Ok, so we’re introducing a fun new blog series. We’re going to pit various foods against one another and see which comes out on top.  We’ll try and pit perceived “healthy” vs “unhealthy” and challenge our thinking.

I like to call it the “Nutritional Battle Royale” – two foods enter the ring, one food leaves a champion, the other a loser.  It’s that simple.

If you don’t give a shit about the science or the “why”, that’s cool. Then just skip to the bottom to see the winner and start adding that food into your nutrition plan.

If you want to geek it out with me, let’s get into the ring.

DING DING DING!!!

In the blue corner, weighing in at a “healthy” 400 calories we have 1/2 cup Granola, a medium banana and ½ cup of skim milk.

And in the red corner, we have an “unhealthy” 400 calories of 3 fried eggs with 3 slices of bacon.

It’s a battle of  “healthy” VS “unhealthy”. Or so we think.

Let’s think about common perceptions about these two foods. Granola is good for you, right? Fruit is healthy and milk builds strong bones. Bacon is greasy and full of unhealthy fats, right? And eggs have way too much cholesterol. Oh and the nitrates in bacon cause cancer don’t they?

But wait a minute – what if we take a real look at these foods and see what the actual science says.

Let’s put aside the billion dollar dairy lobby telling us to drink a glass of milk every day because it builds strong bones with calcium. If we were to take a look at the biochemistry we would see that drinking milk actually creates a net calcium loss(1). In order to process the milk protein, the body strips calcium from the body and the calcium that milk contains does not even make up for that loss.

Or how about questioning the legitimacy of the claim that we should consume over 50% of our daily calories from grains? That’s what the US Dept. of Agriculture recommends(2).

Or are economics (grain production is subsidized by the US gov’t) and politics getting into our food choices?

Enough with all the foreplay  – let’s get to the fight and get into some details.

3 rounds. 1 winner.

  • ROUND 1 – Macronutrients
  • ROUND 2 – Micronutrients
  • ROUND 3 – Taste, satiety (fullness)

Round 1 – Macronutrients:

Granola / Banana/ Milk Bacon and Eggs
Calories 400 400
Carbs 70 3
Sugars 40 0
Protein 20 30
Fat 5 30

Score card

Granola, banana & milk – You’re getting a whopping 70 grams of carbs, ½ of which are sugar. I’m sorry, but unless you’re an endurance athlete needing a serious carb load, 70 grams of carbs in one meal is way too much, especially, in the morning. The insulin spike that follows will turn off the fat burning state that your body naturally wakes up in, so all that sugar will be stored in your fat cells(3).

Bacon & Eggs – As you can see, there is little to no carbs, and a nice dose of protein and fat. The lack of carbs keeps insulin levels under control and keeps the body burning fat.  Now, you say “but bacon has all this saturated fat and eggs have a ton of cholesterol.”  Ok, but a little saturated fat isn’t that bad, and actually bacon has a good amount of oleic acid, a good monounsaturated fat and the same exact one that makes olive oil a healthy fat. And if you’re worried about dietary cholesterol raising blood cholesterol levels, the scientific research to back that up just isn’t there. Let me say that again – dietary cholesterol DOES NOT affect blood cholesterol levels(4). And even more so, cholesterol isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both sources of protein are complete, meaning bacon and eggs contain all the essential amino acids (those the body can’t produce and therefore needs from food). This is key to supporting lean tissue (muscle) and keeping your metabolism high. And let’s not forget the idea about nitrates/nitrites that are present in all cured meat. It’s not really an issue at all, so as long you don’t BURN the bacon. Cook it slow and steady. There are actually more nitrates in most vegetables than in cured meats. Read this for more.

  • Bacon & Eggs – 1
  • Granola, banana, & milk 0

Round 2: Vitamins and Minerals:

Granola / Banana/ Milk Bacon and Eggs
Vitamin C
Vitamin A
Vitamin D
Vitamin B
Vitamin K
Vitamin E
Calcium
Choline
Folate
Riboflavin
Phosphorus
Selenium
Thiamin
Niacin
Potassium
Maganese
Iron
Sodium

Check marks for each vitamin/mineral with >10% DV(daily value) based on 2,000 calorie diet. Nutritiondata.com

Score Card:

Round 2 is tough call. Both provide ample vitamins and minerals as listed above. One could argue this either way. I’m going with a draw here. 1 point each.

Updated score:

  • Bacon & Eggs – 2  
  • Granola, banana, & milk – 1

 Round 3 – Satiety and taste.

Granola comes out strong in round 3. Great texture, each bite gives a nice feel on the tongue. But what happens 2 hours later. You’re hungry again. High carb breakfasts and the hormonal response that comes after consuming them will lead to elevated levels of hunger shortly thereafter.

Bacon and eggs on the other hand will keep you fuller for longer. The high fat / protein combo will be much more satisfying and will keep hunger under control. And the salty, crispy goodness just makes you feel good. Or at least that’s what I think.

Updated score:

  • Bacon & Eggs – 3
  • Granola, banana, & milk – 1

The Winner – Bacon & Eggs – Fight Summary

Bacon-n-eggs

In a closely fought battle, bacon & eggs edges out a 3 to 1 victory. You’re getting high quality complete proteins, some good fat, and very few carbs. This is the perfect breakfast if you looking to shed a little fat or stay nice and lean. You’ll stay full longer and let’s be honest – bacon tastes fucking delicious.

Eating granola, banana & milk will have the opposite effect. Fat burning in the body will effectively shut down(3). The 40 grams of sugar will most likely metabolize into fat unless you’re very, very active. If you’re going out to run a marathon or swim for 5 hours, then maybe you could get away with it. But otherwise, you’re NOT eating a very “healthy” breakfast at all.

Now, I’m not saying you should go out and eat a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs every day – we have to remember our good friend moderation. But I am telling you this: if you’re serious about getting fit, shedding some fat, staying active and injury free – you have to put on the skeptic’s hat.

Question everything. You don’t believe me? That’s fair. Go out and do some homework. Try each one out. Experiment.  Find credible experts you trust who have gotten the results you want and follow them.

OK, That’s all for today’s Nutritional Battle Royal. It was quite a battle, thanks for tuning in!

Next up in the ring will be an Apple vs Almonds – Stay tuned for this one, it will not disappoint!

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Nick

References

  1. http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/
  2. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/D-5-Carbohydrates.pdf
  3. http://athlete.io/5084/why-breakfast-is-nothing-but-a-scam/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11023005
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