During my prep for competition me and my other half kept our diet insanely clean. I like to increase my calories because of the amount of training that is involved but I like to get them calories from red meat, oily fish, potatoes, rice and, after an hour of met-cons (posh work for intense circuit training), a battle oats or a primal kitchen bar (they are AMAZING).
Once competition was over, we both relaxed a lot more and looked at convenient snacks that we can introduce into our day to day nutrition that wouldn’t be detrimental but could eat after training. I’ve gone from eating 6 meals a day to 3 meals a day with snacks in between. (If you would like to read more about macronutrients and the difference between a clean eating diet and a term "If it fits your macros" then you can read about it here.
A friend brought me in one night a trek bar. These, I thought, we really naughty but amazing. Then one a day crept into three a day and before I know it, I’m eating the oats and raisins ones for breakfast. I never looked at the ingredients as I didn’t want to know.
Doing my weekly shop with the other half last week and usually after we have hit the meat and veg isles we head to checkout. This time, we locate the “health” isle and stand drooling over the healthy options they have to provide.
We scan our eyes over some fruit bars and then begin loading up on the trek bars. He's moaning about what flavour he wants so to block him out I decide to check out the ingredients.
My eyes flash over “palm oil” and “vegetable oils, containing canola, rapeseed and sunflower oil”.
More fool me for not having a look before.
There may be some people reading this saying “well, what’s wrong with that?” The news and papers dribble out how vegetable oil is good for us and saturated fats (such as coconut, olive oil and clutching at straws, eggs) are bad for us.
Nope. Palm oil is one of the worlds leading causes of rainforest destruction and leading orangutans to the brink of distinction. Even if the product says "sustainable palm oil" it is still destructive to our planet. You can read more on that here.
Now on to vegetable oil…….
Vegetable oil is a chemically made trans fat. What does this mean?It is when an unsaturated fat is clinically made by bubbling hydrogen ions through it. Its cheap and lasts long on a shelf. Great for companies. Bad for us.
These trans fats pack into our cell membranes very tightly which can mean an increased risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and other chronic disease.
Still not put you off?
These trans fats also lower good cholesterol produced in our bodies, which can be linked to:
What does this mean?
So, how do we know whats a vegetable oil? These are the oils we want to look out for:
What does this mean in reagrds to the food we eat? The sort of products you want to avoid are:
Fats and oils I recommend to use for cooking:
Coconut oil – a fantastic saturated fat that raises the “good” cholesterol, may lower your risk of heart disease, can aid with fat loss, kill you hunger stopping you from eating more, can help prevent infections within the body and is great for hair and nails. You can cook coconut oil at a high temperature or add a teaspoon to your black coffee.
Butter– This one food is usually the one people are happiest to start using again. Butter tastes delicious, and pastured grassfed butter is an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins, healthy saturated fat and other nutrients. In contains a compound that Weston A. Price called Activator X, known to improve nutrient absorption and have preventative benefits against disease.
Olive Oil– High in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats, olive oil is a great oil for salad dressings, homemade mayo, and cold recipes. It shouldn’t be used for cooking since its high monounsaturated fat content makes it susceptible to oxidation at high temperatures.
One last food for thought. Trans fats. I don’t want to make anyone look at trans fats and run a mile. We need to be aware of what we’re putting in our bodies and be knowledabgle about the foods we eat. However, begin labeling something as “DO NOT TOUCH” and we are going back to that extremist behavior that the government and social media love to do. NOT ALL TRANS FATS ARE BAD or harmful to health. Some trans fats occur naturally, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is found in the red meat, whole milk and butter. When a diet based on natural, unprocessed, whole foods, then accumulating high amounts of harmful trans fats is nearly impossible. CLA health benefits include increasing metabolic rate (fat loss), enhances muscle growth (lean muscle mass), lower bad cholesterol, lowers insulin resistance (control body weight and lower risk of obesity), reduces food-induced allergic reactions, enhances immune system.
This isn’t to confuse you. This is to make you aware of the different types of trans fats that there are and know that you cant jump on a bandwagon of cutting out something completely. The pattern is, if its processed with an ingredients that you can barely read, you can bet your bottom dollar its not good for you and can do you more harm than good.
Cook whole foods, start to plan your days ahead and know what you are going to be eating. You wouldn’t walk out of the house without your wallet/purse. You wouldn’t (I hope) go to work without showering/brushing your teeth/putting your shoes on. If you see a black cloud outside or its heavily raining, you wouldn’t walk out in a vest and shorts. This is because you have created habits that you wake up and just do and you have developed common sense.
This is all a healthy lifestyle has to be. Habits and developing a new common sense when it comes to food. This doesn't mean its easy. It can be a tough task to master at the beginning. It will take you 4-8 weeks to create these habits, causing you the next 40-80 years (depending on your age) of an energetic and healthy lifestyle.
There is a lot of confusion and can feel like a mental minefield because of the garbage that media feeds us. Look for help and direction so that you can obtain the knowledge and find the right path for you. There isn’t a one rule for all. But the main principles apply. In a supermarket you can bet your bottom dollar you only need the outside isles. 90% of those middle food isles are processed and packed with food you don’t need.
Enjoy your eating and enjoy your life!
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