Making smart food choices is vital when you’re working on losing weight – while some foods can help with weight loss, others are sure to sabotage your efforts and set you back from your goals.
You’re better off leaving the foods and beverages on this list out of your diet when you’re following a plan to drop excess pounds.
One of the most popular fast-foods for understandable reasons, commercially-made pizza is usually loaded with unhealthy ingredients like processed meat and refined flour.
Though most people don’t realize it, sauces are often high in sugar content as well.
If you must have pizza, try making a healthier version at home using a whole-grain crust and sticking with unprocessed toppings, preferably heavy on the vegetables and light on the cheese.
Alcoholic Drinks (Beer)
Alcohol is a calorie-rich food and usually runs at about 7 carbs per gram; it’s low in protein, and the type of alcohol can make a big difference.
Sweetened, mixed drinks can be problematic because of extra calories; beer is associated with weight gain, while drinking wine moderately may actually help with weight loss. (3)
The brain doesn’t register liquid calories in the same way as it does solid food, and we usually end up eating more total calories. (6)
Stick with whole fruit.
French Fries and Potato Chips
Eating whole potatoes is a different proposition than processed foods like potato chips and French fries.
Observational studies clearly indicate that chips and fries are associated with weight gain. (9)
Data shows that people gain more weight for each serving of these foods consumed than any other type. (10)
If you want to include potatoes in your diet, boiled is the best choice; roasted, fried and baked potatoes may contain acrylamides, a substance that can cause cancer. (11)
This highly refined food should be avoided on weight-loss plans of all kinds; commercial white bread is often high in sugar as well.
One study tracking weight of nearly 10,000 people indicated that people eating two slices of white bread daily gained 40% more weight than those who left it out of their diets. (12)
There are many other types of bread available; among the healthiest is Ezekiel bread, and you may also want to try various gluten-free breads, such as those made with almond flour or corn meal.
Most ice cream is high in sugar content.
Eating a half-cup of ice cream here and there isn’t likely to set you back significantly, but the problem is that most people eat considerably more than that at a sitting, and it’s notoriously difficult to stop eating this delicious food.
If you’re an ice cream freak, you may want to look into making your own at home with less sugar, or recipes using alternative sweeteners, yogurt or fruit.
One strategy that can be helpful if you’re going to indulge in an ice cream treat while dieting is to serve a single portion, put the rest away, and focus on enjoying each and every bite.
Sweetened Foods of All Types
There’s no more efficient way to mess up your weight-loss plans than to include sugar-sweetened foods in your diet.
One of the worst things about eating sugary foods is that people usually end up hungry again in short order. Cookies, cakes, pastries and other baked goods made with sugar and refined flour are top on the list of foods to avoid.
These choices are also often laden with trans fats, which are linked with a higher risk for developing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and various cancers. (15)
Foods high in sugar that you may not think of excluding are certain breakfast cereals, granola, and flavored yogurt.
Read labels carefully when buying “fat-free” or “low-fat” foods, because manufacturers often compensate for the flavor difference after fat has been removed by adding more sugar.
Candy bars are another food to avoid completely when trying to lose weight, with the possible exception of dark chocolate; again, the trick here is moderation. Even though dark chocolate is usually low in sugar, if you wolf down a package meant to provide several servings, calories will add up fast.
The average candy bar covered in milk chocolate is completely lacking in nutrients, and likely to deliver at least 200 calories, more if it’s a king-size bar. (16)
You’ll be better off reaching for a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts when you need a snack.
Sweetened or High-Calorie Coffee Beverages
But many people prefer to drink coffee with added ingredients, including sugar, which can turn a potentially healthful drink into the equivalent of an entire meal’s worth of empty calories.
To enhance the effects of your weight-loss plan, drink black coffee; adding a little real cream or milk won’t cause problems for most people, but adding sugar is a bad idea. Stay away from high-calorie creamers, which are often rich in harmful trans fats.
Junk foods that have been highly processed are a dieter’s worst enemy; these are generally high in calories and have added sugar, oils and refined wheat.
Read labels carefully before buying a product, and watch out for the many names manufacturers give to various types of sugar.
Keep serving sizes in mind, especially when eating healthy, whole foods like fruit, nuts, and cheese.
Summary: Leave refined foods, high-sugar content foods and sweetened drinks out of your diet when you’re trying to lose weight; be cautious with calorie-dense whole foods, alcohol and packaged foods marketed as “low-fat” or “fat-free.”