You think you're eating healthy but are you really?
Okay put on your glasses, enlarge the font, do whatever you have to do to read this good. and I mean good!
In this blog I am going to tell you how to make a delicious protein shake. I also want to talk about the things that people should be doing and shouldn't be doing when they are trying to "lose weight".
Here's the deal with me, I actually find it really hard to have a full breakfast meal unless it's after 10 a.m. or I skipped dinner the night before. But as the norm, I drink my breakfast rather than actually chew and swallow it. More often than not you'll catch me with a protein shake in the mornings. To clear things up, for me, it's not a weight loss thing, I literally feel like throwing up if I eat solids too early in the morning. and I have been going through the changes of switching everything I eat to Organic, watching my sugar and salt intake. Fact: salt is what makes you bloat.
Mistake #1 Protein bars/snacks
Bob's Red Mill runs quiet a few products and like most "healthy" bars it advertises "To your better health". Among that advertise, it's also printed right in the front that it's NON-GMO, Gluten Free, and whole grain and K pareve. Pareve is a Yaddish word, it means something along the lines of "neither meat or dairy, nor prepared with any of these". The K is for kosher and together it means that it's been signed off by the Organized Kashrut Laboratories as a product of kosher status.
That was just the front. Now the back of the bar we have Nutrition Facts AND Ingredients. Most people look at the Nutrition Facts and forget about the ingredients but these are two very different things and should both be looked at carefully to know exactly what you're putting in your body. Bob's Better Bar contains 8 ingredients. Peanuts, Whole Grain Oats, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Coconut, Organic Honey, Organic Coconut Oil, and Organic Rosemary Extract. It doesn't seem like a lot of ingredients and the fact that everything is Organic this and Organic that sounds and makes you feel as though you are buying a healthy bar/snack, right? Wrong. Moving on to the Nutrition Facts, this bar contains 230 calories, 100 mg of sodium (salt), 25g of carbs, 9 grams of sugar (8 grams of added sugar), and only 7 grams of protein. I didn't fully get into the Nutrition Facts I just went straight to what was important.
Let's talk about this for a little bit. One of the things that stood out was the 230 calories coming from a bar mostly made with organic and kosher approved ingredients. The sodium is not too bad but remember we want to stay away from things that contain too much salt or two much sugar. Though the ingredients don't mention the "added" sugar as it's usually listed under ingredients. but added sugar that isn't already part of the bar like a Mango or Banana for example is not good. A banana contains a lot of natural sugar but your body actually knows where to store natural sugar vs. processed sugar.
The LARABAR is one of my favorites and anyone who knows me, knows I'm a sucker for anything cookie dough. My first LARABAR was a peanut butter bar. I know it for it having only 4 ingredients. Today I went shopping and realized that depending on the bar it can range from 3 to 9 ingredients. Like the Bob's Better Bar, the LARABAR is NON-GMO, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Dairy Free. The ingredients in this bar are Cashews, Dates, Semisweet Chocolate Chips* (unsweetened) Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, vanilla), Apple, Sea Salt, and Vanilla Extract. This LARABAR has 6 ingredients and it's only one of many bar selections they carry. Starting with the Original, Organic with Superfoods, Fruits + Greens, Kids and Protein Bars. The Nutrition Facts are listed as 210 calories, 55mg of sodium, 25g of carbs, 15 grams of sugar (3 grams of added sugar) and only 3g of protein.
In this bar, we see sugar listed in the ingredients as well as sea salt. though it's been said that sea salt is healthier than regular table salt the reality is that they both contain similar amounts of sodium.
RXBAR with 12g of protein, 220 calories, 22g of carbs, 200mg of sodium and 13g of sugar and lists sea salt in the ingredients. Clif bars have 9g of protein, 260 calories, 42g of carbs, 220mg of sodium and 21g of sugar and the ingredients list cane sugar. The amount of calories, sugar and sodium depend on flavor of the bar. As you can see in the photo below I have two Luna bars. The orange and blue bar is one from the original formulas, it has 200 calories, 26g of carbs, 150mg of sodium, 8g of sugar plus another added 7g of sugar and yes you guessed it....Cane sugar is listed under ingredients. but the second Luna bar is from it's Protein formula which naturally had a higher amount of protein, 12g. This bar is smaller than the original and has 180 calories, 260mg of sodium and 14g of sugar plus another 14g of added sugar, it lists cane sugar and sea salt in the ingredients.
The only bar that didn't include "added sugar" and didn't list sugar in the ingredients was the RXBAR. Like the packaging states, NO B.S. It has 7 ingredients: Dates, Egg Whites, Almonds, Cashews, Chocolate, natural flavors and Sea Salt and it is gluten free. It's inevitable to find something that's completely sugar free and/or free of salt. The secret is in choosing items that contain single digit percentages of sodium. For example the RXBAR has 200mg of sodium which equals 9%. One digit. I'll let it pass if it's 10% but anything more than that, put it back on the shelf.
Other alternatives to having healthy snacks are rice cakes (free of salt). These are delicious with an almond butter spread, 190 calories, 0mg of sodium, 2g of sugar and 7g of protein. A thin layer will not equal 190 calories but you get the picture. To have a little more fun with this recipe, add some thin slices of banana and enjoy. You can also use the rice cakes as an afternoon snack with slices of natural avocado (not guacamole) on top, sprinkled with some salt-free lemon pepper seasoning, like Mrs. Dash Seasoning, 0 grams of everything. You can go crazy with this brand of seasoning and they come in a variety of flavors, you can use it to cook your meats and veggies. You can also opt for salt-free peanuts, raw almonds, walnuts, or fresh natural for in between snacks.
All of these bars have different purposes, wether you are using them as snacks, meal replacements, recovery bars after a workout like the Gatorade bar with a whopping 21g of protein. The key is to thoroughly read both the nutrition facts and the ingredients. These "healthy bars" may not be as healthy as you think after all.
Mistake #2 meals after meal replacement bars/shakes
A snack bar is exactly what it is... a snack bar. Something you can have between meals without consuming too many calories. but when you don't have time, you're running late for work, you make a protein shake or eat a high protein bar and run out the door. Most of these bars and shakes are made to suppress your appetite and make you feel full until your next snack 2-3 hours later and then a healthy meal 2-3 hours after that. If your goal is to lose weight, you cannot have a meal replacement bar or shake and then 15 minutes later have a full breakfast meal.
I know some people don't like keeping track and hate numbers altogether, but let's just say for example you're on a 1,500 calorie a day goal. You just had a Better Bob's Bar of 230 calories. Then you run to the cafeteria, for some pancakes, eggs and hash browns to sneak and eat under your desk job, that's 1,130 calories. A total of 1,360 calories you just consumed for breakfast. That leaves you with 140 calories for the rest of the day. This is all assuming you didn't pick up a Starbucks Latte after dropping off your kids at school.
It's important to have your shake, a few hours later maybe that rice cake or peanuts, and then by your lunch break you can have a healthy salad. I like to have my salads free of dressing and croutons. Those are all added carbs and calories you don't want. Plus I hate wet food, especially a soggy salad. If you must have dressing, have it on the side and practice the dipping method as you eat your salad instead of pouring the dressing all over your salad. It helps control the amount you're actually eating and you get to enjoy a fresh crunchy salad the way it should be. A few hours after lunch have another healthy snack and if you're following a strict weight loss diet a shake would be your best bet for dinner or if you just want to stay on a healthy path you can try grilled chicken with a side of veggies or a bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit, a drizzle of organic honey and granola (optional). My mom has her oatmeal with water but I sub the water for almond milk.
Here's my favorite shake recipe:
I love the Aria vanilla protein powder. It has 15g of protein, NO added sugar, and only 90 calories. It had 110g of sodium which equals 5%, 5g of carbs, and 2g of sugar. This product is GMO-Free, rBGH-Free, Gluten-Free and Certified Kosher.
I start with Almond milk (unsweetened vanilla flavored) 30 calories. I usually use half Almond milk and half water, a total of about 6 to 8oz. 1 organic banana (optional, you can sub with strawberries, spinach or both), 1/2 a tablespoon of Almond Butter (optional, you can sub with organic peanut butter), drizzle of organic agave nectar (optional), and add ice (optional). blend well, pour into your favorite shaker and enjoy.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a health coach but I've learned some thangs along the way in my journey to eat healthier and become more aware of what I put in my body.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog, learned something, maybe give it a try. but definitely give it a thumbs up, comment and share.