Are Lean Cuisines Really That Lean
by: Anthony Alayon – Posted in: Diet and Nutrition
So let me guess, you have bought a lean cuisine before at the grocery store thinking that you were making a healthy choice, right? Well what if I told you that these so called lean meals that are really the reason why you may be stuck when trying to achieve your weight loss goals. Would you believe me?
Well let me explain for those who may still be doubters!
You see, a lean cuisine diet plan would be healthy as long as it were not found in the frozen food section. Now you may be thinking what does that have to do with anything?
Well, for starters any food that is purchased in the frozen food section is LOADED with sodium. This is due to the simple fact that the foods need the sodium to preserve the quality of the meals. This is no different when it comes to following a lean cuisine diet plan. If you take a look at the back of any lean cuisine frozen dinner you will notice the high content of sodium. Most of them contain about 500 mgs or more. For more read my nutrition labels article.
Now if you have been following my rule of thumb for sodium intake, you would know that it is best to keep it between 2,000-2,300 mgs on a daily basis to avoid water retention. This water retention will also slow your progress to achieve your fitness and weight loss goals. If that is not enough, you will increase your chances of getting high blood pressure..ouch!
About the Author
The Microwave Meals Were Featured In A Popular Vine Alongside Guy Fieri
With his steadfast love of burgers and wings, Food Network star Guy Fieri hardly seems like the most appropriate Lean Cuisine spokesperson. But back in 2015, that’s exactly what he became with one of the oddest and most prominent modern appearances of the brand in popular culture. Fieri appeared in a viral Vine, autographing Lean Cuisines and tossing them into a cheering crowd, Eater reports.
With a soundtrack to Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” in the background it was, according to E!, “the most Millennial thing you’ll see all day.” It certainly got plenty of views, and First We Feast posted on that “Guy Fieri giving out free Lean Cuisine is more lit than any rap video of 2015.” Frankly, we’re not sure whose reputation suffered more by association.
Dieting With Lean Cuisine
While Lean Cuisine has some major diet advantages, it has a few drawbacks too. Like most packaged foods, Lean Cuisine is relatively high in sodium. For example, their Vermont cheddar mac and cheese has 690 milligrams of sodium — 30 percent of the recommended intake limit for sodium, which is 2,300 milligrams.
Reaching for Lean Cuisine too often might also mean you’re not developing the culinary skills you need to make great-tasting food that fits into a calorie-conscious diet. Plus, you’re not developing a sense of portion control for homemade food, so when you make your own meals, you might still overeat. To use frozen dinners, like Lean Cuisine, as part of a healthy diet, make sure you’re still eating a variety of foods in your diet, recommends Columbia University.
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Your Health May Not Be Optimal If You Eat Lean Cuisine Meals Every Day
Lean Cuisine meals generally taste pretty good, which is why some folks are perfectly happy eating them every day. However, if you’re powering yourself solely on their frozen offerings, you might be selling yourself short, as noted by weight management specialist Malia Frey.
“Many frozen diet meals include processed meats and side dishes,” Frey wrote in an article in VeryWell Fit. She continued, explaining, “Most nutrition experts agree that heavily processed foods don’t support optimal health.” And what’s more important than being as healthy as you can?
Unsurprisingly, the folks who are experts in healthy diets advocate for a different approach to eating, says Frey. “They recommend that you get your calories from whole foods like fruits and vegetables and lean sources of protein with fewer added ingredients,” she continued. That’s not to say you can’t supplement your Lean Cuisine-based diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, which would definitely help. But that doesn’t solve the issue with processed foods overall.
Frozen Diet Meals: Good Or Bad
While the allure of healthy prepared meals fresh out of a box may be tempting, are these frozen diet foods actually good for you?
Frozen diet meals like Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers and Healthy Choice offer a wide range of options you can find everything from breakfast sandwiches to pizza to Chinese noodle dishes. Those in favor of these packaged meals are all about the ease of use.
Top 5 Pros
Folks on the opposing side argue that convenience will cost you.
Top 5 Cons
Loaded with sodium most brands have a at least 25-percent of the your daily recommendation
Pricey – $4 a box may not seem like a lot but cost can pile up quickly
Not a long-term solution to healthy eating
Bottom Line: Whats more important? Eating real whole foods or taking the effort out of meal prep? If convenience trumps quality, you may want to reconsider how much you value your health.
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How Does The Brat Diet Work
The BRAT diet is ideal to follow during times of gastrointestinal distress. You should follow it while your stomach issues are still occurring and while you’re transitioning back to your regular diet after you’ve recovered. The bland foods can help settle your stomach and still provide nutrients that your body might have lost due to diarrhea or vomiting. The BRAT diet also consists of foods that are rich in starch to help firm up your stools, which can help with diarrhea.
Most Popular Lean Cuisine Mealsranked
Just like Tide To-Go, overnight oats, and your keychain bottle opener, frozen meals are always there to save the day when you’re in a pinch. Unbox it, pop it in the microwave, and three minutes later you have a warm dish with just enough nutrients to silence your rumbling stomach.
Although the restaurant-style options from Lean Cuisine are all the more tantalizing due to their convenience and weight-loss-focused portions, not all of their frozen foods are the hunger saviors you’re hoping for. In fact, many of them are healthy-eating enemies in disguise. Although the mouth-watering images plastered on their boxes give the appearance that each package contains a nutrient-dense meal, some containers provide fewer calories and macronutrients than a granola bar.
You may be able to temporarily trick your mind into thinking you’re eating a meal, but these dinner imposters won’t trick your body. To keep Lean Cuisines absurdly low on the calorie front, Nestle forgoes real food and relies on chemical flavoring and additives. These artificial flavors may help lower calorie count, but ultimately, these empty chemicals won’t provide your body with any fat-blasting nutrients that can accelerate weight loss.
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Smart Ones Vs Lean Cuisine
Losing weight can be a challenge, because diets can be boring, they may require you to cook complicated meals or you may feel deprived of your favorite foods. Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine are frozen food products designed for individuals on reduced-calorie diets 12. The brands have some similarities, but each brand also has some unique characteristics, and a nutritionist can help you fit them into a healthy eating plan.
The Heinz Company is the manufacturer of Weight Watchers Smart Ones, and Nestle makes Lean Cuisine 12. Weight Watchers uses a points system for controlling your food intake instead of counting your total calories or carbohydrates, and the packages of Weight Watchers Smart Ones display the number of points in each serving 12. The formula for Weight Watchers points is proprietary, but point values increase with calories and fat, and decrease with dietary fiber content.
Lean Cuisine packages display estimates of the number of Weight Watchers points.
Favorites Five Cheese Rigatoni
Nutrition per package: 360 calories, 8 g fat , 560 mg sodium, 56 g carbs , 15 g protein
When you’re eating something called “Five Cheese,” we’d assume you’re getting something with real cheese, right? Wrong. You likely didn’t think you’d see a note in the ingredients next to an additive saying “ingredient not found in regular cheese.” So, why add it?
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What Is The Brat Diet
Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD
The BRAT diet is an acronym that stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Tea and yogurt may also help, but they’re not always included with the diet. The BRAT diet can be especially helpful for you if you’re experiencing gastrointestinal issues.
The BRAT diet incorporates simple, bland foods that are easy for your body to process while still providing necessary nutrients. People usually use this diet to help settle their upset stomachs and keep their bodies nourished while they’re recovering from gastrointestinal illnesses.
What Exactly Is Lean Cuisine
They are basically low calorie versions of TV dinners, 250 calories to be exact which is a small amount for what a dinner usually consists of. They also have less than 10 grams of fat which puts them into the 1980s era of diet culture low calorie/low fat.
I love making fun of the 1980s. Even though I loved the decade for being fun, it was off in many ways. Their diet messaging in particular was not just off but almost completely opposite of what we know to be the best ways to lose fat today.
The 80s preached low fat, high carbs and lots of aerobics with Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. People didnt lose very much weight and heart attacks and diabetes did rise but the messaging continued.
Today the Paleo/Keto movement preaches high fat, low carbs and mostly weights or high intensity exercise to slim down and as a result people are finally losing weight and keeping it off.
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But Thats Just Food Marketing Bs
However, overall, Lean Cuisines are not the worst thing you can eat, especially if the alternative is greasy fast food hamburger and french fries.
Sure fast food would be worse for you, but I recommend you take the extra 10 minutes and prepare your home cooked meals in advance.
Take some time on the weekends to meal prep, then add it to some glass containers and store it in the fridge.
Then when you go to work, or come home after a long day of work, the healthy food is ready for you.
Most low calorie microwavable meals are junk.
If you want to lose weight and be healthy, get them out of your diet.
When it comes to pre-workout meals, I find I workout best when my stomach is almost empty.
So 3 hours before my workout is when I focus on eating a good source of protein.
However, I actually find I train better when Im fasted.
So I may have a pre workout protein shake, but nothing too heavy.
Then after my workout, I always have fast-acting protein, such as egg white protein powder or whey protein isolate.
I then pair that with a fast-acting carbohydrate source.
To get fast acting sugar in my body, Ill add maple syrup to a blender with my post workout protein shake.
Its absolutely delicious.
Again, if youre building muscle, after your workout is when you can have something sugary.
This sugar helps shuttle the amino acids from the protein into your muscles.
This helps rebuild and repair your muscles.
How To Diet Eating Lean Cuisine
No matter how much weight you have to lose, losing fat is about burning more calories than you eat daily. Incorporating low-calorie frozen meals, like Lean Cuisine, into your diet is one way to keep your calories in check to shed pounds. While you’ll still need to exercise and follow a balanced and varied meal plan, using Lean Cuisine meals to practice portion control, avoiding over-indulging, and staying away from fast food can help you diet and lose weight.
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Eating Lean Cuisine Meals Every Day Can Raise Your Blood Pressure
“Your blood pressure may increase if you choose higher sodium dishes,” Wong shared with The List. She continued, saying, “Many of the dishes have around 700 mg of sodium, which is around 30 percent of the daily recommended intake.” She added that as a general guide, a meal with five percent or less sodium is considered “low-sodium,” and a meal with 20 percent or more is considered “high-sodium.”
According to the FDA, the maximum recommended intake of sodium is 2,300 milligrams per day for healthy adults. Unfortunately, the average American eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium every day, thanks to our taste for salty foods like pizza, sandwiches, and cheeses. Fortunately, Lean Cuisine does offer options that are lower in sodium than others so if you’re concerned about your blood pressure, low-sodium Lean Cuisines are definitely a better bet. After all, anything packed with sodium is definitely a food you should avoid if you want a long life.
Frozen Meal Diet Basics
I Love This Diet is very simple to understand.
Alcohol is discouraged because it is high in calories and tends to increase the likelihood of making unhealthy food choices, however if you desire you can substitute one glass of wine or light beer in place of a treat, up to two times a week.
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You May Develop A Microwavable Habit
If you get used to cooking your meals in the microwave, you might reach your goal weight, but it might be easier to gain the weight back afterward. Many non-diet microwave meals are very high in calories, high in fat and low in nutrition.
If you venture away from calorie-controlled microwavable meals and begin to choose prepared meals that are not portion-controlled or calorie-controlled, you may gain weight.
The Meals Are Only Somewhat Healthy
If Lean Cuisine remains at odds with its new marketing position, it’s perhaps in large part because the frozen meals are not nearly as healthy as ads seem to promise. According to Livestrong, most Lean Cuisine meals are not just low in calories but also in protein, providing as little as 6 grams of the essential macronutrient. Many of the meals are also far too low in essential fiber, such as the Chicken Club Panini which offers 1 paltry gram of the 21 to 25 women should be getting every day, according to the Mayo Clinic. The sodium content of the meals, Livestrong continues, is also pretty high, with a whopping 1,060 milligrams in the Marketplace Vegetable Stir Fry, aka nearly half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily intake.
But worst of all, according to Livestrong, is the fact that the very leanness of these meals may be their downfall. The brand’s name, Vox explains, is interpreted by the FDA as a “nutrient content claim,” which means the meals are required by law to meet the government-defined definition of lean . But with a mere 250 to 300 calories per serving, Livestrong asserts, most Lean Cuisine meals just don’t contain enough calories to satiate any grown adult.
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Are They Really Healthy
Lean Cuisine products are better than a lot of lunch and dinners out there, like fast food, for example. When you compare a serving of Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Pizza to a slice of pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut, you’ll find that the frozen meal is the healthier option.
The single serving of Lean Cuisine pizza is 410 calories with 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 21 grams of protein, 59 grams of carbohydrates and 870 milligrams of sodium.
One slice of a large hand-tossed pepperoni pizza weighs 123 grams, making it slightly smaller than the Lean Cuisine. It contains 330 calories, 14 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrates and 990 milligrams of sodium.
However, the majority of these meals fall between 250 and 300 calories which doesn’t satisfy the recommended calorie intake for one meal. While there are vegetables, there needs to be more of them to qualify as a serving. Many of the meals are made with refined pasta, so that’s why it’s important to go beyond Lean Cuisine nutrition and look closely at the ingredient list before deciding which ones to purchase.
A May 2019 small-scale study with 20 participants conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , was the first of its kind to study the effects of processed foods. They discovered people who eat ultra processed foods eat more calories and gained more weight compared to those who ate a minimally processed diet.