If you’re anything like me you like sweets. I’m a self-proclaimed apple fritterolic. Frankly, I enjoy just about all baked goods. Cookies, cheesecake, brownies, ice cream, I love them all. When I heard the news that Blue Bell was coming back I instantly became happier. Blue Bell is a funny story to me. If you don’t live in Texas you may not understand just how much of a following an ice cream company can have. If you don’t know the story, people died because of eating the ice cream. When I say they died, I don’t mean that they died while enjoying the ice cream. They didn’t cross the street with a cone in their hand distracted by the bliss of BB’s concoction of cream and sugar and get mowed down by a bus. Blue Bell wasn’t a “contributing factor” to their death… it was the CAUSE of their death. So if any other company out there caused people to die, game over. Not Blue Bell. History now shows that eating Blue Bell ice cream may just kill you. I, for one, am willing to take the chance. That’s how good it is, but I digress.
I’m a night eater and a self admitted sugar addict. Sometimes I would just make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and eat them for dinner. I dunked them in milk so I did get some protein. Balanced, right? However, with the density of calories that most of my vices contain, they obviously didn’t lend themselves to my weight loss goals. So what to do? In my previous blog post http://www.octane-athletics.com/my-fitness-pal-is-lying-to-you/ I discussed my take on weight loss and how I’ve been successful. One of my points about losing weight is that one can truly eat whatever they want as long as it fits into their overall caloric budget. I’m not suggesting that you get all of your calories from Oreos but 4 or 5 are not going to ruin your life.
So with my love of all things buttery, baked, and binge-worthy, I had to search for some alternatives. Below I’ve listed 5 of my favorite go to foods that have helped me to make better choices and also helped me to ration or limit my intake of my, let’s say, questionable food choices.
- Dannon Light and Fit Greek Yogurt: This is a super food if I’ve ever seen one. These little gems contain 80 calories, 9 g’s of carbs with only 7 g’s of sugar, and 12 g’s of protein. My favorite is the Strawberry Cheesecake. I love it. What I normally do is eat 2 servings of the yogurt and a banana. So that’s a total of 260-300 calories, 24 g’s of protein, and about 43-50 g’s of carbs depending on the size of your banana. The only gripe I have about them is that they don’t contain any fat. I wouldn’t mind if there were a few grams of fat but there isn’t so I got over it. So this little meal contains 67% carbs and 33% protein. Not too shabby. Also, try to eat 2 of these and a banana and still be hungry. I’m a big dude and I can’t do it. Another option is to take 2 sheets of graham crackers and break them up into 4 little pieces each and then scoop up the yogurt. This has about the same calories as the banana with similar macros. Available at any grocery store.
- Gatorade Recovery Whey Protein Bars: (Amazon Link) This is the pinnacle of protein bar taste. I’ve been trying all sorts of protein/meal replacement bars for decades and this one is truly the best I’ve ever eaten. The chocolate chip flavor literally tastes like a Watchamacallit candy bar. If you’ve never had them, they are yummy. So there are a few reasons besides the taste that I really love these things. First of all, they contain whey protein. Without getting into a crazy list of protein bioavailability (How much of the protein is actually used by the body), whey scores the highest on the protein bioavailability scale. Whole egg protein used to be the gold standard and scored a 100% on the scale. Whey is actually absorbed more readily than egg protein and therefore receives a greater than 100% rating. Whey isolate scores up to 159% while whey concentrate scores 104%. So either way, it’s the best. Another thing to take into consideration when choosing protein bars is the type of protein that is used. Soy protein is often used in bars because of cost. It is extremely cheap. Go to any pharmacy and simply look at the wrappers of most protein bars. The majority of the bars out there contain soy protein isolate as one of the main ingredients. There are a couple of problems with soy protein. First, it scores very low on the bioavailability scale. Soy scores a mere 59%. Another thing to consider is that soy is a plant and will not contain all of the essential amino acids. Whey is animal derived and therefore, does. Another thing to consider if you are a man is that soy products can and will display estrogenic effects when consumed in high doses. Bottom line, the protein that the Gatorade bar includes is top shelf and they taste absolutely fantastic. They are awesome. Total calories 360, carbs 42 g’s, protein 20 g’s, and fat is 13 g’s. This product really mimics a decent meal. There maybe a little more fat than some folks like but it still represents less than 30% of the total calories. Again, awesome, awesome, awesome.
- Dannon Light and Fit Chocolate on Top: Probably seeing a trend here. Just when I thought Dannon couldn’t make their yogurt any better they went and dumped some chocolate sauce on top… brilliant. Similar macros to their regular yogurt and just as filling. Calories 100, protein 11 g’s, carbs 11 g’s, and fat 1.5 g’s. I normally will eat this in conjunction with a banana to boost up the level of carbs when I’m training a lot. Pretty much available at any grocery store.
- Fairlife Chocolate 2% Milk: So if this milk had a twitter account I would follow it and retweet and star everything it ever posted. Not only does it taste absolutely outstanding, it has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar than normal milk. How do they do it? I’m assuming magic cows. They say it’s due to their filtering process. I’d like to believe it’s the magic cows though. Calories 140, 13 g’s protein, 12 g’s of sugar, and 4.5 g’s of fat. It also contains more calcium that normal milk and no lactose. So, if you’re lactose intolerant, drink til your chocolate heart is content. This is very filling and when coupled with a banana it’s a nice little snack. Actually 16 oz of the milk and a banana has become my go to recovery meal after a workout. When I go to the store I will buy 3 cartons at a time. I know they are available at Walmart or Walmart neighborhood markets but I’m fairly certain they are available at most major grocery stores.
- Oreo, Nutterbutter, Chips Ahoy single serving bags: So these really don’t have any redeeming value except curbing a sugar craving. They range anywhere between 150-170 calories a bag and I normally will eat these last after a glass of Fairlife chocolate milk and a banana if I have the calories left. I tend to shy away from the large containers of cookies just because it’s so easy to keep going back and grabbing more cookies. With the bags, I just grab one and go eat it somewhere else. Available in too many places…
So these are the foods that I lean on to keep me on the straight and narrow. They all contain a large amount of protein which is a key to satiety. I also like bananas. I eat a lot of bananas. So this is the stuff in my fridge and pantry. Most are balanced and have a great combo of macronutrients that keep me full and my hand out of the cookie jar, or bag, or bucket. So give them a try if you are so inclined and let me know what you think. If you struggle with the sweet treats these alternatives have worked for me and can for you too.