Ever see one of those extremely useful lists of superfoods? Of course you have! A new one pops up somewhere every 5 minutes, so it’s pretty hard to avoid.
But if you somehow haven’t seen this before, let me fill you in on what you’ve been missing.
What Are Superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that are considered to be significantly better for you than all other foods, because they possess some special nutritional trait that provides an important benefit to you.
From improved health and disease prevention, to burning fat and making weight loss happen, these superfoods are supposedly THE KEY to every physical improvement you want to make to your body, and should therefore be a part of your diet.
The Ultimate List
With this in mind, I’ve spent the last 6 months rigorously reviewing hundreds of these types of lists and carefully researching every single food and their countless benefits.
Why? To provide you with the ultimate compilation of lists containing the absolute best, most amazing, most beneficial, most effective, most important, most healthy, and of course most super superfoods in the entire history of the planet.
So, without any further ado, here are those lists…
The Top 5 Foods That Cause Weight Loss
The 4 Best Foods For Building Muscle
The 8 Weirdest And Most Effective Superfoods
The 5 Most Unhealthy Foods That Are Making You Fat
The 4 Secret Foods That Burn Belly Fat
The 19 Most Amazing Ideas For Idiots To Write Shitty Articles About
Wait… What Just Happened?!?
Oh, I’m sorry. Was that not quite what you were expecting?
Hmmm. That’s odd. I wonder why that is?
Ohhh, that’s right: because superfoods are bullshit.
You see, back here in reality…
- There is no single food that will cause you to lose fat.
- There is no single food that will prevent you from gaining fat.
- There is no single food that will cause you to build muscle.
- There is no single food that will make you healthy.
- There is no single food that will prevent or cure a disease.
- There is no single food that will make up for an inadequate overall diet or workout program.
There also isn’t any “super” combination of foods that you can include together in your diet that will make any of these things happen, either.
The truth is, you could scour the Earth to locate every superfood that has ever been included on every one of these stupid useless lists, and then proceed to consume all of them every single day for the rest of your life. And guess what?
You could still very easily be an overweight (or even obese), un-muscular, unhealthy person with numerous diseases and health problems.
How could this be, you ask?
The Truth About Superfoods
A true “superfood” – by the definition typically implied by its usage – does not actually exist.
You see, “superfood” isn’t a scientific term. It’s not even a nutritional term. It’s a marketing term.
It exists for the sole purpose of grabbing your attention so you’ll:
- Click through to a website.
- Read an article.
- Read a social media post.
- Open an email.
- Buy a magazine.
- Buy a product.
- Buy a food.
- Stay tuned in to your local news report.
- Watch the latest episode of Dr. Oz.
- Navigate through one of those torturous slideshow lists that force you to load the next page in order to view the next useless item on the list, thus increasing the number of ad impressions served, thus increasing the amount of money being made off of your dwindling patience and the fact that you’ve been tricked into believing in superfoods.
Or, some other equally guaranteed waste of your time and/or money.
Above all else, that is what a “superfood” truly is, and that is what it truly exists to do.
Don’t Believe Me? Let’s Fix That.
Now, I realize you may not believe any of what I just said, because you’ve previously seen or heard the complete opposite.
That’s totally fine, but I want to help change that.
To accomplish this, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the 4 biggest claimed benefits of various supposed superfoods:
- It burns fat.
- It helps you lose weight.
- It builds muscle.
- It’s healthy, provides some sort of very significant health benefit, and/or contains a high amount of a specific nutrient that is healthy/provides some sort of very significant health benefit.
Now let’s go through each of these claims one by one…
Claim #1: It Burns Fat
The sole thing that causes fat loss is a caloric deficit. That’s it.
Consume fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight (aka a “caloric deficit“) and your stored body fat will be burned as an alternative source of energy.
So, despite the amazing claims you’ll see for some of the foods on these lists, not a single one of them will actually burn fat. There’s nothing present in any food that is remotely “super” enough to magically cause you to lose fat without that required deficit being present.
And when that deficit IS present? It’s still not the superfood that’s causing your fat loss. It’s the deficit itself.
In fact, as long as that deficit exists, you can eat anything you want (not recommended, just making a point) and you’d still lose weight just fine.
Yes, you can literally eat a diet comprised almost entirely of junk food – for example, Twinkies – and you’d still lose weight just fine as long as that caloric deficit exists.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than Mark Haub, the professor of nutrition at Kansas State University who followed a diet just like this (The Twinkie Diet) to prove this exact point, and lost 27lbs in 2 months.
Does this mean Twinkies are a superfood? Nope. It means a deficit alone is what causes weight loss, regardless of the foods being eaten.
The reverse version of this is true, too.
If you maintain your current weight eating 2000 calories per day (just a random example), and you eat more than this amount – let’s say 2500 calories – you will gain weight regardless of what those calories are.
So whether it’s 2500 calories worth of Twinkies or 2500 calories worth of magical superfoods, you’re still going to gain body fat.
Because the specific foods you eat are not what dictates whether you lose weight or gain weight. That always comes down to total calories.
Details here: The 10 Best Fat Burning Foods
Claim #2: It Helps You Lose Weight
Alright then, what about foods that can at least help you lose weight?
Well, that would depend on your definition of the word “help.”
If you mean foods that are going to burn fat, the answer is of course no.
If you mean foods that are even remotely close to being something like this, the answer is still no.
You’re going to have to take your definition of “help” down quite a few notches before you get a “yes” out of me.
How far down exactly?
If you mean foods that are more filling than other foods and are therefore more likely to help you control your hunger, which can then help prevent you from eating more calories than you should be, then yes.
The nutrients playing the largest roles in this regard are protein (sources: here, here, here, here and here) and fiber (sources: here, here, here, here and here), so foods containing them in good amounts would in fact be helpful to someone trying to lose weight.
But, here’s the thing.
The key to getting these benefits is much less about specific foods, and much more about eating a sufficient total amount of protein and fiber per day (ideally also consuming a meaningful amount of each at each meal).
So even though a typical list of superfoods may contain foods fitting this “high protein” or “high fiber” description – thus making them appear to truly be special – the reality is that there are dozens upon dozens of foods that can provide the protein and fiber you need to play this beneficial role in your diet.
Which means that whether you eat the particular foods mentioned on some list or avoid those foods completely in favor of any of the various other foods or combinations of foods that can provide similar amounts of protein and fiber… the end result would be exactly the same, and the same benefits would be present.
Additional details here: Why Am I Always So Hungry?
The Thermic Effect Of Food
If your definition of “helping” you lose weight means a food that can make you burn more calories than other foods, then yes (although probably not for the reasons you’re thinking… more on that in a second).
See, your body burns calories during the digestive process (source). This is known as the Thermic Effect Of Food (TEF).
It just so happens that protein has a much higher thermic effect than fat or carbs, which means eating more protein will cause your body to naturally burn more calories per day.
Nice, right? But here’s the thing.
There are dozens upon dozens of foods that contain moderate to high amounts of protein which a person can eat to reach the sufficient total amount of protein they require each day to get this benefit.
It’s not any one particular food that does it. No single high protein food is “super.” It’s the total protein intake itself that is truly super in this scenario, and there are numerous food options available for getting that protein.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about various spices (e.g. chili peppers) that supposedly increase your metabolic rate, that’s either complete nonsense or unlikely to be significant enough to actually matter, depending on the spice (sources here and here).
Additional details here: How To Increase Your Metabolism
How about if your definition of “helping” with weight loss means a food that can prevent you from losing muscle mass while you lose fat? If so, the answer is once again yes.
It turns out protein plays the biggest dietary role in preserving muscle (sources here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). So if you want to ensure that more of the “weight” you lose is body fat rather than muscle tissue, eating a sufficient amount of protein each day is crucial.
But… here’s the thing.
Once again, it’s not about the food(s) you get the protein from. It’s about your total overall protein intake itself. That’s what provides these benefits.
And as I’ve already repeated and have no problem repeating again, there are dozens and dozens of foods/combinations of foods you can eat to reach the total protein intake you need to make this happen. Whether or not that total is reached by eating the superfood someone included on some list for this purpose doesn’t matter at all.
Another Fun Thing To Keep In Mind
Do you know what I love?
When some diet guru encourages people to eat more superfoods because they contain “this” and “that” and have high amounts of “this” and are very rich in “that” and all of these things will help them burn fat easier and lose weight faster and blah blah blah blah blah.
So now, the average overweight person sees this recommendation and instantly adds a bunch of walnuts, dark chocolate, blueberries, and red wine (all of which are foods commonly found on these lists) to their diet to get more “antioxidants” and “healthy fats” and other special nutrients with no regard for the hundreds of additional calories these “superfoods” will also be providing.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
In this type of scenario (which I bet happens a lot more than anyone realizes), not only are superfoods NOT helping a person lose weight, they’re actually doing the opposite: adding on to the person’s calorie intake and potentially preventing them from losing weight (or maybe even causing them to gain additional weight).
Claim #3: It Builds Muscle
A superfood that builds muscle?
Umm… unless that superfood is a fortune cookie that you can crack open to reveal a little piece of paper that contains the details of where you can get yourself some steroids, there is no such thing.
There also isn’t a specific food that will have any remotely meaningful “testosterone boosting” effect, just in case you’re wondering. That’s nonsense.
The only thing that builds muscle is an intelligently designed workout program that generates sufficient amounts of tension, fatigue, and damage (source), which is then supported by a sufficient overall muscle building diet.
I cover all of this in detail in Superior Muscle Growth, by the way.
Claim #4: It’s Healthy
And finally, we have health.
I think I can kill this one in… let’s say… three points.
Point One: It’s A Single Food
First, I’m not doubting for a second that many of the foods on these types of lists are indeed “healthy” when looked at as a single food standing on its own.
I mean, on paper, I’m sure each of these individual foods are as high in whatever “healthy” nutrients they are claimed to be high in. You won’t get much disagreement from me on that.
The problem, however, is that the nutritional content of a single food is virtually meaningless in the context of someone’s overall diet.
Let me give you an example.
Think of the most super superfood of them all. Got it? Good.
Now add it into the diet of someone who eats like crap.
You know… the typical bad diet an overweight and/or unhealthy person might have. One that involves eating an excessive amount of calories, excessive amounts of junk food, excessive amounts of alcohol, not enough protein or fiber, not enough fruits or vegetables, etc..
Now 99% of their diet is still terrible, and the other 1% is this wonderful superfood.
Do you think they are suddenly going to become healthier because of this?
That special food will have no meaningful effect, other than perhaps making this person falsely believe they did something that improved their diet (they didn’t), which in turn makes them think things are now better (they’re not), which may prevent them from actually doing the things they need to be doing to actually make those improvements (bingo).
Because THAT’S what the entire concept of superfoods makes people think… that they can eat their usual shitty diet and then have some blueberries or some broccoli every so often and it will somehow magically counteract all of the bad stuff.
That’s not how it works.
Point Two: It’s Not That Special
The second point I’d like to make involves just how not-super these supposed superfoods really are, even the ones that contain all of the amazing “healthy” nutrients they are supposed to contain.
To make this point, let me tell you about a very short conversation I had with someone years ago.
This was back when the acai berry was first gaining popularity as the newest and most amazing miracle food on Earth.
In trying to convince me that this was a food that EVERYONE NEEDED TO EAT if they wanted to be as healthy as possible, this person went on and on about how high the acai berry is in antioxidants.
This, of course, is true. The acai berry IS high in antioxidants.
“But do you know what else is high in antioxidants?” I asked.
“Every other fucking berry.“
As are many other fruits, and vegetables, and beans, and on and on and on.
The same could be said for [insert any other vitamin, mineral, or micronutrient] found in [insert any other superfood].
“Wow!! Did you know Superfood X contains a lot of Nutrient Z?!? It’s so amazing!!”
Yes it is, until you realize that plenty of other foods and combinations of foods also contain a lot of that same nutrient.
Point being, there is never anything so special about any one food some writer decided to put on their list beyond the fact that it just happened to be the one food this writer decided to put on their list.
Point Three: It’s The Overall Diet
Remember “The Twinkie Diet” from the example I gave earlier? The point-proving junk-food-filled diet that professor Mark Haub ate for 2 months to show that a caloric deficit was the sole cause of fat loss, regardless of the foods providing those calories?
Remember how he lost 27lbs during that time?
I bet you’re wondering what else happened during that time… in terms of his overall health.
Haub’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.
So, let’s see.
He ate Twinkies. He lost weight. A variety of his health markers improved.
Does this mean Twinkies are the most super-duper-bestest superfood of all time?
Or does it simply mean that a caloric deficit is the sole cause of fat loss – not any supposed magical foods themselves – and losing a bunch of body fat as a result of that caloric deficit happens to improve virtually every health factor there is?
I’ll let you figure out that answer yourself.
Ah, screw it… [spoiler alert!!]… it’s the second one.
My point? In the context of someone’s overall diet, there is not a single food that is capable of making someone healthy or unhealthy, even if that food has “healthy” or “unhealthy” nutritional properties.
You can eat blueberries everyday and still be an overweight person with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, or you can eat Twinkies everyday while losing 27lbs and improving the health markers that lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
It’s always your overall diet that makes these things happen. Not the inclusion or exclusion of a single “good,” “bad,” or even “super” food within that diet.
But We Want Something Super To Strive For!
I know, I know.
That’s a big part of what makes the concept of superfoods so appealing.
It’s the idea that there’s something you can easily do that will be extremely beneficial to the way your body looks, feels, and functions. And it doesn’t get any easier or more appealing than “eat the magical foods on this list.”
Unfortunately (and perhaps disappointingly to many people), it’s a concept built on bullshit.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, however, is that there is indeed something super for us to strive for after all.
Granted, it’s not going to be nearly as appealing or easy to implement as a pretty list of foods.
But, the important difference here is that, unlike superfoods, this thing is both real and a whole lot more likely to actually have a beneficial effect.
Ready for it?
It’s something I call a super lifestyle.
And guess what? I’ll even present it to you in the form of a list.
The Super Lifestyle List
Super lifestyles are comprised of the following:
- A super diet, the kind that allows you to consume the total amount of calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, and water that you need to support your specific goals and overall health, all of which is put together in whatever way is most preferable, enjoyable, convenient, and sustainable for you as possible (aka The PECS Method).
- A super workout, the kind that is designed with your specific training needs and goals in mind, built around the proven fundamentals of what is optimal for reaching those goals. (My free weight training guide is a good place to start: The Ultimate Weight Training Routine)
- A super sufficient amount of sleep and sleep quality, ideally in the range of 7-9 hours per night.
- A super minimization of stress.
- A super use of supplementation – if needed – to help minimize legitimate nutrient deficiencies that blood tests show you’re unable to fix through diet alone.
- A super use of moderation when it comes to the things that truly warrant a sane-yet-still-enjoyable amount of moderation (e.g. sugar), as well as things that warrant being limited due to the potential risks they pose (e.g. alcohol… details here).
- A super avoidance of the things that truly warrant being avoided as completely as possible (e.g. smoking).
- Super habits that ensure everything on this list is put into action.
- Super discipline to ensure there is consistency with those habits.
- And if you want to go even further, super amounts of laughter (it’s good for you), sex (it’s also good for you), happiness, fun, doing more of the things you love and less of the things you hate, and on and on and on.
In your quest to lose fat, build muscle, and be as “healthy” as you can realistically be, this list is where the majority of your focus should go.
And superfoods? Nope.
The main thing superfoods are doing is adding to the never-ending list of distractions that prevent people from focusing on the important things they should actually be focusing on.
Don’t be one of those people.