There are certain foods that all those seeking to lose weight should avoid, no matter what method or approach they are using to obtain their weight loss goals. For optimal health, foods that are high in nutritional value are preferred over processed/empty calorie foods. Certain types of food inhibit weight loss efforts. The foods mentioned in this article are only guidelines of foods to avoid. This is by no means an exhaustive list of foods that should be avoided while trying to lose weight.
Drinks are often an overlooked category when it comes to changing habits while addressing weight loss issues. However, beverages can easily make or break dieting efforts. Avoid high calorie, low nutritional value drinks such as these:
- Whole milk
- Milk shakes/smoothies: particularly store bought or from restaurants. If you simply must give into a craving for one of these, make it at home so you know what is going into it.
- Coffee Drinks: Black coffee is fine, but restrict or eliminate coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and frappes.
- Alcohol: It should be noted that some studies show moderate wine consumption may be beneficial to weight loss efforts. However, other forms of alcohol, particularly beer, is detrimental to weight loss.
- Store bought juices: Either eat whole fruits, or consider using a juicer or extractor to make homemade drinks. This option ensures that the juice is pure, not watered down or containing additives. Of the choices between juicers and extractors, extractors are a preferable tool as the fiber from the fruits and vegetables is broken down in the drinks to be consumed, providing a higher health benefit.
- Canned fruits: Often contain added sugars. The processing procedure also strips quite a lot of the nutritional value from the fruit. Eat fresh fruit instead.
- Canned soups: often contain high levels of sodium and offer very little nutritional value. Consider makeup homemade soups instead.
- Any prepackaged frozen or dehydrated meals- Even those listed as low fat or low calorie. These meals rarely have the nutritional value that they would if they were made from fresh ingredients.
- Granola bars: While granola bars sound nutritious, the prepackaged versions often contain added sugars and fats. If you enjoy granola bars, consider making your own at home.
- Microwave popcorn: Popcorn in and of itself is a great, low calorie snack. However, microwave popcorn has added fats, therefor added calories. Consider purchasing kernels of popcorn and an air popping popcorn machine. As a bonus, popcorn is cheaper when purchased this way as well!
- Dried fruit: Sounds healthy, right? Well many of the prepackaged dried fruit products contain added sugars. Consider making your own dried fruit. This can be done with the use of a dehydrator or simply by using the oven. Adding a splash of lemon juice helps to prevent excessive discoloration during the drying process.
Foods that have undergone the bleaching process such as products made with white flour or white rice- The bleaching process strips away many nutrients. Opt instead for whole grain, unbleached versions of these food items. Instead of white bread, try whole grain bread or Ezekiel bread. Instead of instant white rice, go for long-grain brown rice. Pastas can also be found or made using whole grain flours, which is a much healthier, often lower calorie option.
Cookies, Cakes, Candies, etc.
This is the most obvious of categories for people seeking weight loss to avoid. There is almost no nutritional value in these foods. The calorie amounts in each serving is higher than desired. Also, the tendency to eat more servings that just one may prove to be too tempting for dieters.
- Soy Sauce: Low in calories, but high in sodium which can have a negative impact on weight loss.
- Seasoning Salt: Again, the added sodium can have a negative impact on weight loss efforts.
- High Fat Salad Dressings: Opt for lower fat, lower calorie versions, or even better, make a homemade option like a fresh vinaigrette.
- Mayonnaise: If you simply must have this, consider using one made with olive oil in it.
- Ketchup: Again, high volumes of sodium is contained in most well-known brands. Read those labels! Go for an organic ketchup, which typically contains less sodium.
- Syrups: Obvious forms of excess sugar. Consider instead using homemade fruit preserves to add flavor.
Frying foods adds a lot of flavor, and a lot extra calories to food. Consider baking or grilling instead. French fries can be made in the oven. Grilled or baked chicken is a flavorful alternative to deep fried chicken. Grilling and baking methods can be found to mimic the crunchy texture of deep fried chicken as well.
Food Labels Are Your Friend
When trying to lose weight, it is important to familiarize yourself with food labels. Do not just assume because the label says “Low Fat” or “Nonfat” that the food is good for weight loss. You must look at the ingredient/nutritional value section on the label. A package of Twizzlers boasts that the product is fat-free. Well, this is certainly true, by FDA guidelines, the product contains only 1% fat, which is permitted to be categorized as a fat-free product. However, a quick look at the nutritional content on the label also shows that for four pieces of the candy, the amount of sodium and sugars far outweigh the level of vitamins and minerals in this food. As the only nutritional value this candy has is a bit of iron. So, while it’s true that this food can be categorized as fat-free, it is still not the best nutritional option for those seeking weight loss.
Food labels also allow us to view what the serving size is. Did you know that an average bag of microwave popcorn contains 2.5 servings? The calories listed on a label are per serving. So, if the calories on that bag of popcorn are listed as 150, and you eat the entire bag, then you have really consumed 375 calories.