Discover 5 healthy foods to avoid that may be destroying your weight loss progress. Just because it`s `healthy` doesn’t mean that it’s diet-friendly!
Losing weight and burning body fat is all about eating good, clean, healthy, nutrient-rich foods, right?
You have to consume the right types of food to push your body into fat-burning mode and stoke the metabolic fire, correct?
It all comes down to calories.
While you do want the vast majority of your diet to be filled with highly nutritious, good quality foods, as close to nature as possible, losing weight requires a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Let’s look at it this way –
If you burn 2,500 calories per day through a combination of your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate – the calories burned through basic functions such as respiration and digestion) plus the activity you do, and ate 2,500 calories, your weight would stay stable.
Take your intake down to 2,000 and you’d lose weight, regardless of whether this 2,000 calories was made from “healthy” or “junk” food.
Likewise, if you upped your intake to 3,000, you’d gain weight. Even if those extra calories came from lean meats, healthy fats and fruit, your body would still store them as excess.
It’s for this reason, that some of your so-called health foods could actually be sabotaging your progress.
The Unhealthy “Healthy Foods”
The healthy foods listed in this article certainly aren’t bad or unhealthy – in fact, most of them have a tonne of benefits.
However, they make the cut here, as they’re foods that many folk typically eat ad libitum, and don’t think about the calories in them.
As we’re often told that these foods are good for us, we eat them in excess. This can grossly push up calorie intake, taking you from a calorie deficit (fat loss) into a calorie surplus (fat gain.)
Let’s take a look at the main healthy foods you should avoid offenders …
Offender #1 – Fruit Juice
It’s incredibly easy to over-consume calories in liquid form.
The trouble with fruit juice is that while it technically counts as one of your five a day, all the fibre has been removed. This means that it’s just the sugar left. This has several issues.
For one, the lack of fibre means you just don’t get full from fruit juice as you would from a piece of whole fruit. Additionally, with most juices containing the same amount of sugar per 100ml as Coke, it makes them pretty calorie-dense.A lack of fibre means you don’t get full from fruit juice as you would from a piece of fruit. Click To Tweet
You wouldn’t even dream of drinking two glasses of Coke at breakfast on a fat loss diet, so why would you drink two glasses of OJ? Have a piece of fruit instead.
Offender #2 – Nuts
Nuts are so often touted as a great weight loss snack, but are they really?
I’d argue not.
Sure, they are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and contain some protein and fibre, but they’re also extremely calorie dense.
A 25g serving of nuts (almonds, macadamias, Brazils, walnuts, or any other typical nut) comes in at around 125 to 150 calories.
That might not seem too much, but have you ever actually weighed out 25 grams? It’s not a lot!
Even the individual serving packs you pick up in Tesco or M&S weigh 50-70 grams. This means you’re easily getting down 250 to 400 calories all in one small snack. Add to that the fact most folk won’t weigh out a serving, and will simply pluck handful after handful from a big bag. It’s not uncommon to get a good 1,000 calories purely from your pistachios or peanuts in an afternoon!
Offender #3 – Olive Oil
Olive oil is a “good fat” meaning that it supports hormone production, heart health, and obviously those Mediterranean populations who drink a lot of olive oil are doing pretty well.
That said, like nuts, it contains a huge number of calories per serving.
We’re talking 120 calories per tablespoon.
It’s fine to cook with olive oil, or drizzle a little on your salads, but just keep in mind that those calories will add up quickly. You may be better off transferring your oil into a spray bottle, or simply using it to coat your cooking pan, then wiping off any excess.
A little is fine, a Jamie Oliver-sized glug is not!
Offender #4 – Breakfast Bars
Breakfast bars and cereal bars might seem like a decent alternative to starting your day with a full English or a bacon sandwich, but they may not be your best bet.
While most aren’t too high in calories, the potential sticking point with these fake health foods is that they’re predominantly carbohydrate-based.
Carbs digest faster than protein which means that you may start to feel hungry again soon afterwards. This can lead to those treacherous mid-morning stomach grumbles, which inevitably result in you raiding the vending machine for more sweet treats come 11am.
If you fancy a cereal bar first thing, have one, but try to get some protein in too. Try a couple of boiled eggs, a little Greek yoghurt, or even a protein shake.
Better yet, switch your breakfast bar to a protein bar and you’re on to a winner.
Offender #5 – Zero-Sugar Sweets
Zero sugar Reese’s and sugar-free Werther’s Originals might seem like a fat loss gift sent from the Gods, but here’s where that old saying – “If it sounds too good to be true …” really does come into its own.
All that happens here, is that the sugar is replaced with sugar alcohols.
Technically, that means the manufacturers can label them as sugar-free, yet the calories and the carbs are virtually the same.
It’s a sneaky trick, and one that so many people fall for.
As a side note – if a product boldly claims to only have a certain amount of net carbs, check the packaging very carefully. Net carbs are the carbs left once fibre and sugar alcohols have been subtracted. This was a bit of a fad around the Atkins and low-carb craze.
The bottom line, however, is that these non-net carbs still count, so don’t be duped into thinking a food with fewer net carbs is better or lower in calories.
So I Should Avoid All Of These Foods?
Not at all.
Nuts and seeds, fruit, cereal bars, oils, and even sugar-free sweets can all be part of your weight loss diet.
The point is, however, that just because a food is seen as being healthy doesn’t mean that it’s particularly diet-friendly.
Your best bet is to keep an eye on your total calorie intake, and employ the “JERF” principle – Just Eat Real Food.
Do this 80-90% of the time, and allow yourself some leeway for junk food for the other 10-20%, remembering that when it comes to weight loss, calories are king.