List of Foods Not To Eat When Trying To Lose Weight

You might already know that the best way to sustain weight loss is to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you are eating.

However, there is a list of foods not to eat when trying to lose weight because healthy weight loss goes beyond eating fewer calories than you burn.

list of foods not to eat when trying to lose weightYour diet must be healthy and include foods that promote weight loss.

One may argue that you can eat just about anything and still lose weight as long as you are counting calories and eat fewer calories than you burn. And this is true.

But, the quality of nutrients matters for overall health. Your body needs nutrient-rich foods to function properly otherwise, you would be prone to chronic diseases such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

It is important to gain a better understanding of what food to avoid to lose weight very quickly because not only will eating unhealthy foods make it hard for you to keep the weight off in the long run, but it can also wreak havoc on your health.

According to a review published in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, titled The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food, over 100 million Americans are obese because of the foods they eat.

The article further establishes that eating junk food increases the risk of early life stroke by as much as seven times, and also found a link between eating fast food, processed food, commercial baked goods, and sweets and brain cell damage [1].

food to avoid to lose weight very quickly
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List of foods not to eat when trying to lose weight

Best foods for weight loss

1. Breakfast cereals

Mornings can be insanely busy, and breakfast cereal usually seems like a better and quicker alternative to preparing a healthy breakfast from scratch.

Although cereals may be convenient and seem like a healthy way to start your day, they can get in the way of your weight loss goals.

Breakfast cereals are often very high in sugar and consuming such a high quantity of sugar in the morning can spike insulin levels in the body, leading to fat storage.

Also, a sugar high in the morning can lead to hunger pangs by midday, causing you to snack more and consume unnecessary calories.

I stopped eating breakfast cereal the day I realized how unrealistically small the serving size (read 120 calories) on the boxes is.

Before I started counting calories, I would assume that I was eating about 150 calories in the morning because that was what my cereal box said.

Breakfast cereals are some of the Foods to avoid when losing belly fat

However, an average adult eating a bowl of cereal is likely to eat about 2 to 3 servings, which means more empty calories.

Calories aside, many breakfast cereals are made from processed grains, effectively stripping them of essential nutrients.

This puts them right up there alongside white bread, pastries, and other refined carbs foods known to cause health issues, including obesity.

But Susan, most breakfast cereals are fortified with artificial vitamins and minerals, you say.

Oh well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the body does not absorb these synthetic nutrients as well as those from unprocessed foods.

Do not be misled by the ‘fortified with vitamin B12, or good source of calcium, vitamin D’ claims on the cereal box.

Healthy alternatives to breakfast cereals

List of foods to eat when trying to lose weight

Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a fiber-rich breakfast option that can be topped with a variety of fruits and nuts.

Overnight oats– You can make overnight oats (use steel-cut oats) by soaking oats in milk/yogurt overnight, and top with fruits and nuts when ready to serve.

Egg and vegetable scramble – Eggs and veggies provide a good balance of protein and vitamins. You can mix it up with kale, spinach, tomatoes, and peppers.

Greek yogurt with fresh fruit – Greek yogurt is high in protein and a great source of probiotics.

Chia seed pudding – High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seed pudding is a delicious and healthy breakfast option.

Smoothie bowls – You can blend your favorite fruits with protein powders or yogurt and top with nuts, seeds, or granola.

Whole grain toast with avocado – Avocados are packed with healthy fats, and whole grains are an excellent source of fiber.

2. Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks such as sports, fruit, soda, and energy drinks are high in empty calories and should be avoided whether you are trying to lose weight or not.

food to Stop eating to lose weight

A 12-ounce can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar, which is roughly about 9 teaspoons of sugar!

If you typically wash down your meals with soda, you are probably consuming at the very minimum, 20 teaspoons of sugar per day. This number excludes the added sugar from other foods that you might be eating!

Pause. Take a moment and think about how much sugar there is and how it could harm your health.

Numerous research studies have found a direct link between high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain and an increased risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease [2].

A recently published scientific review shows just how sugary drinks contribute to weight gain. For starters, sweetened drinks add extra calories to your diet in liquid form, which usually has no nutritional value.

Another point to be taken into account is that sugary drinks can cause your body to absorb too much sugar too fast, leading to too much insulin.

Sweet drinks can also trigger the reward system in your brain and cause you to crave more sugar.

Healthy alternatives to sugary drinks

Water –Water is free from sugar, calories, or additives, drink as much as you can.

Infused Water – You can infuse your water with fruits, herbs, or vegetables for natural flavor without the sugar.

Sparkling water – If you need some fizz in your drink, sparkling water is a healthy alternative.

Green tea– Among other health benefits, green tea promotes weight loss. Avoid adding sweeteners to your green tea.

Herbal teas – You can enjoy herbal teas such as ginger, lavender, mint, and chamomile with no extra sugar.

Kombucha – This fermented drink has sugar but less than your typical sugary beverages.

Healthy alternatives to sugary drinks when trying to lose weight

3. Processed meats

Despite being incredibly convenient and cheaper than unprocessed foods, processed meats are on top of the list of foods not to eat when trying to lose weight or if you want to avoid chronic diseases.

Processed meats such as corned beef, biltong, jerky, bacon, salami, ham, and hotdogs are classified as cancer-causing foods by the World Health Organization [3].

These processed meats are in the same cancer-causing category as asbestos and tobacco smoking. According to WHO, there is strong evidence from epidemiological studies that links processed meats to colon cancer [4].

High calorie foods to avoid for weight loss

A study exploring the effects of consuming ultra-processed food on weight found that eating highly processed meats leads to weight gain [5].

Research conducted by the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases compared changes in body weight and calorie intake of 20 healthy adults, comprising 10 men and 10 women.

Participants followed either an ultra-processed or a minimally processed diet for two weeks.

Results showed that participants consumed approximately 500 extra calories daily while on the ultra-processed diet compared to when they were on the minimally processed diet.

While those on a minimally processed diet lost an average of 2 pounds, participants on processed foods gained 2 pounds.

Healthy alternatives to processed meats

Eggs – Rich in protein and nutrients, eggs are a great substitute for breakfast processed meats like bacon and sausage.

Legumes – chickpeas, peas, beans, and lentils are high in protein and fiber and can be used in many dishes as a meat substitute.

Fresh, lean meats – Instead of processed meats, opt for fresh cuts of chicken, turkey, or lean cuts of red meat.

Tofu and tempeh – Tofu and tempeh are great substitutes for processed meats, especially if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet and looking for high-protein alternatives.

Fish – Fish such as sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients.

Quinoa – Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.

Foods You Need To Eat If You're Trying to Lose Weight

4. Deep-fried foods

Deep-fried foods are high in calories. Regularly eating large amounts of deep-fried foods such as fries, fried chicken, churros, donuts, onion rings, spring rolls, fritters, and samosas can increase the chances of weight gain.

During the frying process, the foods absorb lots of the oil they are cooked in. This increases the calorie and fat content.

Weight gain becomes more likely when you consistently consume these high-fat and calorie foods.

Strong evidence suggests that when you consume fried food four or more times a week, the risks of developing diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease are higher [6].

Air frying is one of the newer and healthier ways to enjoy foods such as donuts, chicken, and even French fries.

Airfrying is one of the newer and healthier ways to enjoy foods

5. White bread

One food that is always on top of the list of foods not to eat when trying to lose weight is white bread. White bread has no significant nutritional value as it is typically made from refined grains (simple carbs).

While simple carbs can provide a quick burst of energy, they can also lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels [7].

Fiber and bran are removed during the milling process, therefore, white bread cannot keep you feeling full for extended periods.

When you consume white bread, it is quickly digested, and you will get hungry quickly. This then leads to overeating and weight gain.

Why you should avoid white bread for weight loss

Another reason white bread should be avoided when trying to lose weight is that it has a high glycemic index (GI). Foods with a high GI can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar.

The sudden rise of blood glucose can harm your body’s insulin regulation process, putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes.

This spike is also followed by a sharp drop, leading to sudden energy crashes, igniting cravings for more sugary or high-carbohydrate foods.

Healthy alternatives to white bread

It is important to note that not all bread is created equal. While white bread may lack nutritional value, not all types of bread are bad for you.

Healthier alternatives to white bread include whole-grain or multi-grain bread as these options are rich in fiber.

Whole-grain or multi-grain bread provides more long-lasting energy and will satisfy your bread craving while adding nutritional value.

6. Alcohol

Just as there are lots of reasons why so many people find drinking alcohol appealing, there are also many reasons to avoid alcohol when on a weight loss journey.

The phrase ‘everything in moderation’ is always thrown around when you are trying to lose weight, and sometimes, this is true.

drinks to avoid during weight loss

But, in the case of alcohol, there is no safe amount that does not affect your health [8]. This is according to Dr. Carina Ferreira-Borges from WHO, who states that the health risks associated with the consumption of alcohol begin with the very first sip of an alcoholic beverage. Therefore, there is no safe level of safe level of alcohol consumption.

A major reason to skip alcohol when trying to lose weight fast and safely is that alcohol is high in calories.

Unlike proteins and carbs that contain four calories per gram, alcohol contains seven empty calories per gram, which are two calories shy of the calorie content of fat.

While these numbers seem quite low on their own, they add up pretty fast in a real-life situation. Case in point, an 8-ounce glass of red wine (250mls) contains just under 200 calories.

Now, let’s say you have two glasses of wine with your dinner. This number adds up to a whopping 400 calories from your wine alone, while your meal might come in with its own 400 calories.

It is easy to say that regular drinking sessions can quickly result in weight gain.

Final thoughts on the list of foods not to eat when trying to lose weight

Always pay attention to the foods you eat when trying to lose weight. While an occasional indulgence is perfectly fine, certain foods should be eliminated if you want to lose weight safely. Sugary drinks, fried foods, processed meat, alcohol, and white bread can greatly affect your weight loss efforts.

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[1] Fuhrman J. (2018). The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 12(5), 375–381.

 [2] Malik, V. S., & Hu, F. B. (2022). The role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the global epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 18(4), 205–218.

[3] Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat (no date) World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 2 October 2023).

[4] Santarelli, R. L., Pierre, F., & Corpet, D. E. (2008). Processed meat and colorectal cancer: a review of epidemiologic and experimental evidence. Nutrition and cancer, 60(2), 131–144.

[5] Eating highly processed foods linked to weight gain (2019) National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: (Accessed: 2 October 2023).

[6] Gadiraju, T. V., Patel, Y., Gaziano, J. M., & Djoussé, L. (2015). Fried Food Consumption and Cardiovascular Health: A Review of Current Evidence. Nutrients, 7(10), 8424–8430.

[7] Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar (2016) The Nutrition Source. Available at: (Accessed: 4 October 2023).

[8] No level of alcohol consumption is safe for our health (no date) World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2023).


You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain, or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately. This website offers health, fitness, and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The use or reliance of any information contained on the site is solely at your own risk.

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