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Mankend V: A Junk Food Case Study

Mankend: A once-a-year junk food extravaganza (this was our fifth) where I and a couple buddies head up to a condo and spend time catching up on movies, stories and anything else we deem “man-centric” that weekend. Yes, that’s me (a few years and 10 lbs. of neck meat ago) intentionally looking like a jerk on the right. As part of the tradition, we also transform into human garbage disposals. Now I don’t mention this as a confession or even an excuse. I ate like complete junk that weekend which, as a Coach, I was somewhat conflicted about.

Still, I think the experience just underlines what we’re saying about nutrition all along.

Eating Junk Feels Gross

First and foremost, after eating “clean” for months save for a few cheat meals, eating junk food (pizza, chips, cookies, candy, Diet Soda) feels gross. When the binge was over I felt heavy, sluggish and slightly nauseous. The feeling went on for hours and thanks to the sudden increase in sodium, water retention kicked in and I began feeling “puffier”. Gross.

Eating Junk Throws Off Eating

After pounding junk food, my appetite hit the skids. I wasn’t hungry for hours after eating a cinnamon roll breakfast and there’s no doubt my metabolism and body were going haywire as they’re used to being refueled every 2-3 hours. I ended up really eating only two “meals” that day– the rest was junk snacking. Additionally, without the regular, clean fuel my body needed, the glut of sugar and simple carbs left my insulin spiking which only helped throw cravings my way… not hunger.

Eating Junk Brings Back Sugar Cravings

Speaking of Cravings, I’d beat my sugar cravings back a while ago. With the introduction of so much sugar and crap into my system, I began craving sweets in the evening. It’s going to take a week or so to kick this craving and get that crap out but in the end, I have to wonder if it was worth it. (Short answer: No).

Let’s just say this: Lesson learned.

Eating Junk Opens the Door to a Fat-Loading Cycle

When you eat junk, you don’t feel all that great about yourself. You know it’s crap. You know it’s not doing you any good. But once you take it in, how easy is it to just surrender to the “Well, I blew it so what’s it gonna hurt to dive in the rest of the day?” Too easy. And the cycle continues… as does your body’s capacity to store fat.

The Take-Away?

Don’t follow my experimental example.

When I came home and enjoyed a dinner with fresh vegetables, I could almost hear my body breathing a sigh of relief. I’m still convinced an occasional cheat meal or treat isn’t a bad thing ONLY once you’ve nailed your fitness goals. But going back to the unregulated diet wasteland of junk food, binge-eating many of us were living before starting our Beachbody programs? Not good at ALL. If anything, this weekend was an unwelcome but satisfying reminder that keeping nutrition on the up-and-up not only helps you lose weight and truly feel energized and “light”– it also creates a peace of mind and confidence in knowing you’re doing right by yourself.

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