T Nation

Processed Foods vs the Numbers


So I workout with a partner at my gym and hes a personal trainer. He is more concerned with ingrediants in his foods and drinks than actual numbers. So my question to you is are you more of a leniant dieter, and would you find any real physical benefits to cutting out most processed ingrediants from your diet.

Heres a little example, my partner and I had finished our cardio session and headed to the convenient store for a little drink. I grabbed the Sobe vitamin water for the fact it had no calories, carbs, fats, etc. He grabs the vitamin water which has 13g of sugars.

He believes that the fact the Sobe had an ingrediant called modified food starch, that it would be worse than adding 13g of sugar to his diet, everything i state is relative to body composition and not so much health. Whats everyones thoughts on this matter.


Processed ingredients=bad

Natural ingredients=good

But the sugars in the drink he chose are more than likely procoessed sugars. Anyway, I will generally stay away from foods that are pre-packaged. Not like a bag of rice, or a can of beans. For example, oatmeal packets, rice/noodle packets that have the seasoning and crap already in it. Boxed cereal. Stuff like that.

But at the same time, I wouldn't sweat the occasional Sobe drink. Just don't LIVE of of processed foods. As far as physical benefits, I think you will generally feel better eating fresh foods vs. processed.


Processed food sucks.

I have gotten to the point now that I make my own salad dressing to take to work with me. It tastes better and it doesn't have a bunch of preservatives, soy oil, water and general garbage in it. My dressing is simple olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, and white wine vinegar.

I think there are certainly general health benefits to eating non processed foods and probably some good physique benefits that go along with the good health.

Personally in the situation you described above. I would choose the sugar drink. I never have trusted low calorie sweateners. For the small amount of soft drinks I drink in a year I'm not too worried about what it will do to my waistline. I've made a habbit of drinking mostly water.


You do realize that modified food starch and sugar are BOTH processed carbs.

Whether bad or good depends on how you metabolize them and what your goals are.


I think that getting macros right is way more important than just focusing on eatin natural/organic stuff (for body comp)...

Of course, getting your macros from natural food is much better than getting it from prcessed shit, and this is the way to go since most carbs from processed foods are shitty sugar and most of the fats are saturated and hydrogeanted, but if, for example, you are trying to lose fat, it doesn´t matter how natural or organic your food is, if you don´t create a caloric deficit you won´t lose fat.


I believe that natural will always trump anything processed. We are not programmed to eat the processed crap. I saw an interview with Michael Pollan recently who told this story...

"I took a bite from a Twinkie one day and then let the rest of it just sit. After a period of 6 months, I went back and touched the Twinkie. It felt just as spongy as it was the day I opened it and took that bite. Now think about how that non-biodegradable factor affects you in your body. Our bodies simply can't break these processed foods down the way natural perishable foods can be."

If this shit has a shelf life of 3 yrs so it can sit on a shelf in a store and not rot, what do you think it will do once it gets inside your body?


I get your point, but I lol'd at this.


13g of sugar is 52 kcalories. At 10 cals/min on an elliptical thats 5 mins wasted! I would have gone for the sugar free too. Not to mention you don't get the fat assisting insulin spike. 3 cardio sessions a week and 52 weeks in a year is over 8000 cals! In 5 years your buddy has put on 10 - 15 pounds just because he had to go natural!

Now, if his sugar had come from eating some fruit that also carried enzymes, fiber, vitamins, then that might be a different story.


While I agree that most process stuff is crap, I also think our bodies can deal with a great number of the chemicals we put in it on a daily basis. Of course I wouldn't advice living on totally processed shit, but occasionally, it won't kill you. That said, I've certainly had some 'questionable' foods when I needed post workout sugars (one of those vending machines that give you a handful of skittles for a quarter!). I think if lbm gain is your goal, your choice was much better than his. It's an example of not seeing the forest for the trees, meaning, he's so worried about being 'healthy' that his actual nutrition to support what he's doing in the gym just went to crap -lol.



I try my best to avoid high process & artificial foods, as well as getting enough protein/fat/carbs. I do feel more energetic & not so bloated when I skip out on diet drinks for water. I think your friend was trying to 1-up you. Unless he was looking for an insulin spike. If he was really all about avoiding process & artificial, he could of choose water or some fruit.