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Healthy Foods That Can Cause Weight Gain

Healthy Foods That Can Cause Weight Gain
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

Healthy Foods That Can Cause Weight Gain

There are dozens of so called "€œhealthy foods"€ that can actually cause weight gain and are totally counterproductive to your dieting efforts. Pretty much any processed food is a bad idea to eat, especially on a regular basis, but lately there have been products that have been marketed as "€œsmart"€ or healthy/low calorie, or people just have a misconception about them. It's important to look past labels and marketing and think about the actual ingredients in a particular meal to know whether or not it is actually healthy. It's difficult to cook every meal at home even with your best efforts, but being aware of these foods that are misconstrued as being healthy will help you order smarter the next time you eat at a restaurant or buy a pre-packaged meal.

Sushi isn't that good for you

Sushi is commonly thought to be healthy, and there are certainly some types of sushi that are actually healthy but a lot of the most popular sushi rolls aren't. Some of the rolls can come with tempura batter which is far from healthy. A main ingredient of sushi is rice, which isn't the best food to eat on a regular basis and can even lead to weight gain. Brown rice isn't much better than white rice, but white rice can contribute to weight gain when it is consumed in excess and it has a glycemic index of 89. Sushi is also often made with fattening mayonnaise and other high calorie dressings. The healthiest sushi rolls are made with simple ingredients; not deep fried batter or other fattening ingredients, and you should be careful to limit your portions as it can be easy to eat several pieces without thinking much about it. Ask the chef for healthier rolls if you aren't sure and limit your carbohydrate intake as much as possible.

Dried fruit isn't the best snack

If you enjoy eating dried fruit you need to be careful with how much of it that you eat. Fruit is much better eaten whole and not dried, whole fruit contains water which is filling. Dried fruit on its own can have a very high glycemic index. For instance, one cup of grapes has just 60 calories while a cup of raisins has a huge 460 calories, most of those calories being sugar. The process of drying the fruit can also remove some of its nutrients. If you do enjoy eating dried fruit, eat it in limited quantities and mix it with blood sugar stabilizing sources of protein like yogurt or nuts. Dried fruit does contain many of the antioxidants that regular fruit does, so it does have some health benefits, you just have to be careful with your portions.

Bran muffins are far from healthy

Muffins and other baked goods made with wheat are actually not very healthy at all in spite of often being marketed as health foods. Bran muffins are made with the outer layer of grains and are thought to be healthier because they have some vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. However, bread products with bran often still have a relatively high glycemic index, as they are still made with wheat and only contain bran as one of the ingredients. Also, a main ingredient in many bran muffins is vegetable oil and buttermilk, and vegetable oil in particular is one of the least healthy oils. Bran muffins are also high in calories; just one muffin can have upwards of 500 calories, and most of those calories come from the carbohydrates in wheat, raisins, sugar and other ingredients and additives.

Bagels have the same problem that muffins have

Bagels are also not a healthy option because they are made with wheat and they are often served in large portions. Plain bagels are made with pure starch, and even other varieties like poppy seed, wheat, and other varieties are high in calories and are easily converted to sugar. Bagels are made with dense flour, which means that they are much higher in calories than other bread products, and the dense flour leads to a higher number of calories per serving. A single bagel can have 300 or more calories, and if you add cream cheese, jelly or other toppings, the calories add up even quickly. Like muffins they are made with wheat and they have the potential to cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, along with the potential inflammation that gluten and other wheat compounds can cause.

Fruit juice and sweetened tea can lead to weight gain

Although fruit juice and sweetened are certainly healthier than soda or artificially flavored drinks, they are still not healthy drink options and should be avoided. If you want the antioxidants and nutrients from fruit, eat fruit by itself and avoid drinking juice. Juice doesn't have the fiber that fruit has, so it is much higher in calories. Sweetened teas that use honey or sugar instead of artificial sweeteners are often marketed as being healthier options when they really aren't. And you definitely want to avoid any diet teas that use artificial sweeteners. Again, sweetened teas may have antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, but the sugar in them makes them potentially harmful to drink in large quantities. If you are going to have juice or tea, it is best to drink them small quantities if any at all and drink them with water.

Microwaved diet meals are not good for you

Microwaved diet meals claim to offer lower calories per portion but they are often heavily processed and made with ingredients that can cause metabolic problems. Many microwaved diet meals are loaded with sodium which can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. They are also heavy in carbohydrates even though they may be lower in calories, and the portion sizes are often unsatisfying. You're much better off cooking a quick meal at home rather than relying on microwaved meals for anything. Also, the process of microwaving vegetables can remove their beneficial compounds or reduce their bioavailability, and it can change the molecular structure of the food by reducing its water content. Microwaving foods also eliminates the benefits of vitamins like vitamin B-12, and it can even leach carcinogens into your food if you microwave meals that are wrapped in plastic.

Be careful with smoothies

Smoothies are often very high in calories, and if you buy smoothies at a shop you need to be careful about what they put in it. You can usually customize each smoothie, and most smoothie shops will show you the number of calories in the smoothie, but if you pay close attention each smoothie can have upwards of 500 or more calories per serving. Smoothie shops often add fattening ingredients like agave nectar, peanut butter, sugar, honey and other sweeteners, and they may use whey protein that has been artificially sweetened. Also, the fruit juice in smoothies is an extra source of sugar. Smoothies aren't all bad; you just need to be careful when ordering them and control exactly what you put in them. If you make a smoothie, try to combine different fruits and vegetables together and don't use juice for the liquid, just use plain water and avoid adding any sweeteners outside of Stevia. Also if you use whey protein, try to stick to natural varieties without additives.


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.