Sept. 1 2010 12:00 AM

Your clients work hard to achieve the body they want. After all, they've hired a personal trainer and committed to regular exercise. They're probably watching what they eat, too. But if they're not seeing the results they want, then it could be because of so-called "health foods" slipping into their diet.
Pushing yourself during workout sessions and then making uninformed food choices is like donning a gorgeous Gucci dress and ruining in with visible panty lines. The little things make all the difference! Here are five not-so-healthy foods that your clients may want to avoid:
Agave syrup Despite some health claims, most agave syrup actually has a higher fructose content than commercial sweeteners, making it even worse for you than regular sugar. Some agave syrup also gets "watered down" with corn syrup, because corn syrup is cheaper to produce. Fructose has been linked with insulin resistance and elevated triglycerides. (Note, I am not talking about the amount in an apple or an Emergen- C packet, I am talking concentrations higher than 20 grams).
Gluten Many of my clients have gotten the best results from a gluten-free lifestyle. Gluten is a protein in popular grains including wheat, rye, and barley. For some people, gluten can harm their gastrointestinal tract, impairing digestion and triggering other food sensitivities. Fortunately, there are grains that do not contain gluten, like rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, corn (look for non-GMO/organic) and buckwheat (or kasha).
Soy "health foods" Most of the soy products available in the United States have been genetically modified and processed with potentially hazardous chemicals. Some studies even point to increased breast cancer risk when the isoflavones in soy are altered. Soy may also contain high levels of aluminum, which can have adverse effects on the kidneys and nervous system. Higher levels of soy intake may also lower thyroid function.
Fruit smoothies Beware of those "healthy" fruit smoothies made with sweetened yogurt, juice and high glycemic fruit, like bananas. With all that sugar, they should be considered an adult milkshake. I do recommend meal replacement shakes to my clients, but a healthy shake includes protein, fiber and healthful fat, NOT frozen yogurt and corn syrup.
Flavored water One challenge with artificially or lightly sweetened water is that it causes your taste buds to crave sweet things. If your clients stick to water or sparkling water, they will learn to enjoy berries or an apple for dessert and forgo the super-sweet stuff.

JJ Virgin, PhD, CNS, ACSM-HFI, is a celebrity nutrition and fitness expert. Her new book, Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, published by Simon and Schuster, just hit the stands on May 11. She is the co-star of TLC's new reality show Freaky Eaters and the president of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. She can be reached at


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