What’s with all the moral outrage surrounding McDonald’s “better” Chicken McNuggets?

Three weeks ago, McDonald’s released a commercial touting their “better” chicken mcnuggets.

The aim of the commercial was to show how McDonald’s is responding to changing consumer tastes by making their food healthier….because “We all want what’s best for our kids” …so sayeth the commercial’s narrator.

Soon after the commercial aired on tv, people started flipping out.

Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich claimed McDonald’s is misleading customers about its food.

“I was offended watching this commercial during the Olympics about the preservative-free McNuggets,” Shaich said in a phone interview with Business Insider. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ Sure, you’ve got McNuggets that are preservative-free, but what are you dipping them in? Sauces that are filled with that stuff!” (link to article)

“Grossly misleading,” is how Bill Jeffery describes the commercial. The executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa argues preservatives or no preservatives, deep-fried and salted Chicken McNuggets simply aren’t a healthy choice for children.

“What they’re advocating is so far removed from good nutrition, it’s almost kind of laughable.”

Cue the moral outrage

As a health & fitness professional, this is where I am supposed to jump on the bandwagon and slag McDonald’s for trying to sell us junk food under the banner of health & family & all that good stuff.

And yet…I kinda feel bad for McDonald’s.

Sure, McDonald’s claim/suggestion that their food is healthy is 100% BS. As is their claim that they want the best for my daughter.

mcnuggetsrcrap

What they want is to sell as much “food” to as many people as is possible…just like every other food manufacturer in the world.

And since the fastest growing segment of the food industry is “healthy” food, McDonald’s execs are re-formulating the menu & re-branding their image as quickly as possible.

In regard to their menu, McDonald’s has already stopped using chickens raised with antibiotics prescribed to humans and intends to:

  • switch to cage-free eggs in the next decade,
  • replace the corn syrup in their buns with sugar
  • cook McMuffins with butter instead of liquid margarine, and
  • remove the preservatives from their McNuggets

Which, IMHO, is pretty great for the world’s most popular JUNK FOOD restaurant.

McNuggets-ingredients

Because, we have to remember that since it’s inception, McDonald’s has sold fried meat, white bread, deep-fried potatoes, soft drinks, milk shakes and sugary condiments. And they’ve made billions doing that…because people love that stuff.

Unfortunately, as McDonald’s grew and their restaurants became assembly lines supplied by factory food, the quality of raw ingredients dropped through the floor.

Now, with the public’s shift towards healthier food choices, McDonald’s is responding by improving the quality of their factory food AND introducing healthier new options like kale salads.

Which is a move in the right direction. 

Just don’t expect them to go back to selling beef raised from cattle that eat grass…and fresh potatoes fried in oils that can handle high heat…and milkshakes made with milk from grass-fed cows…and buns baked without preservatives.

brontosaurus-burger

McDonald’s customers aren’t going to put up with a $10 Big Mac. Not going to happen. It would be financial suicide.

McDonald’s sells fast, cheap, sweaty, greasy & salty food…because that’s what humans like best. It’s in our dna.

And as long as McDonald’s is truthful in reporting the nutritional content of their food, even us health & fitness advocates have to cut Ronald some slack and accept that we are the ones responsible for the food we put into ourselves and our kids.

Even if their ads are manipulative & less than honest.

Reference

 

Pre-Workout Caffeine to Get Stronger, Faster, Bigger and More Powerful

A new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that the immediate ingestion of caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) prior to resistance training:

  1. Reduces the level of muscle fatigue and,
  2. Preserves leg power throughout the training session,
  3. With zero increase in muscle damage

Which is awesome if you are interested in getting stronger, faster, bigger and/or more powerful.

In the study, six male handball athletes ingested placebo (PLA) or caffeine (CAF) (6 mg·kg−1 body mass) capsules on 2 different occasions. Sixty minutes after ingestion of the capsules, serum CAF levels were evaluated.

Thereafter, all participants performed a protocol of vertical jumps (VJs). The protocol consisted of 4 sets of 30 seconds of continuous VJs with 60 seconds of recovery between sets.

Blood lactate (LAC) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were determined before and after the protocol.

We found significant differences in serum CAF levels between PLA (0.09 ± 0.18 µg·ml−1) vs. CAF (6.59 ± 4.44 µg·ml−1) (p < 0.001).

Caffeine elicited a 5.23% (p≤ 0.05) improvement in the leg power compared with PLA. The CAF trial displayed higher LAC (p ≤ 0.05) compared with PLA (6.26 ± 2.01 vs. 4.39 ± 2.42 mmol·L−1, respectively) after protocol of VJs, whereas no difference in CK was observed between trials (p > 0.05).

These results indicate that immediate ingestion of CAF (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) can reduce the level of muscle fatigue and preserve leg power during the test, possibly resulting in increase in LAC. There was no increase in muscle damage, which indicates that immediate administration of (6 mg·kg−1 body weight) CAF is safe. Thus, nutritional interventions with CAF could help athletes withstand a greater physiological overload during high-intensity training sessions.

The results of this study would be applicable to sports and activities that require repetitive leg power.

What does this mean to you?

  • To properly follow the protocol used in the study, you need to ingest 6mg of caffeine per 1kg of body weight ( 2.72mg per 1lb of bodyweight)
  • There is approximately 100mg of caffeine in 1 cup of coffee
  • Which means that a 150lb trainee would need to drink 408mg or 4 cups of coffee before training….probably not the best idea if you don’t want to spend your workout in the bathroom.
  • The same caffeine-math applies to tea, Red Bull, 5 Hour Extra Strength Energy Shot (the strongest energy drink with 242mg of caffeine), etc..

As a result, you are going to need to purchase some caffeine pills if you want to take advantage of this caffeinated training boost.

And of course, not everyone’s GI tract is going to do well with all that caffeine.

BUT…if your gut is okay with a big dose of caffeine AND you’re looking to break through a training plateau, supplementing with caffeine immediately pre-workout could be exactly what you’re looking for.

ronnie coleman squat

NOTE: If you try this caffeine protocol, I would love to hear how it works for you. Feel free to contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Reference

A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

Recently, one of my clients asked me to assist one of her friends who:

  1. needed to lose weight quickly (in order to be eligible for surgery)
  2. was low on funds

Normally, my training clients are fairly well off, so the diets I usually recommend are loaded with fresh fruits & veg, natural (not factory farmed) meat, healthy oils and a variety of health, performance & weight-loss supplements.

With constraints on time and money, I turned to my good friends…dietary fiber and butyrate.

For those of you that don’t know, butyrate is created as fiber is fermented in your gut. And in addition to a LOT of health benefits generated by this fiber/butyrate process, eating a high fiber/butyrate diet results in:

So here’s what we did

Client Info:

  • 297 lb female
  • Hypertension
  • Exercise limitations
  • No known food allergies or other food constraints
  • Needs to lose weight asap to be eligible for a required surgery
  • No extra income for personal training, supplements, etc

Exercise Plan

Due to her medical issue, the only exercise I could recommend is a daily walking routine (10,000+ steps) and mobility/flexibility training in the evening before bed

Overall Diet Theory

  • Low cost
  • High fiber & butyrate
  • Boring & predictable – making meal prep simple and reducting opportunities to “accidentally” cheat
  • Low time commitment – which is always a bonus

For Breakfast….EVERY day

Oatmeal Custard…..mmmmmmmm good

  • Oatmeal – 1 cup dry large flakes
  • Water – 2 cups
  • 1 XL egg

Recipe here

Optional Toppings

  • Peanut butter & banana – 1 tbsp PB max
  • Raisins & cinnamon – 2 tbsp raisins max
  • Brown sugar & vanilla – 2 tbsp sugar max
  • Frozen berries – big handful
  • Chocolate chips – small handful max

Mix and match toppings as your heart desires…while keeping quantities in line

creamy-oats-4

For Lunch & Dinner….EVERY day

Rice & Lentil Pilaf

This recipe makes enough food for both lunch and dinner combined.

  • 2 cups of dry rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, etc
  • 1 cups of lentils (I prefer the French or Puy lentils…great taste)
  • Chopped garlic, onion & spices (to your taste)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter (grass-fed if possible) – added after cooking
  • Ajvar sauce (or similar flavorful sauce) to taste – added after cooking

ajvar_sauce

 

To drink throughout the day

  • Water (at least 8 glasses)
  • Tea and/or coffee – no sugar or dairy (herbal tea counts as 1 glass of water – coffee & tea count as 1/2 a glass of water)

Results

  • After 4 weeks, she has lost 18 lbs…from 297 to 279.
  • The first week, she lost only 2 lbs. Not sure why, but after the first week, the weight loss has been consistent from week to week.
  • She was a “little bit” gassy for the first two weeks, but that side-effect has resolved itself
  • Similarly, her trips to the bathroom have become healthier
  • Her appetite, especially at night when she is relaxing, is nothing compared to how it used to be. She has always been a late-night snacker.
  • She also told me that she thinks her allergies & her skin are much improved since starting the diet.

And while we can’t quantify anything other than the weight loss, none of her observations sound unrealistic…but as a science nerd, I am still going to take them with a grain of salt.

So there you go…A Cheap and Effective Diet to Lose Weight Quickly

 

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A Better Whey to Boost Your Health

Every year, bazillions of dollars are spent on drugs that promise to lower our cholesterol & triglycerides levels.

Some work, some don’t.

In a recent study, researchers discovered an inexpensive and yummy way to lower LDL cholesterol & triglycerides.

That’s right…I said yummy.

Here’s the plan/recipe

  • 45 grams of whey protein
  • 150 mg of supplemental calcium
  • 0.75 μg of vitamin D3
  • 2.5 g of prebiotic dietary fiber
  • 500 ml of water

Toss all these “healthy” ingredients into a blender with some frozen fruit and some cinnamon (for taste & GI control) and you’ve got a health booster that has been shown to have a significant effect on…

  1. Reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
  2. Reducing triglyceride levels

…in just 21 days.

And it tastes great too.

Reference

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Restaurant Revolution: When Healthier Menus = Healthier Profits & Healthier Kids

In April 2012, Silver DIner, a full-service family restaurant chain with 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, made three major changes to its children’s menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.

  • Meals were re-designed to meet or exceed nutrition standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program (59%, compared to 22% before the changes).
  • Healthy side dishes became the default choice – strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads–were automatically included with all kids’ meals by default.
  • And less-healthy choices such as french fries, soda and lemonade were removed from the menu.

NOTE: Fries and soda were still available…upon request.

What Happened Next?

  • Children’s meal prices increased by $0.79 for breakfasts and $0.19 for non-breakfast meals.
  • Restaurant revenue increased with yearly percent change as follows:
  • 2008-2009: +1.5%,
  • 2009-2010: −2.1%,
  • 2010-2011: +11.1%,
  • 2011-2012: +5.1%,
  • and 2012-2013: +5.1%.
  • Orders of healthy meals, strawberry and vegetable sides, milk, and juice increased
  • Orders of French fries, desserts and soda decreased
  • Total calories ordered by children decreased (684 kcal pre vs. 621 kcal post)
  • Except for the kids who requested un-healthy choices (935.0 pre vs. 942.9 post)

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Conclusions

  1. Chain restaurants can create healthier menus without alienating their ‘non-health-food’ patrons,
  2. Kids will eat healthier restaurant meals when menus are designed correctly,
  3. Chain restaurants can increase profits by making their menus healthier

Where do we go from here?

  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider taking a look at the Silver Diner kids menu and use it as a template for re-working my own kids menu
  • If I was a restaurant owner, I would consider applying the same menu format for the main menu as well
  • As a parent, I am going to send a link to this article to the restaurants I frequent most often. The number of obese children in our society is truly horrendous and we all need to pitch in to reverse this trend.

Please Help

Most people will never hear about this article, this research, this restaurant.

Please help by tweeting, sharing, pinning, tumbling, stumbling, etc.

Reference

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Junk Food Can Damage Your Metabolism In Just 5 Days

The human body is an amazing machine. Capable of:

  • Climbing mountains,
  • Adapting to environments as disparate as the arctic and the tropical rain forest.
  • Running for hundreds of kilometres at a stretch,
  • Lifting freakishly heavy weights.
  • Amazing technological advances,
  • Creating art that can elevate the soul

Unfortunately, what your body can’t do is consume junk food – aka the Standard American Diet – without starting to fall apart.

Here’s the science:

According to this new study, after just 5 days of eating a diet that included sausage biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and food loaded with butter, healthy college-age students experienced a significant change in how their muscles processed nutrients. And not for the better.

According to the researchers, eating a starchy, fatty diet disrupts how your muscles metabolize glucose, “which could lead to the body’s inability to respond to insulin”, leading to insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a reduced quantity & quality of life.

NOTE: In the study, the test diet was designed to have fat make up 55% of the calories – as opposed to a “normal” 30% fat diet – with the inclusion of foods such as sausage biscuits and mac & cheese. And while I agree that a diet in which 55% of the calories comes from fat can be called a “high-fat” diet, I would argue that it would be more accurate to call it a “high fat AND carb” diet or a “high fat AND starchy carb” diet or a “high fat AND high gluten” diet.

To infer that fat is the villain here may not be wholly accurate. We need a bit more research before we start blaming a single macronutrient.

What does this mean to you?

  1. As yummy as sausage biscuits smothered in gravy and bacon smells, you may not want to eat it very often. Your body hasn’t evolved (devolved) to handle this type of food.
  2. If you can’t resist the siren song of Mac ‘n Cheese, space it out with some healthy food, like a Big Salad, to help your muscles sensitive to insulin.
  3. The next time you hear about a study saying High-Fat or High-Carb diets are bad, take a closer look at what the researchers consider high-fat or high-carb.dia

Reference

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