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Nutritionists Say Granola Bars Are Just Dressed Up Junk Food

Nutritionists Say Granola Bars Are Just Dressed Up Junk Food

Granola bars, like many sweeties in disguise, are marketed as a health food or health snack on today’s market. And while there are certain nutrients to be gained from some ingredients in granola and other muesli bars and slices, these snacks are actually far less healthy than we are led to believe.

Why Is It Unhealthy?

Granola bars are a huge part of many people’s diets including children’s lunches. Because of the “healthy” ingredients within granola bars such as fruits, oats and even seeds and grains, we consume these bars under the assumption (or the self-denial) that these are healthy foods that are good for us.

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The truth is, in fact, that there are huge amounts of hidden fats and sugars within granola that, if we actually knew about, we might think twice about consuming granola – or at least about consuming as much as we do. Statistics state that nearly 55% of American households have granola bars or snacks within them. The annual sales for granola products are over $7 billion.

Granola Is Just Like Unhealthy Cookies

We are consuming enormous amounts of daily calories in just one bar – in fact what we believe is the perfect ‘on-the-go-snack’ is actually slowing us down and may even be cancelling out any good, healthy work we are doing.

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As medical director Yoni Freedhoff of Ottowa’s Bariatric Medical Institute says:”I think the public perception is that if there is the word granola in it that it’s healthy for you. There’s a lot of things that sound healthy but then tend to get stuck together with lots of sugar and lots of high-calorie fats.”

Granola in actual fact is much more similar to a cookie than to a health food. Granola bars tend to have an extremely high rate of high-fructose corn syrup, a dangerous ingredient in many candy bars and other unhealthy snacks. Corn syrup is linked to rising levels of weight gain, cholesterol levels and insulin resistance and is a dangerous hidden ingredient for those attempting to otherwise stave off unhealthy foods.

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Homemade and Healthy Granola Bars

Often granola bars are unhealthy because of the way they are processed, or cooked. If you can try your own homemade granola recipes you can control the amount of sugars and fats that go in the recipe and therefore into your body. Using natural ingredients like agave syrup rather than sugar, goji berries rather than chocolate chips, will ensure you are giving your body nutrients without overdosing on the bad stuff.

We could always try alternative health on-the-go snacks such as:

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  • Banana + Kale smoothie
  • Rice cakes with avocado
  • Celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Edamame
  • Whole grain protein bars

Some other great healthy options are these simple 5-ingredient health bar by Minimalist Baker or these Peanut Butter and Goji Berry granola bars by Love and Lemon.

Featured photo credit: What’s Gaby Cooking via whatsgabycooking.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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