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  • michaelhamanaka

You Might Be Cheating... and not even knowing it

I’ve done fitness and nutrition for many years and by this point in my career I might even venture to call myself an expert. At its essence my job is to help people look and feel better. So while most of you wouldn’t call me an “expert” or “professional” at anything, I do know a little about how to workout and more importantly what to put inside your body to look at least halfway decent.

This may come as a surprise to some of you but until this Meagalife X MVMT challenge I’ve never tracked a macro. I’ve always just eaten as much as I wanted of whatever I wanted. The key for me is staying true to my nutrition guidelines; gluten free, dairy free-ish, something I’m not allergic to and NEVER cheating.

When I say never cheating, that’s kind of a misnomer because I do “cheat” I just do it within my guidelines and I never waiver from that… like right now I’m eating a braised short rib with mashed potatoes, onion rings and a demi glaze. The potatoes are made with non dairy milk, the onion rings are coated with rice flour and the demi is sweet and delicious. I also cheat with gluten free crust and vegan cheese at Powerhaus Pizza and poke bowls with gluten free sauces from Poke Chop. When I order sides with my steak at restaurants it’s always veggies and rice or potatoes. I don’t ever feel restricted or incapable of finding something to eat anywhere I go.

I love eating. I love eating more than working out. I love eating more than music and dancing. I do not love eating more than looking good but I do definitely eat more than most people. I’m also, more fit ‘looking’ than most people and from my experience, most people just want to look fitter. The secret is the food.

Now for the reason I wrote this blog. I’m normally very good at reading labels, I usually pay attention to three things: ingredient list, proteins and sugars. I look for minimal ingredients (aka real food), high protein (+10g) and low sugars (-6g). Keeping those 3 key points in mind has kept me in pretty good shape without having to ever track anything.

This weekend while snowboarding in Big Bear I bought some Bobo’s Oat Bars to eat on the slopes. I gave myself a little leniency with the sugar (10g) and protein (3g) because I knew I’d be burning a ton of calories shredding the gnar or more accurately, rolling down the mountain head over heels like a little Japanese snowball. These were the best tasting bars I’ve ever eaten, the consistency was soft and chewy (maybe from all the tumbling), the sweetness hit the mark while sitting on the ski lift and I quickly ate the whole thing. I was fueled and ready to snowball some more.

A few years ago, the FDA changed the nutrition guidelines from “whatever the maker of the food product decided to put as a serving size” to what the “average” consumer would consume in one serving. So chip serving sizes went from a measly 5 to a modest 15 and most drinks became the entire bottle.

In the car ride back to San Diego, after eating my third bar in two days I decided to give the nutrition label a quick glance and was shocked to see a little “2” next to the serving size! What kind of a monster expects me to eat half of a tiny snack bar? Am I supposed to wrap it up and put it in the fridge? Or worse, COVID share it? I ate 60 grams of sugar in those bars!! That’s more sugar than I try to eat in 3 days. I thought they were too good to be true.

At it’s root, sugar causes high blood pressure and diabetes but more worrisome for the youth (and those trying to get shredded) it causes inflammation, bloating, and weight gain. Sugar is (my) enemy number one for abs and I don’t care whether it’s added or natural, sugar is sugar and I try to avoid it.

The American Heart Association recommends you don’t eat more than 36g/day but as of now the FDA has NO RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCE (RDA) for sugar. That absolutely blows my mind! Short but necessary rant: There is an obesity and poor health epidemic running wild through our country and I think unregulated/uninformed sugar intake has a lot to do with it.

I’m not saying don’t eat sugar, it makes most people happy and what’s life if you’re not happy. BUUUUUUT if you’re trying to lean down for summer, now is the time to start understanding what you’re putting in your mouth and why your might not be losing the weight as quickly as you want.

Here’s the sugar content of some common products and if they’re in my grocery basket or not…

Soda ~39g (Heck no)

Sweetened tea ~26g (Hard pass)

Greek Yogurt ~15g (Used to but sugar and dairy. No thanks.)

Granola - up to 14g (Choose one low in sugar/high in fiber)

Ketchup/Sauces ~3.7g/tbsp (Only when I’m hungover)

Protein/snack bars - up to 20g (look at all the bars sometimes the sugar is worth it if the protein is high enough. There are so many out there you have to find one you like and likes you back. It’s like online dating but way less disappointing.)

Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal Packet - 12g (instead buy regular oats and throw in some flavored protein powder)

Fruit juice ~23g (Not in this temple)

Jamba Juice 16oz Caribbean Passion - 55g (::head explodes::)

12 oz tonic water - 32g (Try soda water with lime. The hangover will be easier too)

Gatorade - 36g (Uh uh)

G2 - 7g (Only when I’m golfing)

Gatorade Zero - 0g (Ring it up)

Starbucks Grande Caffe Latte ~18g (Try almond milk - 2.5g)

Starbucks Strawberry Acai Lemonade Refresher - 32g (Refreshing for the energy boost, not your body)

Vitaminwater - 27g (Hard to believe they call it water)

Canned/Packaged Fruit ~18g (Buy the real thing)

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Entree ~18g (Homemade bacon, egg cheese scramble ~2g)

So what's in your grocery basket Michael?

Vegetables. Meats. Berries. Oats. Eggs. Sunflower seed butter (because of allergies). Vegan protein powders and bars. Coffee. Quinoa. Rice. Vitamins. Natural high quality supplements. Soda water. Tequila. Red wine. Seltzers.

It's a basket, it can only hold so much.

Lastly, the FDA has FORCED large companies, corporations and restaurants to make nutrition labels available to the public and that is BEATUIFUL!! Literally at our fingertips we all have the ability to know exactly what we are putting in our bodies. Our phones are so much more than trolling Instagram or getting stock tips off Reddit.

Things will probably still be scary this summer. We all took last year off and quarantine 15 started trending. This year let's say f*** COVID and get in the best shape of your life.

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