Whether you regularly munch on protein bars after lifting weights or down coconut water to balance electrolytes after a sweaty indoor cycling session, you might want to read the label on that “healthy” food you love. Some of the foods that are touted as healthy post-workout pick-me-ups might not be what you expect.
Some products assumed to be “healthy” have sugar, sodium and saturated fat levels that might surprise you. The bottom line is, read the label and consider if a food suits your particular dietary needs. If you are not lactose intolerant, then lactose-free milk or a milk substitute might not be better for you. In fact, soy products can disrupt endocrine levels and pose problems for some people. Some milk alternatives have high sugar levels, which might not suit your needs. Similarly, if you tolerate gluten fine, a gluten-free option won’t have an added health benefit for you. Find what is healthy for your body.
Here are 4 Popular “Healthy” Foods That Might Have Tricked You:
1) Dried Fruit
Prunes, raisins, dried apricots and other fruits that have had the water removed are just as healthy for you as the fresh version. However, because dried fruit tends to be smaller and less watery than their fresh counterparts, you won’t fill up as fast and are likely to eat more. That means you’ll be consuming more sugar if you’re not careful. In addition, you should check the packaging if you’re not drying the fruit yourself. Some dried fruits contain sulfites and added sugar.
2) Coconut Water/ Fruit Juice
Coconut water can help you balance electrolytes in a more natural way than grabbing a sports drink. However, if you’re not plucking a coconut off a tree and drinking it straight from the source, it’s important to realize that not all coconut waters are created equal. The same goes for any fruit juice. If you buy flavored coconut water, chances are it contains added sugars and calories. If you buy fruit juice, check the ingredients. Go for 100% water or juice without added sweetener.
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Similar to the problem with coconut water and juice mentioned above, flavored yogurts can contain high levels of sugar and sweeteners. Go for the plain stuff and add your own fresh fruit if you want to boost the flavor to reap the benefits of gut-soothing, nutrient-rich yogurt.
4) Quick Bites like Granola & Protein Bars, Protein Shakes, Smoothies
Granola bars and protein bars are certainly convenient to toss in a gym bag or to keep in a desk drawer for a quick snack when you need it. Likewise, smoothies and protein shakes make a quick convenient breakfast. But, just because a bar or drink is labeled “organic or high in protein,” that doesn’t automatically mean it is low in sugar, salt or fat. Your best bet is to make your own granola, smoothie or shake and control the ingredients yourself. If you buy pre-packaged, read the label so you understand the portion amount.