The messages about weight loss can be varied and downright confusing. Where one article tells us a certain food is forbidden, another says you should have three servings per day.
If you are trying to reach your weight-loss goals, consider that some foods you might think are healthy could actually hinder your efforts. The following five foods might do more harm than good.
A lot of people think nuts, specifically almonds, are healthy. And they are — however, they have about 200 calories per ¼ cup. If you don’t measure your serving, it is easy to consume close to 600 calories and sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Steer clear of roasted and salted nuts, and stick to the raw options to avoid the extra fat, sodium and calories.
Meal replacement bars and snack bars
Not only can bars have hidden trans fats and sugars in them, but they can be extremely high in calories. If used as a meal replacement, the bars often don’t provide the volume of food that makes you feel full. If used as a snack, they tend to be too high in calories. Keep the bars for emergencies when you need something on the go or don’t have time for a proper meal. Aim for other snacks that are 150 calories or less, instead. Or, if the bars are a favored treat, cut them in half or in smaller pieces to have for multiple snacks.
Many studies show that when people eat reduced-fat foods they end up eating more calories than if they choose the full-fat version. “Reduced fat” on a label means a product has 25 percent less fat than the original version. But when people see that a product is “reduced fat,” they tend to eat a larger portion because they assume it's also low-calorie. Unfortunately, companies often increase the sugar content to make up for the lost fat, which can then result in more calories per serving.
Not all salads are bad, but at a restaurant they can be some of the highest-calorie dishes on the menu. Salad dressings alone can be close to 75 calories per tablespoon, which can easily add up to 500 or 600 calories of dressing in just one salad. Nuts, cheese, croutons or any other crunchy fried toppings add more fat and calories. Order your dressing on the side or ask for oil and vinegar to make your own mix. You can also add a grilled — not fried — lean protein to your salad to make it a satisfying and nutritious meal.
Specialty coffee drinks
Although hot beverages can aid in weight loss, they can also disrupt your efforts if you aren’t careful. Adding cream and sugar to your coffee can add up to 200 extra calories. Adding flavored syrups and whipped cream can mean your drink has more calories than your breakfast. Beware of iced coffees and icy specialty drinks from convenience stores and coffee shops; they are often loaded with cream and sugar. To avoid the excess calories, stick with nonfat or low-fat espresso drinks or drip coffee with measured nonfat or low-fat creamer or milk and natural sugar substitutes.
While weight loss efforts can sometimes be a challenge, the simplest nutrition and fitness facts are usually the best rules to follow. Don't let these foods and faulty diet fads sabotage your weight-loss efforts.