There are about 5 weeks left to go before spring is officially here and I know you’re struggling to meet that deadline for your weight loss goals. You may not realize, though, that a few of the common foods you eat everyday could keep you from achieving your goals. Let me tell you what they are and how leaving them out of your diet can help you lose weight faster.
6 Surprising Foods That Can Keep You Fat
Let’s be honest. Dieting is tough work. You try to eat the right foods and maintain good nutrition at the same time you have to cut back on your food intake. The trick is to include the best foods possible in the amount of food you can have to create weight loss and get rid of foods that are, what I like to say, firing nutritional “blanks”.
While you’re shopping for food to support your weight loss goals, you might be misled by certain foods that are marked as “healthy”. Yet, their labels tell a different story. You also don’t want to cut out all your “treats” because that can render your diet so boring and unsatisfying that you might give up on it altogether and I wouldn’t want you to do that.
So, here’s a list of 6 common foods that really don’t help support weight loss and some ways you can “upgrade” them to be a healthier choice.
1. Diet sodas. There has been a lot of controversy about whether artificially sweetened diet sodas actually cause you to gain weight. You might wonder how that could be. They have 0 calories, 0 fat, 0 sugar, why would I gain weight from them? Well, one of the theories concluded by Johns Hopkins researchers recently is that you may be upping your overall solid food intake when you drink diet sodas. Other theories say the artificial sweeteners in them stimulate appetite. Another theory is that many diet sodas contain caffeine – typically an appetite stimulant itself – as it can lower blood sugar levels and up your hunger. I tend to agree more with the caffeine theory. If you have to drink diet sodas, limit them to non-caffeinated sugar-free drinks, preferably sweetened with Stevia instead of artificial chemical sweeteners. Brands like Hansens, Zevia fit the bill, or Grand Brands lemon or fruit-ades you make yourself.
2. All-Day Joe. If you’re allowing yourself that high-sugar, high caffeine, not to mention expensive, “coffee bar” espresso drink everyday, you’re really sabotaging your weight loss efforts. And, if you’re drinking more than 2 cups of just regular coffee a day, you’re doing the same. As stated above, caffeine lowers blood sugar and stimulates hunger. If you want to still have the taste of coffee, switch to decaf after the 1-2 regular cups of coffee to help turn off insulin/hunger spikes. To decrease insulin, pair regular coffee with protein/fat (like nuts).
3. Diet Snacks. Marketed as “skinny” cookies, brownies, fiber bars, these are typically 90-100 calorie snacks marketed as weight loss aids. Yet, when you read their labels, they may have lower calories, but almost all of those calories are from sugar. Refined sugar amps up your insulin levels, and stores any calories that do come in as fat. Save your sugar allotment per day for natural sugars from fruits and vegetables. These products can also contain unhealthy transfats, even though many manufacturers are getting away from using these anymore. If you must have a diet snack such as these during the day, read the labels and opt for the 0 sugar cracker packs rather than the sweet treats. Pair them with a little peanut butter or a few ounces of cheese for added protein to slow down absorption of carbs to avoid insulin spiking.
4. Some Yogurts. Greek yogurt is all a-buzz in ads right now, yet, their labels state some of them can contain over 20 grams of sugar! That’s twice as much sugar as 1/2 cup of regular ice cream! Choose plain yogurt and add 1/4 cup fresh berries to it instead of the high sugar preserves most brands use. Be sure it says “live cultures” which also help boost weight loss.
5. Low-Fat Salad Dressings. Low-fat commercial salad dressings contain a whopping amount of sugar to make up for the loss of fat which causes you to hold onto fat rather than burn it. I think it’s best to forego all commercial salad dressings. Better to make your own out of high Omega-3 oils like canola, grapeseed, olive, walnut – mixed with red wine or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to which you add your own spices. They taste better and help you burn fat.
6. Low-Fat Commercial Sandwiches. Those low fat “submarine” sandwiches out there have a very high carbohydrate content from the amount of bread – 6 to 12” – loaves of usually white bread for one person! Instead, order an “unwich” – ask them to make the same sandwich between two large leaves of romaine lettuce (Jimmy Johns does this regularly), and forego the low fiber, high carb bread. Load your unwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise and boost your health/weight loss even more. Mustard is made from turmeric, a powerful antioxidant, liver cleansing aid and blood sugar regulator. It helps break down fats and eliminate them faster.
Losing weight is difficult, but the rewards to your health, as well as your psyche, are positive life changes. Fine-tuning your choice of foods to avoid all the hidden weight saboteurs in them can help you meet your weight loss goals this year.
Ron Blankstein, M.D.