When trying to lose weight, the concept seems simple enough: take in fewer calories so that you’re burning off what you eat. Unfortunately, weight loss is hardly black and white. Everything you put into your mouth matters, and there are differences between high-quality calories and low-quality calories. Some of the best tasting foods are the most fattening, and it’s hard to find nutrition information on foods that are found in mall courts and restaurants, which is where poor diet choices are often made.
Here are some of the most common foods to avoid when losing weight. Your best approach is to avoid them altogether, but if you have no choice, opt for a lower fat version.
Processed Baked Goods
Anything that is processed really isn’t good for you. Companies have put more energy into their marketing efforts to make their products look healthier, but the truth is that these processed foods are packed with calories and unwanted sugars. These foods are designed to make you addicted so that you want more and more. Processed foods are also packed with preservatives so that they have a longer shelf life. These sugars have also been linked to skin problems, inflammation in the body and water retention.
Regular and Diet Sodas
You’re not doing yourself a favor by ordering diet soda, so avoid these drinks altogether. They have no health content and are loaded with sugar. In fact, the types of artificial sweeteners found in diet soda can have a negative effect on weight loss efforts by tricking the brain into feeling unsatisfied and wanting to eat more. Aim for water, seltzer water or vegetable juices. Keep these drinks on hand so that you’re not tempted to order soda when you’re out.
Okay, so maybe you’re not eating frosting with each meal, but think about all the birthdays, holidays and office celebrations where frosting pops up on cakes, cookies and brownies. Frosting is one of the only foods in the supermarket that still contains trans fat, which is detrimental to your waistline and your health. Chances are that the sweet treat underneath is no better, but if you want a slice, take off the frosting and fill your plate with fresh fruit and a small slice of cake.
If you want to doctor up your foods, opt for olive or sunflower oils instead. If you must have margarine, avoid the stick kinds that often contain trans fats. The soft spread or regular varieties of butter are better options. Remember that margarine is found in many snacks like pastries, crackers, buttered popcorn and snack foods, so limit your consumption of these foods as well.
Bacon can easily creep up in foods, as many people like to add them to salads, sandwiches or their morning breakfast with eggs. While bacon may be only 45 calories a strip, it’s packed with fat and sodium, things you don’t need when trying to lose weight. Also, bacon contains sodium nitrate, a preservative that may be linked to heart problems. A better option is low-sodium turkey bacon, as you can get away with lower calories, fat and sodium.
Fast foods are some of the worst foods to eat when trying to lose weight. The most common menu items include burgers, shakes and fries, which are all high in calories, fat and carbohydrates. Additionally, most fast foods are cooked in fatty oils that can put you at risk for obesity. If you must eat out, go for healthy options like a green salad or fruit salad. Even better is to pack your own lunches and snacks when you know you’ll be on the go.
Most brands of potato chips are cooked in hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans fats. Some manufacturers have removed the trans fats, but the chips are still being cooked in a high concentration of oil. This is why chips are high in fat and calories. There are lower-fat varieties of chips that are better for you, but they are still packed with calories and have very little nutritional value. If you love the texture of a crunchy snack, try making kale chips with a dash of sea salt.