We are a fortnight into the New Year, which means a majority of you are still holding strong on your resolve to meet your weight loss goals this year. Presumably, this isn’t the first time that you have decided to make your health a priority. You may have tried exercising, diet foods and making lifestyle changes in the past too but without any real progress. Since losing weight is 75 per cent diet and 25 per cent workout, watching what’s on your plate is paramount. Yes, you may have cut out junk, fried foods and other outright unhealthy items completely but even some of the healthiest foods recommended for weight loss could be a sneaky source of fat and calories. Here are seven such diet foods to be cautious about if you want to stop weight gain in its tracks:
Yoghurt is all the rage in the wellness community for its high probiotics value. It is also often heralded as a super diet food. When choosing a diet food, a lot of people tend to lean toward low-fat variants because “if it’s low on fat, it ought to be healthier”. However, when fat is removed to cut back of calorie content, sugar is used as a replacement to heighten the flavour. Anything with high sugar content cannot help you lose weight. If you like to indulge in yoghurt, the full-fat variety may be better suited for your weight loss goals.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
Nuts and dried fruit often rank high in the list of diet foods, as these bite-sized powerhouses of nutrients – fibre, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and protein – can meet your body’s nutrient requirement and create a sense of fullness. However, it is very easy to overeat these crunchy, naturally sweet healthy delights and pack an unhealthy amount of calories. Eating a fistful of almonds, for instance, can mean consuming 132 calories. You must stick to no more than a quarter of a cup of assorted nuts and dried fruit in a day to get your dose of nutrient minus the extra calories.
White sugar has been long established as the biggest trigger for weight gain and lifestyle diseases. As a result, a vast majority of people today are cutting back on their white sugar intake. However, instead of reducing sugar consumption altogether, they are drawn toward alternative sweeteners such as date sugar, coconut sugar or agave that are marketed as ‘healthy’ diet foods. Sugar in any form – processed or natural – can be a contributing cause for weight gain. Even if you have a compulsive sweet tooth, limiting all forms of sugar must be right at the top of your weight loss plans.
Packaged Diet Foods
Diet colas, diet cookies, diet chips, diet ice-creams, fat-free mayonnaise…hell, there is even fat-free bacon – the grocery stores are bursting at the seams with package diet foods masquerading as a healthier alternative to their feigned high-calorie counterparts. When your body is accustomed to these foods and you are struggling with weight loss, these seemingly healthy versions can be insanely tempting. When that temptation strikes, remember that nearly all of these packaged diet foods are unhealthy, loaded with preservatives, artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats.
Your gym instructor may swear by the goodness of protein bars in offering a quick energy boost, along with nutrient replenishment, but not all protein bars are created equal. Although some are nutritious and healthy enough to qualify as effective diet foods, a fair majority of these are riddled with sugar, calories and artificial ingredients. If you do need the instant energy boost, whole-foods-based snacks could be a more nutritious alternative.
Ready to Eat Salad
So, you have been eating salads for dinner for over a month and still, the weight scales refuse to tilt in your favour. Isn’t a plate full of fibre-rich vegetable supposed to be the most weight-loss-friendly diet food of all time, you ask. If salads for meals are not helping your weight loss goals, chances are you are relying on ready-to-eat salads sourced from a restaurant or grocery store. These premade salads are topped with high-calories dressings doused in unhealthy fats and sugar. If you are committed to going the salad way, make your own.
Protein Shakes and Smoothies
As with protein bars and salads, protein shakes and smoothies to can be tricky diet foods. They are all the rage in the wellness community and can be exceptionally healthy and nutritious if made right. ‘If’ being the operative word. Premade protein shakes and smoothies can be a minefield of empty calories, loaded with sugar. A single bottle of premade smoothie, for example, can contain as much as 14 teaspoons of sugar. Similarly, some protein shakes are known to pack nearly 400 calories a bottle. Bottom line? Make your own from scratch or steer clear of these altogether.
Try revising your food chart to eliminate these diet foods and share your results with us by leaving a comment or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.