No matter how many times a week you hit the gym, there are certain things in your pantry that can spell serious trouble for your weight-loss goals. If you’re like most Americans, you dread the moment the doctor asks you to step on the scale during your annual visit. There’s no doubt about it — we’re all getting heavier as the years go on. CBS News reports the average American is 15 pounds now than they were in the ‘80s or ‘90s — and that’s without getting any taller. So what’s to blame? Our diets.
So if you’re constantly snacking or eating between breakfast, lunch and dinner, you could start to see the numbers on the scale go up. Check out these foods that make you gain weight like there’s no tomorrow, then go for some lighter choices.
1. Dried fruit
It’s generally a good idea to pack a grab-and-go fruit or veggie so you can make healthy eating choices when you’re on the run, but you’ll need to be careful with dried fruit. SFGate explains it’s easy to go overboard with dried fruit because a serving is much less than you think, and the sugar content can be serious. A single serving would be the equivalent of eight apricots, three dates, or two tablespoons of cranberries, and this already can add up to about 100 calories. Don’t cut dried fruit out of your diet completely, but be mindful of your serving size.
2. Whole milk
You may have convinced yourself that the calcium in your glass of whole milk is reason enough to keep it in your diet, but too much of the full-fat stuff could cause the numbers on the scale to creep up. An 8-ounce glass of whole milk contains 149 calories and nearly 5 grams of saturated fat. This isn’t so bad if 8 ounces is all you’re having, but more than that is problematic.
If you don’t want to give up milk in your coffee or cereal, have no fear — alternatives like almond milk or soy milk are way lower in calories and saturated fat. Lifehack explains 1 cup of almond milk only has 60 calories — compare this to the 146 calories per cup of whole milk, and you can see why this is a scale-friendly alternative.
3. White bread
Another staple food that most have lying around the house for the emergency peanut butter sandwich or two is white bread. If you incorporate white bread into your diet as a treat every now and again, then you’re not likely to see weight gain as a result. The problem is it’s easy to eat too much. WebMD explains having two or more portions of white bread a day has been associated with weight gain. It’s not that surprising when you consider these loaves are made with refined flour that offers very little nutritional value. Do your body a favor and choose whole-grain bread instead.
4. Fresh juice
Juicing is the latest health craze, but a juice or two every day could lead to an expanding waist. JJ Virgin, a nutrition and fitness expert, tells Harper’s Bazaar eating an apple is a lot different than drinking fresh juice because the whole fruit offers fiber and phytonutrients that help slow the absorption of sugar. When you’re drinking the juice, you’re missing out on those nutrients. It’s not much better than having a sugar-sweetened beverage.
Touted as one of the best healthy snacks out there, you might have a jar of peanuts or a baggie of almonds with you at all times for when hunger strikes. Health explains nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but they’re also high in calories. — a quarter-cup of almonds is 132 calories. Most of us could easily eat three or four servings without thinking twice, which can add 300 to 400 more calories into our diet each day.
It’s not all bad, though — raw almonds and cashews are lower in calories than pecans or macadamia nuts, and they’re also incredibly satisfying. Try buying 100-calorie packs so the portion is already under control.
6. Red meat
If you’re the first person to reach for a hamburger at the barbecue, you might want to rethink that choice. In moderation, red meat has its benefits — you’ll get plenty of protein to fuel your gym workouts and you’ll feel more energized throughout the day — but it’s not always the best option. Calorie Secrets explains red meat can be a key factor in weight gain because it’s so high in saturated fat. Furthermore, research has shown eating meat, including red meat, can lead to an expanding waistline over time.
Men’s Fitness says an avocado has 10 grams of fiber and twice as much potassium as a banana, and it can even help lower cholesterol. That’s all great news, so how in the world are you gaining weight? It comes down to portion size. You should be careful with how many servings of avocado you’re eating if you’re watching your weight because one fruit contains a whopping 300 calories — that’s the equivalent of about two ice cream sandwiches. While monounsaturated fat is considered healthy, it can still contribute to weight gain if you’re eating too much.
8. Sugary soda
Sugary sodas are so sinister because many people drink them without really thinking about it, and often more than one per day. FitDay says soda is even more dangerous than the occasional slice of cake or cookie because of the addictive addition of caffeine. And don’t forget about sweetened teas and lemonade — they might look better for you than Coke, but in reality, they can be even worse.
Do yourself a favor and don’t reach for the diet soda either — you might not be getting the calories and sugar, but the artificial sweeteners can be horrible for your body.
When it comes to your weight, you’ll want to watch your alcohol intake. Daily Mail Online explains alcohol can be a major source of weight gain when people consume too much. Drinking moderately means women should only be consuming one standard drink per day, which is equivalent to a single glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a shot of liquor. For men, two drinks per day is the standard.
While you’re enjoying happy hour, here’s something else to consider: Alcohol gets metabolized right away because your body can’t store it. This means any other fats and sugars you’ve eaten that day are pushed to the wayside as your body processes the booze, which can result in weight gain.
Most of us think granola is healthy, but most store-bought versions are loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. Even if you’ve chosen a granola that has tons of vitamins, minerals, and whole grains, the serving size may only be just ¼ cup. For this reason, Shape says you can overdo the portion size in a big way. If you’re adding milk into the equation, tack on another 100 calories or so. To save yourself some sugar and calories, try making your own granola.