Weight loss is a goal for many people, and what you eat plays a big role in your weight loss journey. The famous phrase, “we are what we eat,” rings true when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. Therefore, it is important to know what foods to avoid for weight loss.
Just as many healthy and nutritious foods should be included in your weight loss diet plan, there are also foods you must stay away from if you are trying to lose weight the healthy way.
Foods to avoid when losing belly fat
You should avoid refined carbs, sugary drinks, alcohol, fast food meals, artificial sweeteners, low-fat dairy foods, processed snacks sweets, fried foods, and ultra-processed foods as they often lead to weight gain and obesity.
What should I eat to burn fat?
Consuming fewer calories than you burn through exercise and daily activities will help you burn fat fast.
While cutting out certain foods can help you achieve caloric deficit and lose weight, the fastest way to burn fat and lose weight is to eat healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains and drink lots of water.
Check this post for a list of 32 foods that have been scientifically proven to burn help you burn fat
10 Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss
1. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbs are also known as bad or simple carbohydrates. They are stripped of their nutritional value and often loaded with hidden sugars. Refined carbs include foods such as white bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, rolls, white rice, and white flour.
These types of carbs are one of the many foods to avoid for weight loss because even though they are high in carbs and calories, they provide very little nutritional value.
Refined carbs have a high glycemic index, meaning they cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash quickly.
What follows next when this happens is an increase in hunger and cravings, and eventually, feelings of tiredness and low energy often referred to as a crash.
In 2010, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published an article to establish whether refined carbohydrates were worse than saturated fat. Several studies cited in the article pointed out that diets high in either saturated fats or refined carbohydrates were harmful.
It was found that diets often led to a group of common but often preventable conditions such as diabetes, stroke, diabetes, and heart attack (cardiometabolic disorders) (Hu, 2010).
The article further revealed that refined carbs caused even greater damage to metabolism than saturated fat.
Eating too many refined carbs will make it harder for you to stick to your weight loss goal, as you will always be storing excess calories in form of fat.
Ultimately, you will gain weight due to refined carb’s effects on your blood sugar and insulin levels.
You should replace the foods that fall under the simple carbs category with complex carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa. Complex carbs have a low glycaemic index, are digested slower, and will keep you feeling full longer.
2. Sugary drinks
Sugary drinks are one of the major causes of weight gain and health problems. These drinks contain insane amounts of added sugars, lots of calories, and very little nutritional value.
Sugar-sweetened beverages can cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels spike, your body releases insulin to help reduce the sugar levels. This causes your body to store energy as fat instead of burning it for fuel.
Previous research has shown that people who consume sugary drinks have a higher risk of becoming overweight, and developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation found that people who often consumed sugary drinks, especially in America and Europe, had a 30% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Wang, 2015).
Examples of unhealthy sugary drinks include soda, sports drinks, sweetened iced teas, energy drinks, and fruit drinks.
Sodas, energy drinks, and even sports drinks are often loaded with sugar. To put things into perspective, a 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar.
On the other hand, sports drinks usually contain between 15-20 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving, while energy drinks can contain up to 30 grams of sugar!
The British Heart Foundation lists in this article 13 soft drinks ranked from best to worst.
Sometimes even fruit drinks that may seem healthy may not be as healthy if they are often loaded with added sugar. Reducing the intake of added sugar and replacing sugary drinks with water or unsweetened tea or coffee will help you lose faster.
3. Highly Processed foods
Have you ever wondered why people always say that bacon is bad for you? Well, here is what you must know about bacon and other processed foods such as sausages, hot dogs, processed cheeses, canned vegetables, and frozen or ready meals:
Processed foods significantly contribute to weight gain and poor health because they are high in calories, fat, sodium, sugar, artificial ingredients, and preservatives.
How to cut down on processed foods
- Processed foods include frozen entrees and frozen dinners. To cut down on processed foods, try to cook meals at home using whole, unprocessed ingredients whenever possible.
- You should also read food labels carefully, and avoid anything with added sugars, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.
- Instead of white or processed grain options, focus on whole foods like beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
- Limit convenience foods such as frozen dinners, canned soups, and pre-packaged snacks.
- Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals instead of processed sauces and condiments.
- Look for unprocessed versions of your favorite snacks, such as unsalted nuts, plain popcorn, and plain yogurt.
- Make small changes, such as swapping out processed snacks for healthier options like homemade trail mix or air-popped popcorn.
- Shop where unprocessed foods are usually found.
4. Processed snacks
We’ve all been there – you’re bored, so you grab a bag of chips or a candy bar and start munching away without even thinking about it.
Yes, snacking is a great way to satisfy a craving for something salty or sweet. However, snacking can massively affect your weight loss efforts, especially if the snacks are ultra-processed.
Processed snacks are usually full of empty calories that have little to no nutritional value. Not only that, but they also tend to be extremely high in sugar, fat, and sodium, all of which can add up and lead to weight gain.
When you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, the best option is to avoid processed snacks by not having even a single one in your house.
Eating snacks while dieting is totally acceptable as long as you include them in your diet plan. For example, your meal plan looks like this: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. As you may already know, the secret to successful weight loss is healthy eating and planning your meals in advance.
Potato and corn chips, chocolate, cookies, candies, donuts, rice cakes, pretzels, and cereal bars are just a few of the processed foods to avoid for weight loss.
There are plenty of tasty snacks out there that are much better for you, such as seeds, fruits, nuts, and even air-popped popcorn. These snacks can be just as satisfying and help keep you full until your next meal.
You might like:
10 healthy sweet snacks for weight loss
You have probably heard that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away. But according to science, there is weak evidence proving that drinking red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The editor of the Harvard Health blog reported that research carried out at the time had failed to prove that drinking red wine could help you avoid heart problems. It was reported that the studies had failed to prove cause and effect.
On the other hand, studies have shown that drinking alcohol excessively can make it hard for you to lose weight.
Alcohol is high in calories and can slow down metabolism, and also affect how your body stores carbs and fat- all of which may lead to weight gain.
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation because it also affects the quality of sleep. Poor sleeping patterns may ultimately deter your weight loss efforts. This is because when you do not get enough sleep, the levels of ghrelin, the hormone hunger hormone, rises and leads to increased hunger and cravings.
Non-alcoholic beverages such as water, herbal teas, or low-calorie juices and smoothies are better options. These drinks are much lower in calories and can keep you hydrated and energized when trying to shed pounds.
This post may include affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here
6. Fried foods
Fried foods are one of the most popular and delicious treats, but unfortunately, they rank high on the list of foods to avoid for weight loss and heart health.
Fried foods absorb a lot of trans fat as they are usually cooked in oil at high temperatures. In the end, fried foods like chicken or fish, which may additionally be coated in bread crumbs and butter, will tend to have more calories than say, grilled, baked, or boiled chicken or fish.
Some of the fried foods which you must avoid include onion rings, French fries, donuts, chicken nuggets, and churros, which are high in calories and unhealthy fats.
If you still want to indulge in fried foods, consider airfrying, as most of the foods can now be cooked in an airfryer.
Fast food meals are often marketed as convenient, tasty, and affordable options for those on the go, but are really not helpful when you are trying to reach your weight loss goals.
Most fast food meals are usually loaded with unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar and are high in calories.
For example, a McDonald’s Big Mac contains 540 calories and 28 grams of fat. A large order of fries adds another 540 calories and 28 grams of fat. This meal alone can easily push someone over their daily caloric needs.
Also, many fast food restaurants use trans fats to add flavor and extend shelf life. Trans fats are linked to various health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Examples of Fast Food Meals
- McDonald’s Big Mac -Burger King Whopper
- Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme
- KFC Chicken Tenders
- Subway Footlong -Wendy’s Baconator
- Domino’s Pizza
- Panda Express Orange Chicken
- Jack in the Box Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger
8. Breakfast cereals
At the time, it might seem like you are saving time by pouring cereal and milk into a breakfast bowl, instead of cooking a healthy breakfast from scratch, but eventually, breakfast cereals will cost you your health.
Most breakfast cereals also fall under refined carbs and highly processed foods to avoid for weight loss. They are often touted as a quick, easy, and healthy way to start your day, but many breakfast cereals are high in sugar, calories, and processed ingredients.
Many breakfast cereals contain added sugars to make them more appealing to taste. These added sugars can provide quick energy, but can also cause blood sugar swings which lead to increased hunger and cravings throughout the day.
As this was not enough, most breakfast cereals contain artificial colors, and flavorings which often can lead to an inflammatory response in the body, and result in weight gain.
Instead of eating breakfast cereals, choose foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats such as oatmeal with nuts and berries, eggs with vegetables, or a smoothie with Greek yogurt and fruit. These meals will provide sustained energy and keep you full until lunchtime.
9. Artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have become increasingly popular as a way of reducing caloric intake and helping you to lose weight. However, research suggests that sweeteners may not be as beneficial to weight loss as previously thought. Artificial sweeteners may actually increase the risk of cancer.
Some of the most widely used artificial sweeteners are aspartame and acesulfame-K, which are often found in many diet sodas, ‘sugar-free’ foods, and other food products like ice cream, gum, jam, and jelly.
Aspartame has been linked to increased cravings for sweet foods and has also been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and weight gain (Choudhary, 2017).
Other artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, have also been linked to potential health risks.
Rather than relying on artificial sweeteners to reduce caloric intake, you should consider using honey as it is a better choice than sugar and artificial sweeteners.
10. Low-fat dairy foods
Low-fat dairy foods can actually be quite unhealthy, even though they are often marketed as healthy options for weight loss.
To make up for the lack of fat, manufacturers often load low-fat dairy products with sugar and other unhealthy additives, and as far as weight loss is concerned, this is counterproductive.
Low-fat flavored yogurts, low-fat ice cream, low-fat cheese, and low-fat milk all fall under the low-fat category. You should avoid falling for low-fat or fat-free products and go for full-fat dairy products.
Full-fat dairy products are naturally lower in sugar and can be part of a healthy diet, as long as you watch portion sizes, and choose products made with natural ingredients.
Best foods for weight loss
When it comes to weight loss, what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. Eating the wrong types of foods can quickly derail your weight loss efforts. To help you reach your goals, exercise regularly and eat healthy, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains for the best results.
Hu F. B. (2010). Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat?. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 91(6), 1541–1542. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2010.29622
Wang, M., Yu, M., Fang, L., & Hu, R. Y. (2015). Association between sugar-sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes: A meta-analysis. Journal of diabetes investigation, 6(3), 360–366. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdi.12309
Choudhary, Arbind. (2017). Aspartame: Should Individuals with Type II Diabetes be Taking it?. Current Diabetes Reviews. 13. 10.2174/1573399813666170601093336.