You've seen these lists before, right next to the "Three Simple Rules to Trim Belly Fat" ads. How cliché. But if you're an avid 51698009 Boot Camp reader, you're smarter than the average interweb trawler, eh? Be proud, and be ready for something different.
I'm proud to think of you the readers as part of my fitness family. Me, trainer. You, trainee. We are the Fairfax Boot Camp family. And as a family, we should be consuming quality foods, and avoiding junk. Here are seven foods we should never consume:
It's cheap, light, and it's a catfish from Asia. Basa is in your local grocery store, and it's most likely the generic 'fish' at your local fish and chippery. Unfortunately, Basa is farmed in the Mekong Delta. I've been there, and it's not a place you'd drink from, swim in, or throw a fishing line into.
Avoid Basa because of reports of suspicious farming practices, but also avoid Basa because you're more likely to purchase healthier options such as tuna, salmon and barramundi from Australian fisherman. Supporting your local fishermen is a healthy, cool thing to do.
It's not just Basa you should be concerned about, either. When possible, choose grass-fed meat over grain-fed, and organic, free-range chicken. Understanding where (and how) your protein lives and what it consumes, matters. It matters because it's what you chew, swallow, and digest. It's what makes you, you.
Fruit in pill form
There is so much division about fruit in the health and fitness community. Some folks have demonised fruit, proclaiming certain goods contain too much sugar. When a personal trainer proclaims I can't enjoy a healthy treat from Mother Nature like an apple, banana or some grapes, I sense I'm having a chat with the village idiot. On the other hand, you've got folks with Amway-esque sales skills peddling fruit and veggies in pill form, making outlandish claims so you part with your hard-earned.
Fruit and veggies do not come in a bottle. Fruit and vegetables in their whole form contain fibre and are best consumed when picked then plated. If you've purchased fruit and veggies in pill form, your next investment should be in the Sydney to Auckland bridge that they're beginning to build next month.
Late night crap
It's Silly Season, so I won't bust anybody's chops for having a few extra drinks to enjoy summer and the holidays. I will bust chops if you finish a night with a large fizzy drink, fries, and a kebab, burrito, or burger – this spoils anybody's healthy week of food and fitness.
You say, 'But Mike, it cures my hangover'.
The only thing that cures a hangover is water, sex, or a dip in the ocean … all healthy options.
If you consume the booze, own your hangover. Tough it out, and deal with it in a healthy manner.
Food in tins
Our poor pets … day after day we put warm food into a metal tins and watch them dive in face-first to eat the same meal. We sympathise, but why do we do the same thing ourselves at food courts and queue for hot food in tins loaded with MSG?
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a food additive used as a flavour enhancer – it makes cheap quality meat taste better. And although restaurants and cafes have no legal requirement to declare the presence of MSG in food, Food Matters lists the dangers of MSG as including weight gain, and liver and brain damage. They state, “MSG is an excitotoxin in the brain, meaning that it overstimulates the brain causing the production of excessive amounts of dopamine. This creates a drug-like rush that provides a brief sensation of wellbeing. It is highly addictive, causing its consumers to keep coming back for more and end up overeating. In the process, brain cells are destroyed.”
The lesson? Eat better than your dog.
Your body is an engine, and waking up and feeding it breakfast fuel from fast food joints is a massive mistake. The fat, sugar, salt and chemicals in fried, processed food doesn't ready your body for an active day but rather one with numerous trips to the toilet.
Morning breakfast drinks fit into this category as well. Sure, they contain protein … but also loads of chemicals and plenty of sugar or unhealthy sugar substitutes.
Nobody gets healthy from quick-to-consume meals … you do it by taking an extra 10 minutes each morning to cook some quality food.
Pouring gravy all over steak, béarnaise sauce on eggs, BBQ sauce on egg and bacon rolls, caramel sauce on ice cream, and creamy dressing on top of greens. When is enough, enough?
It's more MSG, more fat, more sugar, and more junk calories. It's just not on. Let eggs be eggs, and let your tastebuds enjoy the flavour of a quality steak rather than chemicals.
Olive oil with a splash of lemon … salt ... pepper. Keep it simple, and your body will reward you for consuming healthy, tasty, and fresh meals.
OK, it's not actually food, but ... don't drink energy drinks. Ever. With some cans containing up to 19 teaspoons of sugar, I don't see why these things would be consumed for breakfast, pre-gym, or in the bar with a splash of vodka. Just say no.
This list could go on. Store-bought smoothies. Mass-produced milk chocolate (dark is the go here). Fizzy drinks. Protein bars. Fruit juices. Products loaded with gluten.
At the shopping mall this season surrounded by energy drinks, food loaded with sauce in tins … just look at Santa being photographed with the kiddies and ask yourself: Have I been naughty or nice?
What foods do you avoid, and what do you over-indulge in that you know you shouldn't?
You can email me here or follow me on Twitter here.
Over the holidays, I'll be doing some Sydney hikes north and south of the bridge. Get in touch if you'd like to meet and chat about health and fitness while burning a few calories. The cost? Show a receipt for a $5 donation to Variety – The Children's Charity, and the hike is free.