I remember when I first started eating "healthy". I'm using quotes because I think this word gets misused a lot. I would fall for all the advertising buzzwords like low-fat, healthy, fat free, natural, etc until I started paying attention to the labels. It was then that I realized that what I thought or better yet, what I was sold on as being healthy wasn't really healthy at all.
How much do you really know about the foods that you eat? The reality is that there are many foods out there sold under the premise of being ‘healthy’, but guess what? Not everything is always what it seems.
Statistics show that empty calories from added sugar and solid fat sources make up 40% of the daily calorie intake of the average kid between the ages 2-18 years in the US. It's no wonder obesity rates are at an all-time high both in children and adults.
In this guide, I'm going to reveal 8 foods that could be damaging your new health and fitness regime - let’s take a closer look.
1. Trail Mix / Granola
You often hear about granola being healthy, and in its pure form, there is some truth to this due to its fiber content. However, you have to bear in mind that in terms of nutrition, the typical serving of granola is well over two-thirds of carbs. And given that many of the granola bars you will buy also contain a lot of fat and sugar, you shouldn’t be eating this food on a regular basis. At least check the label for ingredients and empty calories.
As for trail mix, let's face it, it's usually just a game at how many M&Ms we can find while avoiding the raisins or dried fruit. Trail mix sounds healthy because it usually contains healthy fats in the form of nuts, dried fruit, and maybe some coconut flakes. But the challenge is that most packages of trail mix contain 2-4 servings and at a whopping 200+ calories/serving, you can find yourself quickly eating 600-800 calories as a "healthy" snack.
2. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are seen as healthy and given that professional athletes drink them while playing their sport of choice, they must be, right? Wrong. Professional athletes are in exceptional condition and push their bodies to the maximum on a regular basis.
I hate to break it to you, but most of us are not at this level.
Their body can use the fast soluble carb resources to replenish lost calories during an endurance event. They actually need the sugar contained in sports drinks and are almost guaranteed to burn off the energy while they are training or competing. For most people, though, these sports drinks are best avoided unless you are going through a vigorous exercise session that lasts at least 90 minutes or longer.
3. Low Fat / Fat-Free
Low fat and fat-free products sound great, don’t they? They are low in calories and in most cases they taste ok without the unhealthy stuff they pulled out. Sounds too good to be true? Unfortunately, it is!
Low-fat products tend to contain a lot of sugar in them, so while the calorie count might be smaller, the damage they do can still be significant. Plus, some fats are necessary for a fit and healthy lifestyle. If you are watching your portion sizes and keeping the calorie count low, seek out naturally low-fat products or check the label to see they don't have too much added sugar in them.
4. Sugar-Free foods
Sugar-free foods sound innocent, but the reality is they can still wreak havoc with your lifestyle plans. You might find that products claiming to be sugar-free don’t have white sugar in them, but other sugars that are derived from fruit and milk which could have all the calories and sweetness of table sugar.
The idea is that instead of making one or two type of foods evil, find a balance and plan your meals with that in mind. There is no problem with sugar, so long you are able to keep the intake in control.
5. Veggie Wraps / Pasta
Pasta and wraps are often thought of as healthy, but they contain an astonishing amount of carbs. Again, carbs are not the enemy, however having bowls of pasta or countless amount of wraps will significantly increase you daily calorie count and if you aren't careful you may not achieve that calorie deficit you need to stay on track with your weight loss plan.
6. Flavored Yogurt
Plain yogurt, preferably of the Greek kind, is a good source of protein and healthy fat - in moderation, of course. But if you go down the flavored yogurt route, it will come at a cost. Vanilla, strawberry, and honey flavored yogurts - all of them, in fact - have twice as much sugar in them than plain varieties.
While we know sugar in itself is not bad, extra added sugar will result in higher energy intake that can jeopardize your fat loss goal.
7. Dried Fruit
Dried fruits are full of fiber and other nutrients like antioxidants. But they are also packed with high levels of sugar and calories, which will cause a lot of problems if consumed to excess.
8. Fruit Smoothies / Green Juices
Again, there are plenty of benefits of fruit smoothies and green juices, but you should be careful. It’s all down to the sugar content, and many people that believe they are being healthy could be piling on calories by consuming too many of these drinks.
Preparing your smoothies at home will give you the control over your calorie intake and give you the flexibility to use fruits and vegetables that you like the most.
For positive fat loss results, you should always check labels and understand how the ingredients contribute to your daily energy intake. Even if you are not calorie counting, it can make an enormous difference if you limit food that look like they contain too much sugar or are calorie heavy.
Planning your meals and training ahead can give you the motivation to stick to your goals even on days when you feel you don't want to do anything and understanding labels better will help you plan more efficiently.
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.