How angry would you be if you found out that a health food that you’d been spending $75 per week on was actually making you fat? Well that brings us straight to health food myth number one:
Soy: one of our new and very diligent members (we’ll call her Brenda) really was doing (almost) everything right – getting her four workouts per week and cutting back the processed carbs, but her body was not budging. She was upset because after three weeks of trying to work her butt off, and she had no progress. We were concerned, so we had Brenda keep a food log for a bit and found something really interesting: Brenda’s dinner was usually a pound of edamame and pretty much nothing else.
She had asked us on the first day she came to our gym if we thought edamame was a good idea or not, and we said “no.” Brenda decided to ignore that part of our advice. (She’s not alone. I do that too. I hire a coaches, and decide that I don’t like one piece of their advice, bastardize their advice and then complain to them, “It’s not working… I’m doing everything right.”)
To Brenda’s credit, she immediately replaced the edamame with an animal protein, fat and veggie dinner (same or higher calorie content) and dropped 13 pounds and the inches to go along with it over the next two and half weeks.
Soy and women who want to lose weight (fat) do not seem to mix well. We get a lot of vegetarians or former vegetarian women, and at some point (some very soon, some late) they all hit the same wall – soy. Whenever they replace it with animal protein they start losing fat again and it stalls whenever it becomes a staple again.
I’ve read a lot of research on both sides – pro-soy and anti-soy, and I even used to be a vegan for far too many years. You can find a stack of research to support either side, so I won’t go into any review, nor will I even talk about my theories about why this works. I will just tell you that we have a money-back guarantee on results. So, I literally bet my car, my mortgage, my retirement account, and everything else I own on my advice. In 14 years I have had to issue one refund.
What to do: If you are a women eating really clean and working out intelligently and consistently, then try replacing your soy with old fashioned animal protein. (And vegans, please save your energy. No hate mail or nasty comments. Thank you.)
Agave nectar: “This can’t make me fat it’s sweetened with agave nectar!” I’ve heard that one before, and you’ve got to hand it to them – whoever’s in charge of marketing agave has been very successful in positioning it as a “health food.”
The business end of sweets (what makes you fat) is their fructose content. Amongst other things, fructose comes in as “phantom calories.” That is your brain (more specifically your hypothalamus) does not register the fructose as calories in. You eat and your appetite does not go down accordingly – it’s as if you didn’t eat or drink those calories. For a lot of people, especially people who find they have an easy time gaining weight, fructose seems to be an appetite stimulant and an energy reducer (makes you tired after short initial boost). So fructose makes you want eat more, and generally makes you tired (it makes you eat more and move less spontaneously).
Table sugar is 50 percent fructose. High fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose. Agave nectar can be up to 97 percent fructose. It’s the sweetener with the highest proportion of negatively-active ingredient _ it’s the “most bad.”
What to do: don’t buy stuff with “agave” on the label. And, avoid the other sweetened stuff as well — it’s addictive, it makes you hungry and it makes you tired. Not a good combination. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try eating some berries, and/or using something like Truvia or Z-sweet.
Josef Brandenburg is a Washington, D.C.-area certified fitness expert with 11 years of experience. In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training fitness program, which specializes in weight loss and body transformations for busy people. Read more about The Body You Want at www.josefbrandenburg.com.