You’re on a great nutrition streak—eating vegetables, cutting back on sugar, and drinking your water. After a week of healthy eating, you proudly hop on the scale. At first, you think to yourself, “This thing must be broken”.
So you hop off, then back on to try again. The number doesn’t change.
Despite ticking all the dieting boxes, your health sprint hasn’t helped you shed a single pound. Or even worse—you’ve actually managed to gain weight.
There are plenty of factors that play into weight loss—from your age, lifestyle and activity level to hormones and genetics. But the most important thing to first consider is the quality of foods that you’re eating. Because the truth is, there are plenty of “healthy” foods jam-packed with not-so-healthy ingredients.
Here are 3 foods to ditch when you’re trying to lose weight, plus healthier alternatives to replace them.
1. Protein Bars
Sure, it’s high-protein, keto-friendly, low-carb and gluten-free. But that birthday cake-flavored protein bar isn’t exactly powering your weight loss goals.
Exhibit A: a popular protein bar, packaged as a “healthy meal replacement”. But its main ingredients? Not so healthy...
Sugar (Translation: Sugar)
Fructose (Translation: Sugar)
Inulin (Translation: Sugar)
Cocoa Processed with Alkali (Translation: Sugar)
Dextrose (Translation: Sugar)
So even though that protein bar looks like a low-calorie, high-protein meal replacement, all that sugar might be the culprit of your weight loss challenges. After all, sugar alone is a leading cause of weight gain.
Instead, swap your sweetened bars for something more wholesome, focusing on high-quality ingredients. For a full meal, try salmon burgers, tuna-stuffed avocado or a nourish bowl. Or, if you’re just looking for a snack, have an apple with nut butter, healthy deviled eggs, or a protein smoothie.
2. Made-to-order Salads
Ah, salads. The quintessential health food.
When made with fresh vegetables, healthy fats and quality protein, salads can help get you to your weight loss goal. But between dressings, cheeses, and crunchy toppings, the wrong salad order can quickly pump the breaks on your weight loss train.
So what’s the right salad order, you ask?
Start with a leafy green base—kale, spinach, arugula and mixed greens are all fair game.
Opt for the raw, fresh vegetable toppings over the cooked ones to avoid inflammatory oils and excess salt.
Top with a healthy protein source, choosing beans, tofu, grilled chicken or fish over breaded cutlets, cheese or saucey meats.
If you’re adding some crunch, opt for walnuts, almonds or seeds over croutons, wasabi peas or crunchy noodles. The nuts and seeds offer you filling nutrients, like healthy fat and protein—keeping you fuller longer.
For dressing, less is more. Try lemon or balsamic with olive oil, or choose your favorite flavor dressing and ask for it extra light plus two squeezes of lemon. This will lighten up your salad while keeping it flavorful.
3. *Some* Nut Butters
Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten a spoonful of peanut butter right out of the jar. (It’s okay, our hands are raised too.) But if you’re trying to lose weight, those out-of-the-jar spoonfuls and “just eyeballing it” servings might be setting you back.
To make sure your nut butters aren’t getting in the way of your weight loss, first, check your labels. Many nut butters contain added salt, sugar and oils that make an otherwise healthy food fall short. Instead, look for a nut butter that contains only one ingredient—nuts.
Have the right nut butter? Great. Instead of pouring it onto toast or eating it from the jar, start measuring and pairing:
Measure. To make sure you’re not eating half a day’s worth of calories in nut butter, use a teaspoon to measure out a serving size. Since it’s hard to get a level tablespoon, using a smaller teaspoon will help you get closer to the actual 2 tbsp serving size.
Pair it. Instead of eating it out of the jar, always pair your nut butter with another food to create a more filling plate. Think apples, celery, smoothies or oatmeal.
Over the confusion of weight loss? Let’s solve the mystery once and for all.
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