If you are one of the few people who have never tried Taco Bell food, take a bow. You won’t find Vicera there either. The fast food chain says it doesn’t cook with artificial ingredients anymore but that only applies to foods that are not co-branded. Everything else still has a lot of sugar and corn syrup, Besides, these artificial ingredients are just a dot in the long list of bad things in nacho cheese, tacos or cheesy fiesta potatoes.
Milk making the “black list” of foods was a surprise but it makes sense. “Even though I use dairy products I do not drink actual milk,” Jesse Grund, a fitness professional and nutritional therapist at Perfect Movement Fitness, says. “I feel milk after adolescence is pointless when there are healthy ways to intake calcium, protein and fat without the worry of what went into the cow.”
“To be frank, if you eat fast foods, you are lazy,” Ben Boudro, Strength & Conditioning Specialist and owner of Xceleration Sports in Auburn Hills, MI. “I work more than an average of 80 hours per week and somehow still find time to meal prep all of my lunches for the week. My health is important to me, and it is non-negotiable to meal prep on Sundays.”
Burgers and fries are not part of Vicera’s menu either. “This is just empty calories,” he says. “They have no nutritional value.” That means you’ll be hungry very soon, likely reaching for more junk food. You can’t only be feeding your body calories from fat. It needs vitamins, fiber, minerals and other nutrients to keep your metabolism, and you, healthy.
If Vicera finds himself needing more energy quick, he doesn’t reach out for a Red Bull or a similar energy drink. “They have too much sugar and caffeine.” This is a bad combination. “[Energy drinks] are popular now because people are always busy and lack energy but this is not the way to get it,” he adds. An apple is a much better choice, he adds. It won’t quickly spike your blood sugar and is more sustainable.
NapasT / Shutterstock
Vicera is being extra cautious, he says, because raw food can have certain harmful bacteria. Raw meat may contain bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria, or parasites which will live if it’s not handle properly. Cooking kills the bad stuff, in addition to boosting some nutrients. All of that helps you against food positioning.Plus, there is no scientific evidence that raw foods prevent illness.
Foods rich on refined sugar are banned from Vicera’s meals. The body needs fresh foods for energy. Many breakfast cereals are loaded with refined sugars. So are candy, cakes and donuts. Processed foods also have it. Refined sugar is bad for you because its vitamins and minerals have been washed-out.
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock
Doug Sklar, founder of PhilanthroFIT Training and certified personal trainer, says he will never drink soda because it has loads of sugar, empty calories that do not fill you up, and no nutritional benefit whatsoever.”
Boudro never drinks soda either. “It’s packed with sugars, carbonation and other things that the body straight up does not need. Along with dehydration, soda pops store fat and slow you down throughout the day.”
Sklar puts sugary fruit in the same category as soda. Just because something has the word “fruit” in it, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Even fruit juices often contain as much sugar and calories as a soft drink. The juice is stored in a huge oxygen-depleted holding tank for a long time after it’s been squeezed from the fruit and before it goes to the store. Most of the flavor is, however, removed this way. Manufacturers have to make up for it by adding artificial flavors and sweeteners.
Ruslan Mitin / Shutterstock
“In terms of solid food,” Sklar says, “I will NEVER eat a hot dog. I am currently vegan, but even when I ate meat, I wouldn't touch a hot dog (which some would argue barely qualifies as meat).” The reason is that it is “high in saturated fat, loaded with sodium, artificially colored and preserved with sodium nitrites and nitrates.”
Non-organic foods are usually raised with a lot of pesticides, Tri says, which is why she won’t touch them. “I will pay a few dollars extra to get organic food.” She also doesn’t eat meat if the animal has been fed non-organic food. “I believe animals, too, deserve a quality life.” But if the animal has been fed poorly, then the meat going into your body is not of great quality either.
Bleached flour is treated with chemical agents to speed up aging. It is more processed and contains less wholesome nutrients. Any food can be healthy but it all depends on what it’s made of, Tri adds. Even potato chips can be good for you. Some are baked, as opposed to fried, and have fiber-rich corn, rice, and omega-3-providing oils, and are low on sodium.
Nana77777 / Shutterstock
The most common artificial, non-saccharide sweetener is Aspartame. It is found in many diet sodas. An Israeli study has shown it to increase insulin resistance and trigger fatty liver disease, which means there is a buildup of extra fat in the liver cells. The organ’s job is to process everything we eat and drink, but too much fat will have an effect. Experiments on rats have shown that Aspartame, the market names of which are NutraSweet® and Equal®, can cause the development of cancerous cells in different parts or the body.
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock
The list of ingredients in pop tarts seems endless. It’s so long, you probably won’t even finish reading it, not to mention not really knowing what most of the elements really are. “Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin b1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin b2 [riboflavin], folic acid), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, soybean and palm oil (with tbhq for freshness), sugar, cracker meal, contains two percent or less of wheat starch, salt, dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate), citric acid, milled corn, gelatin, soybean oil, modified corn starch, caramel color, soy lecithin, xanthan gum, modified wheat starch, vitamin a palmitate, red 40, niacinamide, reduced iron, color added, turmeric extract, vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), yellow 6, vitamin b2 (riboflavin), vitamin b1 (thiamin hydrochloride), blue 1.”
Lightspring / Shutterstock
These are things that have "vegetable shortening" or "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" in the ingredients list, according to Joey Gochnour, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer at Nutrition and Fitness Professional, LLC. “There is no safe amount of this that can be consumed without a disproportionate negative effect on health, according to the research,” he adds. Labels are allowed to round down Trans fats grams to 0 if they have less than 0.5g per serving, but most people eat more than what they determine a serving is (e.g. peanut butter—you should buy the stir-up kind with the oil on top, not the shelf stable kind that doesn't go in the refrigerator). Some peanut butters have gone back to using palm oil (tropical oils) instead of trans fat to accomplish the same purpose. Oil won't separate, and it makes it able to be stored outside of the refrigerator. “I avoid those as well.”
Gayvoronskaya_Yana / Shutterstock
“I believe there's enough research to prove that the nitrates in lunch meats like bologna, salami, pepperoni, turkey, etc. is carcinogenic,” Jill Brown, personal trainer, fitness instructor and a wellness coach, says. “Plus, they're loaded with sodium and often times sugar.” As for pork products, she says she’s just an animal lover. “I've met enough pigs to know that they are as intelligent as dogs. I'd rather have one as a pet instead of on my plate!”