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You’ve thought about it: What’s really in a hot dog? We sure as hell don’t know. And guess what? Neither do most grocery stores. The factory workers Frankenstein-ing these processed meat sticks do—well, sort of. Let’s just say the odds are good it’s not 100% beef. Aside from sodium nitrite (preservative), Malaysian scientists created a DNA test that discovered 2% of 345 hot dogs and sausages tested contained human DNA, and some varieties in Malaysian “beef” hot dogs actually had buffalo in them; another study found 10% of vegetarian hot dogs contain meat. “If you have to ask ‘What’s in this?’ about anything you’re eating, you already know it’s not something good for you,” Mazur says. “Skip the processed dogs and go with meats that are less processed and made with far fewer additives.”
One hot dog has 329 calories, 11g of protein, and 30g of fat, per the USDA.
“In moderation, ice cream can fit into a balanced diet,” Mazur says. But this shouldn’t, in any scenario, be a consistent source of dairy-based protein for you. (Look to Greek Yogurt for that.) “The typical high fat and sugar content in ice cream cancels out even the limited amount of protein per serving,” he adds.
Half a cup of vanilla ice cream has 137 calories, 2g of protein, and 7g of fat, per the USDA.
Bratwurst. It sounds like man food and looks and smells like satisfying fare when you’re grilling it up on the BBQ. But, for the most part, bratwurst “is typically high in fat as well as saturated fat,” Mazur says. “It doesn’t provide much nutrition in terms of protein due to that ratio,” he adds.
One pork Bratwurst link has 283 calories, 12g of protein, and 25g of fat, per the USDA.
Sausage is another protein-packed no-no. “Typically eaten at breakfast, these are highly processed meats containing a large amount of sodium and saturated fat,” Mazur says. If you’re not ready to let go, opt for chicken or turkey sausage, which are intrinsically much leaner (fewer calories, much less saturated fat).
One pork sausage link has 210 calories, 8g of protein, and 20g of fat, per the USDA.
We know you love bacon. Asking you to part ways with it is a monumental request. And to be fair, it has a fairly big role in the Paleo diet, which yields some impressive results. So, just cut back and make sure it’s not serving as a significant protein source in your day-to-day diet. “It’s similar to sausage in the fact it’s a highly processed meat high in sodium as well as saturated fat,” Mazur says.
One slice of bacon has 54 calories, 4g of protein, and 4g of fat, per the USDA.
“Chicken alone is one of the leanest protein sources you can eat,” Mazur says. But, dredge in in flour or breading, then dunk it in a vat of boiling hot oil, and that high-quality protein now becomes a saturated fat bomb that’ll wreak havoc on your heart and waistline.
100g of fast food fried chicken has 398 calories, 14g protein, and 29g fat, per the USDA.
Fast Food Burgers
They might be an American icon, but fast food burgers are really one of the unhealthiest foods, let alone sources of protein, you can put in your mouth. “It does provide a decent amount of protein, but at the cost of loads of extra fat—with added toppings, sauces, and ingredients—most of which is saturated.”
One fast food hamburger has 232 calories, 13g of protein, and 9g of fat, per the USDA.
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