One way to lose weight is to eat a more healthful diet. Knowing which foods to avoid and which to eat can help a person reach or maintain their ideal weight.
Consuming certain kinds of food can lead to unnecessary weight gain. It is ideal to avoid foods that have too many calories and can be harmful to one’s health. Here’s a list of foods to avoid for weight loss journey.
In general, when trying to lose weight, it is best to reduce or avoid foods that are calorie dense. However, the number of calories in a food is not the only factor to consider.
To best keep you on track, check out our roundup of the worst foods for weight loss you should never have in your kitchen. Here are some foods to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight.
Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss
Many beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices, are very high in added sugars but often low in other nutrients. Consuming these beverages adds calories to the diet but does not help a person feel full.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people limit calories from added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their total daily intake, which is around 12 teaspoons for a 2,000-calorie diet.
These Dietary Guidelines also state that the average person in the United States consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Almost half of this sugar comes from drinks, including sweetened teas and coffees.
A 2015 study found an association between consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and excess weight gain in children and adolescents.
French Fries and Potato Chips
Whole potatoes are healthy and filling, but french fries and potato chips are not. They are very high in calories, and it’s easy to eat way too many of them.
In observational studies, consuming French fries and potato chips has been linked to weight gain.
One study even found that potato chips may contribute to more weight gain per serving than any other food.
What’s more, baked, roasted or fried potatoes may contain cancer-causing substances called acrylamides. Therefore, it’s best to eat plain, boiled potatoes
Fatty Red Meat
Continuing on with another of the top weight-gain-inducing foods from The New England Journal of Medicine study is red meat. The China Health and Nutrition Survey of over 16,000 participants shows that what distinguishes between meat that causes abdominal weight gain and meat that keeps your metabolism moving is how visibly fatty the cut is. So, when you’re trying to lose weight, avoid those fatty ground beef blends of 70% lean 30% fat.
Avoid eating processed foods like biscuits, chips, pastries, candies, ice cream and other quick snacks. These processed foods are packed with preservatives, refined flour and unhealthy ingredients. Consumption of these foods definitely leads to weight gain over time. Choose to eat healthy snacks like fruits and nuts as alternatives.
Alcohol is a major killer, and sadly, many people do not count it as food; hence they do not factor it when looking into things not to include in their diet. It should be among the 7 foods to avoid at all costs. For starters, alcohol destroys brain cells in the long-run, so why take it in the first place?
Alcohol may be far more dangerous to the body than most people think, and this is because once brain cells are destroyed, they never grow back. Although we have lots of brain cells, the more alcohol one consumes, the more brain cells are damaged.
The other disadvantage of alcohol is that it massively dehydrates the body; no wonder people urinate a lot even after drinking just one bottle of beer. The fact that the body flushes out the alcohol so quickly should indicate that it is unwanted. Furthermore, in the process, you also lose vital fluid and nutrients contained in the urine. By doing so, cells will shrivel up, leading to more permanent damage if not rehydrated.
Even worse, alcohol causes liver and pancreas malfunction and puts stress on several other organs of detoxification. This prevents the body from performing regular detoxification and brings a huge burden on your systems and eventually speeding up the aging process, which results in organ malfunction.
White bread is highly refined and often contains a lot of added sugar.
It is high on the glycaemic index and can spike your blood sugar levels.
One study of 9,267 people found that eating two slices (120 grams) of white bread per day was linked to a 40% greater risk of weight gain and obesity.
Fortunately, there are many healthy alternatives to conventional wheat bread. One is Ezekiel bread, which is probably the healthiest bread on the market.
However, keep in mind that all wheat breads do contain gluten. Some other options include oopsie bread, cornbread and almond flour bread.
SUMMARY White bread is made from very fine flour, and can spike your blood sugar levels and lead to overeating. However, there are many other types of bread you can eat.
The seemingly healthy snack often delivers a serious hit of sugar, sometimes making it no better for you than a handful of M&M’s. “Flavored yogurts, even the innocuous vanilla variety, can pack nearly 30 grams of sugar per 6 oz. serving. That’s more sugar than ice cream!
Excess sugar can lead to weight gain so avoid the flavored varieties and stick with plain Greek yogurt,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian and founder of F-Factor Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in Manhattan. Mix in your own berries or a small spoonful of honey to add flavor to plain varieties.
Candy bars are extremely unhealthy. They pack a lot of added sugar, added oils and refined flour into a small package.
Candy bars are high in calories and low in nutrients. An average-sized candy bar covered in chocolate can contain around 200–300 calories and extra-large bars may contain even more.
Unfortunately, you can find candy bars everywhere. They are even strategically placed in stores in order to tempt consumers into buying them impulsively.
If you are craving a snack, eat a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts instead.
Bottom Line: Candy bars consist of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, refined flour and added oils. They are high in calories, but not very filling.
Baked foods, such as cookies, pastries, and many premade desserts, are often very high in added sugars, including fructose.
A 2015 study found that participants who ingested fructose experienced greater hunger and desire for food than those who ingested glucose, another type of sugar.
Many baked foods also contain trans fats. The results of a 2016 study in mice suggest that a diet high in trans fats may increase the risk of obesity.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are the primary source of trans fats in processed foods. The FDA also state that “removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year.
Most Fruit Juices
Most fruit juices you find at the supermarket have very little in common with whole fruit.
Fruit juices are highly processed and loaded with sugar.
In fact, they can contain just as much sugar and calories as soda, if not more .
Also, fruit juice usually has no fiber and doesn’t require chewing.
This means that a glass of orange juice won’t have the same effects on fullness as an orange, making it easy to consume large quantities in a short amount of time.
Stay away from fruit juice and eat whole fruit instead.
Read: Low-calorie doesn’t necessarily mean low sugar. Most diet sodas use artificial sweeteners that give your body the same reaction to refined sugar. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to excessive long-term weight gain; a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who drank diet soda regularly had nearly three times the amount of belly fat over a 9-year period compared to those who didn’t drink diet soda.
Researchers believe that drinking these no-calorie sweeteners confuses our bodies by making us expect calories that aren’t there.
The result is what they call “metabolic derangements” like poor insulin response and elevated glucose levels, which can lead to fat storage and a host of illnesses like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Although most breakfast cereals have been advertised as a healthy and nutritious way to start the day, they are not as healthy as one may expect. These cereals undergo a multi-step manufacturing method and lose a majority of their nutritional value in the process. Since they lack in flavour, they are filled with added sugars and artificial flavours to appeal to the masses, kids in particular.
Foods that are advertised as ‘fat-free’ are also filled with artificial sweeteners to make up for the lost taste. Choose to eat healthy and fresh home-cooked food for breakfast to start your day on the right note.
Among the top 7 foods to avoid, artificial sweeteners are probably the worst. Many studies have shown that aspartame and other sweeteners are actually very dangerous. Taking the example of aspartame, the artificial sweetener is often the cause of headaches that can range from mild to debilitating.
In worst cases, people have gone to the extent of committing suicide to rid themselves of the pain. People who are sugar intolerant can still be affected by aspartame-containing products even if labeled as sugar-free.
Artificial sweeteners can also affect the serotonin levels in the body of a person. This is a chemical found in the brain and is responsible for regulating mood swings and hunger. When you eat low or zero-calorie food with aspartame, you may gain weight by eating more because you will be feeling hungrier.
There are also some indications that such sweeteners can potentially cause depression, brain tumors, and mimicking multiple sclerosis symptoms. This is dangerous because it may lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment. To be safe, you may want to add artificial sweeteners to the list of foods to be avoided at all costs.
Pastries, Cookies and Cakes
Pastries, cookies and cakes are packed with unhealthy ingredients like added sugar and refined flour.
They may also contain artificial trans fats, which are very harmful and linked to many diseases.
Pastries, cookies and cakes are not very satisfying, and you will likely become hungry very quickly after eating these high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
If you’re craving something sweet, reach for a piece of dark chocolate instead.
SUMMARY Pastries, cookies and cakes often contain large amounts of added sugar, refined flour and sometimes trans fat. These foods are high in calories but not very filling.
Ice cream is incredibly delicious, but very unhealthy. It is high in calories and most types are loaded with sugar.
A small portion of ice cream is fine every now and then, but the problem is that it’s very easy to consume massive amounts in one sitting.
Consider making your own ice cream, using less sugar and healthier ingredients like full-fat yogurt and fruit.
Also, serve yourself a small portion and put the ice cream away so that you won’t end up eating too much.
Bottom Line: Store-bought ice cream is high in sugar and homemade ice cream is a better alternative. Remember to be mindful of portions, as it’s very easy to eat too much ice cream.
White rice is very low in fat but also contains minimal fiber and protein.
A 2016 study in Iran identified a link between white rice consumption and obesity in female adolescents. White rice also has a high glycemic index, which means that it can cause a spike in a person’s blood sugar levels after they eat it.
Brown rice, quinoa, and cauliflower rice are healthful alternatives to white rice. These options are richer in dietary fiber, which can help a person feel fuller for longer.
Pizza is a very popular fast food. However, commercially made pizzas also happen to be very unhealthy.
They’re extremely high in calories and often contain unhealthy ingredients like highly refined flour and processed meat.
If you want to enjoy a slice of pizza, try making one at home using healthier ingredients. Homemade pizza sauce is also healthier, since supermarket varieties can contain lots of sugar.
Another option is to look for a pizza place that makes healthier pizzas.
Once we became aware of the artery-clogging ill effects of trans fats, manufacturers switched to injecting their products with vegetable oils such as soy, corn, sunflower, safflower, or palm oil—which wasn’t much better. That’s because these vegetable oils have a high concentration of the inflammatory fat, omega-6, and are low in the anti-inflammatory fat, omega-3.
In fact, Americans are eating so many vegetable-oil-laden products that the average person has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of around 20:1 when it should be 1:1. Inflammation has been connected to obesity, so inflammatory foods like soybean oil won’t do you any favors if you want to lose weight.
There is a lot of debate on whether humans should consume dairy or not. Many people argue that cow’s milk is designed for young cows, and not for humans. When milk is pasteurized, many of its nutrients are destroyed, and the remaining product can be quite problematic for some people’s digestive systems.
The dependency human-kind has on milk makes it difficult to stop using it, but there are other alternatives. For instance, cow’s milk substitutes containing soy, rice, almond, coconut, oat, or grain can fulfill your cravings for milk with many effects and will not result in any problems you may experience with cow’s milk.
Non-dairy coffee creamers are also a no-go zone. They contain hydrogenated oils that are not good for the body. They also have lots of high-fructose corn syrup, potentially damaging the liver by increasing liver fat. They also have artificial sweeteners, which can cause gastrointestinal issues
One cup, two cup, three cup…five! While it’s important to limit caffeine intake throughout the day, you’re doing even more damage to your body by adding in cream and sugar to every cup you make. “Having a little coffee with your milk and sugar? That caffeine fix can set you back hundreds of calories and contribute to pudge if you aren’t careful. Order black coffee. Habitual “coffee with milk and sugar” drinkers are often surprised at how bitter coffee truly tastes.
Recognize that adding all those accompaniments to your morning brew is like telling yourself a fruit—flavored donut is like fresh fruit. Not the same,” says Zuckerbrot. It takes some getting used to, but cutting out (at least some of) the add-ins will push you closer to your fitness goals.
You will realize that most of the foods on this list are generally sweet and quick to prepare or can even be consumed as bought. Coffee is one of those things that happens to be almost everybody’s favorite drink. This easy-to-fix drink can be associated with some strong negative side effects, yet people can’t seem to kick off the habit (12).
Heavy coffee consumption has been associated with elevated homocysteine levels . Elevated plasma homocysteine is in turn associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack.
The caffeine found in coffee speeds up almost all functions in the body except sleep. What this does is wear out the body, which contributes to speeding up the aging process. Coffee is also a diuretic. When you take it, you may excrete excess fluids and useful nutrients, hence depriving the body of those.
Furthermore, it is not easy to stop drinking coffee because of side effects such as nervousness and headaches. If you have been attempting to kick the habit, you may want to have a cup of coffee nearby but only drink a tablespoon after every hour. This strategy can help you fight your addiction, and within a week, you should have turned on a new leaf
Restaurant Foods With Trans Fats
Many restaurant and street foods use partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated vegetable oils, and they’re no friend to your waistline. “Trans fats cause inflammation in the body leading to insulin resistance and impairing the body’s ability to use glucose properly. This results in excess fat storage around the belly,” says Tina Marinaccio, MS, RD, CPT.
Smoothies are one of those things that have the potential to be super healthy, but often take a turn for the worst. “Designed to appear healthy, smoothies are often loaded in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Watch out for ingredients like peanut butter, ice cream, juice, full-fat milk, and lots of fruit. Calories can climb quickly in these drinks, so opt for smoothies that use a protein powder or Greek yogurt as a base. Also, customize your smoothie and control the amount of added extras that can wreak havoc on your waistline and prevent you from shedding fat,” says Zuckerbrot. As with most meals or snacks, it’s always best to make your own to control portions and ingredients.
Further evidence that not everything made with fruit is healthy, these classic spreads are just pieces of fruit simmered in calorie-laden sugar and devoid of satiating fiber. Add whole slices of fruit to your next slice of peanut butter toast for some nutrient-dense toppings.
Often advertised as a better-for-you alternative to butter, margarine is no such thing. It’s actually loaded with trans fat and lacking in nutrition. Stick to small amounts of olive oil where you would normally use butter.