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Thursday
Sep172015

7 Foods That Sabotage Fat Loss

The physical principles behind fat loss are relatively simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy journey!

For one, many people think they’re making healthy food choices when actually their selections often sabotage their hard work the rest of the day.

When it comes to diet, going against the grain is often the most successful strategy. Our culture’s most popular foods and drinks are many times our worst weight management enemies.

How does your everyday diet shake out? Read on to see if any of your daily choices (past or current) make the list!

Coffee Shop Drinks

This seemingly harmless cup of Joe can be one sneaky sabotage to our weight loss efforts!

Liquid calories are more often than not one of the biggest downfalls for my clients, and rarely do they make this realization until the scale offers a not-so-friendly reminder.

Coffee is a daily staple for most people these days. If your daily dose of caffeine is 1-2 cups of coffee with only cream added in, you’re on the right track! How many of us meet that guideline, however?

During my morning stop at the local coffee shop, I see nearly every person in front of me order any size but small and request all sorts of non-fat, caramel-chocolate flavors topped with fat-free Ready-Whip - the perfect combo to start your day off on a sugar rollercoaster for energy crashes - not to mention those 500+ empty calories.

Try down-sizing, cutting out the sugary options and instead reaching for the complimentary cinnamon shaker by the cream!

Skim Milk

“Milk. It does a body good.” There should be a litany of caveats after that phrase: “If you can tolerate dairy…” or “Full-fat options are best.” or “Be mindful of quantity.” (Somehow those didn’t make the ad copy.)

For the past 50+ years, it has been ingrained in us that fat is bad and that the “healthier” choice would be switching from whole-milk to 2% milk or, better yet, skim milk. We’ve also been repeatedly advised to drink 3 glasses of milk per day. For some people this may work, but it certainly should not be the recommendation for all - especially if it’s fat-free!

More often than not, in order to keep the taste preferential in non-fat dairy products, more sugar is added. This once full-fat healthy option has quickly turned into a sugary, non-fat unhealthy option.

Pasta

Yes, even whole-grain pasta (although it may have more fiber)...

To quote a colleague of mine, “There is no such thing as a 'bread-bush' or 'pasta-tree. Although these products may originate with whole grains, to become the final product they go through extensive processing. During this time, the most beneficial nutrients of the grains are taken out, and other non-beneficial products are added in (e.g. bleach) to make the products look better and be more shelf-stable.

One of the biggest downfalls here is portion size. Our meals tend to be spaghetti with meatballs, not meatballs with spaghetti. Side items would be garlic bread and maybe a side salad or small serving of fruit.

Revamp this meal, and help maintain your fat-loss efforts by focusing on first making half of your plate veggies. (Have the salad first, and increase the size!). Next, prioritize your palm-size protein portion (meatballs). Lastly, incorporate a small serving of the starchy carbohydrate (pasta).

Better yet, substitute spiralized zucchini or even spaghetti squash. If you’re a visual person, imagine the pasta comprising less than a ¼ of the plate. Clearly, pasta shouldn’t be the main element of your entrée.

Reduced Fat Snacks

Low-calorie, reduced fat, low-fat, no-fat: these are all phrases that food companies and national health guidelines have taught us to look for on our food labels.

These types of packaged products have unfortunately become a “healthy" go-to, supposedly guilt-free snack. We feel good about buying them because they’re “better” for us than the full-fat versions...right? Wrong.

Although we should be mindful of overall calories consumed, this claim shouldn’t be what guides our decisions for what makes a food healthy or not. Think about it. Does it really make sense that a 100-calorie pudding snack that contains hardly any natural ingredients (but is lower in fat and calories) is actually better for us than 100 calories of all-natural almonds? No!

The best options are whole-food based. Their healthy fat content is a nutritional plus, even with the potential for a few extra calories. We’re kidding ourselves into thinking that these food products derived from artificial ingredients and manufactured with who-knows-what kind of preservatives and additives are healthier options just because they claim to be low in calories.

The best options don’t need to tell us they’re healthy. Instead, reach for a handful of nuts, grass-fed beef jerky, a few slices of full-fat cheese or plain Greek yogurt (with cinnamon) for satisfying snacks to tide you over until your next meal.

Energy Drinks

These high-sugar, high-caffeine beverages may get your energy up (along with blood-sugar levels and heart rate), but they certainly do not elevate your fat loss.

In fact, they will pretty much halt any fat burn your body may have been working on. The same goes for soda, fruit juice, Kool-aid, or any other high-sugar drinks.

According to the World Health Organization, the average American now consumes about three pounds of sugar each week! That is one of the main reasons why this past spring they changed their guidelines for sugar consumption.

Consume no more than 5% of total calories from sugar.

To put that into perspective, for an adult at a normal/healthy weight, it would equate to about 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar! Take a peek at your soda can and check how much sugar is in just one can. Answer: typically about 30-35+ grams. And that’s just the soda you may consume that day. It’s not accounting for all of the other sugar sources that you knowingly or unknowingly eat (e.g. in ketchup, frozen pizza, bread, mayonnaise).

That one beverage already put you over your sugar limit for the day, and rarely do we stop there! Before you reach for one of these “energy” options, you may be more inclined to think of the profound, negative impact of just 8-12 oz of these bad-boys.

Sandwiches

Consider this: one slice of bread is about 15 grams of carbohydrate, which means a sandwich (2 slices of bread) is at least 30 grams of carbohydrate - the equivalent of a Kit-Kat candy bar!

The purpose of carbohydrate for our bodies is quick digestion and energy utilization. We digest it fast and burn it fast, but what goes up must come down - just as fast.

Therefore, carbohydrate is not a sustainable energy source and will ultimately leave us feeling tired and hungry (again) within a matter of an hour or so. The real kicker? Anytime our bodies are burning carbohydrate, they cannot be burning our fat stores! Fat burn immediately stops, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to happen!

Even though you thought you were potentially making a healthy choice by having a sandwich, those two slices of bread have done a number on your blood sugar and metabolism. Try ditching the bread entirely. Instead, beef up your sandwich meats, and turn the other additions into a side salad. For other ideas on how to cut your carb intake, check out these ideas here!

Protein Bars

These tasty and convenient snack bars are easy to toss in a gym bag or lunch sack as a great “tide-me-over” option, right? Well, maybe.

Like all processed foods, we consumers have to be extremely mindful of our purchases and not be tricked by marketing gimmicks. Oftentimes, these tasty snacks are more like candy bars than any healthy choice.

When you’re looking to add protein to your diet, it shouldn’t come from foods in which the protein had to be added in. The ingredients used to increase protein are lower in protein quality than animal sources.

If you do choose protein bars, look for options that have minimal added sugar, are made from whole, natural ingredients and have at least half the grams of protein (if not more!) as the amount of carbohydrate (e.g. 20 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of protein).

Still, know you’re better off buying raw nuts and seeds or making a homemade trail mix. Both are just as quick and easy and allow you to avoid all of the added sugars. Better protein options include whey protein, hard-boiled eggs, jerky or a healthier recipe for your own bars!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Are you interested in learning more about which diet choices derail your progress? Talk with a registered dietitian today.

In health, Becca Hurt, MS, RD, Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

 

 

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