No matter how many times you hit the gym, certain things in your pantry 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. CBS News reports the average American is 15 pounds heavier now than they were in the ’80s and ’90s. What’s to blame? Our diets. You’ll gain weight fast if you eat the following foods. One popular salad staple in particular will make you gain weight like crazy (on page 9).
Numbers don’t lie: 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories.
It’s filling and full of protein. Paired with veggies and some chicken or tofu, quinoa can be a meal of champions. The sad part: This rice-alternative is full of calories, which makes is better as a side dish than main course. Whether you like it or not, it’s better to portion quinoa like you would pasta.
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2. Red meat
Numbers don’t lie: 3-ounces of ground beef has 230 calories and 5.7 grams of saturated fat.
From salami to steak, red meat has benefits in moderation; you’ll get protein to fuel workouts and you’ll feel more energized throughout the day, but it’s not the best option. Calorie Secrets explains red meat can be a key factor in weight gain because it’s so high in saturated fat. And research shows eating red meat can lead to an expanding waistline over time.
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3. Dried fruit
Numbers don’t lie: Three dates or 2 tablespoons of cranberries equal about 100 calories.
It’s a good idea to pack a fruit or veggie so you can eat healthy on the run, but you need to be careful with dried fruit. SFGate explains it’s easy to go overboard. A serving is much less than you think, and the sugar content is serious. You don’t have to cut dried fruit out of your diet completely, but be mindful of your serving size.
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4. Refried beans
Numbers don’t lie: 1 cup of refried beans has at least 237 calories.
You may think choosing a side of refried beans over rice or guacamole is the healthy choice. But not all legumes are created equal. Before these beans are even topped with cheese they’re packed with calories. Try refried pinto beans instead — they’re only 180 calories per serving.
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5. Whole milk
Numbers don’t lie: 8 ounces of whole milk has 149 calories and nearly 5 grams of saturated fat.
The calcium in your glass of whole milk is reason enough to keep it in your diet, right? But too much can cause your weight to creep up. If you don’t want to give up milk in your coffee or cereal, have no fear. Alternatives like almond or soy milk are way lower in calories and saturated fat. Lifehack explains 1 cup of almond milk only has 60 calories.
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Numbers don’t lie: 1/3 cup milk chocolate has about 300 calories; 1/3 cup dark chocolate has 330 calories.
When you heard dark chocolate may have health benefits, you probably rejoiced. But this doesn’t mean you should buy candy bars in bulk. Antioxidants or not, chocolate is high in sugar and pretty calorically dense. And if you think dark chocolate is less, guess again. When it comes to saturated fat and sugar, both types of chocolate can be high in this.
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Numbers don’t lie: You’ll get 132 calories in 1/4 cup of almonds.
Touted as a great healthy snack, nuts are a go-to snack when hunger strikes. Health explains nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but they’re also high in calories. Most of us could easily eat three or four servings without thinking twice. If you must eat lots of nuts, raw almonds and cashews are lower in calories than pecans or macadamia nuts.
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8. Olive oil
Numbers don’t lie: 1/4 cup of olive oil contains nearly 500 calories and over 50 grams of fat.
Cooking with olive oil is better for your health than butter. But if you don’t watch your portions, the fat and calories will add up. Most of the fats are the good type (monounsaturated) but they can still expand your waistline.
Next: This popular salad staple is packed with calories.
Numbers don’t lie: The average avocado has a whopping 300 calories.
Men’s Fitness says an avocado has 10 grams of fiber and twice as much potassium as a banana, and it can help lower cholesterol. So why are you still gaining weight? It comes down to portion size. If you cut up one avocado to top on your salad, you could eat the equivalent of about two ice cream sandwiches. Monounsaturated fat is considered healthy, but it can still make you gain weight.
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Numbers don’t lie: 1/2 cup of granola can have 240 calories, 47 grams or carbs, and 12 grams of sugar.
Most store-bought granola is loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. Even if you choose a brand with tons of vitamins and whole grains, the serving size may only be ¼ cup, so you can overdo the portion size in a big way. If you add milk, that’s another 100 calories or so. To save yourself sugar and calories, make your own granola.
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Numbers don’t lie: A bowl of Grape-Nuts is about 416 calories with 580 mg of sodium (before the milk).
Most of us know cereal can be really bad for you, but cereal that’s marketed as healthy can be just as deceiving. This breakfast staple can hurt your diet for so many reasons: Your portion is too big, the milk is full fat, the cereal is packed with nuts or dried fruit… Opt for more protein-packed morning meals instead.
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12. White bread
Numbers don’t lie: A slice of white bread can have 80 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates.
We’ve all made an emergency peanut butter sandwich. If you eat white bread occasionally, then you likely won’t see weight gain. But it’s easy to eat a lot. WebMD explains two or more portions of white bread a day is associated with weight gain. It’s not surprising when you consider loaves are made of refined flour with little nutritional value. Choose whole-grain instead.
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13. Sugary soda
Numbers don’t lie: A can of soda has around 40 grams of sugar.
Sugary sodas are sinister because people drink them without thinking about it and often more than once per day. FitDay says soda is even more dangerous than a slice of cake or cookie because of the addictive addition of caffeine. Don’t reach for diet soda either; you won’t get the calories and sugar, but the artificial sweeteners can be horrible for you, too.
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Numbers don’t lie: A 5-ounce serving of wine is 120 calories; a bottle of beer is around 150 calories.
Daily Mail Online explains alcohol can be a major source of weight gain when people consume too much. Drinking moderately means women should only consume one standard drink per day (equivalent to one glass of wine, bottle of beer, or shot of liquor). For men, two drinks per day is the standard.
Alcohol gets metabolized right away because your body can’t store it. This means other fats and sugars you’ve eaten that day are pushed aside as your body processes the booze, which can result in weight gain. And this doesn’t include the sugary mixers many cocktails contain.
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15. Gluten-free packaged foods
Numbers don’t lie: One packet of gluten-free oatmeal can have 200 calories and 36 grams of carbs.
You probably know someone who is gluten-free. Unfortunately, many assume this diet is healthier, so they buy gluten-free foods assuming they’re better. Here’s the truth, explained by Jillian Michaels: Many foods without gluten have added sugars and fats to make up for taste and texture. And these products often have way more carbs than products containing the protein.
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16. Fresh juice
Numbers don’t lie: One bottle of the popular pomegranate blueberry Naked juice has 61 grams of sugar!
Juicing is a huge health craze, but the wrong juice each day could lead to an expanding waist. JJ Virgin, a nutrition expert, tells Harper’s Bazaar eating an apple is much different than drinking fresh juice; the whole fruit offers fiber and phytonutrients that slow the absorption of sugar. Drinking the juice is not much better than having a sugar-sweetened beverage.
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Numbers don’t lie: 1 ounce of goat cheese — about the size of your thumb — contains 128 calories. And 1 ounce of Parmesan contains over 100 calories.
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. If you’re consuming cheese-laden foods during meal time, then you could be eating well over 300 or 400 calories in just cheese without knowing it, which can surely contribute to weight gain.
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18. Fat-free foods
Numbers don’t lie: 8 ounces of fruit-flavored, fat-free yogurt has 47 grams of sugar.
The low-fat food craze hit groceries in the ’90s. And you can still get fatless versions of favorites like yogurt, cheese, and milk. But that doesn’t mean you should. The New York Times notes most fat-free foods have just as many calories as the full-fat versions. And the processed foods tend to have more sugars, artificial sweeteners, and carbs to make the product taste great.