5 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

Unhealthy foods vs unhealthy ones!

It’s incredibly shocking the way food manufacturers and PR companies advertise their unhealthy foods as “healthy”.

Uncovering even just a bit of the latest research will surface just how profit-driven and careless they are with your health. 

Too often their marketing and their profits come at the expense of your health and wellness. 

So it’s more important than ever and you truly owe it to yourself to take charge of your health by getting to the bottom of the biggest food myths we’ve been told. 

Here are the top 5 of the biggest lies in the food industry, and how you should really eat instead. 

You may have even incorporated some of these seemingly helpful nutrition guidelines into your lifestyle for years, but now we know they aren’t really healthy.

In fact, they could be sabotaging your health if you don’t stop now.

1. Going low-fat or fat-free

Avoid low fat foods

It was long believed that a “diet high in fat” would increase your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, bad cholesterol, and obesity.

So food marketers would promote their products with their labels saying low-fat or fat-free are healthier for you.

Fat was the ultimate food villain in the food industry, so to speak.

And dieters would cut out fats from their diet completely thinking it will help them lose weight and prevent diseases that were believed to be associated with a high-fat diet.

Believing that they’re making healthy food choices.

The problem is that these so-called healthy low-fat or fat-free products aren’t healthy at all.

These so-called healthy reduced fat foods are usually loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other unnatural chemicals that are harmful to your health.

However, we know that fat is harmless and sugar is the problem. In fact, newer research shows that “healthy fats” should part of a healthy diet and even essential and beneficial to your health.

Harvard School of Public Health writes the type of fat you eat is what matters the most when it comes to your health (1).

By that, “Good” unsaturated fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats you find in plant foods like avocado, olive, nuts, seeds, and fish are considered healthy and should be eaten regularly.

Now the “Bad” fats like the trans fats you find in processed foods and partially hydrogenated oil should be avoided at all cost —more reason to avoid processed foods and fast foods!

Findings from a study on dietary fat intake and heart disease in women are also in support of this and reports that a higher intake saturated fat and trans fat shows a higher risk of coronary disease. On contrary, eating more of healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is associated with reduced risk (2).

They conclude that reducing overall fat intake has little effect. But replacing the bad fats with good fats can help protect you from heart disease and weight gain.

Besides, low-fat and fat-free foods aren’t always the healthy choice one should make.

It’s not like they’ll help eat fewer calories.

What you often get instead is more of the very things you want to avoid like sugar, starches, salt, artificial flavors, and refined grains.

They are commonly used to replace dietary fat in low-fat and no-fat products to make up for the lost taste.

Both for weight loss and disease prevention, obviously these are bad news.

While healthy fats can help slow down the digestion, promote satiety, and limit overeating, refined carbs get absorbed very quickly, kicking up insulin and blood sugar levels, which may result in weight gain.

Takeaway: So the key lesson here is to not go completely low fat or no fat. Instead, replace bad fats with good fats in your diet. This means to take in fats from food sources like nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, and beans and cut back on trans fats and eat saturated fat sources like red meat in moderation.

Elimination of one macronutrient in entirely is never a good idea for your health and weight.

2. Steering Clear of Carbs

Healthy low carb foods vs unhealthy ones

This brings out to another macronutrient that’s been demonized —carbohydrates. 

It’s been accused of stagnating weight loss to causing weight gain.

Low-carb diets like Atkins Diet are more popular than ever. 

So, is it true? 

Should we clear out all the carbs from our daily diet? 

No, says MIT researcher Judith Wurtman (3).

Carbohydrates provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as protein and fat. It’s also important to note that carbs are a primary source of energy and necessary for many bodily functions. 

Carbohydrates in whole are not inherently bad.

What matters is quality, and some carb-rich foods are more nutritious and bring more health benefits than others. 

The healthiest carbohydrate choices include unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.

They are rich in important phytonutrients. 

The unhealthy carbohydrate foods are highly processed and refined foods like pastries, bread, soda, and sweets. They are full of fast absorbing carbohydrates that can contribute to weight gain and promote heart disease and diabetes. 

Takeaway: Instead of staying clear of carbs —all carbs, chose your carbohydrates smartly and carefully.

Foods like vegetables, fruits, and beans are no brainer, but grain foods like wild rice and oats (rolled oats) can still be a vital part of a healthy diet and help with weight loss and weight management. 

3. Eating Low-Calorie Frozen Entrees

Healthy low calorie food choices

Convenient, fast, and low-calories – what’s not to love about low-calorie frozen entrees, right? 

Especially, if you are on a calorie-counting low-calorie diet, it may be tempting to eat a frozen meal as little as 200 calories and call it a meal. 

But not consuming enough calories can slow your metabolism and stagnant your weight loss, not to mention it can harm your health. 

Research shows its association with increased level of cortisol and perceived stress.

As for the weight loss effect, up to 64% of dieters under the study rebounded and regained more weight than they lost on the calorie-restricting diet (4). 
Frozen meals also tend to be excessive in their sodium, sugar, and artificial flavoring use.

A meatless Fettuccine Alfredo can contain as many as 13 g of saturated fat and 1,050 mg of sodium, according to Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter (5). 

Takeaway:  If convenience and quickness take importance, do meal prep. Cooking up several cups of quinoa (internal link) and lean meat like chicken and veggies can produce at least 3-4 meals in advance. You can also take advantage of quick foods like oatmeal and healthy smoothies.

Nuts also make a great snack and no prep required.

They take no more than 3 minutes to put together —as fast as some frozen entrees but with health boosts to support your health and weight loss!  

4. Choosing Deli Meat as a Protein Source

Healthy choices deli meat

The rise of protein also means a rise of deli meats like cold cuts, cooked ham, and roast turkey. They are certainly a speedy way to fill the protein void and your hunger. 

But as for your health, they are not so helpful. 

If you make a frequent trip to a deli counter, you may want to check in your cancer risk factor. 

According to American Cancer Society, processed meat including some deli meats has been classified as a carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer in living tissue by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). 

Per their study, daily consumption of processed meat (50g), which is equivalent to 1 hot dog can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 18% (6). 

There is also another reason to cut back on processed deli meats. It’s the overloaded salt.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost half of the sodium consumption comes from commercially prepared foods like cold cuts, cured meats, mixed meat dishes, and a dozen others. 

Cutting back on commercially prepared deli meats can help cut back on your sodium intake and reduce salt related bloating and dehydration. 

Takeaway: Processed meat like deli meat may provide the protein you want in diet, but they are often overloaded with salt and calories. They have also been identified as a carcinogen, which causes cancer.

While they are a convenient choice, you may be risking your health by including deli meats in your daily meal planning. 

5. Avoiding Fruits Because It’s High in Sugar

Healthy choices for fruits

Every time I hear this myth, it makes me cringe because it could not be further from the truth. 

“We don’t’ usually gain weight by eating fruits and vegetables.” says Susan Algert, a clinical research nutritionist at UC San Diego (7). 

She further adds it’s the foods loaded with fat, sugar, and salt that add pounds and advises to replace soda and chips with fruits and vegetables. 
Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s study on dietary changes and its effect on weight loss also confirms this finding. Out of numerous dietary changes they tested for weight loss, increases in fruits and vegetables shows contribution in weight loss and weight maintenance (8). 

Fruits, when eaten in whole, are filling and prevent overeating.

They are full of fiber and nutritional benefits.

They can be a perfect and weight loss friendly alternative to processed sweets like pastries. Without packing in high calories, fruits offer natural sweet flavors that can satisfy any sweet tooth. 

Not taking advantage of fruits in your weight loss means you are missing out on important vitamins, minerals and disease and age-fighting antioxidants. 

Takeaway: Fruits can be a nutrient-rich way to fulfill your hunger and satisfy cravings. And to get as much sugar as a small juice pack, you would most likely have to have more than several servings of fruits.

It’s highly unlikely to overdose on sugar from eating fruits, but more from sweet snacks like cake and candy. 

There you have it

5 healthy food choices that really aren't

5 nutritional myths or “lies”.

The food industry is full of myths they want you to believe, and here are just 5 of them. Their goal and concern are not necessarily for your health but their profits, so so you own it to yourself to read labels and stay away from so-called “healthy foods”.

They are nothing but junk foods in a nice packaging. They’ll do more harms than good to your health. 

Leave us a comment below to let us know your thought.

Misato Alexandre


After making healthy living a priority, Misato lost over 20 lbs in less than 90 days. Instead of weight loss being a dreading experience, living the lifestyle of health and fitness granted her more happiness and joy than ever before. She co-founded Fitwirr to make health and fitness simple for everyone and share her tips through writing evidence-based articles on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.

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