Junior Apple Mike F. writes:
“Mark, what can I eat? I hear dairy is bad, fat is bad, then fat is good, but some fat is bad, carbs are bad, but fiber is good. There is nothing left. I can’t even have milk in my tea now – not that I would be caught sipping tea. But if I wanted to is the point. What’s a guy supposed to eat?”
Good question, Mike. The answer: just about everything.
I am pretty disciplined (according to my kids, I’m a drill sergeant). I don’t really “do” carbs, I definitely avoid any junk or processed food, and I try to eat organic. But even being so careful about what goes on my plate, I’d say honestly I get a lot more flavor and variety than some people I know who insist on a steady diet of burgers, beers and pizzas. The truth is, “fun” foods like nachos, pizza and tacos all taste the same: the texture is usually a mix of creamy or crunchy, there’s a lot of salt, some meat-type seasoning, and sugar. Eat that stuff and you’re starving the next hour.
You can eat salad and be a man about it. Seriously. I’m fitter, have more muscle mass and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been at 5’10″, 165 lbs. and 8% body fat. I do it with a heavy supply of vegetables, of all things. I never worry too much about fat because I eat a lot of “good” fats, which really aren’t too hard to identify. More on that in a moment. But honestly, I never am deprived, hungry or suffer from any cravings. Actually, I refuse to eat something that isn’t delicious, period. To me, the relentlessly boring, salty, familiar flavor of most processed foods is not delicious. The fact that they’re also totally unhealthy is almost a side issue.
This morning, for example, I had my cup of joe with a little organic H&H. I don’t always eat breakfast (there I go breaking all the holy grails of health). This morning I had some scrambled Omega-enhanced eggs, and sometimes I’ll have a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie. I confess I don’t eat a lot of fruit (my wife jokes that men like the idea of fruit but don’t always know what to do with it). I like to get my fiber from vegetables since they’re lower in sugar and have more nutrients than fruit.
For a snack I’ll grab a piece of fruit, cherry tomatoes or some almonds. I completely avoid processed snacks like chips and candy. Fresh stuff just tastes better – but it will take your body some time to readjust its tastes if you’ve been a junk food kind of guy.
For lunch (speaking of lunch…): I always eat a huge salad. I’ve done so for 20 years. But no regular salad – I add in seafood or turkey, mountains of colorful chopped up veggies, and drizzle some balsamic vinegar on it. I do different greens on different days, but I never really put much planning into it. I just grab my favorite big bowl, toss in whatever veggies and greens we have on hand that day, and chow. This keeps me full and the flavor is unbeatable.
In the afternoon, if I didn’t have a morning protein boost, I’ll do a shake, sometimes adding in a banana or other fruit.
For dinner, we always have a meal focusing on fresh steamed, stir-fried or baked vegetables of some sort. The flavor and spice combinations are endless. Some broiled fish or occasional organic chicken is plenty – I don’t like a big dinner. Sometimes I enjoy a glass or wine or a beer, but in general I keep the evenings light on calories.
In my early competition days, I could consume – indeed, I had to consume – two or three times what most people need to eat in a day. No six-pack of beer or carton of ice cream stood a chance around me. It’s hard to understand the incredible calorie vacuum that goes on unless you’ve competed as a marathoner or other pro athlete. Some days you literally can’t get enough fuel. When I retired from sports, obviously that had to change. I won’t say it was a piece of cake (and did I ever eat plenty of those) – but with time my body began to crave smaller portions and healthy foods that have enabled me to look fitter and be stronger than a lot of guys in their 20s.
You can eat flavor and variety. I say I eat salads every day, but they’re always different. There are hundreds of different types of fish, vegetables, fruits and herbs from all over the world that are far more exciting and interesting to eat than your average mashed potato-peas-pork chop combo. You don’t have to be a great cook, either. The great thing about eating fresh and clean is that these things don’t take much time or creativity to taste great – they’re sort of fool-proof (the ideal guy food).
I’d encourage you not to worry too much about what you can or can’t eat. It can seem like everything is bad if you listen to some of the more negative health news. But eating healthy is actually pretty simple. We do learn new things about what foods to eat and what to avoid, but in general, the rules don’t change too much.
So trans fat and too much saturated fat is bad? Sugar and starches are harmful to health? Processed, hormone-injected, and chemically-altered foods are dangerous?
Well, yeah. But if you focus on the positive: eat fresh, eat whole, eat clean, you’ll tend to automatically avoid all the latest food scares and any of the really bad stuff.
Make fresh (yes, organic) vegetables, lean seafood or meat, and some flavorful seasonings and fats the basis of your diet, and you’ll be 99% there.
By the way, “good” fats are just about anything that isn’t highly processed.
Highly processed fats: cheese, fat in snacks and packaged foods, refined oils, fried meats or fried snacks
Minimally processed fats: nuts, eggs, lean grass-fed or free-range meats, seafood, cottage cheese, avocados, certain cold-pressed oils (avocado oil, olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil)
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Smart Fuel, Just in Time for the Weekend…
Want skin that Cindy Crawford would be jealous of? Eat fat. That’s right – fat! Many of us, especially women, tend to avoid fat because we’ve been told it’s bad for us. Mark will be posting later today on the fat debate (would you expect anything less than ornery here at Mark’s Daily Apple?), but for now, here’s our suggestion: fat is your friend!
Keep in mind the type of fat you eat is very important. Fried foods and processed items tend to be high in “bad” fats – the kind that clog arteries, release free radicals in your body, and stimulate inflammation. But good fats – heaven be praised – can prevent disease, help you lose weight, and make your skin positively glow. Sound too good to be true? Nope. Good fats really can help with all those health goals.
Here are some “good” fats you can eat to feel great starting this weekend:
Animal fats top the list: think tallow, lard, fish oil.
Other great fats:
Other good fats:
Organic yogurt and cottage cheese. These dairy products are typically easier to digest than cheese or milk. Be sure to get the sugar-free varieties of yogurt. Although dairy isn’t rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish or nuts, there are other valuable fats. And science reveals that the proportions of various fats in the diet are more important than any single fat. Fats work better together than alone.
Now, admittedly, we’ve been on a bit of an Omega-3 tear this week, but that’s because we see people missing out on these fantastic fats. Fat’s not bad. Far from it – so enjoy! You’ll sleep better, your skin will be radiant, your organs will love you, and your waistline might even shrink a bit. Magical things happen when Omega-3 fats come to town: headaches run in fright, bad moods slink away, and spare tires get rolling.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
You’ll want to click out today’s most interesting news, Apples:
1) We Promise, This Is the Last Dairy Discussion
…for a while, anyway. This is merely to highlight the general conclusion that can be had from all the various dairy-makes-you-skinny debates: dairy obviously does not make you skinny enough. If dairy were the wonder tonic Big Moo would have you believe, wouldn’t we all have noticed by now?
Some of the studies are inconclusive, like this one just out (yet another one!). Some of the studies are total quackery questionable because they’ve been funded by Big Moo. Most of them, actually. Some of the studies make it seem like low-fat dairy is better. A recent one makes a case for regular old fattening dairy. Mark happens to think dairy is the ultimate Blunder Tonic.
While there’s no definitive dairy answer, how about some common sense? If you exercise, eat a lot of vegetables, and stay away from things like sugar and French fries, it just might not matter if your beverage of choice is soy milk, cow’s milk or hemp milk (yep, and it’s tasty). Folks who are unhealthy might benefit marginally from foods like dairy, but at the end of the day, no food is the magic answer to your waistline concerns or health goals.
Except, possibly, for spinach.
2) We Can’t Wait for All the Clever Headlines!
You just know the mainstream media is going to have a cliched-headline carnival with hemp milk. Oh, well, maybe they don’t get out much.
Thanks to Slashfood for the heads up on this yummy, high-protein unmilk. It’s available in chocolate, vanilla and regular (what will that taste like?).
Slash says: “Some of the benefits of Hemp milk are: it is high in protein and is a good source of balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and has lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron. It is the only product made from seeds that contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a controversial substance that may help fight cancer, treat problems with inflammation, and auto-immune diseases.”
3) When Will Law Makers Actually Give Two Figs?
Mark says sugar is the new trans fat, and others are sayin’ the same, too. Check out this handy little corn syrup summary. Then drop a line to these spineless saps and tell them you’re sick of Americans being sick. And say something to your senator, too. They don’t listen to Bees but they listen to you.
Because when a website actually brags about the fact that – yes – corn syrup is only as bad as sugar, you have to do something, Apples…
It’s a payday for someone, all right.
4) Tsk, Tsk
Parents seem to eat more fat than other adults, especially fat from kiddie-foods like pizza, chips, candy and snacks. Be honest, now – if you’re a parent, maybe you’ve snatched some of the French fries from the Happy Meal.
The important thing to remember is that these little bites add up to serious health problems. They seem harmless, but because most “family fare” is loaded with sugar, trans fat and chemical additives, moms and dads are subject to a free radical minefield (and a lot of extra calories).
And besides, kids shouldn’t be eating this stuff, either! They may seem thin and healthy now, but the long-term consequences of Cheetos and Powerade are visible everywhere you look. Kids turn into adults, and we adults don’t seem to be batting any health home runs these days. Start your kids on good habits young, and you’ll benefit, too (and hey, it’s one less thing for the teenagers to tell you you’re doing wrong).
Here are some easy switches that don’t require you to turn into Martha Stewart:
- Once a week, get the kids to wash and chop up veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli or jicama. Place fist-sized portions in zippered baggies until there are enough for each family member to grab one bag a day for the whole week. Presto, veggies consumed.
- Buy beef, salmon or turkey jerky instead of regular snack bags like chips, pretzels or other salty, sugary, empty junk. Trail mix (the kind that doesn’t have candy in it) and nuts are a great idea, too.
- This does take a little work, but it’s worth it. Buy a huge jug of 100% real juice. Dilute by half with water. Pour into as many rinsed-out beverage containers as you like. That beats soda and sugary drinks! You can do the same with caffeine-free tea (sweeten with a sugar substitute or a little honey if your kids aren’t used to the taste).
- For healthy, easy dinners that are way faster than the pizza guy, keep the freezer stocked with two things: ready-to-go protein like shrimp or chicken tenderloins, and a big assortment of frozen veggies.
20 minutes before you want to eat, drop a bag of your protein of choice into a big, hot pan. 10 minutes later, add a bag or two of the frozen veggies. Once it’s all cooked and piping hot, drizzle with any number of yummy toppings: slivered almonds, parmesan, spices and seasonings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a little yogurt. Everyone will be happy, it’s cheaper than a decent pizza, and it’s healthy. Easy!
Around the Web:
Things so random and disturbing, you just might want to click. Somehow, it’s satisfying. We know. It’s okay.
- Junior Apple Annie B. wrote in to tell us about the dark secrets of the restaurant industry. During her starving student days, Annie worked for a major chain restaurant. She says:
“We were always totally grossed out by the chips and how people would wolf them down. If only they knew. When the chips arrived to us, they were in these big packages. You wouldn’t recognize them as chips – they were so covered in white lard or whatever the fat concoction was, it was like little edges sticking out of a block of glue. Disgusting! Then we’d have to shove the chunks into the oven to make them all fresh and toasty and get the fat to melt and ‘crisp’ the chips. I’ve never looked at chips the same way since.”
There is a really, really dark and disturbing side to food production. There are specific resources and legions of behind-the-scenes bizarreness you wouldn’t believe…except, behold. It puts the Bees into a real fuss – maybe we all know this stuff exists deep down, but…ewww. Is this really necessary? Apples? This is why we like fresh food.
You can get fit by following the Rule of 5.
- Craving something unhealthy? Drink a big glass of water and wait five minutes.
- Don’t feel like working out? Just do it for five minutes (once you start, it’s easy to keep going).
- Feel hungry all the time, even after you’ve eaten? Eat half your plate, then wait five minutes. Your brain will register that you’ve eaten and you’ll be able to cut down on those monster portions (and that monster in your stomach).
- Feeling stressed? Breathe deeply – in through your nose, out through your mouth – for five minutes. I promise, you’ll feel so deliriously happy by the end of it, you’ll think you swallowed helium or possibly even something illegal. This breathing exercise is also terrific for your immune system and brain.
- Just about any problem, stress, craving or issue can be resolved if you simply wait five minutes. Follow the rule of five and see if you don’t feel better, fast.
The crafty folks at Coke have invented yet another canned liquid. We’re a little disappointed that it doesn’t come in lime, vanilla, cherry, cherry vanilla, cherry lime vanilla, or even blue. Oh, well.
The soft drink, Enviga, does play into the new craze for “healthy” soda alternatives full of energizing ingredients and enough caffeine to deplete the Costa Rican coffee fields for the next decade. Calorie Lab has a hilarious and thought-provoking analysis of this new drink. (That sounds a lot like a natural enhancement drug. Ahem.)
Calorie Lab is right: if Coke really cares about our health by offering a supposedly negative calorie beverage, why continue to sell regular old Coke in all its candy-machine varieties at all?
Here’s why: by offering (snicker) Enviga, Coke is admitting they’re aware of the terrible health consequences of drinking Coke. They’re worried and they’re scrambling to offer an alternative for all the customers they know they’re going to lose in 2007. Sugar is going to be the health issue this year. In fact, you can check out Mark’s excellent article on sugar over at model/volleyball pro Gabrielle Reece’s site. Here’s the clickativity.
We’ll be the first to say it: sugar is the new trans fat.
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