5 So-Called “Healthy” Foods that Can Contribute to Weight Gain

Low-fat, fat-free, reduced fat, healthy, natural — these buzzwords are leading consumers to believe that the foods they’re purchasing are healthy choices that support weight loss. But that’s not always the case. To illustrate our point, we review five foods that many believe are healthy, but that may actually lead to weight gain — smoothies, meatless burgers, trail mix, salads, and granola.

At Lafferty Family Care, Dr. Scott Lafferty and our team want to partner with patients for healthy choices that lead to meaningful weight loss. To help you avoid some of the most common dieting pitfalls, here’s a look at what you should know about some of the more popular “healthy” food choices.

1. Smoothies

When it comes to packing in nutrients while avoiding calories, many dieters turn to vegetable and fruit smoothies. The lure of a smoothie is simple — you can get vitamins, minerals, and fiber in just one drink while avoiding the unnecessary calories of a full meal.

Not so fast. Store-bought smoothies are chock full of sugars, fruit juice, and sometimes  thickening ingredients, like whole milk and yogurt, which can seriously add to the calorie and fat count.

To get the full benefit of a smoothie, we recommend that you make it at home so you know exactly what’s going in it. Try blending just your whole fruits and veggies (think berries and leafy greens) with a bit of lowfat Greek yogurt for protein. By skipping the extra fruit juices and sugary yogurts, you receive just the beneficial fiber and nutrients without all the calories. 

You can also control your portions far better with homemade smoothies. If you read the labels on commercial smoothie bottles, you may find that what you’re holding in your hand is actually two or more servings.

2. Meatless burgers

If you enjoy a good burger, but you’re moving away from red meat, there’s no shortage of meatless burgers. But just because there’s no meat, it doesn’t mean that the veggie burger is good for your diet. Even the healthiest veggie burger options are highly processed and can be full of unhealthy additives like hydrolyzed protein and MSG.

The bottom line is that you should read the label very carefully — the fewer the ingredients, the better. Look for meatless burgers with good protein sources, like quinoa or beans, as well as veggies and other ingredients you can pronounce.

3. Trail mix

The idea of trail mix is simple — it’s a protein-filled snack that’s designed to give you energy when you’re on the go. What’s not so obvious is that many trail mixes are high in calories and sugar — especially those that contain chocolate and dried fruits. And when it comes to the nuts, they’re usually covered in salt.

Here again, we encourage you to take a DIY approach to trail mix. To do this, purchase low-salt or salt-free nuts, chocolate that’s 85% cacao or higher, and a limited amount of dried fruits. By controlling your trail mix, you ensure that you get the protein and energy boost you need without the salt, sugar, and extra calories you don’t. 

And with trail mix, the most important thing for weight loss is controlling your serving size by dividing it into 1-ounce portions. 

4. Salad with dressing

A great way to get in your leafy greens each day is with a healthy salad. But when you add your dressing, you may be undoing all of the weight-loss benefits of your salad. Many salad dressings are high in not only fat and calories, but also a host of chemical additives and sometimes even sugar. If you read their labels closely, you realize that each serving is pretty small and hardly enough to cover your salad.

So, the next time you eat a salad, throw out the prepackaged dressing in favor of a simple extra virgin olive oil dressing that you make yourself. Mix the oil with vinegar or lemon juice and your favorite herbs and spices to make your own unique blend.

5. Granola

For decades, granola has been held up as a healthy alternative to junk food as it relies on oats, nuts, and seeds — all of which are great for your nutritional needs. But not all granola is created equal. Many granola bars and cereals contain a fair amount of sugar, fat, and additives, and some even contain chocolate chips and other goodies to make granola more tempting. 

The end result is that many granola products are extremely high in calories and have ultimately gone the way of junk food. If you’re craving oats, a bowl of hot oatmeal with berries is a healthier way to go.

The bottom line is that just because a food is touted as healthy, it can still lead to weight gain. It pays to do your homework and make your own foods whenever you can, so that you’re in charge of quality control.

If you’d like to learn more about healthy ways to lose weight, please contact our office in Bentonville, Arkansas, to learn more about our weight-loss services.

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