There are 4 foods categories that may potentially jeopardize your efforts. Some of these may surprise you. Food labeling, especially items touted as being diet or health foods, can often be misleading.
Choose your foods wisely and follow some of the tips here for selecting better options.
Bottled or Boxed Fruit Juice
Fresh fruit is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. If you are hoping to get your vitamins and nutrients from packaged fruit juice, think again. Many processed fruit juices contain added sugars, sodium, and preservatives to prolong their shelf life.
Most processed fruit juices that you will find in your grocery store are stripped of fiber and vitamins. This happens during the manufacturing process. Often, the juice that is left is mainly water and sugar. All that sugar is difficult for your body to metabolize and may even increase your food cravings by spiking your blood insulin levels.
Fresh juice is a better way to get a beneficial dose of vitamin C and fiber. It may be worth the investment in a juicer or personal blender to make fresh juice and smoothies.
“High Fiber” Breakfast Cereals
It is quite common to see boxes of cereal with labels claiming them to be high in fiber and heart healthy with whole grains. Be sure to read the list of ingredients and the nutritional information. These are often in very small print for a reason.
Many processed breakfast cereals will list some form of sugar as one of the main ingredients. Don’t be fooled by cereals that are sweetened with agave, honey, or maple syrup. These are all simple sugars that can affect your blood insulin levels, giving you a rush that wears off quickly and brings on more cravings.
The grains in processed cereals are no longer whole. They have most likely been stripped of their nutritious fiber, B vitamins, and calcium. Processing of commercial cereals changes the grains from complex carbohydrates to simple carbohydrates that your body converts into sugar.
If cereal is your go-to source of fiber and an easy breakfast option for you, consider soaking rolled oats (not instant oatmeal) with some nuts, seeds, and cinnamon in non-dairy milk overnight. You can add fruit before you eat this in the morning. Or, try making a Paleolithic granola that is grain-free with nuts, seeds, coconut shreds, and maybe a few dried fruits.
Packaged Trail Mix with Added Sugar
Trail mix can be an excellent snack for a quick pick-me-up. These provide much needed energy in the form of plant protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Trail mix is a great alternative to fructose based sports drinks when working out.
The caveat is that many trail mixes are loaded with nuts that have been roasted in some form of oil and coated with either salt or sugar. Some mixes have dried fruits that are also coated with sugar. While others have milk chocolate candies added to the mix.
Sugar and added fat from oil are not your friends when trying to lose weight. Sodium is an essential electrolyte that is best consumed in moderation. Too much salt can cause water retention and a rise in blood pressure. Water retention is not a weight loss goal. Always check the sugar, fat, and sodium content of packaged trail mixes.
There are actually some good packaged trail mixes that have organic raw nuts and seeds, naturally dehydrated fruits, and maybe some super dark chocolate bits for antioxidants. You can also make your own healthy trail mix by visiting the bulk aisle at your local health food store for less money.
Anything Labeled “Diet”, Especially Diet Soft Drinks
Grocery store aisles are teeming with products labeled as diet, low calorie, reduced fat, sugar free, and zero, to name a few of the eye catching descriptions.
Let’s start with diet soda. Soft drinks have empty calories. Soda does not offer any nutritional benefit. It is basically carbonated water with flavorings and artificial colors. Diet or zero soda suggests that it will help with weight loss. Commercial diet soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners, such as Saccharin and Aspartame. These sugar substitutes have been linked with adverse health conditions.
Low calorie anything is likely to have an added ingredient to make it feel richer or sweeter. For instance, margarine, a butter substitute, is often made using hydrogenated oil (tans fats) to bind or whip it. Reduced fat cheese sometimes has emulsifiers or gums to make it feel creamier and to hold its shape.
In place of a diet soda, reach for sparkling water with lemon or a splash of cranberry. Instead of margarine, choose a small amount of grass fed butter, olive oil, or avocado oil. Try yogurt cheese with beneficial probiotics in place of low or no fat cheese.
Eat Smarter and Cleaner
There is a growing belief that if you are pursuing a weight loss regimen you should include real food and less processed foods. Real whole foods may have more calories than processed foods. Yet, they will fill you up faster and sustain you longer.
A great weight loss plan includes fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein, moderate consumption of whole grains, nuts, and legumes, exercise, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.