10 Diet Foods That Actually Make It Harder to Lose Weight
Watch out, dieters -- foods targeted at you may actually be working against the goal of losing weight and staying healthy. Sugars masquerading behind other names or in processed forms, artificial ingredients, and disproportionate amounts of carbohydrates to fat and protein are all factors.
For most people, weight gain and health issues stem from getting too much sugar, which gets turned into fat, after avoiding dietary fat. But nature provides a balance of fat and sugar for a reason: to balance the way it is absorbed into the bloodstream, with the fat slowing down the sugar. When the fat is taken away, the balance is lost, with negative effects on short- and long-term weight and health. Rather than reach for fat-free or diet versions of a favorite food, go for a smaller amount of the real thing. Similarly, when a craving for a treat hits, opt for something that offers some form of nutrition rather than just empty calories.
Yogurt marketed as low-fat and diet-friendly often has as much sugar as ice cream. Especially in the case of dairy, natural fat helps balance out sugars and other carbohydrates; taking it out but leaving the sugar makes yogurt act like candy in the body, spiking blood sugar. And in this fat-free yogurt, sugar is one of the main ingredients.
The fat-free version of this popular cheese product has a little over half the calories of the full-fat version, which seems like a win for calorie-counters. But a closer look shows sodium up by 100mg, and the diet-conscious shouldn't be eating too much fat or salt; replacing one vice with another is not healthy. It's just a marketing ploy.
Diet sodas tout zero calories and zero sugar, but that should send up red flags. The main source of sweetness is aspartame, an artificial sweetener linked to weight gain in studies, along with other bad side effects. The sweetness runs the risk of confusing the body into thinking it is eating sugar, which prompts a surge of insulin. Unused, that can cause problems and even lead to or worsen long-term blood sugar issues such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Most people think frozen yogurt is healthier than ice cream because it is lower in fat. But when one ingredient lacks it is generally replaced with an overabundance of something else -- in this case with extra sugar and sodium, leading to a higher carbohydrate load for each serving. Once again, those concerned with losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are better off with a full-fat dairy version for a more balanced nutritional profile.
These 50-calorie fat-free cookies seem like a good option for dieters, but their nutritional makeup is as empty as can be. With virtually no protein, they are pure sugar and salt. Despite coming in a small package, these are still bad for you. A higher-fat cookie with nuts and oats would offer more nutrition in a tasty treat.
The main ingredient in this light bread is actually whole wheat, which is good; it's all the ingredients that come after it that are suspect -- it's full of preservatives and other highly processed ingredients such as soy fiber and monoglycerides. Bread is not a diet food, but if you're going to eat it, go for one with the fewest possible ingredients.
Protein bars are marketed as a dieter's best friend, but most are glorified candy bars full of sugar, carbs, and fat. What's worse, added protein makes their taste and texture funky, so it's basically like eating a candy bar that doesn't even taste good.
Most of the fat in peanuts is the good fat, so taking it out doesn't really do any favors. This peanut butter still has added sugar like the regular kind, making it arguably less nutritious than the full-fat version. Peanut butter than is made from just peanuts with no added sugar, eaten in moderation, is always the best bet.
These fruity cups brag that they don't contain sugar syrup like the competition, but in reality, they are full of sugar themselves -- in the form of grape juice. The first ingredient is grape juice, and that's one of the sugariest fruit juices possible. It's basically syrup.
Most granola is cookies, whether in bar form or as loose cereal. These bars do contain a good dose of protein, but they have just as much sugar, fat, and salt as most chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (which is why they taste like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies). These are better than many other cookie options, but they are still cookies and not a magical diet food.