Ok, so I know that I have been head down working on my certifications, and I just started my fitness nutrition certification this morning…so naturally, my food radar went up as I started to work through the content. I realized two things as I looked through my social media feed…What happened to all those annoying food pics of burgers, and pizza and handcrafted meals at Grace or Alinea? What happened to that perfect chicken breast someone cooked on the grill plated with green beans? Where are those pics, that at one point, annoyed me because I thought about how amateur they were…yeah, total snob moment on my part? I miss them. I even miss the pics that looked like bodily secretions! Lately, my feed is all about shakes, powders, supplements…with a random banana pictured next to it. Did I miss something? Are we all a part of the space project? I’ve seen MREs better looking than some of the green and brown liquids that are littering my social media feeds. I just don’t understand where all the food went…When did powders become a way of life when fertile land still exists? Read on….
Supplements in powder form aren’t a new phenomenon. Since the mid 1800’s, athletes have been using creatine as well as other supplements in addition to their high calorie diets. The supplements were there to promote strength, athletic endurance and even some metabolic functions. Not one source promoted supplements as anything more. But, again, we are talking about Olympians and other competing athletes. Using that as a basis, scientists came out with supplements that were more every day consumer friendly and offered a secondary nutrition option that was to be balanced with good food and nutrition during meal time. Meals were always still given importance. Remember Ovaltine? I still put it in my milk…YES, I still drink milk! From a COW! Also, growing up, Carnation Instant Breakfast? That stuff was engineered for kids running out of the house, but it was still to be dissolved in MILK. Not once was it ever advertised as something that can or should always take place of a full meal…especially for children. Then came the Slim Fast revolution that was targeted for weight loss. “A shake for dinner, a shake for lunch…and then a balanced dinner?” …well, there we have it, the first generation of meal replacement. This is where I start to get nervous……
Now, when Slim Fast came out, I was too young to care or even be concerned with it…only saw it in commercials. As an adult…no way. I can’t even begin to understand this craziness. As a chef, it embarrasses me. As a fitness professional…I haven’t formed an opinion. As a purist…HECK NO! I did a blog last year some time about meal replacement bars and did a bunch of reviews on them. Even then, I preached that there is no reason for a bar to ever replace natural food. However, certain bars contain ingredients that are food product…I can see the meat, berries and grains in a bar…and can be used as a food replacement as needed, but not as a main course for dinner. A tan log-shaped bar that feels like modeling clay isn’t food and there isn’t a single person out there that can convince me to eat that over a meal. Now, there are powders everywhere, not just bars! Here’s a shake pre-workout, drink one after a workout, here’s a different one for lunch and then have a piece of kale for dinner…or heck, just eat a whole pizza…you earned it! Is it a time thing? A “I can’t cook or eat to save my life” thing? Or “I can’t lose the weight, I need something now” thing? My guess…this is a combination of all of the above, none of which I find acceptable. For those that use powder supplements before and after workouts, AS SUPPLEMENTS…carry on, I can understand the need for extra protein within 2 hours of your workout and not being near a kitchen to make it from scratch…there are exceptions. What I’d like to debunk…are the other 3 theories listed above:
A “time” thing…your body makes time for you, it’s good to you when you are good to it. You have time to measure out powder product, put it in a blender, add the obligatory banana and hit “blend”. You spend the time researching what products to use between Beach Body and Isagenix. I’m sure you do the research in what ingredients on in the powders, which ones have the best benefits, and read reviews on how they taste…right? You have the time to find product that takes place of having to grocery shop, cut up vegetables, cook up some chicken breasts, cook a batch of overnight oats and even portion out fresh berries and nuts to snack on. How long does it take to measure out 1/2 cup of blueberries and a hand full of almonds into a Ziploc baggie? You get the same number of antioxidants, protein and nutrients as some of the suggested shakes. Lunch? If you spend just a little time on Sunday night, baking/grilling 4 chicken breasts for the week, portioning out kale, grape tomatoes, walnut pieces, a sprinkle of parmesan and lemon juice/olive oil. Just 20 minutes on a Sunday, gives you a lunch salad for at least 5 days of the week. That’s 5 less minutes a day you have to prep a shake, instead you get a meal with ingredients that you can see, taste and experience…not just drink. It’s not a “time” thing…it’s starting to look more like a “lazy” thing. Why should I spend time grocery shopping, then prepping my meals for the week? Why should your body give you the time of day when you put ingredients in your system that you can’t spell or say…I mean, “Isomaltooligosaccharide powder”…go ahead, try and say that correctly, then tell me what it is without looking it up. I’d rather put things like “chicken”, “kale” and “tomatoes” (that last one can be tricky) in my body…I’ll make time for that, at least I don’t have to waste my time trying to pronounce it or identify it.
The “I can’t cook” issue…I don’t care who you are and what pre-prepped items you buy…it’s not a reason to just give up and just start eating/drinking like a person with a feeding tube. Learning how to eat is the most important thing you can teach yourself. I understand cooking isn’t everyone’s forte, but there are remedies for that. Sure, using meal replacement shakes alleviates any thought process as an adult with no children, a busy lifestyle and really not giving a crap. What happens when you have children? Do you teach them that food is only nutritious in shake form? That all essential nutrients come from a powder? I’ve taught children that couldn’t tell me what the difference between a blueberry and tomato is because they were never taught about food or nutrition. They’ve never tasted either because their parents never exposed them to those ingredients. I’ve even had a child tell me that he’s never bitten into the flesh of a strawberry because he’s only seen it go into a shake. Forget children, if you are so reliant on meal replacement shakes and don’t know how to eat, what happens when your doctor says that you can’t drink those anymore? That your body isn’t processing some of those chemically produced nutrients as efficiently as when you were 25. What happens then? What are you going to do? Do you know anything about what power greens are? What is the balance of protein and fat content in what types of meat? Or are you that person that goes to Wendy’s and orders the salad with 2 cups of dressing and thinks that’s healthy because it has lettuce? Fact is, there is no substitution to learning how to eat real, tangible food. Drinking a somewhat naturally flavored strawberry shake isn’t the same experience as sinking your teeth into a sweet, voluptuous summer strawberry with juices running down your chin…and honestly, nature in its purest form is the most honest thing you can put in your body.
Ok…weight loss…aka, QUICK FIX. If I have to read one more ad about how you don’t need to exercise to lose weight and only need to drink shakes, I’m gonna lose it. JUST STOP. That is a load of crap and I don’t believe in quick fixes. It actually infuriates me. That’s a statement made by a predator preying on one of the number one insecurities in most people. It’s designed to give people hope that have been struggling to lose weight, not because they can’t…but because it’s not happening as fast as they want it, or that they have been on every other yo-yo fad diet that didn’t work. Laziness inserts itself here again. GET UP OFF YOUR LAZY BUTT AND GET ACTIVE!!! Weight loss is a process that is mental, physical and emotional. It comes slow, but when done properly, it’s something that is sustainable…even if you take a break for a week. What happens when you “cleanse” for a week? You lose a little of your belly pooch to fit into that bikini for vacation? Did you really lose the weight? Did you change anything in your life to sustain that for the future? Or are you going to spend another $200 a week before your next vacation to do the same thing? What happens when you get invited to an impromptu last minute vacation with only 48 hours to prep? What about then? Your flabby abs can’t be saved from the public then, now can they? You going to turn down that hot date on this amazing yacht with this new guy you are crushing on because you didn’t “cleanse” that week? How is drinking shakes for a “cleanse” a long-term weight loss solution?? You swear by those shakes this week, next week…the FDA finds something that isn’t compliant and it’s no longer available…What are you going to do then?? Where will you spend your $200 then? A good gym? A few sessions with a trainer? A nutrition coach? Nope, you’ll jump onto the next “quick-fix” bandwagon until that one takes you over the cliff. There is no self-reliant component, responsibility for your own poor choices and well, why would you think about what you have done to yourself when you can pay a company money to tell you that it’s not your fault and that they have the ultimate solution!! If you think these companies really care about a long-term solution to weight loss, they don’t…the more often you find your pooch growing back, you will pay them again…they aren’t stupid. Hook, line and sinker. Pro-Tip: Get up, get out, get educated on long term weight loss, eat whole foods, exercise regularly…it costs less, it’s sustainable through all phases of life and best of all, the results are even better than you can ever imagine. That one I can personally attest to.
I know I have pissed people off today with this blog, and some I may have even educated. I don’t care to be PC when it comes to something that I live and breathe by choice and by profession. If you are one of those that swears by meal replacement shakes, that’s your prerogative, but it’s my responsibility to point out some obvious truths that may have offended you…which in turn, if you were offended, it means that there is a part of you that might actually agree with me. I don’t hate meal replacement/supplement products. They have their importance to those that use them for the right reasons for recovery, replenishment and even metabolic efficiency. I hate that these products are being advertised and thrown at a weak population looking for the next “quick-fix” by individuals, of which some aren’t qualified to speak to the actual nutritional benefits. Why should someone pay for a nutritionist when they have their friend on Facebook educating them on the benefits of a meal replacement shake? Of course, they are totally qualified to talk to YOU about YOUR body and how this product worked for then and it WILL WORK FOR YOU. Start looking at who is saying what and why…not everyone is right. I believe in a holistic, food driven approach to nutrition and weight loss. I didn’t lose the weight because of a shake…I lost it and kept it off because I took the time to learn how to eat, took the time to cook for myself, made time to exercise and learned that what you I put into my body is what I ultimately get out of it. I don’t preach a product, I preach a process, no blender required.