So you’ve decided to make a weight loss goal for yourself this year. Congratulations, you’ve taken the first and most important step to a healthier you. You have resolved to exercise more, drink more water, get the rest your body needs, and most importantly, eat right. Of course, you will limit high-sugar and high-fat foods like cookies, cake and ice cream from your regular diet and save for special occasions. From now on, you are committed to eating healthy foods and I support it. But beware that some foods are posing as health foods but are actually misleadingly labeled. Without a warning you could stifle all your progress. Here are some foods that seem healthy, and/or may be highly nutritious, but are not optimal for weight loss:
1.) Veggie Chips/Sticks
While these snacks contain more nutrients than regular potato chip, like vitamin A, they can still contain 130 calories in just an ounce. If this is your replacement, it is the better option with a 1/3 less calories and no saturated fat, but you still need to limit your portion. These are not a completely guilt-free snack. Try cutting some thin French-fry-sized celery, cucumber, peppers, or zucchini for true guilt-free snacking anytime. Also, you can bake thinly sliced sweet potatoes for a crunchy and healthy substitute.
Fresh fish, veggies, and super-nutritious nori (the seaweed wrapper,) what could be wrong with this? While sushi is as delicious as it is beautiful, some elements of this artful Japanese cuisine are counterproductive to losing weight. The white rice for one, qualifies as empty calories and concentrated carbohydrates. Even if you order brown rice with your roll, there are other factors to consider; “Crunchy” rolls may use deep-fried, tempura battered shrimp or seafood which is high in saturated fat and calories (these can average around 500+ calories per roll.) What about that delectable orange sauce that is drizzled over the “spicy” rolls? This sauce is typically mayonnaise based, and so are similar sauces like wasabi aioli (+100 calories and 13g of fat per roll). It may be a good idea to avoid the Philadelphia and other classic rolls that use cream cheese as an ingredient (+50 Calories per roll). Even low sodium versions of soy sauce can cause you to retain water and anything labeled “miso” is saturated with sodium too. Ask to substitute cucumber in place of the rice, or ask the chef to go lighter on the rice, and make sure your roll has plenty of veggies. Another option is to order sashimi (raw fish) instead of a sushi roll.
3.) Energy Drinks
You may need a boost before a workout, but some energy drinks amount to 300 calories per can. That’s equivalent to three miles of jogging before you even set foot out the door. Ask yourself if it is worth it for what you intend to burn, and if you aren’t working out that day reach for a green tea or black coffee to perk you up. Beware that any type of caffeine can cause cravings (which could lead to binging) and energy crashes. Your best plan is to maybe just take a few of the supplements like Vitamin B12 and B6 in pill form and eat some long sustaining energy foods before your workout, like a handful of almonds. If you must indulge in liquid energy, choose an all-natural, low calorie brand like Bing Cherry Energy Drink, (only 40 calories per can) or Sugar Free Red Bull (12 calories per can).
4.) Sports Drinks
Don’t be fooled, this is sugar water. Sports drinks are intended to replenish electrolytes during long endurance events. Unless you are consuming your daily-recommended amount of pure, hydrating water, don’t reach for these. As a post workout beverage, you can treat yourself, but it may be wise to dilute the beverage (make the dilution 50% water / 50% sports drink) to optimize your intake of H20. Coconut water is a terrific, all natural alternative with the same electrolyte properties and virtually half the sodium, carbs and sugar. If weight loss is truly your goal, there is no need for sports drinks in your diet.
5.) Diet Sodas, Diet Teas And Artificial Sweeteners
These need to be eliminated right away for fast results. Studies show that
This means that if you are used to drinking diet sodas or use artificial sweeteners in your daily coffee, that piece of frosted office party cake will not satiate you as much compared to those who consume natural sweeteners. This leaves you liable to overconsumption. Even fruit will not be as pleasurable. These are also linked to diabetes and heart disease. A better idea is to simply challenge your dependency on sugar in your diet altogether. Then when it’s time to treat yourself to an occasional post-workout chocolate milk, or hand dipped ice-cream with the kids, you’ll truly be in heaven with your sensible portion.
6.) “Low-Fat” and “Light” Packaged Snacks
Look closely at these nutrition labels. How do you think the manufacturer is compensating for the decreased use of butter in your muffin, or fat in your fat-free yogurt? Yep, more artificial (or regular) sweetener. Most nonfat and light versions of your favorite packaged foods come within 5-30 calories of the real deal when all is said and done, so you might as well enjoy the real deal. Greek yogurt is an exception as the non-fat version is packed with protein and contains minimal carbs in comparison to other non-fat yogurts. Keep a huge tub in your fridge, freeze half in an ice cube tray for smoothies, and use the rest in place of sour cream/mayo. Here are a few more ideas: Sweeten your Greek yogurt with honey and top with almonds and fruit for parfaits, or whip into your egg yolks for the fluffiest scrambled eggs ever. You can even find Greek frozen yogurt in grocery store freezers to indulge your sweet tooth.
Guard yourself against all these seemingly little decisions and their big consequences. You are working hard to get the results you have been dreaming of, and it would be a shame to let these misconceptions spoil your progress. You are now empowered – go out there and make good decisions!
For more ideas on healthy eating tips – tips that I learned from living in France and eating like the French eat, be sure to pick up my book, The Skinny, Sexy Mind: The Ultimate French Secret” from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Skinny-Sexy-Mind-Ultimate/dp/1432788620