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9 Problem Foods to Avoid When Losing Weight

9 Problem Foods to Avoid When Losing Weight
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

If you're trying to lose weight, there are plenty of foods that you need to avoid in order to get results, but there are a few that can really make it difficult for you to lose weight. By avoiding these 9 problem foods you can lose substantially more weight than you normally would, assuming that the rest of your diet is relatively healthy. If you've found that you're struggling with weight gain or if you are really trying to lose weight, be sure to keep these foods out of your diet, and stick to healthy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy protein and healthy fat.

Food #1 - Bread

Whether it is wheat bread or white, both types can cause a wide range of negative health effects and weight gain. Most wheat bread varieties are still made with refined flour, even they might claim to be whole wheat. Many types of wheat bread still have a high glycemic index that is similar to white bread, around 70 to 80 many times. Bread also contains gluten, which people tolerate differently, but some people have gluten sensitivities that can cause chronic allergies and several other symptoms. In general, if you've noticed that you've gained weight in the past and have eaten bread regularly, you're much better off getting rid of it in your diet and using smaller portions or none at all if you're trying to lose weight. There are plenty of vegetable alternatives to bread that you can use for sandwiches and wraps like lettuce or cabbage.

Food #2 - Energy or protein bars

Most energy or protein bars are loaded with sugar and definitely won't help you lose weight, even though they might be a convenient meal option. Some bars have 22 to 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and that can quickly add up and lead to weight gain if you eat them on a regular basis. They are mostly designed for people who aren't really worried about eating a few extra calories from carbohydrates or people who exercise regularly. If you're not working out a ton you really don't need them and you're better off snacking on whole fruits and vegetables, jerky, nuts, or other natural snacks rather than these processed snacks

Food #3 - Soda

It's not a food, but one serving of soda has a ton of calories that are really bad for you and can have a wide range of negative metabolic effects. Soda is usually sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and there are several reasons why you should avoid it whenever possible. HCFS can cause digestive issues by affecting the intestinal lining. It also has contaminants that are not measured by the FDA because it goes through a very unnatural chemical process in order to be created. The fructose in corn syrup can cause fatty liver disease and the glucose spikes your blood sugar and can lead to diabetes. Both effects are of course unwanted whether you are trying to lose weight or not, and just one can of soda can have 130 to 140 calories, so you're far better off not consuming it at all.

Food #4 - Cereal

Most types of cereal are not healthy and have a high glycemic index. It's even worse when you purchase the large value packages, as you're more likely to eat a higher number of servings. There are a few low calorie whole grain cereals that have a low glycemic index, but they are hard to find. If you do eat cereal, you want to find one with a GI between 30 and 50, and anything higher than this is potentially harmful in terms of its potential to cause weight gain. Also keep in mind that even low glycemic index cereals may have wheat or other ingredients that can trigger allergies for some people and cause other autoimmune symptoms that can lead to chronic inflammation, which is another health problem that can cause weight issues.

Food #5 - Alcohol

Getting rid of alcohol in your diet will go a long way in helping you control your weight. There certainly are some drinks that are lower in calories than others, and if you have a low calorie cocktail every now and then it's not going to make you gain weight. But if you've found that you've been gaining weight and have a beer or wine habit, it's a good idea to scale back on the drinking altogether or substantially. There are plenty of calories from carbohydrates in alcoholic drinks. For men it can lower testosterone levels and it also has the effect of increasing the appetite, meaning that you're likely to eat a lot more when you drink more. It's best to avoid it altogether when you're really making an effort to lose weight.

Food #6 - Processed "€œSmart"€ snacks

Although "€œsmart"€ snacks or other low calorie processed snacks might be marketed as healthy, it doesn't mean they really are a healthy option for you. Many of these snacks have a high carbohydrate content, and they aren't very satisfying. Eating 100 calories of mostly sugar is almost the same as drinking a soda, and although it can provide you with a burst of energy, it's quickly followed up by a drop off that can leave you fatigued, wanting to eat more, and it also spikes your blood sugar. Foods that can fall in these category include cookies and other baked goods in 100 calorie servings, granola bars, desserts, and other foods that you otherwise would be trying to avoid when losing weight. Don't get tempted to buy unhealthy foods just because they are in smaller portion sizes; it will still have a negative effect on your health and cause many of the same symptoms that larger portions would.

Food #7 - High calorie condiments

Condiments are a sneaky source of weight gain that can be very easy to overlook. One tablespoon of ketchup as one example has 19 calories, but that can quickly add up, and it also has 4.5 grams of carbohydrates. Mayonnaise has many more calories, at 94 per tablespoon although it doesn't have the same carbohydrate content. Other toppings like ranch salad dressings can have even more calories per serving. You do have to be extremely careful to avoid any high calorie or high carbohydrate condiments when you are trying to lose weight. It does take a bit of vigilance and effort, but it's well worth it considering the fact that there are plenty of healthy alternatives like low sugar ketchup, low fat mayo, and low fat or non-fat salad dressings. Be careful with the salad dressings and make sure that they are made with natural ingredients if you go for a low fat option.

Food #8 - Sugar free foods

Sugar free foods can be just as bad as foods that are high in sugar, if not worse. This is because they normally use an artificial sweetener to flavor the food. We've discussed the potential negative effects of artificial sweeteners on this blog several times in the past, and in general you want to avoid them as much as possible when you're trying to lose weight. If it says sugar free it's best to probably avoid it.

Food #9 - Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is really not healthy. The bags of popcorn are lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which the EPA lists as a likely carcinogen. This same compound is found in Teflon pots and pans and when it is heated it is linked to health problems like cancer, infertility, and other diseases. Although there haven't been any studies on humans, the EPA has warned that it causes cancer. Of course, popcorn is also an unhealthy food and many microwave varieties have tons of additives and even trans fats which are known to be very toxic. You can make your own natural popcorn using natural oils like coconut and palm oil and that is a far better option when considering how bad most processed varieties are.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.