Can These ‘Healthy’ Foods Make You Gain Weight?

Nutrition // Lisa Donaldson // 16 April 2016

Many people find it perplexing that despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to shift any weight.

What the heck is going wrong? After all, they’re convinced they’re eating healthily … but are they really?

Maybe some of the foods they think are helping them lose weight are actually hindering their efforts. Maybe those ‘healthy’ foods are not so healthy at all!

1. Liquid options that sound healthy

Sports drinks may seem like a great idea after you’ve sweated it out at the gym, but unless you’re running a half marathon, the best place for them is on the shelf.

They contain do contain electrolytes which can be beneficial, but they also contain loads of sugar and calories that are not necessary unless you are training at a high intensity for more than 90 minutes.

Also read: How Much Sugar Are You Really Drinking?

The same goes for smoothies and fruit juices. They usually contain at least four pieces of fruit, and often more, which means a LOT of sugar in one hit. And if you buy them from a fancy-looking juice bar, they’ll often have sweet yoghurt or sorbet added too, which only ups the sugar content even more.

Steer clear of so-called ‘diet’ soft drinks too. They may contain zero calories, but more and more studies are linking them with weight gain around the stomach and with Metabolic Syndrome, which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Our 12WBT Tip: Drink WATER! Add a slice of fruit, cucumber, lemon or lime to add flavour. And instead of fruit juice, eat a single serve of whole fruit – that way you’ll have only the sugar of one piece and the fruit’s fibre will slow its absorption into your bloodstream. Alternatively, have a juice that’s made up mainly of  vegetables and one piece of fruit.

2. ‘Sugar-free’ desserts

We all know people who’ve jumped on the ‘sugar-free’ bandwagon, and while it’s a great idea to reduce the amount of refined sugar in your diet, snacking on ‘sugar-free’ snacks isn’t always a good idea.

Also read: How to Enjoy Desserts the Healthy Way

There’s a great temptation to eat more and more of these treat foods under the guise of being healthy, when in fact many of them are still high in calories. And a lot of them are loaded with rice malt syrup, which is, believe it or not, SUGAR.

Our 12WBT Tip: A piece of fruit is a far better sweet option, or have some veggie sticks and hummus. It’s fine to have treats – but keep them for your once-a-week indulgence. You’ll feel so much better!

3. ‘Healthy’ café items

When you’re at a café, you might think you’re having the healthy option by choosing any of these items: banana bread, a blueberry muffin or that yummy-looking yoghurt.

But let’s face facts: these aren’t healthy in the slightest. Banana bread and muffins are simply cake by a different name! And the yoghurt that in your head is healthy is actually laden with fat and sugar.

Our 12WBT Tip: Ask for low-fat natural yoghurt with fresh berries, or a slice of raisin toast with low-fat ricotta. If these aren’t available, find another café! Or bring a slice of 12WBT’s Banana Bread with you from home and enjoy that with a takeaway coffee.

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  1. Karen M Reply

    You mention stay away from smoothies as they contain sometimes 4 fruits thus giving a big hit of sugar. What about homemade smoothies? My Partner and I have been making our own smoothies for breakfast. Usually contaning skim milk, reduced fat greek yoghurt, protein powder, rolled oats, 100g of frozen blueberries and a banana. Once blended it will be about 600ml smoothie.

    1. Lisa Donaldson Reply

      Hi Karen, That sounds like a fabulous low GI smoothie! The protein from the yoghurt and milk slows down the release of energy from the fruit, keeping your blood glucose levels steady. Avoid juices that are predominantly fruit that have added sorbet or high sugar yoghurts. The best choice for juice are ones made from vegetables. Mish loves the saying, “2 roots and a fruit” as a guide for your juices.

      Lisa Donaldson
      Nutrition Support Crew Team Leader at 12WBT

  2. Vicki Reply

    Would love to hear Mich’s thoughts on foods like Acai Bowls and cold pressed vege juices and “Activated Charcoal”

    1. Danielle Warby Reply

      Hey Vicki, I’m chatting to our resident dieticians and getting this info together for you. Stay tuned!

      Danielle Warby
      Editor in Chief of the 12WBT Blog

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