30 Common Foods to Avoid if You Want to Lose Weight

Most people are aware that they need to stay away from fast food restaurants and high calorie desserts to shed some pounds, but what about the things you regularly stock in your cupboards and fridge that you don’t think twice about? Could they be derailing your efforts? Absolutely.

Losing weight is like walking a tightrope. One wrong move and you’re afraid you’re going to fall, never feeling the sweet success that lies with reaching the safety platform of your goal destination. Just as you absolutely have to know what to do to guarantee that you don’t misstep, you also have to know what not to do. And, when weight loss is the rope you’re walking, that involves avoiding certain pretty common foods.

In fact, here is a list of thirty foods that may be silently sabotaging your weight loss dreams:

1. White rice

Not only does white rice have fewer nutrients than brown rice, your body can process it so quickly it’s likely to send your blood sugar soaring. The result is an energy crash that is soon to come, followed by cravings to eat other not-so-healthy foods in an effort for your body to feel energetic again. Choose brown rice instead and enjoy more nutrients with fewer future cravings.

2. Grapes

black grapes

While grapes are fruit that are healthy, they also have a high sugar content which can start a cycle of cravings for other sweets that you may have a harder time walking away from. If you want to include grapes in your diet, just make sure you always pair them with a protein, such as low calorie string cheese to keep your blood sugar stable.

3. Low calorie snacks

Although you may think you’re doing your body good by choosing low calories snacks over their full fat counterparts, you’re probably severely limiting if not totally stalling your weight loss efforts by doing so. Most low calorie snacks that you buy are too small to satisfy your appetite, so you’re better off eating “real” food if you’re truly hungry.

4. Diet Soda

The artificial sweeteners in diet soda have been shown through research to actually cause weight gain as opposed to weight loss. Whether it is that drinking them increases appetite or just makes the consumer think that they can eat more since they chose diet soda over regular is still undetermined. Whatever the reason, avoid them completely and you’ll likely drop some pounds (along with some bloat).

5. Certain breakfast cereals

Although a lot of breakfast cereals are lower in fat, a majority of them contain a lot of sugar. Sugar provokes cravings and opens your body up to a whole host of health issues, making it difficult to lose weight when you don’t feel good. Choose all natural or organic cereals that have a lot of protein and fiber in them instead.

6. Canned soup

It’s convenient to open a can of soup for lunch or dinner, but doing so may help you pack on extra pounds. The reason soup lasts almost forever is because it is loaded with sodium. And, when you eat high sodium foods, your body has a hard time determining when it is full causing you to eat more than you should or be hungry relatively quickly after finishing your meal. If you want to eat canned soup, then, at least buy the low sodium kind.

7. Frozen meals

Freezer meals and frozen pizzas can be just as tempting as canned soup when you’re in a time crunch. However, they too are loaded with salt to preserve them. This causes you to eat more and your body retains excess water in an attempt to dilute the large volume of salt that you’re taking in. Neither one will get you closer to your weight loss goal so it’s best to avoid these convenience meals altogether.

8. Salted nuts

Although nuts are a great protein source, salted nuts can be your biggest enemy. You continue to reach into the can for handful after handful and before you know it, you’ve consumed more than your daily allotment of calories. You still have to monitor your intake with unsalted nuts, but they’re better for you and you’re less likely to continue to eat them mindlessly due to their lack of sodium.

9. Fruit Juice

Avocado apple and orange Juice

It sounds healthy because it contains the word “fruit” but fruit juice should actually be called “flavored sugar water”. Most of them contain so much of the sweet stuff that it totally outweighs any good it could possibly do for you. If you want a fruity taste, your best bet is to stick with the real stuff fresh off the vine.

10. Most pasta

Pasta is great when it comes to energy, but because most of them are simple carbs they get processed by your body rather quickly, sending your blood sugar on that roller coaster ride that all dieters dread. You don’t have to avoid pasta completely, just limit it to the whole wheat varieties so you get all the nutrients with none of the sugar spikes.

11. Artificial sweeteners

There has been a real push in the last decade or so to avoid regular sugar and switch to artificial sweeteners instead. However, research has shown that these artificial substitutes actually promote weight gain as opposed to weight loss. Avoid them and you’ll likely lose some unwanted fat as well.

12. Alcohol

Even low calorie alcoholic drinks can pack on the pounds when you engage in a night or weekend of binge drinking. On top of the extra calories, alcohol also tends to inhibit good decision making; causing you to choose deep fried foods over salads every time.

13. Canned fruit

Another food that sounds healthy, but isn’t necessarily is canned fruit. Most of them are loaded with tons of sugar; enough where their bad outweighs their good. If you absolutely cannot live without it, at least buy the fruit canned in light syrup.

14. White bread

White bread a high glycemic food (meaning it causes a huge reaction with your blood sugar). Add a pat of butter to it and now you’ve made it worse by making it high calorie too. If given the option, choose whole wheat over white and use a seasoned olive oil dip instead. You’ll make your heart and your waistline happier.

15. Deli meats

You may think you’re eating healthy by buying lean turkey and ham from the local deli, but think again. Processed lunch meats are loaded with sodium to keep them usable for as long as possible. You’ll do much better for yourself by buying the unprocessed meat, cooking it and slicing it up yourself.

16. Most smoothies

Here we are with fruits and vegetables again. Yes, smoothies can contain a lot of great vitamins and minerals from the healthy foods they’re made of, but most of them are also very high calorie. They’re great if you’re going to miss a meal, but to use them as an addition to your meal will probably increase your pant size.

17. Dried fruit

Didn’t realize fruit would be such an issue did you? The problem with dried fruits is that most are loaded with added sugar. So, if you’re going to buy foods like these to snack on, just make sure that all you’re getting is the fruit itself. You can even make your own if you’re so inclined.

18. Almost all salad dressings

Just because you’re eating a healthy salad doesn’t mean that you can load it up with high-fat high-calorie salad dressing and call it even. Stick with olive oil and vinegar when you can, or at least choose the low calorie dressings.

19. White potatoes

White potatoes

Rating high on the glycemic index like white bread, white potatoes raise your blood sugar and then cause it to drop, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen when you’re trying to watch your food intake. You’re better off eating sweet potatoes instead because they don’t have that effect.

20. Vegetable oil

Some oils are better for you than others, and vegetable oil is on the not-so-good side of the list. Substitute unsweetened applesauce in place of the oil in your recipes for a healthier alternative.

21. Soy sauce

Although rice tastes great with just a little bit of soy sauce, it doesn’t take much to edge you over your recommended daily limit of sodium. If you can’t imagine rice without it, at least switch to the low sodium kind so you don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done trying to get fit and trim.

22. Tomato sauce

Tomatoes are good, right? Yes, but not in sauces that are loaded with sugar and/or salt. Either make your own or buy the brands that offer reduced amounts of the substances you want less of in your diet. Your scale will show the results.

23. Marbled red meats

Red meats carry a lot of body healthy nutrients, like iron and  vitamins A, D and E. So, while you’ll want to include them in your diet in limited portions, just make sure you choose the lower fat cuts. Aim for ground products that are less than 10% fat and cut any extra fat off the meat that you can see prior to cooking if you’re going to eat steaks.

24. Whole fat cheese

The problem with this dairy product is that it doesn’t take much to go overboard. One ounce, which is the recommended serving size, is only the size of your thumb and most people consume way more than that in one sitting. You’re much better off buying and eating individually wrapped low fat cheese sticks if you’re trying to lose weight.

25. Boxed meals

Although they’re convenient and some of them do ontain healthy ingredients, boxed meals are still loaded with a lot of different salts to make them taste good when you cook them up. When possible, cook using all natural fresh ingredients.

26. Tuna packed in oil

Tuna provides you a good amount of vitamin C, manganese and zinc, but pack it in oil and it also gives you a lot of fat. When picking up canned tuna, make sure you choose the ones that are packed in water so you don’t go off course with your weight loss.

27. Pickles

Pickles on a wooden table

They’re low-fat and low-calorie, but pickles are also high in sodium. You’ve already learned why that isn’t good, so no need to go over that again; but if you really like the taste of cucumbers, cut up some fresh ones and add a little bit of vinegar. You’ll get the acidic taste without all the bloat causing salt.

28. Seasoning salts

Speaking of salts, most people cook with a bunch of different seasoning salts, turning healthy meals into ones that raise blood pressure and spark future cravings. For this reason, try to use seasonings that don’t contain sodium. If spices and herbs intimidate you, check out this easy-to-use guide and learn tasty ways to cook salt-free.

29. Pre-made deli salads

Just because it is advertised as “homemade” doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Most salads you’ll find for sale in the local deli are made with salad dressing or oil. You’re much better off making your own so you can control what does and does not go into it.

30. Ketchup

This one condiment seems harmless enough, but did you realize that it is extremely high in both sugar and salt? That makes ketchup double trouble when you’re trying to lose weight. Yes, it goes real well with French fries, but you shouldn’t be eating them very often if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy anyway, right?

Certainly, you can’t eat perfect all the time but the better you eat overall, the more progress you’ll make toward your goal of losing weight and getting in shape. Limit foods like these in your diet and you’ll fit into those skinny jeans faster than you thought possible.

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.


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  • This is great, I’ve being trying to loose wait for ever with no good lasting result so I decided to change the way I eat and i start adding more raw food apples and lots of greens, so far I lost 20 pounds.

  • Thank you for this post! At least now i know where i ve been going wrong! I lived on tined soup wondering why i haven’t lost weight! Of cooking i go :) healthy soups here i come :) once again thanks!!

  • Im just wondering what r u supposed to eat than???! Dear lord everything that is in the grocery store is on this list!!

  • This is good the info on this site is really helpful Im really serious about losing weight and i want to do this right for me and my wife as well.