Cutting junk food out of your diet is the first step toward weight loss. Interestingly, though, the seemingly healthy foods you’re eating might be doing more harm than good. From items that tout themselves as diet products to nutritious produce that’s high in calories, here are six foods that could be making you fat.
6 Healthy Foods You Didn’t Know Could Make You Fat
1. Diet soda
There is nothing “diet” about diet soda. Reader’s Digest reports that studies have shown that people who drink two or more diet sodas a day can experience waist size increase up to six times greater than those who avoid the beverage. While they may be free of calories, the consequences of drinking them are steep. What’s more, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who drank diet soda gained almost triple the belly fat over nine years versus those who didn’t drink diet soda at all. The researchers in the study also found that abdominal weight gain was more pronounced in those who were already overweight, proving once and for all that there’s nothing “diet” about diet soda.
This beloved superfood is chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to lose weight, don’t think it’s OK to have all the guacamole you want because you think it’s “healthy” in any quantity. Avocados are high in fat and are very calorically dense. Based on the size of a medium avocado, though they vary in size, there are five servings in one avocado containing 50 calories per serving. Add to that the fact that the average recipe for guac calls for two to four avocados and, being that it’s just so delicious, you end of consuming more calories than you thought you would.
Time and time again you’ve been informed about how good nuts are for you, but those handfuls that you grab for can really be hurting your waistline. “A 1-ounce serving of nuts contains 135 calories, and how many nuts you get in a serving will depend on your nut of choice,” says Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The Miracle Carb Diet, to Men’s Fitness. If you’re unsure about serving size because so many of us consider a “handful” a unit of measurement, it’s important to take a look at the nutritional packaging. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 1.5 ounces of nuts per day, which equates to about ⅓ of a cup but differs for each nut according to its size. For example, almonds range from 20 to 24 nuts per serving and cashews 16 to 18 per serving.
4. Organic junk food
Many assume that the word “organic” cancels out the “junk food” part of the whole thing, giving them assurance that those organic potato chips they’re eating are not that bad. It’s easy to make this mistake because these processed foods are in the guise of healthy snacks, and they’re everywhere. No matter what it is, whether it’s organic pizza, organic donuts, organic cakes, etc., it is still junk food. And it will not help you to maintain a healthy weight, especially if you overdo it.
5. Protein bars
While the protein part of the bars is right on, the majority of protein bars are packed with fat and sugar that are sure to do a number on your waistline. Instead, Men’s Fitness suggests only eating protein bars when you’re in a jam, like when you’re on a hike or you’re traveling, and eating half the serving size at a time. Also, if you must eat them, choose bars with reduced sugar or opt for a ready-to-drink alternative, which can contain about the half the sugar and fat and 100 fewer calories than protein bars.
6. Gluten-free products
If you have a gluten sensitivity, then eating these products is not a choice, but even if you don’t have an allergy, you may be drawn to gluten-free versions of all your favorite food because they sound healthier. But listen up: “Many gluten-free products actually have more calories than similar versions that contain gluten,” Zuckerbrot warns Men’s Fitness. “Ingredients such as cornstarch and brown rice flour, which are used by manufacturers to mimic the texture and taste of gluten, are more calorically dense than the ingredients they replace.” The best thing to do is to stick to whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, like quinoa.