What's Fake and What's Real? The Ultimate Food Survival Guide | STACK Fitness
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

What's Fake and What's Real? The Ultimate Food Survival Guide

May 19, 2013 | Sima Cohen

Must See Nutrition Videos

Food is not meant for pleasure as so many of us have been programmed to believe. It's got one true purpose: to provide our bodies with the vital nutrients we need to stay alive, healthy and functioning. (What are these, you ask? See Key Nutrients for Athletes.)

This doesn't mean food shouldn't taste good and that eating cannot be an enjoyable experience. No one will want to stick to a diet that forces him or her to choke down meals. The trouble lies in how we have conditioned our taste buds. We've made them believe that junk food and fake food is what really tastes good. (See How To Sustain Healthy Eating Habits.)

The Difference Between Real and Fake

Not all food is created equal. When a food is processed, it's stripped of its nutrients. During production, food companies may add hydrogenated fats, chemicals, preservatives, sugar and fillers. (Get the lowdown on Artificial Sweeteners: Are They Healthy or Dangerous?) These foods fill you up with useless calories, and can lead to potential health issues. For example, check out  the following comparison:

Fast Food Hamburger Meal

  • Hamburger on sesame seed bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup and mayonnaise
  • Small order of French fries (salted)
  • Small soda

Nutrition Facts: 1,160 calories, 50g of fat, 29g of protein, 157g of carbohydrate, 64g of sugar and 1460mg of sodium

Real Food (Homemade) Hamburger Meal

  • Hamburger (4-ounces 85/10 lean ground beef) on 100% whole-wheat bun with lettuce, onion, tomato, one slice of reduced-fat cheddar cheese, mustard and ketchup
  • Serving of French fries (sliced potato baked with one teaspoon of olive oil and a 1/2-teaspoon of salt)
  • 8-ounce glass of water with lemon

Nutrition Facts: 550 calories, 20g of fat, 36g of protein, 52g of carbohydrate, 7g of sugar and 542 mg of sodium.

The two meals are basically the same. But the homemade version is a lot healthier, even after adding the cheese.  (See how to Make Flavorful Meals Without Excess Fat, Sugar and Sodium.)

Bottom Line

Eating right is not particularly magical and it doesn't involve spending a fortune, going through the drive-thru or yo-yo dieting. You can eat out, at home and at parties, and you can splurge for holidays. You just need to eat real food.

Use the following guidelines at every meal (wherever it may be). I guarantee you enjoy healthier meals that satisfy your taste buds and fulfill your nutritional needs.

Food Survival Guidelines

  • A specific food should contain five ingredients or less
  • You can recognize (and pronounce) the ingredients (no preservatives or harmful chemical additives)
  • No added salt or sugar
  • No refined carbs such as white flour or high-fructose corn syrup; eat only 100% whole wheat and whole grain
  • Food is prepared in a way that you could have done yourself

If there is a magical secret, it's this: use your head and always read the ingredients.

Sima Cohen
- For over 20 years, Sima Cohen has inspired thousands of people to lose weight, improve their health, and transform their lives with just a yoga...
Sima Cohen
- For over 20 years, Sima Cohen has inspired thousands of people to lose weight, improve their health, and transform their lives with just a yoga...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

The peanut butter sandwich as been an ideal meal for athletes because of its balanced mixture of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates. It can...

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

The Case for Red Meat

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

The Boston Cannons'

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You