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The Problem With "Healthy" Fast Food

If you find yourself hungry on-the-go these days, your food options are endless. However, when you're trying to stick with only healthy foods from fast food restaurants, your options become much more limited. Many fast food restaurants are now offering "healthy" menu selections which can come in handy for someone on a diet watching their fat and carbohydrate intake. The problem is that you will need to be cautious of all the hidden ingredients that will turn that healthy salad, wrap, or entree into a roadblock on your path to your weight loss goal.

Recently a study was conducted during which a man ate only foods listed on the "healthy" menus at several major fast food chains. He stuck to this regimen for a full seven days, and while he did lose some weight, it was interesting how he felt at the end of the week. Eating healthy on a ketogenic diet such as ITG will leave you feeling great with energy to burn. On his diet, the man ended the week with severe head and body aches. He also noted that he felt starved each day as he had shifted from eating about 2500 calories per day down to anywhere from 800-1200 calories a day. Most of the foods he ate were higher in protein, lower in carbs, but high in fat. Another hidden ingredient in these "healthy" foods made everything taste so delicious: sodium. The sodium content of these foods was at extremely high levels and caused him to feel sick and bloated. Take a look at some of the sodium counts from the foods he ate: Taco Bell Steak Burrito - 1500 milligrams of sodium. Wendy's Baja Salad - 1600 milligrams of sodium. Chick-fil-a plain grilled chicken - 350 milligrams of sodium (and that's just for a single piece of chicken, not very filling for a meal!)

He also noted that he was spending a lot more money trying to make these "healthy" choices; while you can purchase a burger, fries, chicken nuggets and a drink for a grand total of $4, the salads and wraps ended up costing upwards of $8 to $12 per meal, and his hunger was never satiated!

The Truth About Sodium

Sodium is a mineral that our bodies need to function properly, by carrying electrical charges between nerve cells and to help control muscle contractions, including your internal organs. Sodium is also a flavor enhancer and a preservative, so it's no wonder that all of those processed restaurant foods contain it in very high levels. Salt makes food taste so good that your body and brain will create intense cravings. If we consume too much sodium, our bodies have to adjust to help regulate it.

Remember that sodium affects the heart and blood pressure due to the body retaining water to dilute the sodium. For every 400 milligrams of sodium eaten, your body can retain an extra 4 cups of water, which translates to 2 pounds of weight gain!

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 2500 milligrams per day, but that should be closer to 1500 milligrams to help regulate blood pressure and other health issues. 1500 milligrams of sodium is 3/4 teaspoon of salt per day. Most Americans are consuming on average 3400 milligrams per day due to fast and processed foods!

Monitor Your Sodium Intake

On the ITG Diet Plan, we recommend using a bit of sea salt when cooking your foods to help retain water in a healthy way, since ketogenic diets are naturally diuretic and cause the body to lose water. By drinking the minimum of eight 8 ounce glass of water each day and utilizing a bit of sea salt on your vegetables and proteins you will help retain some of the water, rather than losing it so quickly. Also, by eliminating fast foods from your diet while on the ITG Diet Plan, you will finally be able to drastically reduce and control the amount of salt in the foods you cook and eat.

Fast food may come in handy when in a bind or you find yourself ill prepared during your travels. On the ITG Diet Plan, we recommend that you steer clear of restaurant foods, especially in the first month on the program. All of the sodium in these foods will cause you to retain water which will in turn slow or stall your weight loss progress, which can be detrimental to your overall success and motivation early on.

If you find yourself in a jam and have no other food options than to eat at a restaurant, make intelligent choices when selecting"healthy" fast foods. Use your ITG Restaurant Menu Guide right here on the ITG website for simple tips and tricks for ordering out. You can also search online (www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition is a great resource for nutritional values) or ask the restaurant for a nutrition guide. Most will be happy to provide you with a copy if available. To help cut back on the sodium in these foods, make sure to use your own home-made salad dressing or oil and vinegar (find ITG recipes here), eliminate the croutons, cheese, nuts, seeds, and fruits, and stick with grilled and steamed foods.

Drink plenty of water during and after eating those foods higher in sodium: the best way to eliminate the excess sodium and water retained from those fast foods is to (surprise!) drink more water! As you add water, your system will force out the previously retained water to get your system back on track.


Joseph is Operations Directer and Certified ITG Coach at Corporate Headquarters in Saint Petersburg, Florida.


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