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.
Check out these foods that make you gain weight like there’s no tomorrow, then go for some lighter choices.
1. Olive oil
Olive oil is a fat you can feel good about eating, and cooking with it is certainly better for your health than butter. But if you’re not watching your portion size, the fat and calories can really add up. Prevention notes a 1/4 cup of olive oil contains a little under 500 calories and over 50 grams of fat.
Most of the fats are the good type — monounsaturated — but these can still expand your waistline. Watch how much oil you’re adding to the pan when you’re cooking, or the amount you’re drizzling over your salads. It may be contributing heavily to a higher number on the scale.
Next: The calories add up quickly when it comes to this everyday snack.
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. — 1/4 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.
Next: Moderation is key with this “healthy” treat.
3. 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 2 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.
Next: Drinking this every morning really packs on the calories.
4. 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.
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.
Next: Choose the whole-grain variety of this food item instead.
5. 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.
Next: It may be tasty, but this beverage packs in a scary amount of sugar.
6. 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.
Next: This common food item may expand your waistline over time.
7. 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.
Next: The bad outweighs the good when you eat too much of this food.
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.
Next: This drink should be one of the first things you cut out of your diet.
9. 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. 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.
Next: When you want to drop weight, this nightly habit should stop.
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.
Next: It may sound healthy, but it isn’t always good for you.
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.
Next: This after-dinner treat should be only eaten on occasion.
When you heard dark chocolate may actually have some health benefits, you probably rejoiced. That doesn’t mean you should head to the grocery store and buy candy bars in bulk, though. Antioxidants or not, chocolate is still high in sugar and pretty calorically dense if you’re not going for the really bitter stuff. SFGate notes just 1/3 of a cup of milk chocolate has a little less than 300 calories.
And if you think dark chocolate is less, guess again — the publication says there’s roughly 330 calories in 1/3 cup of dark, too. When it comes to saturated fat and sugar, both types of chocolate can be high in this.
Next: “Gluten-free” doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
13. Gluten-free packaged foods
You probably know someone on a gluten-free diet despite whether they truly need it or not. Unfortunately, many people assume a diet void of the protein is healthier, thus they purchase gluten-free snack foods assuming they’re better for them.
Here’s the truth, as explained by Jillian Michaels: Many foods without gluten have added sugars and fats to make up for the taste and texture. And, these products often have way more carbs than the products containing the protein.
Next: That label may be misleading …
14. Fat-free foods
We remember when the low-fat food craze hit the supermarkets in the ’90s. You could get fatless versions of all your favorites like yogurt, cheese, and milk — and you still can. But that really doesn’t mean you should, especially if you want to maintain your weight.
The New York Times notes most foods that are fat-free have just as many calories as the full-fat versions. And these processed foods typically have more sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodium, or carbs added to make the product taste great.
Next: This is one everyday food you may have a hard time giving up.
Pizza, mozzarella sticks, mac n’ cheese … the list goes on when it comes to amazing cheesy foods. Most of us have a love affair with this food, and some researchers suggest it could even have addictive qualities. But when it comes to your weight, it’s time to put the cheddar down.
Livestrong.com notes just 1 ounce of goat cheese — that’s about the size of your thumb — contains 128 calories. And Jillian Michaels tells us 1 ounce of Parmesan contains over 100 calories. If you’re consuming cheese-laden foods during meal time, then you’re absolutely eating more than this tiny portion. You could be eating well over 300 or 400 calories in just cheese without knowing it, which can surely contribute to weight gain.