When trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat right, even more so than exercising. You could actually be working out hard at the gym, yet eating foods that sabotage all your hard work.
This is because the types of foods you eat can either aid in weight loss or cause further weight gain.
Here are 13 foods to avoid when trying to lose weight. These have all been linked to weight gain.
1. Sugar-filled Beverages
Sugar-filled beverages like soda are so common now that they take up an entire aisle at the grocery store. These heavily marketed, high-calorie beverages are unfortunately being consumed in place of water, so much so that they are becoming one of the leading causes of obesity in the world.
What’s worse, these sugar-filled beverages are full of calories, yet these liquid calories don’t make you feel full like calories from solid foods do. (4) As a result you still feel the need to consume additional calories.
Consuming water on the other hand has been shown to reduce caloric intake by as much as 194 calories a day. (5)
Replacing sugar-filled drinks with water or other sugar-free beverages is a must if you truly want to lose weight.
To sum up: Sugar-filled drinks contain a high number of calories that lead to weight gain in addition to causes other health problems. Replacing sugar-filled beverages with water, tea, almond milk, or other sugar-free beverages is a must if you want to lose weight.
2. Dessert Coffees
Black coffee without added sugars, flavored syrups or heavy creams, can actually boost your metabolism and increase fat burning because it contains caffeine which promotes lipid oxidation. (6)
When you add whip cream, caramel, chocolate and other sugary, fattening ingredients, you are turning black coffee into a dessert that carries with it a high number of unhealthy calories. These calories add up quick, and usually lead to weight gain.
To avoid these excess calories, it’s best to stick to regular black coffee. If the taste of black coffee is too bitter for you, then try adding something like almond milk instead of other unhealthy ingredients.
To sum up: Dessert coffees can quickly use up your allotted calories for the day and cause further weight gain. If you want to drink coffee and reap its fat burning benefits, then stick to regular black coffee.
3. Some Salad Dressings (especially creamy)
Replacing at least one meal a day with a salad is a great way to start losing weight. However, topping your salad with an unhealthy salad dressing can be almost as bad as pouring chocolate syrup on it.
Many salad dressings contain a high number of calories, unhealthy fats, added sugars, and added sodium. Additionally they may also contain artificial dyes, flavorings, preservatives, soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, which have all been linked to cancer.
Oil-based salad dressings, especially homemade ones, are far better for you than store bought dressings that include unhealthy ingredients. Creamy store bought dressings are the worst and contain a high amount of saturated fat and calories.
Even low-fat creamy dressings contain high fructose corn syrup which is linked to obesity. Plus many low-fat dressings are loaded with sodium and lack many of the vitamins and antioxidants in unrefined plant-based oils used in oil- based dressings.
Some oils such as olive oil and coconut oil can aid in weight loss. An olive oil enriched diet lead to greater weight loss compared to a low-fat diet, and coconut oil, which contains medium chain triglyerides (MCT), led to even greater weight loss than olive oil. (7, 8)
Mixing an oil-based salad dressing with vinegar is even better because vinegar has been shown to aid in weight loss. (9)
To Sum Up: When choosing a salad dressing, it’s best to stay away from store bought dressings that are creamy or even low-fat. Instead choose an oil-based dressing, or make one at home that includes a healthy unrefined oil and mix it with a vinegar and other healthy herbs, vegetables, and spices.
4. Milkshakes and Ice Cream
Ice Cream and milkshakes are high on this list of most frequently consumed desserts. They are cold, creamy, and taste amazing, especially on a hot summer day.
Unfortunately, because of their amazing taste people often overindulge on them which can lead to fast weight gain.
Both ice cream and milkshakes are full of sugar and fat, which are both known to cause food cravings. In fact, sugar and fat in combination has been directly linked to binge eating of an addictive nature and obesity. (10)
Ice cream and milkshakes should be limited to rare occasions and even then small portions are necessary. If going out for ice cream is one of your pastimes, consider going out for a nutrient-rich smoothie instead.
To Sum Up: Ice cream and milkshakes often lead to overindulgence because of the sweet combination of sugar and fat they contain. When trying to lose weight is best to avoid them and choose a healthier alternative treat such as a nutrient-rich smoothie.
5. White Bread
The smell, softness, and taste of white bread is hard to resist, but unfortunately it can lead to weight gain.
White bread, unlike whole grain bread, which still has the entire grain kernel intact, is made by having a machine pulverize the grain kernels into a fine flour. This process called refinement leaves the resulting flour devoid of nutrients.
When ground into refined flours, most grains act exactly like sugar in the body, triggering weight gain, inflammation, and blood-sugar spikes.
Foods that spike blood sugar are said to have a high glycemic index. High glycemic index foods are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. White bread ranks high on the glycemic index list. (11)
Eating just 2 slices of white bread a day was shown in one study to increase the risk of weight gain and obesity by 40%. (12)
Healthier breads that retain their nutrients such as whole grain bread, Ezekiel Bread, and gluten free breads have a much lower glycemic index and aren’t as addictive as white bread.
Lastly, many breads contain unnecessary added sugar, so you should find the healthiest whole grain bread that is also low in sugar.
To Sum Up: White bread is made from refined flour that acts exactly like sugar in the body. Plus it often contains additional added sugars. If you want to lose weight it’s best to chose healthy whole grain breads or gluten free breads that don’t promote excess weight gain.
Pizza is perhaps one of the most well loved fast foods. Kids especially like it, and it’s easy and affordable. Although it’s mostly just dough, pasta sauce, and cheese, pizza can be surprisingly fattening. (13)
The problem is the way most store bought pizzas are made. Manufacturers and fast food restaurants typically use refined flour to make the dough, instead of healthier dough make from whole wheat flour. Also the pasta sauce they use is generally packed with added sugar.
If pizzas aren’t made fresh they usually contain processed chemicals to prolong shelf life. This includes processed meats that are also linked to weight gain. (14)
Making homemade pizza using whole food ingredients without added sugar is a healthier option.
To Sum Up: Store bought pizza is typically higher in calories and made with refined flour and processed ingredients that lead to weight gain. If you want to have a slice of pizza, make it at home using healthy ingredients.
7. Sugary Breakfast Cereals
Many breakfast cereals on the cereal aisle at the grocery store include advertising on the outside of the box that claims the cereal inside is healthy. However a great number of breakfast cereals are heavily processed and loaded with added sugar.
While it’s true that some breakfast cereals contain much needed dietary fiber, Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, and other micronutrients, the added sugar is still of great concern. (15)
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 36 grams of sugar for men and 25 grams of sugar for women per day. (16)
Generally when a person eats cereal, they pour it in a bowl which turns out to be more than a cupful of cereal. Yet, many sugary breakfast cereals contain about 12 grams of sugar per ¾ cup. If you consume two cups, that’s a little over 25grams of sugar right there. With so many products containing added sugars these days, by the end of the day you may well exceed the recommend guidelines.
If you want to eat breakfast cereal, check the box to find out how much sugar it contains. Some cereals that are low in sugar are plain shredded wheat squares, plain cheerios, and plain corn flakes. You can always add raisins or fruit to the cereal to give it some flavor.
To Sum Up: Sugary breakfast cereals can quickly exceed the American Heart Association’s recommend daily sugar limit, thus contributing weight gain. To get the fiber and nutritional benefits that cereal has to offer, it’s best to choose cereals high in fiber and low in sugar.
8. Baked Goods
Baked Goods such as cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries are so tempting to eat as a quick snack. When you are low on energy, you crave high calorie foods instead of a healthy snack like an apple.
Unfortunately baked goods are not satisfying as a snack because they contain refined flour and added sugar, which quickly raise your blood sugar, and then within the hour you are hungry again once your blood sugar drops.
Most prepackaged baked goods that are sold at stores have many unhealthy ingredients in them to prolong their shelf life. They also contain artificial trans fats, which are terrible for you and are linked to many diseases. (17)
If you are low on energy and craving quick carbs, try eating an apple or an orange. If you must have something sweet, go for a piece of dark chocolate or full-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.
To Sum Up: Stay away from baked goods as snacks if you are serious about losing weight, because baked goods cause weight gain and don’t satisfy your hunger. It’s best to choose fresh fruit, vegetables, or nuts as snacks or some other snack that contains healthy fats and natural sugars.
9. Candy Bars
Candy Bars are definitely off limits when trying to lose weight. They are packed with added sugar, added oils, preservatives, refined flour, and more.
A candy bar may give you immediate gratification when you impulsively eat one, but your body receives no nutrients from it whatsoever. All you get is a massive dose of calories from sugar and fat.
Today you can even get a “super-sized” candy bar that contains upwards of 500 calories. These bars are placed in the check-out line for a “value price” making it harder to resist. Chronic exposure to large portion sizing can lead to increased energy intake. (18)
The best way to avoid buying candy bars is to keep healthy snacks with you. You can put an apple or a small bag of nuts in your car or purse.
To Sum Up: Candy bars contain loads of fat and sugar, but very little nutrients if any. Because they are so tempting and highly marketed everywhere, it’s best to keep a health snack with you to avoid buying a candy bar.
10. French Fries and Potato Chips
French Fries and Potato chips are definitely finger-licking good, and make an easy side addition to a hamburger or sandwich. The problem is fries and chips are very high in calories and at times people eat far too many of them.
French Fries and Potato chips have been the downfall of many trying to lose weight. The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a 4 year study that linked potato chips and French Fries to weight gain. Based on this study, the National Institutes of Health reported that potato chips caused a weight gain of 1 pound or more and French Fries caused a weight gain of 3 pounds over the course of the study. (19, 20)
Boiled potatoes would be your best option, if you like to eat potatoes. Fried, roasted, microwaved, and baked potatoes may contain a carcinogenic substance call acrylamide. (21)
To Sum Up: French fries and potato chips are easy to overindulge on. They are also unhealthy and fattening. The healthiest way to eat a potato is to boil it.
You may have heard the term “beer belly” before. Well there is some truth to that because overtime drinking beer does lead to overall weight gain including increased weight in the waist area.(22)
Beer is often consumed in higher quantities than other types of alcohol, because beer satisfies thirst and is easier to guzzle. Plus beer is often drank on hot summer days or at sporting events.
Although the calories from alcohol are the same across the board for wine and whisky, 7 calories per gram, it’s how much and how often you drink it that leads to weight gain. Wine and whiskey tend to be served in smaller quantities and drank in lesser amounts. A couple of glasses of wine may even be beneficial. (23)
However, since alcohol provides more calories than carbohydrates and protein per gram, it’s best to avoid alcohol all together.
To Sum Up: Beer is a social beverage high in calories that is typically consumed in higher quantities. Overtime consistent beer drinking leads to increased weight gain and waist circumference. A glass of wine on a social occasion may be a better option.
12. Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken is the worst source of protein you can have in your diet. It not only increases your risk for obesity, it increases stroke risk, type 2 diabetes risk, and cancer risk.
Fried Chicken is high in fat. Some types of fats are unhealthier than others, and this includes trans fat. The fried chicken that fast food restaurants sell often contain unacceptably high amounts of industrially-produced trans fat which contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, weight gain, abdominal fat and type 2 diabetes. (24)
Some healthier choices for protein would include beans, quinoa, lentils, lean unprocessed grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and range free eggs.
To Sum Up: Avoid eating fried chicken, not only because it is fattening, but because it may increase your risk for other serious diseases. When choosing a protein, pick those that are plant-based, grass-fed, wild-caught and range free, but certainly not fried.
13. Foods with Hidden Sugars
Beware of hidden sugars in food. Processed foods often contain added sugars under many names such as high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup, molasses, and many others.
Some foods that contain hidden sugars are sugary breakfast cereals, granola bars, fat-free foods, low-fat foods, protein bars, pasta sauces, and flavored yogurt.
These foods have healthier options such as homemade pasta sauces, full-fat yogurts, homemade granola mixes using whole grains, nuts, and raisins, homemade protein bars, and whole grain cereals.
To Sum Up: Always check food labels for hidden sugars. Instead of buying these foods, try making a healthier homemade version or buy foods with the least amount of added sugar.
How to Move Forward
As a rule, highly processed foods such as prepackaged junk foods contain high amounts of unhealthy fat, added sugars, and refined flours. If you want to lose weight, it’s best to avoid these foods like the plague.
Some foods may claim to be healthy but they aren’t. If you are unsure, always read the label and find out if there are ingredients that are bad for you. A rule of thumb is that if you don’t recognize the name of the ingredient it may be artificial or highly processed.
Foods that are easy to recognize as healthy include fresh whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Other potentially fattening foods to beware of are dried fruits, processed fruit juices, nuts, and cheese. These should be limited to small single servings because they are also high in calories and can contribute to weight gain when eaten in excess.
Lastly, portion size and frequency should always be considered. If you want to lose weight it’s best to avoid fattening, unhealthy foods; but if you slip, limit yourself to one serving and only on seldom occasions.