There are few things more frustrating than going on a strict diet, trying your very best to lose weight or to improve your cholesterol or sugar levels, only to fail miserably – and all because of common misinformation. There are many foods out there that people think are healthy (or at least acceptable), but in reality are loaded with many calories, unhealthy fats, and sugar. Below, in no particular order, are 8 “healthy” foods that are high in calories.
What can be healthier than rolled oats or puffed rice?
If you look at the nutritional labeling on most granola products, you’ll see that they’re high in calories, sugar, and fat. Often, the serving size will be quite small to deceive the consumer (make note of the serving size, figure out the actual portion size someone would typically eat, and add up the calories). Many brands also contain unhealthy high fructose corn syrup and cheap vegetable oils.
2) Sweetened yogurt
Yogurt is usually thought of as healthy. Add the image of a fresh-looking strawberry or blueberry to the packaging, and what better food can you snack on?
Unfortunately, many fruit-flavored yogurts (or those with other flavors such as chocolate or vanilla) contain as much sugar as soda. A better choice would be plain yogurt with cut up pieces of fresh fruit.
I’ve had several patients, including people who are diabetic, tell me that they drink juice a lot, or that they substitute orange or apple juice for soda or iced tea. After all, juice can be “all-natural” with “no sugar added.”
Unfortunately, even 100% juice is jam-packed with sugar. Although there’s no sugar added to it, one cup of fruit juice contains the sugar content of a few pieces of fruit (which is often as much sugar as soda), without any of the fiber that the whole fruit has which helps slow down the absorption of the sugar. Stick to water or seltzer with a squeeze of lemon or lime for flavor.
4) Energy bars
Energy bars also give off the image of health; you picture some muscular athlete at the gym chomping on his power bar after bench pressing 500 pounds.
Energy bars may have their place with professional athletes who are training for hours every day. However, for the vast majority of people, one energy bar can contain more calories than what you just burned off at the gym.
5) Sports drinks
Another scam. They’re basically water, sugar, and a bit of salt for “electrolyte” replacement. Some will contain a few vitamins for “energy.” Again, these may have some merit if you’re running the New York City marathon; but for most of us, energy drinks basically equal sugar. Keeping a bottle of water, and eating a healthy snack after your workout will accomplish the same with fewer calories and more nutrients.
6) Healthy-sounding restaurant meals
Every year, there are countless stories published online about healthy-sounding restaurant entrees such as salads that contain an enormous amount of calories. While it’s true that lettuce and other vegetables are quite low in calories, when you factor in the dressing, croutons, cheese, or any of the other high-cal toppings, some salads contain more calories than a large burger. The best thing to do is get dressing on the side and to stick to vegetables only.
7) Low fat foods
These include baked goods, prepackaged meals, ice cream/frozen yogurts, and other processed foods. Although they have less fat, they tend to contain more sugar. Furthermore, since fat provides some satiety, many people tend to overindulge out of hunger and/or the mistaken notion that something with less fat is the equivalent of celery or cucumbers in terms of its effect on the body.
In the age of low-carb diets, many people do avoid pasta when dieting. Pastas aren’t worse than any other grain-based product. The problem is that they’re extremely calorically dense. The serving size on most packages says ½ cup of uncooked pasta. Most of the time, people eating pasta consume much more than this amount. Factor in cheese, creamy sauces, or sugary tomato sauce, and you can easily pack away over 1,000 calories in a few minutes.
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