Some foods that you may be adding to your weight loss diet could actually be adding on the kilos. We highlight a list of ten offenders: -
Replacing the sugar in your tea with honey? Did you know that there is very little difference in calories between one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of sugar? What’s more, brown sugar contains the same number of calories as white sugar! There is therefore no weight loss benefit to swapping to honey. Honey does contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals, but they are in such small quantities that they do not contribute much towards your diet. Don’t pour honey over your cereal or fruit salad. Instead, try to reduce the number of teaspoons of sugar or honey that you need gradually. Your taste buds will adjust accordingly.
2. Energy drinks
Do you grab an energy drink as you walk out of the gym? These drinks are designed for active people and should not be used as an everyday drink. They are packed with carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up when participating in sport, but they’re not great as a weight loss beverage. If you consume a 500ml energy drink, you will need to do the equivalent of a 20-minute relaxed cycle or 25-minute brisk walk to burn off those calories! Drink plain water during your work-out session instead.
3. Energy bars
Many people make the mistake of snacking on an energy bar as a mid-morning snack and then wonder why they are not achieving an weight loss. These snack bars can have the same number of calories as three to four slices of bread and you are having it as a snack! Choose bars that contain fibre and are low in fat and calories. Alternatively, opt for a low-fat yoghurt and fruit or wholewheat crackers with fat-free cottage cheese and tomato slices instead.
Did you know that when you eat a whole avocado you are eating the equivalent of four teaspoons of oil? And that is a small avo! Avocados are a very important food source because they are full of fibre, vitamins and minerals and contain all the healthy fats that help prevent cholesterol and heart disease. What is important to remember is that you need to include the avo in place of other fats in your diet and not in addition to them. Try this:
- ¼ of an avocado sliced on toast instead of margarine
- ¼ of an avocado cubed on top of a salad instead of the dressing
- ¼ of an avocado mashed together with fat-free cottage cheese and served on a baked potato instead of sour cream or butter.
Are you guilty of coming back from the shop with a large bag of nuts and then finishing them before supper? Nuts are a good source of protein, fibre and all the healthy monounsaturated fats, but due to their fat content, they are still high in calories. When eating nuts, it is important that you choose small portion sizes and leave out another fat from your diet instead. You can’t simply add them into your diet; they need to replace something else. It is also important to remember that the healthy nuts are the raw nuts, not the roasted, salted options! Try this:
- A small handful of cashews as a mid-morning snack instead of margarine on your morning toast
- A small handful of almonds lightly toasted in the oven and sprinkled over your salad instead of dressing.
6. Olive oil
Olive oil is packed with mono-unsaturated fats and is therefore good for the heart, but it is still a fat. The number of calories in a teaspoon of olive oil is equivalent to the number of calories in a teaspoon of ordinary oil. Avoid pouring large quantities of olive oil over your food and try to keep to one teaspoon of oil per person when cooking a meal. For variety, try other oils, such as sesame, avocado and peanut oils, which all have a good quantity of mono-unsaturated fats, but also add great flavour to your foods.
Cheese is such a quick, easy snack, but unfortunately is full of fat – and not the healthy fats! Always choose a reduced fat cheese. See how much fat you can save by choosing an alternative:
A matchbox size of cheese (30g) contains:
|Cheddar or gouda 10g of fat||Danish feta 5g of fat *|
|Camembert/ brie 10-13g of fat||Ricotta cheese 2g of fat|
|Reduced fat cheese 8g of fat||Low-fat cottage cheese 1g of fat**|
|Feta 6g of fat||Fat-free cottage cheese 0.3g of fat**|
* 5g of fat is equivalent to 1tsp oil
** Although lower in fat, cottage cheese contains far less calcium that regular cheese per portion, so you should keep up a good calcium intake by including other low-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk and yoghurt.
8. Fruit juice
Not a fan of fruit, but drinking fruit juice instead? This could be adding extra calories to your diet. Remember that when fruit juice is made, all the juice is squeezed from the fruit and the fibre is thrown away. You will therefore not get that same feeling of fullness that you will get when eating a piece of fruit. One glass of fruit juice is equivalent to eating two fruits (e.g. one glass of orange juice = two oranges), so pack away that fruit juice and choose real fruit instead. If you really have to have the fruit juice, pour just half a glass and dilute it with water.
9. Salad with salad dressing
Are you guilty of choosing the salad with the extra added bacon, cheese and the creamy dressing and not many green ingredients? Well, having a salad like this could be giving you more calories than a sandwich! Avoid the high-fat toppings such as croutons, bacon, cheese and nuts and choose a salad that contains a variety of salad vegetables so that it is filling. Choose your dressing carefully; you can either ask for the dressing to be served on the side so that you have control over how much is added or ask for dressings that have no calories. Try lemon juice or balsamic vinegar instead.
10. Rice cakes
Rice cakes don’t taste great and keep you full for about five minutes. So why force yourself to eat something like that? When trying to lose weight, you should aim to eat food that is full of fibre and nutrients so that it can keep you full. You do not want to feel hungry all the time. Choose wholewheat crackers such as Provitas or Ryvitas instead.
Photo by Nick Perla