside your head before you know what's going on.

Some of the predators are the kind you can clearly see.  Ready-made cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, all of the things people normally associate with weight gain.  Those are easy to deal with, because we all know it.  This is one time that conventional wisdom is universal.  This things can kill your weight loss plans.

The ones you need to worry about are the things that market themselves like healthy food, but aren't.

Something you need to keep in mind.  Companies exist to make profit.  Whether that's moral or not is a discussion that we don't need to have here.  However, what does matter here is that since they exist to make a profit, you shouldn't take their word on the healthy nature of their food.

One example are so-called "nutrition shakes" and "protein shakes".

These things are typically loaded up in vitamins and nutrients, so they look good on paper.  They're also loaded down with sugars of various variety. 

I had tried to lose weight time and time again before going paleo, and these shakes were part of my plan every other time.  I would lose 10 to 12 lbs, but then nothing.  More importantly, I didn't lose inches either.  The idea behind these shakes is that they help you build muscle, which may be true, but they're not likely to help you lose weight.

If the shakes were the only predator, life would be simple.  It ain't.

The first cousin of those shakes are the meal replacement bars.  These are snack sized, and are often used that way, but often contain sugars much like their shake cousins.

We also have to deal with multi-grain and whole wheat breads.  Yes, paleo doesn't eat bread, so you're expecting that bias here.  Well...you're wrong.  I understand that people can lose weight on diets that rely on grains.  However, the near universal is a warning against refined grains.  These have a tendency to work their way into these supposedly "healthy" breads. 

Smoothies are a popular "healthy" drink these days.  Folks love them some smoothies.  In fact, some folks will use smoothies as a rationale to justify other bad behavior, saying, "Well, I know I shouldn't eat pizza, but I had a smoothie for lunch, so it'll be fine."  That's not as good an idea as folks may think.  Again, smoothies can be loaded with sugars - fructose is still a sugar - and then when you look into what some people add to these things, you're looking at 500 calories for a drink.

Then we have the ever popular "fat free" things.  There's no fat, so you won't get fat, right?  WRONG!!! First, fats are essential to human life.  If you don't get enough fats in your diet, horrible things can happen.  It's not good.  However, in today's world, that's not a big problem.  What is a big problem is that these fat free (and the same can be said for "sugar free" options as well) are loaded with other stuff you don't need to eat.  All of this can sideline weight loss.

Honestly, there are so many of these kinds of foods out there that a book can be written about it, so I'm going to cut it off here. All of these things sidelined my weight loss at one time or another for all of the above reasons, so I know from whence I speak unfortunately.

So what can you do?

First, read the labels and ingredients.  Regardless of what diet you choose to follow, you need to know what is allowable and what isn't.   Those labels are mandated to be accurate, so use them.  Proper planning and a bit of knowledge will help you move through the grocery store a bit easier if you're looking at items like this.  However, I maintain the safer path is real, whole foods.  If you make it yourself, you know what all is in it.  Then, it's all good.

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