Are you trying to lose weight? If you are, you probably already know which foods to avoid. There are some foods, however, that are deceptively “healthy”. These foods have the reputation for being good for you but can throw your diet off course if you’re not careful.
Chocolate bars, doughnuts, and greasy French fries are well-known as no-nos for anyone wanting to slim down. But there are other foods that we might not suspect to be diet-busters, and they might even be disguised as “healthy.” If you’re trying to lose weight, avoid eating these 20 foods.
20. Protein Bars
A protein bar is a deceptively healthy-sounding option. Walk into any health food store, and you’ll see shelves full of protein bars. This overabundance of protein bars might lead you to believe that these convenient snacks are perfect for weight loss. You might want to think again because these bars are chock full of sugar.
To make them taste good — and less like cardboard — food manufacturers add sugar and salt protein bars. Some protein bars have sugar contents that rival candy bars! These additions might make the protein bars much more palatable, but they negate any nutritional benefits the bars might bring to the table.
19. Fruit Juices
We’ve all grown up being told that fruits are good for our body — and they are! Fruits are not only delicious, but they’re a nutrient-dense source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruit juices, however, are full of sugar without fiber. Often, processed juices also have added sugar or other additives. These factors make calorie-laden fruit juices a source of weight gain.
18. Veggie Chips
Don’t let the word “veggie” fool you. Just because a type of food contains the word “veggie” doesn’t make it automatically healthy. Food marketers try to make their products seem as healthy as possible. So, although veggie chips may come from vegetables, they’re processed in a way that can cause weight gain. They also don’t have the nutritional value that fresh vegetables do. Stick with fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid the processed versions.
17. Gluten-Free Foods
There are some people who definitely need to avoid gluten. People who have celiac disease, for example, should adhere to a gluten-free diet. For most people, however, a gluten-free diet can expose them to high sources of sugar. Why? Because gluten-free options often come from bitter-tasting non-gluten alternatives, requiring producers to mask their bitterness with sugar!
16. Dried Fruit
Like fruit juices, dried fruit can seem deceptively healthy. Dried fruit retains all the sugar in fruit, but lowers the total volume of food. In short, you’re eating condensed fruit sugars when you eat dried fruit. And because dried fruit shrinks the total amount of fruit, you can consume more sugar in a short period of time. When it comes to fruit, fresh fruit — in a reasonable amount — is always better.
At its essence, kombucha is a powerhouse due to its probiotic content. Unfortunately, commercial variations of kombucha have high sugar content. Also, most consumers drink more than one serving size of kombucha at a time, which increases their sugar and calorie consumption. When it comes to kombucha, less is more.
Just the term “granola” brings to mind a healthy and natural option. Sadly, most granola options are anything but. For example, half a cup can have up to 300 calories, with much of those calories coming from fat and sugar. Also, granola is typically mixed with other foods like dried fruit, chocolate, sugary yogurt, or syrups. All these additions can increase the sugar and calorie content, negating any nutritional benefits that granola may offer.
13. Non-Traditional Pasta
Does all-you-can-eat pasta sound good to you? For a lot of people, non-traditional pasta offers them that reality. But, reality has its pitfalls. Pasta alternatives, like rice or soy-based pasta, still have calories and carbohydrates — which can both lead to weight gain. Even vegetable-based pasta alternatives, while nutrient-dense, can cause weight gain if consumed in high amounts. Remember, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. As with all things in life — moderation is key!
12. Salad Toppings
Just because it’s a “salad” doesn’t make it a healthy or nutritious option. It’s what’s in the salad, and how much you consume. Salad toppings and additions, like croutons, nuts, dried fruits, and taco shells can add an extra 300-400 calories to a 150-calorie salad. Also, salad dressings can also add more calories, even if it’s a “light” dressing. When eating a salad, ensure that toppings and additions are kept to a minimum, and boost the number of greens in the salad.
11. Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn — when consumed plain and air-popped — is a healthy whole-grain food source. Unfortunately, microwave popcorn doesn’t have the same benefits. Microwave popcorn, including the natural and light options, is loaded with artificial flavors, sodium, and fats. When eating popcorn, choose the air-popped kind and use low-calorie low-salt flavorings.
It might be delicious and popular, but açaí doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Açaí, the pricey grape-like berry from South America, is often mixed with nuts, fruit, or granola, which can increase calorie content and sugar. Rather than an açaí bowl, a handful of less expensive berries might be a better choice.
9. Rice Cakes
Light, crunchy, and fluffy, rice cakes are a tempting “healthy” snack when you’re on a diet. They might seem unassuming, but most rice cakes are artificially flavored and are low in nutrients. And though they’re low in calories, you might feel the need to smear high-calorie toppings on them to give them some flavor. When it comes to snacks, rice cakes aren’t the best choice.
8. Baked Chips
Like rice cakes, baked potato chips seem like a “healthy” snack option. After all, they’re low in oil and aren’t deep fried like most other potato chips. Unfortunately, baked chips are extremely processed and can increase blood sugar and encourage fat storage.
Alcohol leads to weight gain, but “mocktails” aren’t so good for the waistline, either. While non-alcoholic drinks like virgin-style margaritas and piña coladas are still high in sugars and calories. Rather than drinking the mocktails or the actual cocktails, it’s better to drink a small amount of wine or light beer.
6. Instant Oatmeal
Oatmeal is an underrated health food. It’s delicious, full of fiber, and works well with any topping. Instant oatmeal, however, isn’t nearly as healthy. Unlike regular oatmeal, instant oatmeal is high in processed sugar and additives. So, stick with the regular version, even if it takes a few more minutes to cook.
5. Restaurant or Store-Bought Smoothies
At home, you have control over what you add into your smoothies. You can use fresh fruit, gauge how much sugar you add, and opt for low-calorie ingredients. When you eat out, however, you don’t know what goes into the smoothie you order. Pre-made smoothies can have as much as 1000 calories!
4. Blue Corn Chips
Like baked potato chips, blue corn chips are deceptively healthy looking. They’re lighter and less greasy than regular potato chips, so blue corn chips might seem like an ideal low-calorie option. Unfortunately, although blue corn contains valuable nutrients, these nutrients are baked away — making them only slightly healthier than your average tortilla chip.
3. 100 Calorie Snack Packs
Single-serving snack packs are convenient options for people who have a hard time controlling their portions. When it comes to calories and nutrients, though, they’re not better than other choices. Instead of relying on processed, pre-packaged snack packs, you can create your own with serving-size baggies.
2. Bran Muffins
Anything containing bran must be healthy, right? After all, bran lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. As beneficial as bran is, it loses its value when it’s part of an oversized, calorie-packed muffin. The pre-packaged bran muffins found in grocery stores and big box stores are chock full of saturated fats, sodium, and sugar — making the bran muffin as unhealthy as a large cupcake!
1. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks seem like a healthy choice because the words “sports” and “drink” connote a sense of athletic health. The truth is that sports drinks are meant to replenish electrolytes after a workout. These drinks are not meant for regular consumption at every meal. Sports drinks contain sugar, dyes, and sodium that can sidetrack a healthy diet.
If your diet isn’t progressing the way you think it should, it could be due to the deceptively healthy food that you’re eating. To ensure your diet stays on track, pay close attention to portion sizes and food content. If your food seems too good to be true, it probably is!