Sadly, many foods that are targeted at dieters actually work against losing weight. For most people, weight gain and health issues stem from an overconsumption of sugar, not dietary fat. When fat and sugar are eaten together, the fat balances how quickly sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. When the fat is removed, the balance is lost -- with negative effects on weight and health.
Rather than reaching for fat-free or diet versions of your favorite food, choose a smaller amount of the real thing or a healthier option. Here are 10 foods dieters should avoid.
DANNON LIGHT & FIT YOGURT
KRAFT FAT FREE MOZZARELLA
The fat-free version of this popular cheese product has a little over half of the calories of the full-fat version, which may seem like a win to calorie counters. But a closer look at the nutrition panel shows that sodium increases by 100 mg per serving compared to the 2 percent, reduced-fat version. Dieters shouldn’t be eating too much fat or salt, and replacing one vice with another isn’t a path to wellness.
Diet sodas tout the fact that they have zero calories and zero sugar, which should send up red flags. The main source of sweetness is aspartame, an artificial sweetener. Aspartame has been linked to weight gain and other negative side effects in a number of studies. The sweetness in aspartame always runs the risk of confusing your body into thinking it is eating sugar, which prompts a surge of insulin. When insulin goes unused in the body, it can lead to or worsen long-term blood sugar issues like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
STONYFIELD FAT FREE FROZEN YOGURT
Most people think that frozen yogurt is a healthier option than ice cream because it is lower in fat. When one ingredient is removed, it’s usually replaced with an overabundance of something else -- in this case, extra sugar and sodium. 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.
SNACKWELL'S FAT FREE DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE COOKIES
These 50-calories fat-free cookies may seem like a good option for dieters, but their nutritional make-up is pathetic. With almost no protein, these cookies are mostly sugar and salt. This kind of empty calorie snack may come in a small package, but it’s still bad for you. Higher fat cookies that contain nuts and oats would offer a more nutrition in a tasty treat.
PEPPERIDGE FARM LIGHT WHEAT BREAD
This light bread has healthy whole wheat as the main ingredient, but it’s all the ingredients that come after it that make it suspect. The bread is full of preservatives and other highly processed ingredients like soy fiber and monoglycerides. Bread is not a diet food, but if you’re going to eat it pick options 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. Worse, added protein makes their taste and texture funky, so it's basically like eating a candy bar that doesn't even taste good.
SKIPPY REDUCED FAT PEANUT BUTTER
Most of the fat in peanuts is the good fat, so taking it out doesn't make it healthier. 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.
DOLE FRUIT CUPS
These super-sweet snacks 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, which is one of the fruit juices highest in sugar. Basically, the fruit is soaking in syrup.
KASHI GRANOLA BARS
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 not a magical diet food.