Are We Eating Too Many Sandwiches?
Plus late-night yoga practice and a perplexing pistol squat proposition...
Welcome to the latest edition of PF Quick Hits, a (mostly) lighthearted look at recent fitness news and trends. Quick Hits is published…well, when we feel like it.
My go-to meal when I have a busy day in the office? A croissant sandwich with turkey, chicken salad or tuna, topped with swiss cheese, tomato and spinach.
Just writing about it makes me salivate.
Even better? I usually pair it with a bag of chips. Sometimes Sun Chips, because those are healthy, right?
Imagine my distress when I read this Wall Street Journal headline this week…
“The American Diet Has a Sandwich Problem.”
Excuse me, what? We’re cancelling sandwiches, now?
It gets worse. The WSJ goes on to cite some pretty drastic statistics about sandwiches making up a large share of Americans’ daily intake of saturated fat and sodium. The Quick Hits summary: We’re eating sandwiches constantly because they’re everywhere, they’re quick and portable, but unfortunately, they’re really bad for us. Plus, this explosive quote from someone who is definitely in the know:
“The standard deli sandwich with processed meat and cheese, you’re literally eating a heart bomb,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University.
I would definitely like to avoid eating a heart bomb, let alone multiple heart bombs in a week. So what are we to do?
Thankfully, the WSJ wasn’t crazy enough to completely cancel sandwiches. That would be un-American! The article shares a few practical tips to make sandwiches healthier, including switching to whole wheat bread, swapping processed deli meats for fresh chicken or turkey, and using mayo instead of ketchup or mustard.
There’s even a suggestion to embrace PB&J sandwiches, but please note the “J” is for jam, not jelly, which is apparently critical, as jellies have more added sugars.
One surprising thing the WSJ failed to mention about deli meats was the amount of nitrates they contain, which are known cancer-causing chemicals used in processing meats. In fact, just look at the comments by this expert in a 2018 New York Times article:
“We see a 4 percent increase in the risk of cancer even at 15 grams a day, which is a single slice of ham on a sandwich,” said Dr. Nigel Brockton, director of research for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Eating a more typical serving of 50 grams of processed meat a day would increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, a 2011 review of studies found.
18 percent?! Maybe we should label sandwiches “cancer bombs,” too.
Breaking news: yoga is good for you!
When we finally got the kids to bed on Friday night, it was 11:30 p.m. I asked my wife if she wanted to watch some classic Netflix reality TV, Too Hot to Handle. Or as we call it in this household, using her British slang, “knob heads.”
“Just let me do some quick stretching, first,” I said. By quick stretching, I meant a 30-minute yoga practice.
As it approached midnight, making it too late in the night for aging parents to watch “knob heads,” my wife seemed quite annoyed by my choice. However, the Washington Post tacitly endorsed my semi-late night yoga practice this week, citing a new study that basically says, “yoga is good for you as you age.” Thanks for having my back, Mr. Bezos! From the article:
Looking at 33 randomized controlled trials across 12 countries involving more than 2,000 participants, researchers determined with “moderate certainty” that doing yoga improved certain frailty markers including walking speed, lower extremity strength and endurance.
The bad news is, my 30-minute session might not be enough, as experts recommend at least an hour of yoga two to three times a week. Next time, I’ll start at 11 p.m.
Hey, Men’s Health, that looks really hard…
The “misleading headline of the week award” goes to Men’s Health, for an article titled “The Overhead Pistol Squat Is the One Move You Need for a Toned and Chiseled Six Pack.”
I found this headline particularly hilarious as I’ve been experimenting with assisted pistol squats lately as part of my bodyweight strength training. The pistol squat requires a ton of specialized leg strength, and you have to build that up through progressive movements. I would posit the average Men’s Health reader would not be able to read this article, grab a resistance band and start busting off overhead pistol squats.
If you’re curious as to how one might achieve a pistol squat, check out this video from calisthenics expert Al Kavadlo, who point-blank states, “one does not simply do pistol squats.”
Nothing as good as a big fat ham and salad sandwich but I have had to let the bread and ham go and keep the salad. But its my 'treat' go to when I am travelling. And yes yoga before bed is the way to go. That and a 5 minute biofeedback breathe are my 'sleep hacks'