The fastest and simplest way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you take in.
But that’s not to say all calories are created equal.
Because they’re not.
Some foods contain empty calories, while others contain nutrient-dense calories.
Nutrient-dense foods will nourish your body with vitamins and minerals.
And that essential nutrients keep you full and satisfied.
All while foods with empty calories add nothing to your nutritional intake but pile up your caloric intake.
So knowing which foods to eat and avoid when trying to lose weight is key to reaching your weight loss goal.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to ditch unhealthy ingredients and unhealthy foods from your diet.
And replacing those empty calories, with nutrient-dense calories instead.
Doing that will make reaching your goal weight much easier. You’ll also naturally feel fuller and more satisfied after each meal.
Try to focus on the type of foods that are rich in nutrients to help aid in weight loss.
A tip is to incorporate fiber and protein-rich food sources to help increase metabolism and keep you more satisfied.
To top it off, it’ll also keep your blood sugar stabilized.
In this article, we will discuss 13 different types of foods to avoid for weight loss.
Foods You Shouldn’t Eat When Trying to Lose Weight
These unhealthy ingredients/foods have been linked to increased belly fat, weight gain, and obesity leading to insulin resistance.
Removing or reducing these foods from your diet will help you reach your weight loss goals and keep your weight off for a long time.
1. Potato Chips
Potato chips are considered empty calories because they have no significant nutritional value.
Potato chips are known to have high amounts of calories, fat, carbs, and sodium per serving.
Be aware of flavored or seasoned potato chips. You could see an increase in the number of calories, fat, carbs, and sodium per serving.
In addition, you may find more preservatives and artificial ingredients which can be unhealthy ingredients.
If consumed in large quantities on a regular schedule it could cause weight gain and increase your belly fat or waistline.
Some healthier alternatives can include low sodium chips, unsalted sunflower seeds, air-popped popcorn, or a handful of unsalted nuts, such as almonds.
If you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen, you can make homemade potato chips using an air fryer to lessen the use of oil.
As an alternative, you can bake wedged potatoes in the oven sprinkling olive oil (healthy fats) and herbs such as rosemary to add flavoring for a healthier non-processed side or snack.
2. Fruit Juice/ Sugary Drinks
Knowing the difference between added and naturally occurring sugar is important because it will help you make the most appropriate decision on how much to consume of each product.
When you compare fruit juice to fresh fruit the difference is fruit juice has added sugar content (unhealthy ingredient).
On contrary, the fresh fruit has a naturally occurring sugar content.
An easy way to think of this as nothing is being added or injected into an apple to create the refreshing sweetness.
It is simply naturally occurring.
With the new manufacturing labeling laws, companies are now starting to state added sugar content, as this helps the consumer know how many sugars are considered added without having to dive into the ingredient list.
The disadvantages of consuming too much sugar (unhealthy ingredient) through your food or sugary drinks can cause potentially poor nutrition, weight gain, increased triglycerides, and tooth decay.
When you fill yourself with high sugar content foods, you tend to miss out on the more nutritious meals with lots of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) because you are full of snacks and drinks with too much sugar content and calories.
Weight gain can happen due to numerous factors; however, an increased amount of added sugar has been found to increase the number of calories consumed.
Research has found when eating an excessive amount of added sugar content, can increase your triglyceride levels which may increase your risk of heart disease.
Make sure to practice good oral hygiene, because the more sugar content you consume it promotes bacteria to multiply and grow.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women.
As an example, a Pepsi (12 ounces) contains around 41 grams of sugar.
One sugary drink like this takes you over the daily recommended grams.
Studies have shown there is no nutritional need or benefit to eating or drinking added sugar.
Let’s go through a handful of healthier alternatives for your beverages to reduce the amount of added sugar and unhealthy ingredients in sugary drinks.
If you find you really enjoy fruit juice but know you don’t want all the calories or added sugar content with it, a creative way to still get the flavor is to fill up an ice tray with your favorite 100% fruit juice and add a few cubes to your water.
Another way is to add a splash of the juice to your water for some flavoring.
The beverage market is exploding right now with many options of carbonated/sparkling and non-carbonated water options, these have flavors with no added sugar.
They are using sweeteners to flavor the beverages.
If you enjoy iced tea, you can opt for unsweetened or if you want to have sweetness, try cutting the added sugar content down by 1/2 or even 3/4 of the original recipe.
In addition, if you would like to have a sweet, iced tea, but don’t want any added sugar content, you can sweeten it with artificial sweeteners, such as stevia.
If you are looking for something more filling, you can incorporate solid food such as fresh fruit or even create fresh fruit smoothies which will fill you up and conquer your sweet cravings.
Fruits are considered nutritious foods.
As an example blueberries are filled with nutrients, such as antioxidants, and may help your metabolism.
3. Diet Soda
Diet soda or diet pop can be an alternative to regular to reduce the amount of added sugar and calorie content.
However, when choosing a drink such as soda or pop whether diet or regular it may cause you to choose unhealthy food options based on the association.
Some may find they have adverse effects when having artificial sweeteners such as a headache, however, more research is needed on the long-term effects of incorporating artificial sweeteners.
Hydration is a very important part of weight management and feeling good.
As mentioned before, there are many carbonated and non-carbonated zero sugar-flavored water options if you want to spice up your water intake.
4. Alcoholic Drinks
Be careful with certain alcoholic drinks because not only could the type of alcohol have added sugar content, but the addition of syrups and other ingredients can increase the overall sugar content.
Alcoholic drinks provide a source of calories that may cause weight gain depending on the amount and frequency.
If you want to incorporate a healthier mixed drink, try incorporating a mixer lower in calories and added sugar, and put in fresh fruits or fresh ingredients.
Always drink slowly to savor the flavor and reduce the amount of calories consumed.
It can be helpful to drink water in addition, to stay hydrated and allow fullness.
5. French Fries
French fries are considered a high-calorie food with high amounts of fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.
If consumed in large quantities on a regular schedule it could cause weight gain and increase your belly fat or waistline.
In addition, due to the fat and sodium content, it could increase your risk for heart disease.
The typical meal consumed with French fries is a hamburger or cheeseburger with a soda or pop.
Based on this association when having French fries, may cause you to choose unhealthy food options.
Eating out can be a challenge but preparing and looking at the menu ahead of time can be helpful, if you want to have a healthier alternative for French fries you could have the staff swap the fries for fruit or steamed vegetables.
This will ultimately reduce the amount of fat and sodium consumed.
If at home, try making your own French fries using an air fryer to reduce the amount of vegetable oil.
To reduce the sodium, add herb seasonings instead of salt for flavoring.
The American Heart Association has resources for herb and spice blends ideas on what to incorporate instead of salt, make sure to check them out!
6. Ice Cream
For some, dessert is their favorite because it allows them to answer their cravings by having a salty, savoy, or crunchy treat.
Keep in mind, dessert is important to have in moderation, because if consumed in large and frequent quantities it can increase your belly fat or waistline and cause weight gain.
There can be health benefits to incorporating ice cream in moderation.
Let me explain, if you tell yourself, you are not allowed to have vanilla ice cream (foods to avoid losing weight), you tend to only think about the vanilla ice cream and you may overeat in other parts of your day because you haven’t satisfied your craving.
When you create the allowance, it tends not to be as much of craving and simply a choice to incorporate or not.
As a result, having an allowance of ice cream creates moderation for the day’s meals and snacks.
Be sure to look at the nutrition label and ingredient list to make the most informed decision.
If you find you don’t want to incorporate certain unhealthy ingredients in the ice cream, try opting for a sorbet which is a non-dairy frozen fruit dessert.
If you are not able to incorporate dairy products due to food allergies, there are many non-dairy options available, such as using coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk as the base ingredient.
You can also make your own fruit popsicles if you want a sweet and healthy treat with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
7. Candy Bar
Candy bars are notorious for having unhealthy ingredients, high carbohydrates, and high fat per serving. Some bars can have high sodium content as well.
Moderation is key when consuming candy bars because when you consume in large and frequent quantities it can increase your belly fat or waistline and cause weight gain.
You may find when looking at the ingredient list you will see preservatives to ensure longer shelf life.
With higher levels of carbohydrates per serving due to the added sugar content, it is important to reduce the amount of candy bars per day to keep your blood sugar in check.
When we incorporate high levels of added sugar, our blood sugar levels go up and then drop, which may cause us to feel a sudden burst of energy and then feel lethargic.
This can be really challenging to sustain if we are continuously incorporating these unhealthy ingredients.
To help control our blood sugar better so it doesn’t spike and drop it is ideal to incorporate a fiber or protein source.
As an example, when eating a banana pair it with peanut butter.
Healthy alternatives to a candy bar could be a fruit bar, fruit and nut granola bar, protein bar, or if you are craving chocolate, having one ounce of dark chocolate (70% or more of cocoa).
There is a wide variety, but one thing they all have in common is the increased levels of fat, carbohydrates, and added sugar content.
As mentioned before when incorporating these unhealthy ingredients, it is important to strive for moderation to reduce the amount of weight gain and changes with your waistline.
To lessen the amount of unhealthy ingredients you can simply cut the portion in half when enjoying your favorite to satisfy the cravings.
A healthy alternative to the traditional apple crisp or tart can be heating up sliced apples on the stove and sprinkling cinnamon to have hot cinnamon apples without the wheat flour and unhealthy ingredients.
You can also enjoy berries with low-fat whipped cream as a topping.
If you enjoy baking, try opting for wheat flour vs. white flour to gain fiber content, and in addition, if you want to reduce the amount of added sugar, try incorporating less sugar or using artificial sweeteners to lessen the unhealthy ingredients.
9. Flavored Yogurt
Be careful with the tempting fruit flavors in this dairy product, most do not contain the actual fruit.
Added sugar can be hidden in the ingredients by using words such as anhydrous dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, and molasses.
Plus, many more.
It is important to remember the ingredient list for all manufactured items are written most used to least used.
Specifically, the unhealthy ingredients should be towards the bottom of the list not towards the top, ensuring you are not getting as much per serving.
If you want to reduce the amount of added sugar, you can choose Greek yogurt.
It’s far healthier than yogurt flavor that uses artificial sweeteners.
What are some major differences between Greek Yogurt and regular? Greek yogurt has double the protein, sodium and carbohydrates reduce by half and reduced lactose.
There are many ways you can enjoy yogurt, such as adding nuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, vanilla, and or fruit to plain yogurt as opposed to unhealthy ingredients.
You can also create a yogurt parfait, adding layers of yogurt, whole-grain cereal or granola, and fruit.
You can have it for breakfast or anytime during the day.
Make smoothies or dip your favorite fruits and veggies in them. Be creative!
As far as purchasing this dairy product, here are some key things to keep in mind, the calories should be equal or less than 100, aim for 5 grams or more of protein, calcium target should be 15% daily value or more, and when it comes to the sugar try to find one that has 10 grams or less.
10. White Rice
Choosing brown rice over white rice is a healthier option due to the fiber content.
Fiber is important to have in your diet because it can help lower cholesterol.
Lower your risk of heart disease, help improve blood sugars, promote healthy bowel function, and even can promote weight management or weight loss.
Be aware there are two different types of fiber and they each have a role.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to a gel substance during digestion while insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve with water.
Soluble fiber is important to help reduce/lower cholesterol and insoluble fiber is important in keeping your digestive system healthy by allowing regular bowel movements.
Some food examples of soluble fiber are beans, seeds (such as flax seeds), apples, nuts, and insoluble fiber are whole grains (such as brown rice), grapes, and dark leafy vegetables.
11. Fast Foods
Nothing for dinner and you were busy all day, so you go to a fast-food restaurant, not an issue right? Well maybe.
It depends on how often this occurs and what you are ordering.
In an ideal situation, we would be making home-cooked meals every night, however, that doesn’t always happen, and it is ok to incorporate fast food options occasionally.
We don’t want to make a daily habit of it due to the higher levels of fat, carbohydrates, sodium, unhealthy ingredients, and lack of nutrient-dense value.
When we have weight gain specifically occurring in the midsection, the belly fat is associated with higher chronic disease risk and insulin resistance.
Fast food restaurants have been revamping their menus to be more accommodating for those with food allergies or celiac disease (gluten-free), such as gluten-free buns and having healthier options so everyone can enjoy something.
They have added salads, sliced apples, lettuce wrapped hamburgers, whole grain bread options, grilled chicken, and more.
If you have the opportunity to glance over the menu prior to ordering it can help ensure you eliminate unhealthy ingredients and order the healthier options to allow you to feel the best.
Another type of fast food can be pre-packaged foods and convenience foods at supermarkets or gas stations.
These can have unhealthy ingredients and elevated amounts of trans fats and sodium.
Trans fats are mainly used to help extend shelf life, however, the FDA is removing artificial trans fats as it is an unhealthy ingredient and it is advised to avoid trans fats because they don’t have nutritional benefits.
Trans fats can alter your lipid panel, by increasing your bad and lowering your good cholesterol levels.
A word to look for when searching in the ingredients list for trans fats is partially hydronated oils.
12. Processed Meats/Hot Dogs
Processed meats, such as sausage, hot dogs, salami, and bacon have an increased amount of saturated fat, hormones, sodium, and sodium nitrite, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
As a review, unsaturated fats are considered healthy fats.
Sodium nitrite is used as a preservative.
Try opting for healthier meat options, such as turkey sausage to reduce the amount of saturated fat and sodium content.
Reducing overall red meat consumption can lower your heart disease risk. Non-meat healthier protein options can be beans, lentils, or even tofu.
Choose lean meats and focus on portion size, as an example a deck of cards or the palm of your hand is a general guideline for serving size.
When cooking meats try baking, broiling, or grilling.
During the cooking preparation focus on incorporating healthy fats such as drizzling the chicken with olive oil instead of vegetable oil and not adding bread crumbs to the meat.
Chocolate can be full of added sugar content depending on the kind of chocolate.
For example, milk chocolate will have a lot of sugar compared to dark chocolate.
As we discussed earlier sugar is an unhealthy ingredient and doesn’t have nutritional value. Ultimately dark chocolate can be a healthier alternative.
Some studies have shown dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or more, can help lower blood pressure because of the flavanols in the dark chocolate which make blood vessels more elastic.
Keep in mind more doesn’t always mean better, the serving size for dark chocolate is one ounce.
In addition, caffeine is another ingredient chocolate contains in small amounts and you will find the amount of caffeine is slightly higher in dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate.
According to the world health organization, the state of health is defined by complete physical, mental, and social well being not the absence of disease.
Losing weight and maintaining your weight goal takes a lot of time and attention.
Not only is it important to help lower your chronic disease risk, but it allows you to feel your best.
When trying to lose weight or reduce obesity risk there are unhealthy foods and unhealthy ingredients that should be reduced or avoided, as mentioned above, to help assist with optimal health.
However, it is important to understand many individuals who have maintained their weight loss goals have not done it by all or nothing diets, but rather created a nice balance using moderation of healthy and unhealthy food.
Once again, to achieve long-term weight loss and weight control it is important to focus on your nutrition (nutritious foods), your activity level (fat-burning cardio and strength training), as well as your water intake, and daily sleep.