While balance is certainly key, if you’re working hard to optimize your physique there are some food groups that you will want to avoid for the most part. These ‘physique wrecking foods’ are not only calorie packed and easy to overeat on, they may also cause several negative chemical reactions within the body affecting your long-term health, fat loss and muscle building efforts.
Understanding Energy Density
Energy density describes the amount of energy per unit of food. In simple terms, its the amount of calories per oz or per plate of food. Understanding energy density is key for optimizing your physique, especially when dieting. By focusing on low energy density foods, which provide less calories per plate or oz, you will stay fuller for longer, eat less per meal and likely consume less total calories per day - the key determinant of fat loss.
So as you can see to the left, low energy density foods are good for your physique, helping you eat less and reduce hunger, keeping your diet in check. In contrast, high energy dense foods that contain a ton of calories per portion are extremely addictive and easy to over-eat on, just take pizza or ice cream for example.
Once you understand the basic concepts of energy density its easy to pick out the physique wrecking foods. Not only will these foods add unwanted and “empty” calories, providing no nutritional value, they may also cause disrupted blood sugar levels, impaired insulin sensitivity, inflammation, nutrient deficiency and other health issues.
Here’s a list of the most common physique wrecking food groups and the effects they may have on the body:
Added Sugar Products
It’s no surprise that sugar makes the list, being highly refined, tasty and easy to over consume on. Along with these factors, sugar is a true definition of empty calories, providing only quick digesting carbohydrates with no other nutritional benefits. While this may be ok around the workout, the rest of the time it would make perfect sense to base your carbohydrate intake on sources that provide other benefits, such as fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Several studies have unsurprisingly linked high sugar intake to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer (Stanhope et al., 2009; Malik et al., 2010; Dhingra et al., 2007). Other studies have highlighted the effect of sugar on dieting, showing that even large amounts of sugar do not keep you full or satiated and may cause unwanted cravings, combined, these can wreck havoc on your physique transformation and fat loss goals (Page et al., 2013; Avena et al., 2008).
Along with these health issues, excessive sugar intake can lead to diabetes and impaired blood sugar management. This decreases insulin sensitivity, which is the key process behind nutrient transportation. When this occurs, you’ll get less amino acids (protein), carbs and other nutrients into the muscle cell to fuel your gym workouts and repair.
Excessive Grain Intake
Although some specific grains can provide health benefits, being high in fiber and improving heart health, most commercial grains are highly processed and can actually impair your cholesterol levels and health. In one study, large whole wheat grain intake raised unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels by 60% (Davy et al., 2002).
Along with possible issues from excessive whole wheat consumption, large amount of gluten can also cause digestive issues and negatively effect health, even in those that do not have celiac disease (Biesiekierski et al., 2011; Bernardo et al., 2007).
As above, excessive grain intake can also lead to impaired insulin and carbohydrate function, which can have long-term negative effects on both your fat loss and muscle building efforts.
Hydrogenated Fats and Vegetable Oils
Just like carbohydrates, all fats are not created equally. While some can play an important role in the diet, improving cholesterol, optimizing testosterone and other hormones and improving blood sugar control, hydrogenated fats do nothing except harm your physique.
Also referred to as trans fats, they are unsaturated fats that have been chemically alternated and processed to increase shelf life and function. As the name suggests, this process requires the use of hydrogen gas, which is obviously not beneficial for our body.
Excessive consumption of hydrogenated fats is a sure fire way to pack on body fat, decrease health, increase inflammation and disease risk. Apart from providing no benefit, they are extremely calorie dense (9 calories per gram) and extremely easy to overeat on (Mensink et al., 1990; Kavanagh 2007).
Despite popular belief, vegetable oils aren’t much better. Although they are the most common type of store bought oil, they can cause an increase in omega 6 fats which is unhealthy at high levels. In turn, this reduces the ratio of omega 3 fats, which as you may know, are probably one of the healthiest fats on the planet (Ramsden et al., 2010).
Many health issues are believed to be caused by underlying inflammation, which is primarily caused by a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Swapping out this type of fat for healthier alternatives, such as coconut oil can do nothing but benefit your physique and health.
Along with these main food groups, excessive artificial sweeteners (like you may find in most workout supplements but not KAGED MUSCLE) and low-fat high sugar products are also food groups you should avoid or limit your intake.
As always, balance is important for a lot of people and this certainly isn’t to say you should never ever eat these foods, just live by moderation and limit these foods for rare and special occasions, rather than eating them on a daily or weekly basis.
Remember, as Kris always preaches, a healthy inside will guarantee you a healthy and chiseled outside!
Stanhope, K. L., Schwarz, J. M., Keim, N. L., Griffen, S. C., Bremer, A. A., Graham, J. L., ... & McGahan, J. P. (2009). Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. The Journal of clinical investigation, 119(5), 1322-1334.
Malik, V. S., Popkin, B. M., Bray, G. A., Després, J. P., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes a meta-analysis. Diabetes care, 33(11), 2477-2483.
Dhingra, R., Sullivan, L., Jacques, P. F., Wang, T. J., Fox, C. S., Meigs, J. B., ... & Vasan, R. S. (2007). Soft drink consumption and risk of developing cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged adults in the community. Circulation, 116(5), 480-488.
Page, K. A., Chan, O., Arora, J., Belfort-DeAguiar, R., Dzuira, J., Roehmholdt, B., ... & Sherwin, R. S. (2013). Effects of fructose vs glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways. JAMA, 309(1), 63-70.
Avena, N. M., Rada, P., & Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39.
Davy, B. M., Davy, K. P., Ho, R. C., Beske, S. D., Davrath, L. R., & Melby, C. L. (2002). High-fiber oat cereal compared with wheat cereal consumption favorably alters LDL-cholesterol subclass and particle numbers in middle-aged and older men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(2), 351-358.
Biesiekierski, J. R., Newnham, E. D., Irving, P. M., Barrett, J. S., Haines, M., Doecke, J. D., ... & Gibson, P. R. (2011). Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. The American journal of gastroenterology, 106(3), 508-514.
Bernardo, D., Garrote, J. A., Fernández-Salazar, L., Riestra, S., & Arranz, E. (2007). Is gliadin really safe for non-coeliac individuals? Production of interleukin 15 in biopsy culture from non-coeliac individuals challenged with gliadin peptides. Gut, 56(6), 889-890.
Mensink, R. P., & Katan, M. B. (1990). Effect of dietary trans fatty acids on high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy subjects. New England Journal of Medicine, 323(7), 439-445.
Kavanagh, K., Jones, K. L., Sawyer, J., Kelley, K., Carr, J. J., Wagner, J. D., & Rudel, L. L. (2007). Trans fat diet induces abdominal obesity and changes in insulin sensitivity in monkeys. Obesity, 15(7), 1675-1684.
Ramsden, C. E., Hibbeln, J. R., Majchrzak, S. F., & Davis, J. M. (2010). n-6 fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 104(11), 1586-1600.