These 7 ‘Diet Foods’ Will Make You Gain Weight Like Crazy
You’ve read every nutrition blog and followed every healthy recipe that you can find — you’ve even taken to meal planning and packing nutrient-dense snacks with you so you can always have a satisfying treat with you when you’re on the go. You’ve been doing everything you should be doing for weight loss, like shunning the processed cakes and cookies and reaching for whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and yet the scale keeps creeping up.
So, what gives? This scenario is not uncommon if you’re on a diet, as there are quite a few unsuspecting diet-friendly foods that can cause rapid weight gain. Check out these seven diet foods that are known for tipping the scale forward instead of back.
Touted as one of the best natural sweeteners around, health professionals have revered agave for years, but it seems like its reign over the health world has come to an end. According to Dr. Oz, agave is a syrupy sweetener that was thought to be the perfect sugar substitute for dieters because of its low-glycemic index. It’s true, agave does not have the same amount of glucose that your traditional white sugar does, but it contains more fructose than any other sweetener, which can inhibit your body’s natural ability to produce as much insulin as it needs.
Experts in the field also believe that those who consume a lot of fructose are at risk for weight gain in the belly area, as fructose is more rapidly converted into fat than glucose. If you’re looking for a healthier sweetener, choose honey instead, and leave the agave to the health food aisles of your grocery store.
Granola seems like it’d be excellent for any diet — tons of whole grains, fruit, and nuts make up the bulk of this diet food, so what’s the harm? Livestrong explains that granola is typically made from oats that are then coated with water, oil, and sweeteners like honey and brown sugar to allow them to stick together to form those delicious oat clusters. Then, you can add in your dried fruit, which typically has a lot of sugar, and nuts, which boast plenty of heart-healthy fats. Granola typically holds about 11 grams of fiber per cup, but that one cup may also run you upwards of 500 calories. Yikes.
If you’re looking to eat your granola and lose weight, then make sure to measure out your serving. It’s easy to overestimate how much you’re eating and turn your light breakfast into a calorie and sugar bomb. Also, try making your own so you can control the sugar and fat content.
3. Diet soda
You know you shouldn’t be regularly drinking sugary sodas when you’re trying to lose weight, but your diet sodas may also be to blame for your expanding waistline. According to Time, scientists are still a bit puzzled as to exactly why diet sodas seem to cause weight gain even though they have no calories and no sugar, but this could be because the artificial sweeteners in these sodas still triggers the brain into thinking that it will receive something sugary and highly caloric. When the sugar and calories don’t come, your brain is left still craving those calories long after your soda is finished, thus causing you to reach for a cookie or two during the day.
If you’re a diet soda-drinker, you could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts by confusing your brain with artificial sweeteners. It might be best to just enjoy a soda made from real sugar every once in awhile instead of downing diet colas every day to make up for what you’re missing.
4. Rice cakes
This diet food has been around for ages, but if you consider rice cakes to be a healthy snack that you should add into your day, don’t be too surprised when the scale starts creeping forward. Rice cakes are as simple and as bland in their structure as they are in terms of their taste, so you may wonder what the harm is in chowing down on a few of these throughout the day. According to Eat This, Not That!, rice cakes are simple carbs that will raise your blood sugar quickly and offer you a quick burst of energy, and that’s about it. Don’t be surprised if you feel hungry a half-hour after you down three or four of these, because they have no nutrition to really offer you.
Simple carbs are ideal to have before a workout, as they provide you with quick fuel that you’re sure to burn off. If you’re eating a lot of simple carbs throughout the day without burning them, then that’s a recipe for weight gain.
What could be better than a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies all blended up into one delicious, nutritious beverage known as the smoothie? If you’re trying to lose weight, the humble smoothie can really put a damper on your weight loss without you even realizing it. When you’re making a smoothie that’s primarily fruits like mangoes, pineapple, banana, and apple, then it’s going to taste delicious, but you’ll feel hungry fairly quickly because there’s no protein or healthy fats to keep you satisfied. And, with four or five fruits going into one drink, that’s a lot of calories and sugar you’ll be taking in at once — not good if you’re trying to lose weight.
Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, and nutritionist tells New York Magazine’s The Cut that your smoothie should have a source of protein (Greek yogurt or nut butter works well) as well as veggies to balance out the fruit. Avocado is also a great addition for a creamy texture and healthy fats, too.
6. Fat-free salad dressing
Salad is great for those who are watching their weight, and it’s also great for those who are craving fresh produce and a healthy dose of nutrients. There are quite a few salad toppings (bacon bits, cheese, and croutons come to mind) that can take your salad from a healthy meal to a diet-buster, but it’s also the dressing that can make or break this meal. Your dressing may say fat-free, but in reality, it’s not necessarily fats that cause weight gain. What you really want to look at are the ingredients in your dressing as well as the calories per serving and the sugar content. Plenty of fat-free dressings look healthy, but when you actually take a look at their nutrition label, you’ll see that your dressing could pack an extra 400 calories on to your salad.
The Daily Meal compiled a list of the worst salad dressings in terms of nutrition, but the best bet is to always make your own dressing or go with a heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil and vinegar topping. You’ll have an easier time managing your weight when you know exactly what you’re eating.
Greek yogurt is a nutrient-dense food that offers tons of great benefits, but not all yogurts are created equal. If you’re going for those individual fruit-on-the-bottom cups that you can find at your local grocery store, then these could lead to weight gain in a flash. SFGate explains that many yogurts are loaded with calories and sugar, and if you’re going with the low-fat or fat-free varieties, these are only bound to make you hungry again very quickly after you’ve eaten them. The USDA says that an eight-ounce serving of your average fruit yogurt is going to run you about 225 calories and over 40 grams of sugar. Add granola to the mix for a complete breakfast, and you’re looking at more added sugar than you should eat in an entire day.
We’re not saying you should leave yogurt out entirely, but you should be mindful of what kind of yogurt you’re eating. Buying plain Greek yogurt and then jazzing it up with a tablespoon of honey, fresh fruit, and nuts is a better alternative.