Health Watch: Seven unlikely foods that sabotage fat loss
Tip of the week
The basic idea behind fat loss is simple: eat better, exercise more. However, hidden in this formula are numerous caveats and footnotes. No wonder there are so many books and television specials about the 100 different ways people are supposed to exercise and eat right.
According to Becca Hurt, MS, RD, and program manager of Life Time Weight Loss, “one of the most confusing parts of dieting is the fact that many of the foods people think will help them lose weight actually pack on the pounds.” Hurt notes there are enemies lurking in common foods that almost everyone eats or drinks. So, what's to be done? To help identify some of the most common weight-loss enemies, Hurt has provided a list of seven culprits everyone will want to weed out of their diet.
Coffee shop drinks
Never mind the french fries and potato chips, Hurt says that liquid calories are more often one of the biggest downfalls when it comes to losing weight. For many, it starts with their morning coffee. While one to two cups of coffee with only cream added is no harm, the danger is in the sugar loaded, caramel-chocolate dieting disasters many people believe to be perfectly healthy because they ordered the non-fat options. “Not only do these drinks lead to a sugar roller coaster and energy crashes, they may be loaded with as many as 500-plus calories,” says Hurt.
“Only recently, Americans started to realize fat isn't always the bad guy,” explains Hurt. “There is no difference in fat loss between diets with no-fat and full-fat dairy consumption, according to recent studies.” In fact, Hurt notes that people often add sugar to enhance the taste of their skim milk, which quickly turns it into a decidedly unhealthy option.
Yes, even whole grain pasta is stripped of beneficial nutrients, bleached and loaded with preservatives to make it more shelf-stable. Pasta portions can also be confusing. “A pasta meal should begin with a big salad, and the high protein meatballs should be larger than the portion of pasta,” says Hurt. “Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, it should be meatballs with some spaghetti on the side.”
Reduced fat snacks
For many, reduced fat, no-fat and low-fat labels on foods can be a green light to what they believe is guilt-free snacking. The principle to remember here is not all calories are the same. “A 100-calorie pudding pack is not as healthy as 100-calories worth of almonds,” explains Hurt. “Food that is naturally healthy doesn't have to have the ‘no-fat' label.” A handful of nuts, a few slices of full-fat cheese or some Greek yogurt are healthier options by far.
For those looking to shed some fat, drinking one of these sugar-loaded bad-boys means putting the brakes on their body's fat burning process. Hurt adds that people should get no more than 5 percent of their calories from sugar and just one energy drink will put someone well over this limit.
While many think ordering a sandwich is a diet-friendly alternative to a burger, consider this: one sandwich has as many carbohydrates as a Kit-Kat bar! “Carbs are not a sustainable source of energy,” says Hurt, “and are responsible for that sluggish, hungry feeling that leads many to skip workouts and snack more.” The solution: ditch the bread and add a salad!
They might be marketed as the fat burning, muscle gaining snack, but don't be fooled. Heavily processed protein bars are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates. To get the necessary protein, Hurt suggests looking to nuts or animal sources such as meats or yogurt instead.