People often ask me “what do you eat” or, “how did you lose weight?”
As I’ve said before, this comes with a change in what you’re doing, which starts by changing how you think.
So… let me give you a glimpse into my mind of what I think when I look at food. I’m really not trying to pick on this product, it’s the same analysis for any product.
I aim to get about 200 grams of protein in a day, so it’s often what I’m looking for in food. I’m not sure how realistic this is, but in my mind – as long as I eat enough protein, fruit, and vegetables then the remaining calories in my daily “budget” are all for me to eat what I please!
This is why I take it so seriously when a “protein rich” product is really not much better than a candy bar.
Since I know some of you may suffer from TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) on this, I’ll give you my tips up front:
If the food advertises “22% protein”, that means the product is 78% fat and carbs (sugar).
Fat has almost twice as many calories per gram as protein, so it’s much less filling. And well, more fattening.
You can often get your nutritional needs in a more efficient, cheap, and delicious way. For example, this $5 “protein ball” has about the same amount of protein and calories as:
- a glass of skimmed milk and a cookie
- egg white omelette and some juice
- a bowl of Cheerios with skimmed milk
- can of tuna (which would have 4x as much protein)
All of these options would be cheaper, more filling, and more healthy. And personally, I love these foods! If I could easily buy a can of tuna and skimmed milk at any convenience store I would always meet my protein quota.
Also, keep in mind that the percentage by weight and by calories can be quite different.
Notice that the protein and carbs are about the same, but the fat is much higher. And the “Other” category for weight is often caused by fiber, etc. The “Other” category for calories is due to rounding and the “accepted values” for a gram of protein, carbs, or fat.
SO, let’s take a look at a product I wandered by in an airport recently
What the manufacturers probably want you to think:
- Oh look, it’s a cute little ball with eyes
- Oh hey, it says 22% protein. That sounds good!
- It has whey protein. Not just any old protein, but WHEY protein…
- There are 6 delicious cute little balls in this package
What I’m thinking:
- It’s a “protein ball” and it only has 22% protein?
- It is 45 Grams, so 22% protein would be 10 grams (I didn’t even have to look at the back to figure this out).
- 10 grams of protein would be ~40 calories. So [Total Calories] – 40 = How many wasted calories are on this product.
- There is a cute little protein ball, which I think is supposed to distract me from something
- They are advertising WHEY protein (which metabolizes very quickly, so it won’t last long)
- They probably added whey protein because the base ingredients don’t have much protein
Ok. So now we’ve looked at the front. Why not open it up and see how it looks before we look at the back?
What they want you to think:
- AH! it’s a cute little protein ball! Just like the package said! If only it had eyes and a personality and it could be my little pet.
- They’re so small and easy to eat!
What I’m thinking:
- It’s all shiny. This thing looks like it’s full of fat. It’s either greasing up to compete in a sports competition, heading to the beach to get a tan, or breaking out in a sweat just from moving out of the package.
- These are kind of small, and not very heavy. I don’t think this will make me very full.
Alright, we’ve looked enough, now let’s look at the back.
What they want you to think
- Look at that boring black and white table to the left. I’m not going to squint at the small text and numbers. I’m hungry!
- Look at all those cute balls on the right! And the pretty fonts and colors!
- I’ve stumbled upon “the most delicious, all-natural, protein balls in the universe!” I’m so smart!
- They’re Gluten Free! I’ve heard that stuff is bad for you!
- No egg whites! Wheat Free! No Added Sugar! Vegetarian! No GMOs, and no soy! This sounds amazingly healthy!
- They lovingly make their protein, unlike those other heartless protein producers.
- And they feed their cows grass! I know that cows are supposed to eat grass, so that sounds good!
- Rock ‘N Roll! Who doesn’t like Rock ‘N Roll?
What I’m thinking:
- OK, so I know it has 10 grams of protein, yep. Confirmed it right there on the bottom.
- So that’s 40 calories out of… 187!!! Wow, how much fat and sugar is there in this thing?
- Ah, it says right there. So there is almost the same amount of fat in this thing as protein, and twice as many carbohydrates (sugar) as protein.
- Let’s take a look at the ingredients…
- Dates is the first ingredient? That means it’s most used ingredient in this PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN product. So much for “no added sugar”
- Peanuts (38%) – not bad.
- Whey Powder (milk) 3rd down on the list… not so great.
- Fruit juice concentrate – so “no added sugar” was a blatant lie then…
- Rice starch – OK, something has to make these sugar-fat balls not stick like glue
- A pinch of HIMALAYAN salt, because any other salt just won’t do…
- Alright, now for the lies on the right: “most delicious in the universe”? You haven’t even left Earth…
- Gluten Free? Unless you have Celiac Disease, it doesn’t matter…
- No Egg Whites? WHY NOT?! How about a balanced protein compound?!
- All Natural – What does that even mean? Animal droppings are all natural; doesn’t mean I want to eat them.
- No Soy? Again – WHY NOT?!
- Wheat Free – isn’t this a repeat of what you’re trying to say with Gluten Free?
- No Added sugar – are you kidding me? You put more dates and fruit juice concentrate in this than protein!
And almost as important as the calories – how did it taste? It was OK.
If I had my choice I would have eaten any of the items on the list at the beginning of this post.
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