10 Foods That Pack on Pounds (and How to Enjoy Them Guilt-Free)
When you're trying to watch your waistline, staying away from anything fried, salty, or sugary seems like a no-brainer.
But sometimes those so-called healthy substitutes aren't much better. And we can't be on our best behavior all the time. Everyone needs to indulge on occasion.
READ: 15 Terrible Things to Say to Someone Trying to Lose Weight
While the key to maintaining your weight loss efforts includes a balanced diet of fresh fruit and veggies, there are certain dishes and drinks to watch out for. Check out the 10 foods that are making you fat and learn how you can enjoy them without totally derailing your diet.
A bowl of leafy greens may sound like a safe choice, but not necessarily. According to Dr. Marc Leavey of Mercy Medical Center, that harmless-looking salad could actually be packing on the pounds. The culprit? All those tasty toppings. “Just because it is a salad does not mean it is also low in calories or fat,” explains Leavey. “Some of these dishes pack more than 1,000 calories, about half a day’s requirement. Added cheese, croutons, meats, and oils can quickly escalate the calorie count into the unhealthy range.” Leavey recommends having a fresh garden salad with light dressing on the side. “If it does not grow from the ground, you shouldn’t have it on the salad,” he adds.
“Yes, it contains healthy fats from nuts and seeds, but they add a lot more fat to crisp it up,” say nutritionist Ana Alexandre. “Not only do these oils add extra calories, but more importantly, they may be using less healthy fats, such as vegetable or palm oil. And let’s not forget they can be loaded with sugar as well.” As an alternative, choose steel cut oats or sugar-free muesli.
The combination of alcohol and sugar-filled artificial mixers can really rack up your calorie intake. “The combination of sugar and alcohol is probably one of the worst, most fat-storing combos possible,” says celebrity nutritionist JJ Virgin. Have a glass of water in between cocktails to keep you feeling full and hydrated and stick to wine or libations prepared with fresh ingredients and sparkling water.
Juices and Smoothies
A fruit-filled smoothie may sound like a tasty choice if you’re trying to slim down, but these blended drinks can do the exact opposite. While a smoothie provides fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer, the added ingredients can also pack on the calories. Pressed juice may sound like a better choice, but many juicing methods can omit important nutrients.“The problem is these ‘healthy’ smoothies can have up to 700 calories per serving,” says nutritionist Mark Macdonald, author of “Body Confidence.” “Make your own fat-burning, fresh fruit smoothie at home with a handful of fresh or frozen fruit, 100% hydrolyzed whey protein powder, almond milk, nut butter and ice." When ordering a juice or smoothie, opt for one that is vegetable-based to make sure it packs a nutritional punch.
“If you normally have beef a few times a week, change one meal to fish instead,” suggests Lori Shemek, author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn.” “A serving of grilled steak has about 230 calories and 14 grams of fat. Compare that to the same-sized serving of grilled cod at just 80 calories and one gram of fat.” If you really must have that steak, trim the fat and choose leaner grass-fed beef.
“Whole wheat pasta is the only kind that should ever cross your lips. Never, ever white pasta,” says bariatric surgeon Dr. Joseph Colella. Also, don’t forget about those creamy, cheesy toppings. Colella recommends sauces that are low in sugar, as well as fresh veggies and lean meats, like baked chicken. You can also sauté fresh tomatoes with a touch of olive oil, along with garlic and basil.
According to the American Diabetes Association, blended caffeinated drinks with whipped cream, sugar, cream, whole milk, and flavored syrups may be the reason why you’re gaining weight. They also point out that some of those frozen lattes can be nearly 500 calories alone. To minimize the amount of calories in your iced coffee, ask for skim milk instead and hold the whipped cream. If you really must add syrup, make sure it’s sugar-free.
This Japanese dish can also be big on calories. “With the added sauces, mayonnaise, or cream cheese, along with the wrapping of white rice or tempura fried, these can reach 500 calories a piece,” explains Leavey. If you’re craving sushi, make sure it’s prepared with brown rice and avoid anything fried or featuring sauce, including soy, which will make you retain water due to its high sodium content. Also, look for rolls with veggies and low-calorie seaweed wraps.
No two yogurts are the same and the one you choose to consume will ultimately determine how tight those jeans will eventually feel. “Yogurt parfaits are deceptively high in sugar and can easily cause fat storage,” says Macdonald. Instead of fruit-flavored yogurts with added sweeteners and processed fruits, Macdonald advises choosing plain low-fat Greek yogurt, which is creamier and high in protein. For a yummy snack, layer it with fresh ripe fruits.
A grilled chicken wrap has to be better than a regular sandwich, right? Guess again. “The tortilla or other dough used for the wrap is often more than two full slices of bread,” says Leavey. “And with extra area to spread the mayonnaise, butter, and fillings, that fancy wrap can easily surpass a sandwich for calorie count. That’s not something to be proud of. Sometimes a sandwich is really what you need.” It’s perfectly acceptable to choose a sandwich instead as long as your bread is whole wheat and thin to keep the calorie count under control. Also, be mindful of the spreads you use and skip the breaded cutlets.