Weight loss is a big problem for a lot of people. With obesity on the rise, more and more Americans are watching what they eat and exercising more. There is a slew of “diet products,” as well as natural foods, on the market that try to pander to our weight loss efforts. I have tried a lot of these foods and have come up with a list of the ones that you should avoid if you want to keep yourself on the wagon.
This may come as a surprise to most people as the commercials we watch say that yogurt is part of a healthy diet. While yogurt does have a lot of “good bacteria” that help promote intestinal health, fat-free yogurt is loaded to the brim with sugar. For instance, one of my favorite yogurts was Yoplait Light Red Velvet Cake. While it has 100 calories per serving and 0g of fat, it also has no fiber and 14g of sugar. That is one whole tablespoon of sugar in this supposedly “good for you” snack.
Pre-packaged Instant Oatmeal
Don’t get me wrong, oatmeal is great addition to a healthy diet… just not the pre-packaged flavored kind. Most dieters and healthy eaters know the benefits of fiber and oatmeal is a great source of the hunger-quelling stuff; however, these pre-packaged oatmeals often contain more sugar than is necessary (most flavors contain around 9g of sugar per packet).
Weight-Loss Shakes and Bars
Most of us know what it’s like to be so busy that we forget to eat or can’t stop to grab a quick bite. This is where meal-replacement bars and shakes come in. These are quick and convenient and (hopefully) satisfy us enough until the next mealtime. However, as with most of the foods I’ve mentioned already, these have tons of sugar in them. 18g per serving is the average for the shakes and 12g per serving for the bars.
Fat-free Salad Dressings
Not only are these salad dressings loaded with all sorts of chemicals, they’re also filled with – you guessed it – sugar! Where there is no fat, there must be no flavor, and because of this, food manufacturers add sugar to make up for it. This is especially true in the “creamier” fat-free dressings (such as ranch).
Alternatives for These Foods
Never fear, there are healthier alternatives to these foods if you absolutely have to have something equivalent to any of these options.
Cottage cheese – add some fresh or frozen fruit to cottage cheese to sweeten it up
Low-fat or full-fat yogurt – plain (add some fresh fruit/vanilla extract) or vanilla
String cheese – string cheese is naturally low in sugar and a good source of calcium
Lower sugar oatmeal – Quaker is offering a lower-sugar variety of their packaged oatmeal
Rolled oats – make your own in the microwave or on the stove; add a splash of milk or a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon for a sweeter breakfast. Fresh fruit and nuts are also great additions to your morning bowl.
Meal-Replacement Bars and Shakes
Protein shake powders – these are great alternatives to meal replacement shakes as they have very low sugar (about 2g per serving) and are easy to make in the morning. Protein also helps repair muscle after a workout; most fitness experts recommend consuming a protein shake within 30 mins of lifting weights.
Protein bars – these bars often are high-calorie but that is because these are meant to be “meal replacements”. These bars also have low sugar but are high protein; protein helps to satisfy hunger longer and therefore can help reduce your cravings. Be sure to avoid the ones that are meant for serious bodybuilders that are looking to gain weight… always read the label!
Fat-free Salad Dressing
Salad dressing packets – making your own dressing is a good way to cut down calories. Using ingredients such as 2% milk or mayonnaise made with canola oil helps to make it healthier but also adds flavor and texture.
Oil and vinegar – the old stand-by. Mix equal parts olive oil with a vinegar of your choice (balsamic, red wine, etc). Stir them together (or shake them in a salad dressing shaker container). Don’t use more than 2 Tbsp.
Hopefully learning more about these foods will help you to make smarter snack choices in the future. Good luck on your weight loss journey!