If you’re trying to shed some pounds this winter, you may be putting extra thought into the items you put into your cart at the grocery store. After all, your diet is one of the most important aspects of weight management, and the first step to eating healthy is stocking your kitchen with healthy foods. Some things are a no-brainer: don’t overindulge in processed, salty snacks; stay away from sugar-loaded desserts, etc. However, some items on the shelves may have you fooled. As it turns out, there are many options that may seem healthy that are actually putting your weight loss goals at risk. Staying aware of some of the biggest culprits is a crucial part of keeping your body as healthy as possible.
To shed some light on some of the worst options, we spoke to dietitians Krutika Nanavati and Jesse Feder. They told us that granola, dried fruit, bottled smoothies, and low-fat or fat-free products are some you should steer clear of if you want a slimmer waistline. Read on to learn more about the risks of each.
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1. Granola and granola bars
Granola oftentimes seems like a healthy choice for breakfast, especially when compared to many sugary breakfast cereals. However, Feder warns that granola is oftentimes packed with sugar, too, making it a bad option for anyone who wants to lose weight.
“Granola is touted as a healthy fiber rich item but in reality, most of the products we find at the grocery store are loaded with added sugars, fats, and are high in calories,” he says. “This can contribute to unwanted weight gain and chronic disease over time.” Yikes!
Granola bars present a similar issue, as Nanavati notes. To avoid this, she recommends picking unsweetened or naturally sweetened bars. Even better, you can “make your own for better sugar control.”
2. Dried Fruit
High-fiber fruit is typically one of the best things you can eat for breakfast. Fresh fruit is packed with nutrients that can help aid weight loss and support your overall health. Feder and Nanavati warn that you should be wary of dried fruit, though, as it can easily pack sugar into your diet.
“Dried fruits are typically loaded with high amounts of added sugars and contain less nutrients than their original counterparts,” Feder says, warning of the health effects of too much sugar. “The high amount of added sugars can lead to unwanted weight gain and insulin resistance over time.”
Nanavati says that unsweetened dried fruit is a safer bet. For the healthiest option, dehydrate your own—or just go with fresh fruit for maximum health benefits.
3. Bottled Smoothies
Homemade smoothies are amazing for you when you add the right ingredients to the mix! Bottled, store-bought smoothies, on the other hand, are usually a bad idea for weight loss. That’s because they contain harmful additives that can make it difficult to slim down.
“Smoothies may contain added sugars, syrups, or high-calorie additives, which can increase calorie content and contribute to weight gain,” Nanavati says.
Luckily, making your own healthy smoothies at home can be a breeze. Although it may take some extra time than adding a few bottles to your cart, it will be worth it in the end.
4. Low-Fat and Fat-Free Products
You may think that choosing foods that are labeled as “low-fat” or “fat-free” is a good idea to lower your calorie intake and lose weight faster. However, the unfortunate truth is that low-fat products likely make up for their lack of fat with a lot of extra ingredients that can hold you back on your weight loss journey.
“Reduced-fat products often add extra sugar for flavor, leading to higher calorie intake and nutrient imbalances,” Nanavati says. She also points out that “Healthy fats are crucial for satiety and overall well-being.” So don’t be afraid of fat!
Ultimately, the key to losing weight at a healthy rate is nourishing your body with a balanced diet made up of nutrient-rich whole foods. Stay away from processed, sugary foods whenever possible—even the ones that seem “healthy.” And when you do treat yourself (as you should!) remember to practice moderation.