Diet Fads: 6 Foods That Are Not as Healthy as You May Think

With fitness diet fads constantly changing, it can be difficult to keep up. Is kale still healthy? Am I supposed to cut back on carbs or not? There always seems to be some new nutritious option on the shelves, while other healthy foods have managed to fall out of grace. But when it comes to fitness specifically, a few go-to foods could be sabotaging your performance. To avoid wrecking your workout, steer clear of these potentially problematic bites.

1. Sports Drinks

Young man resting on a run, sports drink, gatorade, exercise

A man drinking a sports drink | Source: iStock

When it comes to sports drinks, it’s all about moderation. While these beverages can be a great way to replenish your body’s electrolytes, they’re also filled with sugar and calories. As Everyday Health advises, consider the type of workout you’re doing. Do you really need to pound a sports drink after a workout that lasts less than an hour? Probably not. So rather than guzzling Gatorade before and after your workout, balance your hydration with plenty of water. Otherwise you run the risk of counteracting your last hour of exercise by sipping down more calories than you’re burning off.

2. Protein Bars

Protein bar, chocolate

Protein bars | Source: iStock

Beware of classic protein and fitness bars! Sure, these aren’t the worst foods to feed your body, but according to a recent study in the Journal of Marketing Research, foods that are marketed with “fitness branding” actually lead to consumers eating more and exercising less — clearly unproductive to your fitness goals. This is because, psychologically, many consumers see these “fit” foods as a substitute for exercise, rather than a fuel for a harder workout. So when it comes to protein bars, try to stick to those with the most natural ingredients, and make sure your time at the gym cancels out the calories in these compact bars.

3. Hummus


Hummus | Source: iStock

We all love dipping whole-grain pita chips into our favorite variety of hummus as a healthy mid-day snack. But did you know doing so too close to a workout could actually keep you from reaching your exercise potential? According to Shape, bean-based foods are packed with hard-to-digest carbohydrates, which can cause some unwanted bloating and stomach problems during a workout.

4. Energy Gels

athlete eating an energy gel at the Australian Open

Flavia Pennetta of Italy might need an energy gel during competition, but you probably don’t | Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Sure, these convenient packs seem like the perfect pre-workout fuel. After all, they’re marketed to be the best way to prep for optimal performance during your next workout. But chances are you’re not working out quite enough to make these gels worthwhile. Unless you’re clocking 90 minutes or more of intense cardio, all of the sugar in energy gels could do more harm than good. According to Shape, they could even lead to a disruption of insulin levels, which could result in a diet-busting binge later in the day.

5. Green Bananas

green bananas

Green bananas | Source: iStock

Bananas are easily one of the best pre-exercise snacks to keep you fueled all workout long. If you choose the right kind of banana, that is. Unripe fruit is a major fitness-foul since it’s difficult for our bodies to digest. Because of this fact, eating a green banana before any workout could cause some unpleasant gas and bloating, which is sure to slow you down. Instead, make sure you go for one that’s totally ripe and even has a few light brown spots on the skin. At this point the sugar of the banana can be absorbed easily, and used to fuel all your fitness needs.

6. Energy Drinks

Soda, energy drinks

Energy drinks | Source: iStock

While chugging a Redbull before your workout may seem like a brilliant way to keep your body going strong, this chemical-packed beverage could actually be really harmful to your health and fitness. According to Livestrong, energy drinks are marketed as a way to assist with workouts and recovery, but the FDA hasn’t actually tested any of these claims. Plus, the already harmful caffeine and sugar contents can also lead to dehydrating effects, which becomes exponentially worse for people who replace water with energy drinks.

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