So you've been working hard at your new diet and fitness plan, you've made some healthy food swaps, or what you're told are healthy and yet the scales say, oops no change today.
As a trainer I'm open-mouthed with the amount of products in the supermarkets that are advertised as "healthy", "high protein" or "aids fat loss" that are ridiculously bad for you. I don't blame you for being confused at all, it's their job encourage you to buy them, thinking that you're being healthy and you'll lose weight when really they are either packed full of sugars, salts or fat.
Today I've listed some of the most common "healthy" foods my clients get caught out with.
1. Protein Bars
We are talking actual protein bars here made by companies that make Sports Supplements, such as Myprotein or Maximusle and not Mars, Graze or others trying to jump in on the growing market. You'll know who the big players are with a quick Google search, go onto the website and they will sell nothing but protein related products, weight loss supplements weight gaining supplements etc.
With so many protein products it's hard knowing which to choose when you're on a weight loss journey. When it comes to protein snacks there are some basic criteria you'll want to stick to and it's this.
You want no more than 200 kcals, 20-30g of protein for men and 1o-20g for women, with under 5g of fats and similar amounts of carbs including sugar. In fact there aren't many that hit this criteria so chose wisely and go on the hunt. My Zero bars by Myprotein are one of the few I've found.
2. New "Protein" Products
So this now covers all products NOT made by sports supplement companies, let's talk about other products available. Protein products have boomed in the last year with many products advertised as "high protein". I'm not entirely sure what the criteria for "high protein" is but my guess is that it just has to have over 1g per 100g to count when you look at various products.
Some products are okay including some yoghurts that are high in protein with over 20g while others with less than 10g I would recommend you avoid. Much of these products especially "healthy" bars will be packed full of sugars or fats.
Avoid these protein products unless they meet the criteria of 10-20 g of protein per serving for women, 20-30g for men and have less than 200 kcals per serving. And please always check the packaging.
It was only the other day, when I visited a client for coffee at their house when they opened a cupboard to which I saw what must have been about 7 or 8 boxes of such so called "protein bars" written as clear as day on them. They had only 5g of protein. If you know ingredient labels you'll know that they are listed by highest volume to lowest. So the first ingredient was oats, then MARGARINE, and then GOLDEN SYRUP, DEMERARA SUGAR and then some healthy bits. Read the ingredients this so called protein bar was not at all healthy, although to be fair they never said they were they just called the protein bars and we all naturally assume these are good for us, and at a measly 5g of protein should not be allowed to be labelled as a protein bar. I'd go with oat sugar bars or high sugar oat bars.
3. Fruit Juice
By now if you didn't already know, drinks can contain a lot of sugar even the natural fruit juices, in fact especially these. Yes they are natural but they do contain a lot of calories from sugar and will hinder your weight loss progress.
If you just drink fruit juice for their goodness then have a piece of fruit, less calories, more fibre and all the vitamins intact.
I guess this closely relates to all drinks. Smoothies are either good or bad, a milkshake with Oreos and ice-cream is a smoothie, so too is a frappuccino from your favourite coffee shop or that green icky smoothie you have to pinch your nose to drink. Not all are created equally.
If you buy them readymade they will most likely have a lot of sugar just like fruit juices are. The main difference from what you would think are healthy smoothies and juices are the way they are made. Juices are squeezed or pressed fruits while a smoothie will use mostly the entire fruit and blended which makes them thicker. Some even have milk added.
Your best bet is to make your own, that way you can reduce the fruit which will reduce your sugar intake while adding some great ingredients for added benefits and flavour. Such as Chia seeds, kale, mint, water and even protein powders for some extra protein.
Still eating granola for breakfast? Or late at night? It's time you stopped. If you are trying to lose weight this could be the reason you are not. Generally you have cereals (carbs) mixed with nuts ( fats) with milk (more sugar and fat) poured over it. That's how I think of it whenever I see people eating it.
Just think about it, you want a high protein breakfast, this is not this is the opposite, its high carbs and high fat. Lets switch that up and try 100g of high protein yoghurt with a sprinkle of granola for a bit of crunch. You still get to keep your granola but it's a lower amount while gaining some valuable protein.
6. Breakfast Bars
Have you seen the adverts of slim women biting into cardboard like breakfast biscuits at less than 200 calories? There's even a few oat bars out there. While they are convenient and pretty low in calories they are generally made with golden syrup or sugar and are high in salt while being predominantly carbohydrate. As most of the western world still thinks we need to stock up with carbs in the morning, well here in England anyway.
Avoid these and try a high protein alternative. See our 7 Day plan for some great high protein breakfast ideas.
7. Fat Free Yoghurt
Did you know most fat free products are actually high in sugars. No kidding, take a look at that fat free fruit corner in your fridge. Hopefully you knew this already and check your labels before you buy but so many of us still don't know this or just choose to ignore it. People were so afraid of fat in foods many companies removed it. Now people are getting smarter there does seem to be less of these fat free yoghurts on the shelves but there are still some.
There are still lots of sugars hidden in yogurts especially fruit ones. So be sure to check the next time you head out on that grocery shop.
Grab some plain, high protein (check the label) and make it exciting with some fresh berries or protein powder.
8. Nuts and Nut butter
Okay nuts are generally healthy, packed full of healthy fats and protein. BUT they are also very high in calories and so easy to eat.
Assuming you as close to 100% nut butter and natural nuts they will have little salt or sugar added, this is good.
Next just watch how much you eat, stick to one serving per day as a maximum if possible and avoid putting too much in your smoothies. One of my clients was putting 1 tablespoon in each of her protein shakes, 3 a day plus having 2 spoons with her dinner. That's 500 calories a day from peanut butter that she didn't need and wondered why she wasn't losing weight. Luckily we caught it in time.
Yep, Avocado. Like nuts they are full of good fats that aid in fat loss but if you eat too many you'll get fat. Simply because they are very high in calories.
Typically when you are trying to lose weight try not to have too many sources of good fats in one day or watch the portion sizes. So don't have a load of nuts and an avocado. Source smaller avocados. A small avocado at about 180g is about 340 calories. Half today half tomorrow and you're on to a winner and you can still enjoy your favourite fruit.
10. Bread, Wraps and pasta
Still eating these three carbs? Best to reduce now or stop completely to maximise your fat loss.
These are what we call man made carbs. Made with refined flour which reduces the amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre with added salt. The refined flour causes you're body to have a sugar like response when eaten.
Try to stick to natural carbs like rice, sweet potato or quinoa.
No lie, Demi was in the local shopping market the other day and overheard a couple saying, "let's get best of both bread, let's be healthy". I know some breads are better than others but if you're on a weight loss journey treat all bread the same.
I love hummus just as much as the next person and maybe that's the problem. It's so easy to dip away. 2 tablespoons is fine at just 50 calories but how much do you actually eat. Just because it's healthy doesn't mean you can over indulge. Hummus is made from mainly chickpeas and tahini which is from sesame seeds both generally high in calories.
Measure out how much you need to eat and stick to it. Try not to eat from its container if its a large pot. 50g with vegetable sticks is generally a good starting point at 150 calories roughly.
So there you have it, the top 11 so called healthy foods that could be hindering our weight loss progress. Take the advise and make the changes where needed. If you need a clean eating refresh go back and check out our blog post Clean Eating For Beginners.
Keep up the good work!