You could be sabotaging your weight loss by turning to the wrong foods. Certain reduced fat, low-calorie and sugar-free foods claim they are dieter-friendly – but often turn out to be your worst choice. Some low-calorie options are loaded with fat, and some fat-free options are loaded with sugar, and vice-versa. Avoid these fat traps, learn the healthy alternatives, and navigate your nutrition wisely.
Fat Trap #1: Sugar-Free Cookies
Often enough, sugar-free cookies contain the same or more fat as the original recipes. While a serving of cookies my have 0 grams of sugar, it can just as easily contain 9 grams of fat.
Slim Strategy: Try Graham Crackers
If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, nosh on graham crackers. The crunch and subtle sweetness can quell the need to seek out other diet-destroying desserts. Graham crackers have almost a teaspoon of sugar less per serving than other cookies, and only contain about 1 gram of fat.
Fat Trap #2: Veggie Chips
Essentially, a potato chip is born of a deep-fried vegetable, so veggie chips are no better than regular chips. A small bag of vegetable chips can have about the same amount of calories (150) and fat (9 grams) as a small bag of chips. In addition, manufacturers mask potato or corn flour-based chips with food coloring to pass them off as veggie chips.
Slim Strategy: Try Baked Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Get that salty, crunch from tortilla chips. Pair a serving (12 chips) with ½ cup of store-bought or homemade salsa and you’ll get a full serving of vegetables. This snack weighs in at a little more than 150 nearly fat-free calories. Just be sure to watch the sodium content.
Fat Trap #3: Fat-Free Dressing
This fat trap is often the most surprising. While a full-fat dressing can destroy the nutritional value of a salad, fat-free dressings can do something similar. Certain nutrients found in vegetables are only fat-soluble, meaning you need a little bit of fat in order for the body to absorb the nutrients. In addition, fat-free dressings may make you miss out on the antioxidant value of vegetables. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who used fat-free dressings didn’t benefit from the lycopene or beta carotene content of their vegetables. If you can’t absorb the nutrients, you’ll be left feeling unsatisfied after eating. This could lead to grazing and nibbling on other foods throughout the day.
Slim Strategy: Try an Oil-Based, Reduced-Fat Dressing
Look for dressings that contain heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil, and 2 to 4 grams of fat per serving. Two teaspoons (a serving) of this kind of dressing will count for 150 calories; these 150 calories will serve you better than the hundreds more you consume between unhealthy snacks later.
Fat Trap #4: Fruit Snacks
A lot of fruit snacks tout that they are made with real fruit juice and provide a full day’s worth of other vitamin C and other nutrients. But when it comes down to it, the added sugars and artificial ingredients render any of the potential nutritional benefits moot.
Slim Strategy: Try Fresh or Dried Fruit
The real thing is your best option. Fresh and dried fruit are both rich in fiber, phytonutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Fruit snacks offer none of this. Aim for 5 servings of real or dried fruit a day.