5 Foods that Sabotage Fat Loss

We all want to win the war on body fat. But what is beginning to be more apparent, regardless of the strategy we use, is that success in the end comes down to CICO (calories in, calories out).

Intuitively, we all know that. We try to keep track of calories without getting too obsessive. And I think in general, most health-conscious people have a fairly good idea of the high-calorie foods to avoid.

It’s the insidious foods – those that either seem not so damaging, or even healthy – that can fool us. Here are 5 foods that can sabotage your efforts to get lean and some other alternatives to eat instead.

1) French Fries.

Who doesn’t want to feel that crunch and oily saltiness when munching on fries? And how bad can a few fries be? Problem is, 4 ounces (a medium fries in a typical order) is 365 calories, while a large fries (5.5 ounces) is 480 calories.

Instead, you can still get that potato flavor and crunchiness by thin slicing potatoes, spraying with cooking spray, and baking them. You can sprinkle them with salt, chili flakes, oregano, basil, and pepper for more flavor. Try sweet potato fries as well. Total calories for 4 ounces? For white potatoes, 170; sweet potatoes 195.

2) Soda.

What’s a soda pop at lunch, right? Can’t hurt too much, can it? Yeah, it can; the calories really do add up.

Keep in mind that soda pop has no nutritional value except the calories, which are generally coming from sugar, and that’s not a good thing. In fact, there are approximately 3 tablespoons – tablespoons, not teaspoons – of pure table sugar in a typical 12 ounce can of soda pop and 150 pretty worthless calories. Hey, drip some soda on your car and see what happens to the paint; let that sink in.

What can you do? Switching to a diet soda made with an artificial sweetener is certainly a better option than ingesting all that sugar. But an even better choice would be to drink water, flavored with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Sparkling water or the addition of a slice of fresh fruit can make it more enjoyable and flavorful.

3) Flavored Yogurt.

What could be wrong with yogurt? I mean, that’s what all those 100-year olds in the Caucus Mountains eat, isn’t it? Well, they eat yogurt among other things, but not like this.

Flavored yogurt is – well, flavored – with added sugar and fruit compote (more sugar). A typical cup of strawberry flavored yogurt contains 200 calories and 30 grams of sugar. Think of it as dessert, not a healthy snack.

Instead, choose nonfat yogurt. You can add your own flavors with berries, sliced fruit, almonds, or even a bit of honey or vanilla extract. A small amount of artificial sweetener, like Stevia, can be used as well.

4) Mayonnaise.

It’s everywhere – and probably in a refrigerator near you. Problem is, mayo is the absolute worst of the empty-calorie condiments (at 95 calories per tablespoon, and who uses just one tablespoon?). Think you can bypass that with the nonfat mayo alternatives? Nope, they have added sugar and preservatives to make up for the fat. Have you ever thought about the fact that mayo can sit (without refrigeration) in a supermarket or on your shelf for months and it contains – wait for it – eggs? Um, yeah, I think that does worry me.

Instead, blend some Greek yogurt (which is thicker), lemon juice, mustard, pepper, and spices. You will save a few hundred calories on a typical sandwich and have a spread higher in protein and calcium.

5) Granola bars.

If you believe all the marketing for granola bars, you would think that eating them was a sure way to good health and fitness. Not so much. It really depends on the bar.

The majority of granola bars have between 150 and 300 calories, 1–10 grams of protein, and 1–7 grams of fiber. But they can often be quite high in fat and sugar. Learn to look at the ingredients panel; some are nothing more than glorified candy bars.

Sure, you can choose low-fat bars and watch for added sugar. But, why not make your own granola bars? Just mix the following in a large bowl:

– 2 cups of oats;
– 1 cup of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.);
– 1 cup of packed dates or raisins;
– 1/3 cup of nut butter;
– 1/4 cup of sugar-free maple syrup or honey (optional)

You can also mix in dried fruit or a small amount of dark chocolate chips. Warm the nut butter and honey and soften the dates or raisins before mixing them in. Line a baking dish and cool for 20 minutes in the freezer to harden.

Make these easy switches to create a calorie deficit and the weight will keep coming off!

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About the Author: Bob LeFavi

Bob LeFavi, PhD, is a professor of sports medicine and Dean of the Beaufort Campus at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. He has been department head of health sciences and sports medicine at Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. Bob won the bantamweight class at the IFBB NorthAmerican Bodybuilding Championship and was runner-up at both the USA and National Championships. He also competed in the CrossFit Games as a Master’s athlete and has written over 750 articles in the popular press on training, diet, and fitness.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.