As I stress throughout all of my posts, weight loss is solely dependent on remaining in calorie deficit. There is not some magic food that if you eat or avoid, you will lose weight faster. All that matters is if you eat fewer calories than you ingest.
However, there are many things that people need to be aware of when attempting to lose weight. There are some foods that are very good for weight loss, and you can eat them on a regular basis. On the flip side, there are other foods that make weight loss extremely difficult, and you must be conscious about how often and to what extent you consume them.
This is not to say that you should never eat the foods on this list, but in this article I will outline the top 10 worst foods for weight loss that you need be cautious of to avoid ruining your diet.
Growing up, I ate pasta almost every day. To my family, eating pasta seemed to be just as important to our diet as drinking water, and I absolutely would not complain.
Like many people, I love pasta but unfortunately, it is very bad for weight loss.
Pasta is relatively high in calories, and it is very easy to overeat. Not to mention that many people eat pasta with all different types of butters and sauces that add sneaky calories that they might not be aware of.
Eating too much pasta can be detrimental to your diet and can put you in calorie surplus if you are not careful.
If you are to have pasta, try eating half as much and replace the other half with some greens. Or even cut pasta from your diet entirely and replace it with an alternative like spaghetti squash (one of my personal favorites)
If all else fails, try to buy different brands of pasta that are lower in calories, like many whole wheat pastas,
2. Peanut Butter
Many people are unaware, but peanut butter is very dangerous food. It is extremely dense in calories and also incredibly difficult to measure out.
Most peanut butter brands have ~180-200 calories per serving size which is typically 2 tbsp. That is not a lot of peanut butter, but it certainly is a lot of calories!
Peanut butter has its place in bulking and muscle building, but if you are trying to lose weight I recommend you either cut down on your peanut butter consumption or eliminate it all together.
An alternative option would be to find a natural brand of peanut butter that is less dense in calories. Natural peanut butter has fewer fats than hydrogenated (regular) peanut butter so it has fewer calories while tasting relatively the same.
Breads are very similar to pasta, but they are much more common in everyday life. It is a staple food in many cultures, and many people have bread with their meals at least once or more times a day. However, is also very high in carbohydrates and in calories.
It is almost impossible to eradicate bread from your diet; do not feel like you should. There are low calorie, whole wheat brands of bread that are wonderful substitutes for traditional high calorie white breads. You can also get creative with your meal plans and occasionally replace bread with vegetables. One of my favorite examples of this is replacing a cheeseburger bun with lettuce which sounds simple but can save you 100-200 calories without you even noticing.
Once again, it is almost impossible to eradicate bread from your diet, but just be conscious of your consumption and when possible, try to avoid or replace it in your diet.
Not only does pizza have bread, cheese, and sauce, which can be high in calories all on their own, but it also has one ingredient that will truly wreck your calorie deficit.
Oil. Oil is high in fat and, similarly to peanut butter, is very calorie dense. It is also an integral ingredient in pizza that many people are unaware of, and it is what makes pizza so high in calories.
Most people don’t make their own pizza, and therefore are not conscious of all the ingredients used. However, whether you know it or not, pizza companies can use 2 or more tbsp of oil per pizza which on its own results in ~250 calories.
This is why I am a strong advocate for making your own homemade pizza. Not only can you control the other ingredients like bread, cheese, and sauce that can already be high in calories, but you can also limit or get rid of the amount of oil used.
If you are to go for pizza, that is completely fine, but just be aware of All the ingredients that you are ingesting, and maybe dab the top off the pizza with a napkin to absorb some oil.
5. Sugary Drinks
Drinks of any kind (that aren’t water of course) are a huge threat to your calorie deficit. I go more into the threat of “Liquid Calories” here, but sugary drinks take this danger to another level.
There are some drinks like protein shakes or natural coffees and teas that are generally low calories, and while it always important to monitor how much of anything you are eating or drinking, they pose much less of a threat.
Drinks like Gatorade or soda can have 40 or more grams of sugar which alone is very bad for your overall health, but they are also much higher in calories. Typical soda or Gatorade can have around 150 calories, which alone is not that bad, but when people drink 2 or 3 or more drinks, that add up to 450 or more calories. These calories can easily add up and can be detrimental to your diet.
The easy solution to this problem is to just avoid sugary drinks and liquid calories whenever you can, or just simply replace any drink with water, which has 0 calories and is necessary for human survival.
Candy is like if sugary drinks became food. There is little to no nutritional value in candy which means that a piece of candy is essentially just sugar and unnecessary calories.
Don’t get me wrong, candy is delicious, but it provides no nutritional value to your diet and, in contrast to the snickers commercials, candy will most likely not satisfy your hunger. This means that you are eating useless calories and will eventually need a full meal later to stay full and perform daily functions.
Simply, do not eat candy unnecessary, if at all. There are some times in the year, like Halloween or Christmas, that you should be lenient with yourself, but make sure you are aware of how much you are eating and be sure to keep it from ruining your past hard work.
7. Cakes, Cookies, Brownies
This is one of the toughest sentences I have ever had to write, but my best advice is to avoid cakes, cookies, and brownies as much as you can (*sighs*)
The main ingredient in all of these foods is butter and sugar which, you might be aware that, these ingredients are quite high in calories.
Luckily, there are countless recipes out there for low calorie cakes, cookies, and brownies, but still even then, it is important to limit your consumption because they also do not provide much nutritional value, so chances are you are going to need to eat something else which just means more calories.
8. Beers or Other High Volume Hard Drinks
Some people tend to forget, or just tend not to care that there are calories in alcohol. Especially during a night at the bar or out with their friends, some people can get lost 5 or 10 drinks deep into the night, not considering the fact that each drink has a decent amount of calories that can add up over time.
Mainly what I am referring to are drinks that have low ABV, like beer and the currently popularized hard seltzers. These drinks can be anywhere from 100-200 calories, and sometimes even more. A standard beer for example has around 150 calories, which is the same as most sodas.
Many people become calorie blind when it comes to drinking, especially when it comes to alcoholic drinks. They fail to realize that drinking 5 or 10 beers is the caloric equivalent of drinking 5 or 10 sodas which can add up to over 1000 calories total, or half a day’s worth of calories.
Always drink responsibly to avoid other health issues. Drinking in excess can obviously lead to other adverse health effects. However, most people like to go out and drink with friends and that is perfectly okay.
Just like eating, there are many low calorie alternatives when it comes to drinking. Typically, liquor like tequila and whiskey have lower amounts of calories, but if that is not your cup of tea it can be a good idea to search for light beers instead of regular.
Whatever you do, just be conscious of how many calories you are drinking so you do not overdo it, and always be safe when drinking alcohol regardless.
9. Ice Cream
Just like most foods on this list, it is very easy to eat too much ice cream. A typical serving size for ice cream is around 1/2 – 1 full cup, which is not a lot. Many people will eat 2 or 3 times that serving size without even realizing that they have done so. Not to mention that most people also have other toppings on their ice cream that they do not consider.
The calories here can add up fast. Ice cream alone can have 150-200 or more calories per serving size and without caution toppings can easily add another 100-200.
The calorie density mixed with the fact that it is so easy to over eat ice cream makes it a dangerous food for weight loss. But just like any other foods, there are things that you can do to keep yourself in check.
There are low calorie brands of ice cream, one of the most prominent being Halo Top ice cream that has under 100 calories per serving (some even get as low as 60 calories per half cup). Low calorie alternatives can save you hundreds of calories and still satisfy your cravings for ice cream.
10. Simple Sugar Foods
The whole idea behind eating food is that the chemicals in the food that we eat have bonds, and the stronger those bonds are, the more energy they will provide us for a longer period.
This is why foods that are high in protein have higher calories but also provide lots of energy. They stronger bonds that take longer to break, thus releasing more energy over a longer period.
The same principle apply’s to foods with sugar in them. There is healthy sugar that provides long term energy and also unhealthy sugar that gives a short burst of energy, but does not last.
The healthy sugar is di and polysaccharide carbohydrates. This is food like breads and pastas, that when mixed in a balanced diet, can provide good energy at a low caloric expense. These carbs have multiple (poly) bonds that takes more time for them to be broken down yet also releases more energy in the process.
However, there are also the unhealthy sugars called monosaccharides. These are “simple sugars” like marshmallows or literal sugar that have fewer and weaker bonds. This energy is released quickly but does not last for very long. A good representation of this is a sugar high. It gives quick energy that doesn’t last very long, and results in a “crash” afterwords because the energy from the sugary food has run out.
Finding foods that provide stronger and longer lasting energy is always the goal for weight loss, so try to avoid foods that are high in simple sugars. You can find this by looking at the row for sugars on a nutrition label. This will usually be a sub-row under the row for carbohydrates.
Wait, Wait, Wait – Don’t Go Nuts
Dieting does not always have to be rigorous. Sometimes it is okay to let yourself go and enjoy life through food.
However, it is not okay to eat so much in excess that you ruin your progress that you have made over time.
The main idea surrounding this whole list is awareness. Do not completely cut all unhealthy food from your life, because most likely you will relapse back into a style of unhealthy eating and calorie surplus.
Instead, carefully enjoy your cheat days or meals in a way that does not do too much damage to your hard work. All of these foods can be easily abused and overeaten, but having this knowledge will prevent you from doing so.
Be aware of portion sizes and calorie density for all foods that you are eating, because some can be shocking.
Though at the end of the day, it is not what you do once that defines your health, it is what you do regularly. Make sure that regularly you are eating healthy so that when you cheat a little you can enjoy it!
As always, if you have further questions, comments, or concerns feel free to comment them or shoot me an email, I always enjoy when people engage in my work!