Don’t get us wrong these eats are good for you. But they can enlarge your waistline if you’re not careful.
People overeat to eat and gain weight for many reasons. One major cause is eating too many calories.
With nearly 39% of adults worldwide classified as overweight, the food industry has never been stronger (1Trusted Source).
Diet foods, such as those labelled “low-fat“, “low-calorie” or “fat-free“, are specifically marketed to people looking to lose excess weight.
However, many diet foods can do more harm than good to your waistline.
No single food in isolation from everything you eat will make you gain (or lose!) weight. But often, the same barrier strains so many people when it comes to weight loss and healthier eating: sneaky sources of added sugar or saturated fats that hide in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer.
Here is a list of diet foods often considered healthy that can actually cause weight gain.
Protein smoothies and shakes
Protein smoothies and shakes are all the rage on social media and in the wellness community.
While some protein smoothies and shakes are nutritious and exceptionally healthy, others are loaded with calories and sugar.
For example, some favourite smoothies contain almost 14 teaspoons 55 grams of sugar in a single 450 ml bottle.
In addition, some protein shakes pack almost 400 calories per 450 ml bottle.
Smoothies and protein shakes can easily be consumed too quickly, stuffing your body with excessive calories and sugar.
Raw fish alone will hardly put a dent in your caloric intake. Special sushi rolls are another story. They often come with high-calorie ingredients such as cream cheese, spicy mayo, tempura-battered shrimp, and lots of white rice. You’ll need to be careful with soy sauce too much because it has sodium, which can cause bloating.
Opt for sashimi, brown rice sushi or a simple roll without all the extra ingredients.
Dried fruits are just normal fruits that have had water taken out of them. A cup of dried fruit contains five to eight times more calories and sugar than a cup of fresh produce. Here’s some perspective: a cup of fresh grapes is 60 calories, while a cup of raisins is a huge 460.
Look for fresh fruit whenever possible. Use dried fruit sparingly as a topping, not as a snack.
Packaged diet foods
From diet cookies to fat-free potato chips, grocery store shelves are filled with packaged diet foods.
While these items can be tempting, the majority of them are unhealthy.
Many diet foods contain preservatives, unhealthy fats and artificial sweeteners that can harm your body.
It is best to replace these overly processed, packaged foods with nutrient-rich filling options.
It is well known that caffeine acts as a mild appetite suppressant, which leads many people to increase their coffee consumption while trying to lose weight.
Although coffee has many health benefits, you should abstain from certain coffee drinks when trying to lose weight.
Many of these beverages – including lattes, frappes and cappuccinos – are high in calories and sugar.
For example, a Starbucks Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte made with skim milk – and no whipped cream added – packs in 280 calories and 12 teaspoons 50 grams of sugar.
While a daily latte may seem harmless, sweet coffees could sabotage your weight loss efforts.
A serving of canned tuna in water has a huge 39 grams of protein for only 179 calories. The problem is, most people add mayo, which points to an extra 90 calories and 10 grams of fat per tablespoon.
Replace the mayo with Greek yoghurt, you’ll get the same tangy flavour for a fraction of the calories and fat, plus an extra boost in protein.
Dark chocolate contains disease-fighting polyphenols and has even been linked to weight loss if you don’t eat too much of it. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 155 calories and 9 grams of fat, 5 of which are saturated.
Tip: Snack on dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa, which means it’s less sweet. Have just a few squares at a time.
Most commercially manufactured ice cream is full of sugar and fat. Since it is often eaten as a dessert, ice cream can add many extra calories to your meal.
If you like ice cream, it’s probably best as an occasional treat.
To choose healthier ice cream, look for one with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving. Also, be sure to watch your portion sizes.
Walnuts are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E and fibre, but they are also high in calories. A quarter cup of almonds, for example, contains 132 calories. They are too easy to eat by the handful, like popcorn.
Measuring a serving size rather than eating directly from the container
Freshly squeezed juices
Many people drink fresh juices made from fruits, vegetables or a combination of both to improve health or promote weight loss.
While not all juices are high in sugar and calories, most fruit juices are.
Drinking fresh fruit juice regularly can contribute to excessive calorie intake, which can lead to weight gain.
Sports drinks can be beneficial for athletes and anyone involved in prolonged and intense training sessions.
However, these drinks are simply unnecessary for the average person.
Sports drinks can be filled with sugar and can contribute to excessive calorie consumption.
In addition, any type of sugary drink can increase your blood sugar levels, which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.
Many people rely on protein bars for a quick and convenient energy boost.
While some protein bars are healthy and nutritious, others are loaded with calories, sugar and artificial ingredients.
For example, a PowerBar ProteinPlus Chocolate Brownie product contains over 6 teaspoons 24 grams of sugar alongside 330 calories.
A more nutritious whole food snack can provide the same calorie and protein content – with much less sugar.
Top view of two toasts with peanut butter shot on rustic wooden table. A little glass bowl filled with peanut butter and a knife is beside the toasts. Some shelled and peeled peanuts nuts complete the composition. The predominant colour is brown. Low key DSRL studio photo taken with Canon EOS 5D Mk II and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Moderate amounts of peanut butter can be healthy.
This is especially true if it is made with only healthy ingredients such as roasted and ground peanuts and a little salt.
In fact, eating nuts and peanuts have been linked to reduced weight and better health.
However, commercially prepared peanut butter often contains added sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils and lots of salt, making it quite unhealthy.
Peanut butter is also extremely high in calories and very easy for some people to overeat.
If you can limit your intake, including peanut butter in your diet should not be a problem. However, if you have trouble controlling your portion sizes, then you may need to avoid it.
pour cola from the bottle to glass and bubble soda on black background
Dietary soda ash is often considered a healthy drink because it contains 0 calories.
However, research links diet soda consumption to weight gain – not weight loss.
A study in over 2,000 people indicated that those who drank diet soda had larger waist circumferences than those who did not.
What’s more, those who drank diet soda were more likely to have high blood sugar and high blood pressure than those who abstained.
Dietary soda ash has also been found to have a negative impact on intestinal bacteria, increasing your risk of diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
People who consume moderate amounts of red wine (and other types of alcohol, too) may be at reduced risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, certain types of cancer, and even weight gain. A 5-ounce serving is about 130 calories.
Beware of aquarium-sized glasses, which make you more likely to overdrink. Pour your wine into a measuring cup, then toss it into your glass to see what a serving looks like in your glassware.
Commercially prepared pizzas are one of the most popular junk foods, especially among young people and children. Pizza is generally very tasty but high in fat, refined carbohydrates and calories.
Some of the most popular varieties are also made with large amounts of cheese and processed meats.
High intakes of these meats have been linked to obesity and an increased risk of adverse health conditions such as heart disease and some cancers.
Dark chocolate has been linked to many benefits, including improved heart health and brain function.
Yet most commercially produced varieties of milk and white chocolate are loaded with added sugar and fat.
Like other junk foods, they are very easy to overeat.
When you’re trying to lose weight, you might reach for low-calorie cereals to start your day.
Although these breakfast foods can be low in calories, they are often loaded with added sugars.
In addition, many low-calorie bowls of cereal lack healthy protein and fat that help you feel satisfied.
A study of 30 men found that a breakfast of eggs and toast offered greater fullness and resulted in significantly fewer calories being consumed throughout the day than was the case.
A container of plain yoghurt contains only 100 calories and provides a dose of bone calcium. But a small cup of yoghurt that comes with fruit on the bottom can contain up to 150 calories and 26 grams of sugar.
Tip: Buy plain, fat-free yoghurt and add sweetness with fresh fruit and honey. Greek fat-free yoghurt is even better, it’s naturally lower in sugar but contains double the protein to keep you satisfied longer.
Cookies and doughnuts
Biscuits and doughnuts contain large amounts of sugar, refined flour and added fats.
They can be extremely high in calories. To keep your weight under control, you should limit your intake.
When cravings strike, go for a small, single-serving, not a giant cookie or a whole package of small ones.
Also, a medium-sized doughnut can contain more than 200 calories. Some frozen varieties pack more than 300 calories.