Saturday, April 3, 2010

Health Food Impostors


So you're trying to eat healthy. You're on a diet (aren't we all these days). You've been eating low fat salads and fiber rich vegetables like you're Bugs Bunny on crack, and you have been working hard to avoid any bad foods in an effort to shift that spare tire from around what used to be classified as your waist.

Would you then reach for a candy bar? How about a cupcake or cookie? Of course not because you know they are about as bad for your weight loss plans as a vodka cranberry is for Tara Reid's sobriety. Well what if I told you when you head down to Pinkberry for a "healthy" yogurt, you will actually be consuming more sugar than if you ate your favorite candy bar? How about if i told you it has more sugar than two cans of Coca Cola? Yep, that's right. Yogurt is the first of Healthy Boy's Health Food Impostors because consuming it will not only make all that salad and vegetable munching worthless, it will leave a taste in your mouth that is more sour than sweet.
Yogurt is a dairy product produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. It's made by heating milk to a high temperature to allow the milk proteins to curd and to kill any bad bacteria. The temperature is then lowered, healthy bacteria are added and then the yogurt is let to sit for a few hours and ferment. Well that doesn't sound so bad does it? It's just milk after all. Well, it wouldn't be so bad if that's where the process stopped.

You see some yogurts get labeled as healthy because they are low fat or no fat, but when you take the fat out of a product, the thing that gives it it's taste, you have to compensate by adding large amounts sugar, salt and other artificial ingredients. Sort of like when Lauren Conrad left the hills, they tried to make the show entertaining by making the other girls extra bitchy, but all we were left with was over scripted reality crap that was about as interesting as watching paint dry. Sugars and other simple carbohydrates need to be avoided at all costs because they contain no nutritional value and cause a high insulin realize when ingested. When insulin peaks in your body, it responds by holding onto fat tighter than a one of those B-list reality stars holding into their 15 minutes of fame.

You can tell a lot about a product by its ingredient list. The first ingredient in Pinkberry is non-fat milk, and the second is added sugar. To make matters worse they add two different types of sugar, chemical emulsifiers to make it creamy and to stick everything together, as well as artificial flavoring that turn this potentially healthy product into a blood sugar raising, fat promoting moment on the lips that will well and truly end up as a lifetime on the hips.

How much sugar is in Pinkberry serving exactly? Lets take a look. Now keep in mind the information below is for just the yogurt, if you were to add toppings (which we all do) you can add another 5 - 20 grams of sugar, depending on your what you choose.

Mrs Fields Cinnamon Sugar Cookie 9 grams
Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Glazed Donut 19 grams
Reeces Peanut Butter Cups 21 grams
Ben and Jerrys Cake Batter Ice Cream 24 grams
Twix 28 grams
Snickers Bar 29 grams
Pinkberry (small original) 30 grams
Pinkberry  (small pomegranate) 32 grams
Coca Cola - 1 can 39 grams
McDonalds Hot Caramel Sundae 44 grams
Starbucks Tall Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino 45 grams
Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake 45 grams
Pinkberry  (large original) 76 grams
Pinkberry (large pomegranate) 80 grams

Pretty shocking to know that when you eat your "healthy" yogurt you will be consuming the sugar equivalent of 8 cookies or two and a half snickers bars. Not to mention if you are trying to lose fat and have just thrown back a large Pomegranate Pinkberry you will have to move that tush on the elliptical machine for 40 minutes just to burn it off.

So i know that all those grams of sugar sounds like a lot. But is it? Well there are roughly 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon and when you consume a small tub of this creamy goodness with no toppings, you are actually consuming 7.5 teaspoons of sugar. If your eyes are bigger than your intelligence and you opt for a large original Pinkberry, you are scoffing back the equivalent of 19 teaspoons of sugar. Ouch. This is almost double the recommended intake of 45 grams of sugar a day thrown down in one sitting. You wouldn't put 19 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee in the morning, so why would you want it in your yogurt? All that sugar may help the medicine go down, but it will certainly make your weight go up.

Some of the other yogurt you see in the supermarket isn't all that much better, An original Yoplait will set you back 27 grams of sugar for that tiny little tub, and a half a cup of Hagen Daz tart natural frozen yogurt has 21 grams of sugar per serving- but most people will consume twice that in one sitting.

But have no fear, because this doesn't mean you cant have yogurt as part of a healthy diet. Not all yogurts contain large amounts of sugar and you can still enjoy eating your favorite dairy product by the spoonful if you just look out for a few things;
  • Choose Greek, Skyr or Kefir yogurts. These normally contain low amounts of sugar and fat and have higher amounts of protein. You will be avoiding that sugar high and growing your muscles at the same time.
  • Read the label. Avoid any yogurts with over 10 - 15 grams of sugar per serving, and if sugar appears in the first 3 - 5 ingredients, then choose another brand.
  • Avoid any pre packaged yogurt cups that contain fruit at the bottom. Yogurt companies throw in preservatives and added sugar to the fruit that create a lot of unnecessary empty calories. Buy your own yogurt as mentioned above and add your own fruit and nuts. Also Skip the granola, its another health food impostor, but that's a post for another day.
  • Add ground cinnamon to your yogurt. Cinnamon has been shown in studies to slow the absorption of sugar into the body, giving you less of a insulin spike.
If you do head down to Pinkberry or your favorite self serve yogurt bar, always opt for the small serving, and add natural low sugar toppings like fruit and nuts.  Additionally you can ask for the "No Sugar Added" options which some of them do provide.

 In the end, you can still enjoy yogurt without the added feeling of guilt afterwards. Just ensure you are eating the right types and making informed healthy choices. And by all means, if your feeling naughty still head down to Pinkberry for your favorite tub or two, just know that what you are eating is considered more of a dessert than a healthy snack. Hey, you may even get lucky as it It could be one of those washed up reality stars behind the counter that serves it to you.

Healthy Boy x


  1. I loveeeeee your bloggg.
    I didt know this about yogurt....and i eat them like there is no tomorrow.
    keep the good work.

  2. Here's what I prefer: a bowl of seasonal fruit, some seeds or nuts, pour raw goat kefir on top, then maybe some chia seeds.

  3. Plain Fage 2% is fantastic. Not gelatinous like fat-free; very creamy.

  4. What do you think of the Stoneyfield Farms yogurts? I usually use the vanilla one in my strawberry banana smoothies.

  5. Hey Blueeyedsoul, Firstly I love Stoneyfield farm products because they use organic ingredients and are an environmentally conscious company. Their vanilla yogurt though still contains a lot of sugar - 24gm for 170g container.

    A better choice would be their Oikos Greek Yogurt. Only 11 grams of sugar, naturally fat free, and higher in muscle building protein.

    Healthy Boy

  6. OMG! I eating yogurt! I didn't know that some yogurt is not healthy any more, instead of having nutritious content. :(


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