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Master This Rule to Master Your Full Potential
Written by Michele Vieux

The three most common nutrition questions – ‘What’s the best way to lose weight?’; ‘How can I build more lean mass?’; and ‘What is the fastest way to recover from exercise?’ – can all usually be answered in three simple words. Eat real food.

Nothing else you do or consume – extra workout sessions, supplements, weekly massages – matter as much as this rule. And if you can’t master this rule then you will never master your full potential as an athlete or a high-functioning human being.

Having trouble determining the difference between processed foods and real foods? Or maybe you are struggling to see the importance of eliminating processed foods from your diet?

Meat, fish, vegetables, green leafies, fruit, nuts and seeds. This is food, and this is what our bodies are designed to recognize as fuel and nutrients. Real foods give you the biggest bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking. Everything on this list can be eaten without being processed, even meat and fish if it does not come from a sick animal, does not need anything done to it before you consume it. In fact, the less that’s been done the better. So, for example, a fresh tomato would be preferred to a canned one.

Protein bars and shakes, beef sticks, pre-made meatloaf, chicken pot pies, Doritos, pastas, bread, McRibs – these are “food products” i.e. processed foods. Food and food products ARE NOT the same thing. They have some similar characteristics as food, because that’s what they’re based on, but they’re also jammed with additives, preservatives, and other things that make them taste appealing. They are high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates, trans fatty acids, full of artificial ingredients and at the same time low in nutrients. And the nutrients they spray on don’t count!

Health implications of eating processed foods may include: obesity (and childhood obesity); diabetes; heart disease; ADHD; overactive bladder; and many more.

Benefits of eating real food include: leaner physique; more energy; clearer skin; fewer GI disturbances; and better sleep, to name a few.

Which sounds better to you? Which will help you reach your health and fitness goals more quickly?

Here are 5 simple tips to consider to help ensure that what you are about to eat is a real food and not a food product:

1) Did it live or grow on this earth? A good rule of thumb would be to ask yourself ‘did this food come from the earth’ and ‘was this food raised on the earth?’ Literally, you should be able to pick it (or kill it) and eat it. Picture a garden or a farm when doing this. Is there a (insert item in question) growing or living there?

2) Shop the parameter of the store. This will give you access to the veggies, fruit, meat and eggs – real foods – but limits your exposure to all the food products are typically found in the aisles like bread, sodas, cereals, packaged foods, frozen pizzas, etc.

3) Read Labels. Real food doesn’t have a list of ingredients. For example, real chicken doesn’t have a list of ingredients and if you get yours in a package, all it should say is “chicken”. If the ingredient list has more than three ingredients and if you can’t pronounce many of the items then it probably isn’t a real food. Another reason to read labels is to make sure you aren’t getting any hidden sugar (anything that ends in -ose). Many manufacturers add sugar to products you’d be surprised about to make them more addictive and desirable to consumers. Other things to be on the lookout for are hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, colorants, flavorings, texturants and preservatives.

4) Consider shelf life. Real food items are those free from preservatives and other additives so they should be perishable. Items that keep for months or even years in your cupboard are not real food.

5) Avoid convenience foods. This includes the ones already mentioned above – like the ever popular protein bars and shakes – but also Lean Cuisine, fast food and even takeout since they contain high levels of chemical additives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and trans fats, giving them an addictive quality.

So clean out your cupboards and be amazed at the changes you notice in your energy, mood, skin, GI health and ability to lose fat while gaining lean muscle mass. Still confused or have questions about specific products? Comment below and we’ll be sure to help you with your sleuthing.

Also Check Out…

That’s Right, We’re Talking S*%T

Unconventional Meal Prep Strategies & Secret Meat Shopping Guide

The Problems With Processed Foods – A Haiku

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October 17, 2017 7:44 am

What’s your take on canned items…tuna fish, salmon, beets, tomatoes, beans, etc?
Obviously fresh is preferred, but would these count as real foods or processed items?

October 17, 2017 8:56 am
Reply to  Michele Vieux

Thanks for the pointers on canned food! We have access to some great, local produce here in Ohio, but only in warmer seasons. Also, trying to eat fresh (especially the locally sourced stuff) can get tricky quick on your grocery budget.

If I follow your points in this article – frozen produce is a good, cost-effective alternative to fresh, yes?

October 17, 2017 9:06 am
Reply to  Michele Vieux

One other question. I looked over your secret meat shopping list from like 7 years ago. Do you purchase much frozen meat? I feel like that is also another money saving alternative to fresh…I mean whats the big draw back of buying frozen cuts of meat vs. buying fresh in bulk and then freezing that for later?

October 17, 2017 1:13 pm
Reply to  Michele Vieux

Thank you @michelevieux:disqus! I really appreciate the info.

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