If you sit down at a restaurant and order a grilled chicken breast, a big salad and some steamed rice, you’d naturally assume that you were eating a healthy meal that will fuel your muscle gains and also help you achieve your fat loss goals. Unfortunately, you might be wrong. In fact, in many cases, you’re almost certainly going to be wrong.
Let me explain why.
Reason #1 Most Restaurants Use Very Low-Quality Ingredients:
Restaurants are in the business of making money. Yes, there are some really great independently-owned restaurants that are run by chefs and owners who have a restaurant because they love creating delicious food. But most restaurants are corporate chains that are in the business to make a profit. The lower the expenses are, the higher the profit is.
The greatest expense for a restaurant, even one specializing in low-cost meals, is the food. This is also the one expense that gets tweaked the most. All corporate restaurants have very strict guidelines about how much managers can spend on food.
For instance, in one international casual dining chain, managers are only allowed to spend between 13-20% of their weekly revenue on food. Any higher than that, and chances are good that the general manager is soon to be out of a job. While managers can control how much food they waste through over-ordering, over-prepping and mistakes made on the cook’s line, the best way for them to keep their food cost low is to order cheap ingredients.
Even when the corporate office decides what products the manager can order, those products are selected for their pricing, not their quality. That means the cheapest, commercially-raised poultry and fish, low-grade beef and pork and produce that is frozen or of poor quality. If you’re having a hot vegetable at a chain restaurant, chances are excellent that it was frozen shortly before it hit your plate.
Let’s look at that chicken breast you like to order. More than likely, even if you’re at a local, independent restaurant, that chicken was raised on cheap feed loaded with pesticides, herbicides and genetically-modified grain and that feed is supplemented with…(guess what?) chicken. Yes, chicken raised in large livestock operations are often given supplemental feed that’s loaded with chicken by-products. Its cheap protein often manufactured by the chicken operation itself.
The chicken that breast came from was also pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.
I’m talking about things like raw chicken being stored on a wire shelf above raw meat. The chicken juices run down into the meat and contaminate it. Or the cantaloupe that isn’t scrubbed or peeled before slicing, so the knife that’s used to cut it drags pesticides, parasites and even fecal matter through the melon with every slice. Even an unintentional mistake such as holding cooked foods at too low a temperature or putting a slice of cheese on a cutting board that was just used for prepping raw fish.
All of these things lead to contamination and while you might not get noticeably sick from some of these, you are taking parasites, bacteria and other nastiness into your body. Those things then enter your digestive tract, seriously disturbing the balance between good and bad gut bacteria and taxing your immune system as well. Both of these cause system-wide inflammation that stalls both muscle gain and fat loss.
These three reasons should be enough to compell you to start eating in much more often. If cooking is the main issue, consider a custom meal plan and nutrition coaching from PI4L Fitness or have your meals delivered through Personal Trainer Food. Please ask for details by contacting us.
Thanks Vince Del Monte for this awesome article!
Keeping my eye on you in fitness and nutrition,
Mark Lani CPT, CSN