In the October 2010 issue of Nutrition Action I couldn't help but quickly turn to page nine. I guess the title "The Latest Scams" caught my eye. You know how passionate I am about wholesome food with little to no ingredients and that we should build our diets off a plant-based foods. I am certainly not against processed foods and I would be a hypocrite if I said I don't buy, have or eat processed food. However, the bulk of my meals are made from foods straight from the earth (or with very little processing). More than anything, I am 100% over food claims and fancy marketing especially when a company tells me that a processed food is a must in my diet for x-reason(s).
Since my last post was on milk, I wanted to share two of several food scams that were featured in the article.
There's a new milk in your dairy case. And it sounds perfect. Silk Original Pure Almond milk has "60 calories per serving" is "rich in antioxidants" and is "lactose-free and soy free", according to the label.
Silk's Web site gives almonds all the credit. "A serving of almonds provides an excellent source of vitamin E (a natural antioxidant) and a good source of protein and fiber. In fact, almonds are higher in protein and fiber than any other tree nut."
Maybe so, but a 1oz. serving of almonds (about 2 dozen) has 6 grams of protein (and 165 calories). A cup of almond milk has just 1 gram-far less than the 8-9 grams of protein in a cup of cow's milk (or the 6-8 grams in a cup of soy milk). How come?
It turns out that almond milk doesn't have many almonds. Judging by the 2 1/2 grams of fat in every serving, a cup of almond milk is made from about 4 nuts. The "milk" is mostly water and enough evaporated cane juice to supply about 2 tsp of added sugar per cup.
(That's for the Original. The 90-calorie Vanilla has about 4 tsp sugar per cup and the 120-calorie Dark Chocolate has 5 1/2 tsp).
And Original and Vanilla Pure Almond are "rich in antioxidants" only because Silk adds vitamin E to them. The company also tosses in vitamins A and D, potassium and calcium to make them equal to cow's milk.
Blue Diamond's Almond Breeze milks are similar to Silk's, except that the Breezes come in 40-calorie unsweetened versions. Both brands may appeal to vegans (who eat no dairy foods) or to people who are allergic to dairy.
If that's you, here's a tip: Odds are, you're better off with protein-rich soy milk.
Smart Corporate Bank Balance
"Tastes rich and creamy like 2% milk!" boasts the label on Smart Balance Fat Free Milk.
It's got "antioxidant vitamins C & E, 25% more calcium and 25% more protein" says the large print. More than what? "Than whole milk," notes the smaller print.
Gosh, that sounds good. It must sound good enough that some people are wiling to fork over $4.50 for a half gallon, even though ordinary milk is only about $2.50 per half gallon.
Well how does thissound. The extra vitamins C and E don't lower your risk of heart disease or anything else. In fact, in some studies, people who took more than 400 IU a day of vitamin E had a slightly higher risk of dying (Smart Balance Fat Free has 50 IU per cup).
Smart Balance does have extra non-fat milk solids, which gives each 8 oz glass 35% of a day's calcium, marginally more than the 30% in ordinary milk. The extra milk solids also supply 10 grams of protein, slightly more than the 8 grams in most kinds of milk.
But many store brands of fat free or low fat milk also have extra milk solids. And they don't charge an extra $2 per half gallon.
The company that sells Smart Balance is smart, all right. All the way to the bank.
-As an athlete, I couldn't feel more compelled to put the best foods possible in my body. It is a responsibility to me and to my success in the sport of triathlons that I give my body a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to support metabolic processes. Calorie-counting is a thing of the past. Considering that many athletes struggle with weight loss and/or maintenance, despite training for marathons and Ironman's, it is clear to me that an athlete can not just focus on calories in and calories out. For me, I focus on the timing of my nutrition and more importantly, what's in the foods that I am eating. And when I do indulge in something not in my daily diet, you better believe I enjoy every bite of it with no guilt or remorse. With 365 days in a year, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a little treat every now and then.
Regardless of my love for triathlon training (which is my lifestyle, not my life), I eat to fuel my body so that I can live to see another day. I hope to live a quality-filled life and I am pretty confident that I can prevent the risk for disease and illness's through a wholesome and balanced diet. I know I can't prevent everything but I hope I am reducing my risk. In my diet, no foods are off-limits. However, as an athlete, I like to emphasize and de-emphasize certain foods and time my nutrition with my training. Therefore, I make the most out of every workout....and every eating opportunity.