Losing weight means eating right. Apart from exercising regularly and practicing a healthy lifestyle, you need to eat healthy food low in calories and fats to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body.
Protein bars, vegetable smoothies, frozen diet meals – they sound like very convenient health foods to eat when trying to lose weight, right? You are maximizing protein in small energy bars, consuming more vegetables, and staying away from high-calorie foods. But are you really choosing the real deal?
Many so-called “healthy” and weight loss foods in the market today are not really healthy and could even make losing weight more difficult. What are these foods to avoid when trying to lose weight?
What not to eat to lose weight
While there are plenty of these foods in the market today, the following are the most popularly consumed and are believed to be healthier alternatives to help lose weight, but actually are not:
1. Protein and high-fiber bars
Protein bars and high-fiber granola bars are very convenient on-the-go snacks that claim to help you lose weight.
But are they healthy?
Not all are healthy. While they are high in fiber or protein, with some nutrients added, most of these bars are almost unhealthy as candy bars. They contain added sugar that adds up to your calorie intake, as well as refined oils, additives, other preservatives that are not good for your health.
If you want to eat protein or high-fiber bars, choose those with a short ingredient list and those made with more natural ingredients. Read the labels and choose those with low sugar and calories.
2. Protein shakes
Protein helps you lose weight, so why not take protein shakes and powders? Actually, it is okay to drink protein shakes, but getting protein from natural sources is sufficient and even healthier.
Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a research faculty member at the New York Obesity Center and author of Why Diets Fail, says that protein shakes are usually added with sugar that could only add to your calorie intake.
Some protein powders also contain other ingredients that help lengthen their shelf life without giving you other added nutrition at all.
3. Store-bought smoothies
What could not be good about smoothies? They contain fruits and vegetables that are healthy and should be part of a weight loss program.
The truth is, these premade smoothies pack a lot of sugar and calories. Some even contain calories, between 650-1000 calories. That is even worse than having a medium serving of French fries or even cheeseburger.
If you want to include smoothies in your diet, you can just make your own smoothie. Avoid using soy and dairy powder. Instead, use healthy additions like kale, flax seeds, and almond or coconut milk for a great weight loss smoothie drink alternative.
4. Bottled vegetable juices
Not because they are labelled as vegetable juices, they are already healthy. While they may be fortified with vitamins and minerals, these juices are added with a lot of sugar to make them taste better. If you have tried making your own vegetable juice, which is most recommended, you can really compare the taste.
A 15.2-ounce green bottled juice, for example, could contain roughly 12 teaspoons of sugar. So if you are trying to lose weight by consuming healthy vegetable drinks, avoid bottled green juices. Go natural and make your own vegetable juice or buy freshly-pressed juice without added sugar.
5. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, such as aspartame and sucralose may be healthier in a sense that they contain no calories. But if you are counting on them to help you lose weight, you could be in the wrong direction.
While no studies are conclusive of making these substitutes unhealthy, they may not help you in your weight loss program. This is because these artificial sweeteners are a lot sweeter than sugar.
According to researchers from Yale University School of Medicine, consuming food with artificial sweeteners when hungry or tired increases the probability of taking more high-calorie foods later on.
The Sugar Association says that using the sweetness scale, Aspartame and Acesulfame K or Ace K are 200 times sweeter than sugar; Saccharine could be between 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar; sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar; and Neotame is about 8,000 times sweeter than sugar.
6. Frozen yogurt
Just when you thought you could have a great guilt-free alternative to ice cream, you’re going to have to think again. Frozen yogurt has increased sugar content to improve its taste with fruits and other flavorings. Even the plain frozen yogurt almost has the same added sugar and calories as the flavored ones.
A half cup of frozen yogurt contains around 25 grams of sugar.
A great substitute that will go with your weight loss program would be enjoying plain Greek yogurt with a little honey and some fresh fruit bits to top.
7. Gluten-free food
Gluten-free diet has become a popular routine in a hope to help lose weight quickly. If you are one of them, you may be disappointed.
Margaret Weiss, the clinical manager of the Kogan Celiac Center at Barnabas Health in Livingston, N.J., said that gluten-free food tend to be higher in fat, calories, and sugar. This is because oil, butter, and eggs are added to replace gluten to hold the food together.
In addition to added fats, calories, and sugar, these processed gluten-free products have low amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
8. Fat-free sweets
Fat-free treats do not necessarily mean they are good for weight loss. While you get less fat content, these fats are usually replaced with sugar. This means that you may get less fat in these sweets, but you get more calories, instead.
Make sure you read the labels in fat-free treats and pay attention to sugar and calorie content.
9. Trail Mix
Trail mix is probably one of the healthiest snacks you can think of that goes well with your weight loss plan. However, not all trail mix snacks are actually helpful and healthy. Many varieties have added ingredients that load up your calorie intake, such as candy-coated and deep-fried fruits.
Two servings of such trail mix varieties can give you almost 600 calories, so make sure you choose a variety with healthy low-fat and low-sugar ingredients.
10. Frozen diet foods
Frozen diet foods are true to their promise that they are low in calories. But what is important when you are trying to lose weight is also to stay healthy. Frozen diet foods are usually high in sodium, with meals containing between 700-1800 milligrams of sodium. Consuming frozen diet foods often could lead to heart diseases and stroke.
Looking at the whole picture, the foods to avoid for weight loss are those foods that are high in calories, dietary fat, and added sugar. Read the labels when buying prepared food at all times and always eat in moderation.
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