If you are trying to lose weight, it is generally recommended to avoid high-calorie foods, but simply counting calories is not enough. It is also important to consider the macro and micronutrients contained in the food we eat. In particular, low-calorie foods that do not contain enough nutrients lead to overeating and weight gain.
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Sweetened drinks such as various iced teas, sweetened coffee drinks in a can, as well as fruit juices are high in added sugars and often contain no additional nutrients. Drinking these drinks will subtly, but noticeably, increase the amount of calories consumed but will not help with hunger.
It is recommended not to consume more than 10% of calories from refined sugar per day, which is roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar for a person consuming 2000 calories per day.
Baked foods such as cookies, sweet pastries and various desserts are often high in carbohydrates. Many sweets also contain trans fatty acids, which can lead to obesity if consumed in excess. Among the trans fatty acids, it is mainly partially hydrogenated vegetable fats that are found in large quantities in these products. Partially hydrogenated trans fatty acids of vegetable origin are likely to be one of the causes of heart disease in overweight people and of deaths associated with myocardial infarction
Fried foods, including French fries, are among the foods high in calories, salt and unhealthy fats. Most restaurants deep-fry French fries to give them the right crispy texture, but this method of preparation adds a lot of fat and calories to the food. Despite the large amount of calories, you’ll quickly feel hungry after eating fries, as they contain only a meager amount of fiber and protein.
People who eat fried foods at least twice a week are at greater risk of heart disease and heart attack. If you need to eat at a restaurant, choose a salad or other side dish option instead.
Like French fries, meat in restaurants and especially fast food is full of fat and empty calories. The meat is often prepared with partially hydrogenated vegetable fats, especially palm oil. Eating restaurant burgers at least twice a week increases the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Home-prepared burgers made from lower-fat beef can occasionally be part of a healthy diet. Without added fats and oils, burgers prepared in this way are a good source of protein, iron and B vitamins. If your goal is to lose weight, it’s best to avoid burgers and fried foods from restaurants and choose something more dietary when eating out.
Crackers and chips
Chips and the various salty crackers that people like to have with their TV in the evening are often very high in calories and contain a high percentage of fats, salts and carbohydrates. It is another source of empty calories that does not fill you up and often, due to its saltiness, makes the consumer crave beer or sweet drinks. It is a processed food whose consumption leads to obesity. It is therefore better to choose a healthier evening snack option, such as hummus with carrots and cucumber, or a small amount of roasted seeds or nuts.
A great alternative to crisps is home-made popcorn, which contains quite a few calories for a large volume, but you shouldn’t overdo it and opt for unflavoured options.
Wheat pasta and bread
White pasta and bread, made from wheat flour, are typically high in calories and carbohydrates, and low in fibre, protein or other nutrients. Wholemeal versions of baked goods contain higher levels of fibre and nutrients than products made from wheat flour.
Choose products that list whole wheat as the main type of flour. There are many whole grain flours to choose from, for example: whole wheat flour, whole rye flour, brown rice flour.
It is true that white rice contains almost no fat, but on the other hand it also lacks fibre and protein. Due to its high glycaemic index, it can cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels after eating it, thus triggering a feeling of hunger within a short while after eating, leading to overeating and consequently overweight.
Brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice are healthy alternatives to white rice. Due to their higher fiber content, you will feel full for a long time after eating them.
Energy and granola bars
Energy and granola bars are often high in fiber, but also contain large amounts of sugars, often comparable to regular sugary bars. Because of their high sugar content, they are difficult to fill a person up; on the other hand, the sharp rise in blood sugar will soon make you hungry again after eating them.
Sweet snacks are a healthier choice:
- A sliced banana or apple with peanut butter (peanut, almond, hazelnut)
- A handful of nuts or seeds with fruit
- Whole-fat unflavoured Greek yoghurt with forest fruits
- White yoghurt with seeds or nuts and fruit
Most fresh fruit is a low-calorie source of fibre and essential vitamins. But its dried counterpart is very high in calories. Due to its low water content, fructose is concentrated in dried fruit, resulting in a higher amount of calories and sugars per gram in dried fruit than in fresh fruit when comparing the same amount of dried and fresh fruit.
However, dried fruit still has a high amount of fibre and other nutrients and therefore represents a better snack choice than salty crackers or biscuits. If you’re trying to shed a few pounds, you can indulge in a small amount of dried fruit, but beware of the added sugars.
Flavoured sweetened yoghurt
Yoghurt, especially full-fat Greek yoghurt, is a great weight-loss aid, often part of low-carbohydrate diets due to its high protein content and minimal carbohydrates. In addition, they contain probiotic cultures that help the proper functioning of the intestines.
However, their flavored and sweetened counterparts, which try to ride the wave of the reputation of unflavored yogurts, contain large amounts of carbohydrates. Particularly with non-fat yoghurts, it is important to read the ingredients, as a lot of sugar is added for taste.
Therefore, choose white yoghurt without added sugars and cut up fruit into it.
Ice cream, especially the creamy varieties, is a high-calorie dessert often containing a lot of sugars but little protein and fibre. Plus, it’s very easy to exceed the daily recommended serving, which is half a cup.
A healthy alternative to ice cream can be fruit sorbet, a frozen blended fruit that is easy to prepare at home. Or blend Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and freeze the mixture.
Sausages and other processed meat products
Processed meat products include meat products that have been:
Meat products such as: bacon, jerky, sausages and hams often contain large amounts of salt. They are often very calorie-dense and nutrient deficient, and significantly fattier than other sources of protein, such as poultry and fish, or beans and pulses. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists processed meat products as carcinogens,
i.e. substances that cause cancer.
Alcoholic beverages usually contain large amounts of calories and sugars, while lacking any other nutrients, and contain zero protein.
- Regular beer contains 153 calories
- Light, low-grade beer contains 103 calories
- A glass of red beer contains 125 calories
- A shot of hard liquor contains 97 calories
People trying to lose weight should avoid excess alcohol consumption.
On rare occasions, it is advisable to choose low-calorie alternatives such as white wine or a wine spritzer and not to drink more than one glass (2 dcl).
The fact that various sweets, biscuits and bars are among the unhealthy foods is not surprising. These are high-calorie foods with lots of sugars and no protein or fibre.
If you are trying to reduce your weight but are still hungry, then you can indulge in dark chocolate, for example. This should contain at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate normally contains less sugar and milk than milk or white chocolate, but it is also fattier, so you still need to be careful when eating it in moderation.