7 Foods you had no idea were secretly sabotaging your weight-loss plans
Whether you're trying to get it right by the summer or just improve your health and fitness overall, you're probably aware there are a few things you could do better to help the cause.
With all the misinformation out there it can be a little difficult to decipher what's supposed to help and what isn't, so without further ado here are a couple of foods that are probably making it harder to lose weight.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a half-cup of granola has anywhere between 200 and 300 calories, 12 to 16 grams of sugar, three to 15 grams of fat (depending on low-fat options), and nearly 40 grams of carbs. Plus, granola is usually mixed with something, like yogurt or fruit, which only increases its caloric value.
"Although you may think starting your day with a bowl of granola is the healthy thing to do, the calories can easily add up to over 600 calories, just at breakfast," says Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of "The Greek Yogurt Kitchen." If you love Greek yogurt for breakfast, try some of these more diet-friendly topping options, but make sure your bowl isn't too big — which is a breakfast mistake that could be packing on the pounds.
2. Frozen meals
Frozen meals are super-convenient. They're cheap, easy to throw in your bag as you're running out the door, and take just three minutes to cook. To the trained eye though, most frozen meals are loaded with sodium - as much as you should eat over a full day, not just in one meal - and lots of other synthetic additives.
Sodium packs on water weight, as the body needs to maintain a balance in the body, and when you're thirsty, you could reach for a sugary beverage, which adds hundreds of more calories. Salt also makes food taste better, prompting you to shovel more of it in your mouth. Another problem with frozen meals is they frequently lack sufficient fiber to keep you full, so you're likely to find yourself sneaking back into the kitchen shortly after you've eaten.
3. Pre-made smoothies
Making a smoothie and ordering a smoothie at a shop are two very different things. When you make a smoothie yourself, you can measure the exact amount of fruit, swap water or almond milk for juice, and avoid any additional sweeteners. But many pre-made smoothies contain between 600 to 1,000 calories, on average, and are loaded with sugar.
"An average height woman who is trying to lose weight is probably on a 1,200 to 1,400 calorie diet," Amidor says, "so consuming one smoothie with 1,000 calories can easily sabotage any weight loss efforts." Use these tricks to make healthy smoothies at home.
4. Store bought muffins
Bran muffins sound like a healthy breakfast option - with all that cholesterol-lowering oat bran, right? But the prepackaged ones found at the supermarket aren't nearly as fresh or healthy as they claim, and they're almost always oversized, packing in some 300 calories- about the same as a cream-filled doughnut! Many are also loaded with the saturated fats butter and oil, and contain upwards of 600 grams of sodium. Homemade is key when you're trying to lose weight.
5. Veggie chips
If a food contains the word "veggie," it's not automatically healthy. Don't let marketing gimmicks fool you: The majority of foods are mislabeled and not as healthy as they claim to be - veggie chips included. You're a lot better off eating fresh vegetables than synthetic and processed versions. You can always try making your own veggie chips by slicing veggies - like kale, carrots, zucchini, and squash - really thin, misting them with olive oil, and then baking them in the oven.
6. Aloe juice
The bulk of aloe juice is made with aloe vera gel, water, or tea, and then sweeteners and natural flavors may be added. While aloe vera juice supposedly has health benefits, like weight loss and anti-aging properties, none of these claims have ever been scientifically proven. "Although aloe vera does contain high amounts of antioxidants, it has a slightly bitter, citrus-like flavor which is very difficult to drink on its own," says Amidor. "It also has diuretic properties, which if taken in large amounts, can lead to loss of potassium from your body, which is potentially dangerous."
7. Microwave popcorn
Popcorn is a whole grain, so it's not unreasonable to include it on your green-light food list. However, even "natural" and "light" microwave popcorn is loaded with artificial ingredients, plus sodium and butter - and a ton of calories. This doesn't mean you have to give up all popcorn though, as air-popped popcorn is a much better alternative. It only contains 30 calories per cup and you can customize it to your liking.
Keep these foods in mind, watch your trans-fats and exercise from time to time and you could finally break the cycle - and see results that might even make Kim Kardashian proud in the process.