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No matter whether you’re just starting out or you already have some experience under your belt, figuring out exactly what kinds of foods you should steer clear of when you’re trying to lose weight can be difficult.
That’s why in order to help you have some more success, we’re going over our list of the top 15 foods to avoid over the course of your weight loss journey.
1. Sugary Drinks
When it comes to foods to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight, sugary drinks have to be right at the top of the list. That’s because things like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks contain hundreds of empty calories, and the majority of those calories come from sugar, which is a carbohydrate.
Drinks that are loaded with sugar can impede your ability to lose weight in a number of ways. On top of being mostly void of protein and fat (both of which are important for weight loss), sugary drinks are far less satiating compared to whole nutrient-dense foods, which ultimately means that they’ll do little to quell your hunger when you’re trying to lose weight.
In fact, if you regularly drink soda or energy drinks, you’re likely adding hundreds of extra (and unnecessary) calories into your diet. At the end of the day, simply eliminating these empty-calorie sources can put you in a far better position to create a calorie deficit in your diet.
2. High-Calorie Condiments
On top of sugary drinks, high-calorie condiments are another empty calories sources that can also add hundreds of extra unwanted calories into your daily diet.
Things like barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup, along with several different kinds of salad dressings, can turn an otherwise healthy salad or piece of chicken, for example, into an overloaded, calorie-heavy meal pretty quickly.
If you are looking for something to spice up your food, opt for a low-calorie condiment like hot sauce or apple cider vinegar, which can help to improve the flavor of your dish without adding all the extra unwanted calories.
3. White Pasta, Bread, and Rice
White pasta, bread, and rice are also things to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight. It’s primarily due to the fact that they’re all made from refined flour, which is highly processed.
During processing, important nutrients like protein and fiber ultimately get removed, which can make these kinds of foods less filling compared to their whole-grain counterparts. That’s because research shows that, calorie for calorie, unprocessed foods rich in protein and fiber are not only more satiating, but they keep you feeling fuller for lower.
Therefore, replacing foods made from refined flour with whole-grain alternatives can help to decrease your overall daily calorie intake by improving your feelings of fullness in the minutes and hours after you eat.
4. Processed Meat
Like refined grains, processed meats are also something to avoid when dieting. Foods like hot dogs, bacon, and salami go through extensive processing, where much of the essential nutrients are removed, making them less nutritious and ultimately less satiating when compared to healthy sources of protein like chicken and fish.
On top of being less nutritious, processed meats also generally have higher calorie contents compared to whole, leans meats, which at the end of the day, can add hundreds of unneeded calories into your daily diet. That’s obviously not what you want if you’re trying to shed body fat.
5. French Fries
While they may be delicious, french fries are a high-calorie, low-quality food source that should keep away from when you’re trying to lose weight. It’s mainly due to the frying process itself, where loads of unhealthy fats are soaked up by the potatoes, increasing their calorie content and reducing their nutritional value.
In addition to adding hundreds of unwanted calories to your diet — in the form of trans and saturated fats — french fries are also usually loaded up with things like ketchup and cheese, which can bump up the calorie content even further.
6. Fast Food
Not only should you avoid french fries if you’re looking to shed some pounds, but you should also steer clear of fast food in general. Most fast food is highly processed and loaded with things like trans and saturated fats, along with all kinds of preservatives, which ultimately add up to a high-calorie, low-quality meal.
And on top of that, research shows that highly processed foods like fast food can throw your body’s hunger signaling system out of whack, blocking your body’s production of important hormones that usually help to signal that you’re full — it’s a big part of the reason why it’s not all that difficult to consume an entire day’s worth of calories in a single sitting at most fast food joints.
Alcohol is another big empty-calorie source. It’s more calorically dense than most other nutrients — alcohol contains 7 calories per gram compared to 4 for protein or carbohydrates — and it’s void of any real nutritional value.
On top of not really containing any protein or fiber, many alcoholic drinks are also loaded with sugar, which can push the total calorie content up even further. For example, a single jack and coke can contain around 200 calories, so you can see how that can add up pretty quickly.
And even a less sugary option may not be all that much better; even a light beer usually contains around 100 calories. Of course, this is not to say that you can never drink when you’re dieting, but rather, that it should certainly be done in moderation (a couple of glasses a few times a week).
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8. fruit juice
While the association with fruit may fool you into thinking fruit juice is a healthy choice, the juicing process strips fruits of most of their fiber, which is one of the primary nutrients that makes them satiating.
After juicing, what you’re left with is just a sugary liquid that’s relatively high in calories but does little to fill you up like eating a whole fruit (fiber and all) does. At the end of the day, fruit juice won’t work as a substitute for natural, whole foods; you’ll still feel hungry and you’ll have fewer calories to give away after drinking it.
9. High-Calorie Coffee Drinks
While coffee itself is a low-calorie, weight-loss-friendly drink, it can become something to avoid when you start filling it up with loads of sugar and high-calorie creamer.
With these kinds of additives, a seemingly harmless cup of coffee can becomes no better than a can of soda, loading you up with empty calories that ultimately do nothing but increase your daily calorie intake.
While pizza may be amongst the most popular foods in the world, it should mostly be avoided when you’re dieting, especially when we’re talking about commercially made pizzas, like those available at most restaurants.
On top of being incredibly high in calories — a single slice of pizza can contain over 300 calories — most store-bought pizzas are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like processed meats and vegetables along with refined flour, which we’ve already gone over.
With that being said, if pizza is something that’s going to be tough to live without, the best option is to make your own using healthy ingredients like whole-grain crust along with unprocessed meats and vegetables.
11. Crackers and Chips
These quintessential snack foods should also be kept away from when you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because crackers and chips are both highly processed, which as we’ve already discussed, reduces their nutritional value. They’re often loaded with salt and contain few valuable nutrients besides simple carbohydrates.
All and all, that means they’re going to do little to fill you up, which in turn, isn’t going to do a whole lot when it comes to reducing your calorie intake later on in the day.
12. Dried Fruits
Like with fruit juice, dried fruits also don’t necessarily live up to face value. The main issue is that when they dry, their fructose concentration goes up, which means that they ultimately contain more sugar and more total calories when compared to fresh fruits.
Now that’s not to say that they should be avoided at all costs, but rather that you should eat them in moderation, as overindulging on dried fruits is an easy way to send your total calorie intake skyrocketing past your goal.
13. Ice Cream
While it’s a fan favorite, it’s probably best to skip out on ice cream when you’re trying to lose weight. Most kinds of ice cream are loaded with sugar and contain relatively small amounts of other important nutrients like protein and fiber.
One of the biggest issues is that it’s pretty difficult to only consume a small amount. For instance, even a single cup of plain vanilla ice cream can contain over 250 calories. And if you’re like most of us, you know how difficult it can be to stop after just one serving.
14. Cookies and Cake
On top of ice cream, you’ll also want to avoid most kinds of cookies and cake. That’s because most are made with refined flour and usually contain mass amounts of added sugar. Some may even contain unhealthy trans fats.
And as we’ve already gone over, while they may be loaded with calories, treats like cookies and cake ultimately don’t contain many filling nutrients like protein and fiber, which means that you’re likely to become hungry again pretty quickly after eating them — not a good scenario if you’re trying to limit your calorie intake.
15. Candy Bars
You’ll also want to steer clear of candy bars along your dieting journey. While small amounts of dark chocolate are ok from time to time, what you don’t want to do is load up on all of the empty calories found in most candy bars.
Even a modestly sized candy bar can be well over 300 calories and most of those calories are coming from sugars and unhealthy saturated fats; protein and fiber make up very little of the nutritional composition.