New research has found that when consumers ate trail mix marked 'fitness' versus trail mix marked 'trail mix' they ate more of it, and spent less time exercising!
Think about how often you eat something geared toward an active lifestyle; nutrition bars, 'energy' trail mix, or shakes with crazy ingredients. While I try to eat a whole foods diet as much as possible, and avoid a lot of pre-packaged meals and snacks, I definitely eat my fair share of them. I still try to make healthy decisions. For example, instead of grabbing fast food I'd opt for Amy's frozen meals or grab a low sugar protein bars instead of a candy bar from the gas station.
Marketers are absolute geniuses in knowing how to label and present their products. If you look closely at most protein/granola bars their nutritional data is almost identical to candy bars. Sports drinks and sodas can be interchangeable as well. Another recent study found that fast food was just as effective as sport supplements in post-exercise glycogen recovery. That's not to say that fast food is healthy and helps with recovery, but that sports supplements are generally total crap and not any better than junk food.
The way fitness foods are portrayed makes people think they are healthy and fitting into their active lifestyle. I could see how one may mistakenly think it's okay to eat a bit more than usual, or slack off on their exercise since their diet is so 'nutritious.'
The easiest way to avoid falling into the 'fitness foods' trap? Don't eat 'em. Stick with whole foods or snacks that have 5 ingredients or less. Or, just be aware of exactly what it is you are eating. Don't let yourself feel like you can skip a workout since you had some instant oats with 'added protein!' or a health shake for breakfast.
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How often do you eat 'fitness' foods?