I got an email from a client last year that sounded desperate.
She told me that she was doing everything right based on my advice but wasn’t losing weight at all:
“I don’t get it… I eat all the right foods – lean meats, veggies, whole wheat bread – but I’m still gaining weight. I get a little bit of exercise, but my diet is literally perfect. What’s going on here?”
When I probed a bit further and asked specifically the kinds of foods she was eating, she dropped the bomb:
“Oh no, I go out to eat all of my meals. I have a traveling job so I don’t have the luxury of cooking my own food.”
As it turns out, even healthy food when you eat out (depending on where you eat) can be loaded with hidden calories. To prove it, I did a little experiment below:
Here’s What I Discovered
The Home Experiment: You Can Eat “Healthy Food” And Still Gain Weight
I bought a sandwich at Panera Bread – one of their bestsellers – and here’s what happened next:
Here’s What it Looked Like Opened:
Here’s How Many Calories it Had:
And I Became Curious…
If I made this sandwich at home, what would it look like, how many calories would it have, and would it be any more/less filling?
The way a food is prepared (e.g. processing/sugar added) dramatically changes how filling it is, as well as how many calories it has.
So it’s entirely possible for a food to be MORE filling with LESS calories if it’s LESS processed. Catch my drift?
So I Grabbed the Same Amount of Bread (In Weight):
And Then I Grabbed The Same Amount of Turkey…
Then I Added Some Cheese..
Added Some Bacon…
And Some Tomatoes…
And Some Lettuce…
And 90 Calories Worth of Mayo (Panera’s Sauce Was 90 Calories):
And My Own Sandwich Came To Life, With One Problem…
It Was TWICE The Size, But 150 Calories Less. What!?
The Surprising Differences Here…
Let’s start with one observation: My sandwich was enormous. Much bigger Panera’s and presumably much more filling.
Total calories from Panera’s sandwich: 830
Total calories from my sandwich: 700.
#1 It’s a Heck of a lot Easier to Overeat (Without Realizing it) When You Eat Out.
That’s not just because food is more “unhealthy” – it’s sometimes the amount it’s processed, how it’s cooked, and the sauces and marinades that are used.
For example, look at the calorie count from wings at Buffalo Wild wings. We all know wings aren’t exactly a health food, but if you were to prepare them at home, you’d literally eat 1/3 the calories. If you ate ONE SERVING of ribs & chicken tenders at buffalo wild wings, that’s literally the recommended daily calorie intake for a 6′ 2″ 170 pound male. Or for a 5′ 7″ 150 pound female.
I’ve already showed something very similar in another health experiment called “Shocking (In Pictures) Why We’re Fat.”
I also have shown previously how we’re going up against a massive business (the food industry) and how they’re keeping us addicted: How Big Business Makes Food As Addictive As Cocaine.
The scary thing is that Panera is actually on the “healthier” side of the spectrum. If you’re really eating out and letting yourself indulge (especially if you do it twice a day) you could easily be eating your entire recommended daily amount of calories in two meals.
#2 There’s a Heck of a lot More Sodium Than if You Made the Food Yourself.
Check out the sodium facts from the CDC:
The tolerable upper limit is 2,300 mg/day.
Just in this sandwich there was almost 3,000 mg.
In the version that I made, it totaled less than 1/2 that: 1,300 mg.
#3 Your Health Is NOT Just About Calories
300 calories of broccoli and 300 calories of soda aren’t the same. At all.
So maybe you’re eating the right amounts of food, you’re not dramatically over eating, so you’re drinking soda and eating some junk but not gaining weight.
Think you’re in the clear?
Sorry, you aren’t.
Despite the fact that you may not be gaining weight, broccoli is loaded with nutrients, anti-cancer compounds, and other protective vitamins and minerals.
Soda contains high fructose corn syrup, which we know contributes to liver fat deposits and in high amounts (like the amounts we’re consuming) causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are children coming down with liver disease before they’re teenage because they were raised on soda. (Source 1, Source 2). Unfortunately, almost everything is packed with high fructose corn syrup now.
So yeah, you might not gain weight even though you’re drinking soda instead of eating broccoli. But inside it will show a different story.
In fact, skinny fat people are more likely to die from metabolic related diseases than overweight people.
So don’t envy your skinny little friend that eats crappy food at all. He/she is going to pay the price.
Your Tiny Habit For Today (And Maybe The Year)
You already know to just eat real food. That’s my mantra.
And you know to change your habits, instead of adopting another diet.
Those two things will change your life (and health) alone.
But there’s a third.
Something I want to help you achieve this year.
Cook your own food.
Cooking your own food is THE habit to develop to improve your health. We know food is the underlying poison/cure behind this obesity epidemic. And we know that most people simply aren’t treating it like that.
Leave a comment below and tell me if you cook – and why or why not. If not, what’s stopping you?