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Healthy VS Bad Foods
Choosing your Foods Intelligently
We hear all the time “eat healthy” when referring to everything from building muscle, losing fat, and just generally being healthy.
The issue is there is no real standard for what is “healthy”.
If we were to follow the USDA and their recommendations I can almost guarantee we WON’T be healthy.
If we Google and use mainstream websites we are still more than likely going to miss the bigger picture on what is truly “healthy”.
So let’s define what exactly healthy is and some example foods to choose when determining what is “healthy” and what is not.
Time to bring that Food Pyramid comparison back..
Non Healthy Food
Let’s introduce what isn’t healthy first. Things we don’t want in our diet—vegetable oils, seed oils, processed foods, etc.
Processed Foods—foods changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways. This can be best described by the shopping aisle method—shop on the outside aisles and avoid everything in the middle. The foods in the middle are comparable to dog food for humans—junk food. Whereas, on the outside aisles you’re getting foods that came from nature: meats, dairy, produce, etc.
As mentioned in my previous post, vegetable oils are inflammatory and lead to some major issues. How? It attacks our gut, lipoproteins, arteries, white blood cells, nerves on an intra-cellular level, and a plethora of other things. It’s a bit of a slippery slope—one factor leads to another.
Inflammation of the gut leads to negative activity on brain health—this is done by toxins traveling through lipoproteins directly to the brain and other important organs. Arteries in turn are clogged decreasing blood flow through the body (most importantly the brain). This directly affects our white blood cells and acts as an attack on our immune systems which triggers negative nerve reactions.
As the oils start affecting us on an intra-cellular level it’s all downhill from there. Over oxidative reactions lead to issues with circulation, mobility, impaired brain activity, etc. etc. You get the point.
What we can do to mitigate eating things that are “bad” for us is reading the ingredients of products. How was the food you are consuming produced? Deep fried in vegetable oil? OR… Harvested naturally and untouched by manufacturers? These things matter. Read the damn label.
Some things we shouldn’t eat:
Margarine (this should be a no brainer)
Any kind of vegetable/seed oil: Canola, Soy, Corn, Sunflower, Grapeseed, etc.
Nuts (not raw or dry roasted nuts-think packaged oily ones).
Breakfast Cereals (high sugary cereals coated in vegetable oils).
Store-bought Salad dressing (if you’re making your own by Octopod’s recommendation you’re all good).
French fries (restaurant or store bought—obviously if you’re making your own, you made them with fresh potatoes).
Back to the shopping aisle method—if it’s on the outside (with some exceptions), its likely a healthy choice. These are foods coming directly from farms, nature, and true sources.
We’re talking produce, dairy, and meats. I will break down some of my favorite choices as well as their nutritional value.
Let’s talk produce: Beets, Potatoes, Onions, Bananas, Greens, and other fruits and vegetables.
Greens—spinach, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus etc.—are rich in nutrients, fiber, and very satiating while being low in calories. Many health benefits are associated with greens such as reduced risk of heart disease, mental decline, lower blood pressure, and obesity (obviously). Some of the nutrients associated with greens: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Folate (major for pregnancy), Vitamin K, magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and many others.
Potatoes are a great carb and fiber source as well as good for mitigating cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They’re full of nutrients like Vitamin C, B6 and potassium.
Fruits like apples, oranges, strawberries, etc. are great natural sources of sugar.
Blueberries are a staple in nutrition as they are full antioxidants and maintain brain function (even improve memory). Blueberries are one of my favorite “snacks” on the market—they are even said to regenerate gray brain matter.
Butter, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, milk, and all our other favorite dairy products.
A common misconception I often hear is “butter is bad” when that is so far from the truth. It is made from churning animal fat—usually cow’s milk—and is more well known as concentrated dairy fat. Compare this now to margarine… it’s made out of vegetable oils and is highly processed. Butter has nutritional value—Vitamin K2, Omega-3, CLA, and Butyrate.
Cottage cheese is a very versatile type of cheese. It is a casein protein that breaks down slowly (why I often recommend it as a pre-bed meal) which provides a more full feeling and mitigates appetite. Cottage cheese is high in protein and packed with nutrients like Vitamin B12, B2, B6, Choline (also major for pregnancy), Folate, Calcium, Zinc, and others.
Greek Yogurt is great for many things—quick protein source, probiotics (gut health), and a number of nutrients. Choosing a solid greek yogurt is important because some companies use additives and sugars that ruin the nutritional integrity—again, read the label. Some of the nutrients it contains: Vitamin B12, B2, Selenium, Calcium, Zinc, and others.
Milk is a staple in dairy foods. It makes the bulk of our favorite products—Butter, Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt, etc. Milk is full of Calcium, B Vitamins, Potassium, and other nutrients and traces of protein. Milk is also known to prevent osteoporosis and grow healthier, stronger bones! (But you already knew that).
Fish—Tuna, Salmon, Cod, Trout, Mahi Mahi, etc. Fish is excellent for nutrients like Omega-3 (body and brain function) and Vitamin D, and they’re also a great source of protein. It doesn’t take long to prepare (especially if you’re getting the tuna pouches—quick snack and protein), and simply delicious.
Chicken is one of my favorite sources of protein. You have breasts, thighs, wings and many other cuts. Low in fat, easy to prep, and high in protein. Chicken is a bodybuilder’s best friend, but it’s also packed with Selenium, Vitamin B6 and Niacin.
Beef is very versatile—there’s numerous cuts of steak, burger patties, ribs, roasts, etc. Beef is an excellent source of high quality protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids) and full of nutrients. Similar to chicken with some extra beneficial nutrients, beef contains Vitamin B12 and B6, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Niacin, and others. It’s easy to prepare in most cases and valuable in our diets.
Eggs are great in all forms—raw, scrambled, fried, poached, etc. Eggs are an excellent source of nutrients like choline, folate, Vitamins B5, B12, B2, B6, and other sorts like Vitamin E, K, and D, etc.
Rice, Beans, Lentils, and Bread have a place here too.
Rice is a valid patron and a great source of carbs. The list of rices out there is endless, but the main ones we know are Jasmine, Basmati, Brown Rice and Wild Rice. White rice particularly contains Folate, Calcium, and Iron, with additional nutrients. It is another staple in nutrition for bodybuilders—this is because carbs are important for fueling our workouts and replenishing the body.
Beans come in many forms, are easy to cook and fill our satiation needs. We have Pinto, Kidney, Lima, Black-Eyed, Peas (yes peas!) and many others out there. Most beans contain B Vitamins, Selenium, Zinc, etc. Though most wouldn’t bat an eye at the protein content of beans, they’re highly valuable for those that don’t get their protein intake through animal products. Beans are higher in protein than produce.
Lentils, basically a type of bean, get their own mention. Brown, Green, Red, Black, Horse Gram, and other types of lentils may be small, but they are mighty. Lentils are full of B Vitamins, Zinc, Potassium and other nutrients, and are another source of protein for those lacking animal protein. They are also a great source of fiber (hello gut and bowel health).
Certain types of breads can be great for you. We obviously need to be mindful of the types of bread we are choosing but one of my main recommendations is Dave’s Killer Bread—Particularly the 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Product. Look for breads that don’t have high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients. Low in fat and sugars, bread is a great carb and fiber source with the benefits of nutrients like B Vitamins and Iron.
The most important thing to remember when choosing “good” vs “bad” foods is reading the labels and ingredients in the products. We must understand what we are putting in our bodies and why we are doing so.
Even our healthy choices can be bad if we aren’t paying attention. If you can’t pronounce something on the label, chances are it’s no good. Just be cognizant of your choices and you’ll be fine.
Sample Meal Plan
6 oz Greek Yogurt w/ 3 oz Fruit
2 Eggs (scrambled, fried, poached, etc.)
1 slice of toast (we love Dave’s killer bread)
8 oz Chicken
Salad: Spinach, Lettuce, Onion, Carrots, etc.
Octopod’s recommended, Homemade Salad Dressing
8oz Ground Beef
1/2 cup of Rice
Sorry for the delay on this post, I believe I have come down with Covid (test tomorrow to confirm), so I have had zero energy both mentally and physically to get this done timely.
Hopefully tomorrow we are back to normal operating standards and ready to rock n roll.
The previous Q/A suffered a glitch from substack, so I will open that back up and get back to all of the questions that were asked.
Please stay safe and healthy my friends, you don’t realize how important it is until something pops up!
Until next time my friends,
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.