Mark Bittman and doctor David L. Katz patiently answer pretty much every question we could think of about healthy food.

 

Listen, I am a very busy New Yorker and sometimes I eat the occasional PowerBar for lunch. Is that bad?
Many power bars have nutritional profiles similar to Snickers. Generally, power bars are closer to junk than to real food.

But they’re made of protein!
One of the great myths of modern diet is we all need more protein, but in this country almost all of us get more than we need. The satiety that comes from a concentrated protein source could come from a protein bar, or an egg, or a can of tuna, or yogurt, or nuts.

Protein Bars

Overview

Herbalife Protein Bars are a delicious high protein healthy snack. With approximately 140 calories*, each Herbalife Protein Bar contains almost 10g of high quality dairy protein, which can help build lean body mass. Increasing your body’s lean body mass can contribute to an increased metabolic rate.

*Varies per flavuor

Key Benefits
  • Approx 140 kcal per bar, which is less than many conventional chocolate bars.
  • A balanced combination of 10g of protein and 15g of carbohydrate.
  • 10g of protein to help you build lean body mass.
  • High in vitamins B1, B2, B6, vitamin E and pantothenic acid.
  • Available in tasty Chocolate Peanut, Vanilla Almond and Citrus Lemon flavours.
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Okay, sure, but again: busy New Yorker. If I don’t have a can of tuna on hand, which protein bar should I eat?
If the bar, it should have a short list of recognizable ingredients; in other words, it should be made of real food. But try hard-boiling some eggs and keeping them handy; or a can of sardines. And stop obsessing about protein: We guarantee you’re getting more than enough.

What is the final verdict on eggs? Are high-cholesterol foods cleared to eat?
Yes. Most levels of high blood cholesterol are not from dietary cholesterol but from saturated and trans fats. Moderation is key. The average person gets most of her or his daily recommended cholesterol by eating just one egg a day.

We got this a bit wrong 30 years ago or so, because saturated fat and cholesterol go together in most foods. But we didn’t get it entirely wrong: The new thinking is that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for the typical American. That doesn’t mean it has been entirely exonerated, just that we are already eating it within the recommended range for the most part, and have more pressing concerns, like saturated fat, added sugars, high sodium, and all the rest.

 

How much protein do I actually need? 
We need less than most of us get. A dose of about 1 gram of protein daily per kilogram (2.2 lbs) body weight is already generous in terms of the formal DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes). So that would mean a man of almost 200 pounds would get more than enough protein from 90 grams daily. Just 3.5 ounces of salmon has nearly 30 grams, and a cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams. That 200-pound man could easily eat twice that much, or more, in a single meal. So, getting enough protein is easy, which is why there is virtually no such thing as protein deficiency in the USA outside of hospital wards (where it is an effect, not a cause, of serious illness).

Do you have to take protein supplements to build muscle? They are gross, and I’d rather eat real food. But I also want to look like Wonder Woman.

While we’re on the subject of Wonder Woman: What’s the best thing to eat before and after working out to lose weight and build muscle?
If your diet is wholesome and balanced overall, it almost certainly doesn’t matter. That said, for extremely long or intense workouts, there may be advantages to carbohydrate and protein prior, concentrated antioxidants after to help with muscle recovery. But none of this is relevant for a trip to the gym; this is for the Tour de France or a marathon. Otherwise, eat well over the course of each day, and distribute that eating around your workouts any way you like.

Which is a healthier diet: protein-rich, fat-rich, or fat-free?
They’re not mutually exclusive. You want moderate amounts of protein and fat in your diet. You want carbohydrates, too, which are in most foods but especially fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. What you don’t want is hyperprocessed food or a lot of animal products.

What about GMOs? I’ve heard foods with GMOs are really bad.
The foods themselves, no.

Really?
Genetic modification is just a method of producing something new, like an assembly line. The answer to whether assembly lines cause health problems is: “It depends what they’re making.” So, too, with GMO foods. It’s the foods that matter, not the process that produced them.

So I can just eat GMO food and not worry?
No. The chemicals used in growing them are a real concern. Glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, is likely carcinogenic and harmful in other ways. Furthermore, almost all of the foods currently produced using genetic engineering are useless at best and harmful at worst: “GMOs” are mostly present in junk food, which you want to avoid anyway.

So I should worry.
Since 1996, use of glyphosate has increased 15 times over; there’s a high probability of it showing up in our food.

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