7 “Healthy” Foods That Are Making You Gain Weight
Let’s blow the snacking-to-lose-weight theory out of the water. Eating mini meals, snacks, or whatever you want to call them is the nutrition equivalent of acid-washed jeans, meaning it’s outdated and should be retired immediately.
Snacking for fat loss gets a big thumbs-down in my book. Every time you eat, you ramp up insulin, a hormone that stores fat. More snacking means more insulin spikes, creating plenty of opportunities to store fat.
Snacking also ramps up your calorie intake, opening the door for potential food intolerances and high-sugar-impact foods. How often do you snack out of genuine hunger? Instead, you’re stressed out, bored, or pissed, and those 100-calorie packs momentarily assuage your pain.
What really irks me, though, are the endless snacks that manufacturers craftily position as “healthy” but actually create serious metabolic mayhem and stall fat loss. These seven are among my top worst-foods-masquerading-as-healthy snacks.
1. Skinny coffee drinks
At some point, “skinny” became the new “lite.” Whenever coffee shops or manufacturers downsize dietary fat to reduce calories, they usually add more sugar to increase taste. “Skinny” coffee drinks provide the perfect example: They typically come loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners; their caffeine-milk combo cranks up your blood sugar and probably leaves you craving a high-sugar-impact pastry.
2. Reduced-fat muffins
Even though recent studies vindicate dietary fat and experts like Mark Hyman, MD, argue that sugar, not fat, makes you fat, coffee and doughnut shops still sell reduced-fat muffins that, you guessed it, carry the same (if not more) sugar weight and create a halo effect that you’re eating something healthier. You’re not. Instead, reach for any of these healthy breakfasts that taste good to get your morning fill of healthy fats, protein, and carbs.
3. “Healthy” cookies
High-fiber, nutrient-fortified, low-carb: whatever. A cookie is a cookie, period. Manufacturers pull all kinds of stunts to convince you that these junky, highly processed foods are suddenly healthy. Most of them taste like the box they came in, yet really, when was the last time you opened a box of cookies and ate just one?
4. Protein bars
Most commercial protein bars are nutrient-enriched, overpriced candy bars. Protein and fiber provide the buzzwords, but flip that label over and you’ll find sugar, artificial sweeteners, excessive sugar alcohols, and other junk ingredients often disguised in pretty terms like “organic cane syrup.”
Instead, follow a much healthier guide to your post-workout protein consumption to get your fix without hurting your waistline.
5. Baked chips
Bag labels come riddled with all sorts of bogus health claims like “67% less fat” or “baked not fried.” That halo effect alone can make you devour an entire bag. But just because they’re lower in fat doesn’t mean these chips or popcorn aren’t still high-glycemic foods, which means they raise your blood sugar and cause your body to store fat. Homemade veggie chips, however, can give you a just-as-great taste but with a fraction of the fat.
A popular myth suggests that popcorn is a healthy, low-calorie snack. Nope. Most corn is genetically modified (GMO). Popcorn is generally made with damaged fats. Microwave popcorn may have toxins in the bag liners, and researchers have found that the bags are one of the biggest thyroid damagers hiding out in your home. Popcorn is a high-glycemic food, so it spikes blood sugar and sets up problems with hunger. And popcorn is a trigger food: It makes you want more salt, starch, and fat.
7. Agave-sweetened anything
How this sweetener got a healthy reputation shows real marketing savvy. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, agave can be up to 97% fructose, the most damaging sweetener that wreaks havoc on your liver, spikes inflammation levels, and converts to triglycerides (fat) that find a nice home around your midsection.