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Are No-Fat Processed Foods Okay To Eat?
I am your typical bodybuilder trying to eat right with the usual 6 meals a day, low-fat, diet. When this becomes boring I am sometimes tempted to add low-fat packaged and processed foods. For example, is a no fat hotdog as good as eating a skinless chicken breast? No fat Yoplait yogurt the same as a banana? There are so many "fat-free" products out there these days like chips, ravioli, beef jerky, etc., if you ate these in moderation could you stay cut? It seems to me that non-processed is always best with empty calories and all. Besides sugar and additives would the low-fat really be the same as eating non processed foods? Lets say I had a day of strict eating but for dinner had a fat free hotdog with a bag of baked chips would I be throwing my diet off terribly? I always wonder this, like when I add fat free mayo to my tuna! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
With all of the new products on the market today I felt that this guy's question was very legitimate. He asks several questions which all pertain to the diet. Dieting is my specialty so read on to learn a lot about what may seem to be so little. His first question reads: "Is a no fat hotdog as good as eating a skinless chicken breast?"
No way is a no fat hotdog that same as eating a piece of skinless chicken breast. Both are low in fat and that is about the only similarity that they share. Lets break down a low fat hot dog first. This product is full of preservatives. The hot dog has been processed. It is full of sodium, nitrites, and nitrates. Nitrites and nitrates are linked to carcinogens, which are linked to cancer. (I am not saying that hot dogs give you cancer.) A single hot dog does not contain the high biological value protein that a piece of chicken breast does. Therefore, you would have to eat more hot dogs to try to get the same nutritional value. This means that you would be adding more sodium, nitrates, and nitrites to your diet.
Okay now lets look at a piece of chicken breast. It is pure and wholesome. It has about 25-35 grams of quality protein in it. It is naturally low in fat and the fat that is present in it can be visibly seen and trimmed away. (Not possible in a hot dog!) Chicken is low in sodium when comparing it to a hot dog. You can diet for a bodybuilding competition using chicken breast, which means that it is an a-okay bodybuilding food in my book.
Okay so you know that choosing chicken breast over hotdogs any day would be the better choice. I am not saying that it is never okay to eat a fat free hot dog. If you do decide to take a break from chicken breast try to buy a hot dog that is low in carbohydrates as well as fat. Often times when a company removes fat from a product they fill its void with carbohydrates so be careful. Turkey dogs may be a better choice but in general stick with pure forms of food. Eat for your goals not for pleasure.
Your next question reads: " Is No fat Yoplait yogurt the same as a banana?" Once again no way, these items are totally different. Lets break them down just as we did with the other two products. I will begin with yogurt. It is low fat but it contains protein in the form of casein, which is very slow digesting. On top of that it contains carbohydrates containing the sugar lactose. A slow digesting protein will slow down the release of the carbohydrate. When the carbohydrate stays in the stomach acid too long it is damaged. On top of this the carbohydrates that do make it out in a utilizable form are going to be competing with the protein for absorption. You need to decide what your goal is here. Are you trying to give the body protein during this feeding? Or, are you trying to replenish the muscles with glycogen by feeding them carbohydrates? I would not use yogurt in my daily diet. It is too confusing to the body and is basically eaten for taste.
Lets analyze the banana. A banana is a fresh fruit. It is comprised of simple sugars. If you are trying to replenish the liver and muscle tissue with glycogen it could be a good choice. I say good because it does have some fructose in it. Fructose converting enzymes are limited in the human body, which is not really good. It does have some vitamins and minerals in it, which is good. It is naturally fat free and contains no protein so digesting it will not be a big problem. It tastes great and is good for you IF you eat it at the right time. The best time to eat a banana is when you are trying to replenish glycogen storage.
So as you can see these are two totally different foods. Lets take a look at your next question. You state: "There are so many "fat-free" products out there these days (chips, ravioli, beef jerky etc.) if you ate these in moderation could you stay cut?" I think that depends. I mean eating chips at the right time may not be too bad for you. You would eat these when trying to replenish glycogen. Furthermore, they would have to be relatively low in fat to digest them optimally.
Ravioli on the other hand is a different story. These contain fat, protein and carbohydrates, which means that digestion will be less than optimal. Most of the nutrients will compete for absorption and your carbohydrates will more than likely get converted into adipose tissue. I would only eat these when you are going to break your diet. In other words use them as a cheat food if you have a cheat day or meal. I would stay away from ravioli, they will only cause you harm. The short pleasure of consumption will not out weigh the harm they will have on your goals.
Beef jerky would be an okay snack food if you could get one that is low in carbohydrates. I know that they are packed with sodium but you are not going to live off of the stuff. For the most part they can be found in a form that is low in fat, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates. The bad thing is that it is expensive. I can think of better ways to get your protein. Lets look at your next question.
You state: "Besides sugar and additives would the low-fat really be the same as eating non processed foods?" Yes! But the additives, sugar, and preservatives make a big difference as you now see. Besides to make some of those foods taste good they add carbohydrates to them. This is sabotage! Which is a great way to led into your next question.
You asked: "Lets say I had a day of strict eating but for dinner had a fat free hotdog with a bag of baked chips would I be throwing my diet off terribly?" YES! You do not need to mix the macronutrients like you seem to be doing. A single fat free hot dog is not enough quality nutrients to do anything for your body. The chips... unless you have just trained I would not be eating them at all. They will just clog up the system and do you harm. As far as "add fat free mayo to my tuna" things like this are fine by me. You just cannot go overboard. Chris Cormier once said at a seminar that he used ketchup and barbeque sauce on his chicken breast year round. He said that he did what he had to do to get the protein in. I do not agree with him 100% on this but using condiments sparingly is okay by me. I feel that too much can be self sabotaging, Chris feels differently. Chris also uses a different approach to bodybuilding than I do if you know what I mean.
In closing I want you to realize something. Food should be enjoyed, well, someone said that somewhere anyway. That someone was more than likely not a champion bodybuilder. If I could remove your taste buds and make you eat only what your body needs you could be the greatest bodybuilder that you could genetically be. You are actually at an advantage because you can still taste the foods that you do get to eat.
Look at it this way, you are a bodybuilder and bodybuilders do not eat ravioli, pizza, doughnuts, cookies, ice-cream, etc... Bodybuilders get to eat foods that make them better. Foods like chicken breast, lean beef, turkey, seafood, fibrous vegetables, and egg whites. On reloading days they get to eat honey, grits, corn, molasses, maple syrup, Carboplex & Ultra Fuel type drinks, etc. We eat "tough foods" that make us build muscle. We are not weak individuals (wussies) that look to food for comfort. We are the exception to the rule. We are elite bad azzez that have a grip on life. That is why we get to walk around swole` up, turning heads, and feeling great about our selves. Take control and break out of the mold. Just because an Italian chef invented pizza does not mean that you have to eat it. Pretend that you are allergic to foods that you know you should not be eating because they will only bring you harm! Hang in there and think before you put anything into your body. Notice I said in to your body, not your mouth. What goes into your mouth is really for your body.