Many people make the move from consuming sugary cereals or fatty fried breakfasts to eating a portion of muesli in the mornings. This is no surprise, as muesli is often specifically marketed to the health-conscious crowd.
You may be dismayed, however, to learn that the type of muesli that you can find in most stores is actually quite bad for your body if you are trying to shed fat or maintain a healthy weight.
Specifically, muesli often provides as many as 500 calories per serving, has a high fat content, and contains an unacceptable amount of added sugar. You’d be better off eating fresh fruit or even a plain doughnut.
If you hate the idea of giving up muesli, but are committed to eating healthily, the best thing that you can do is make your own muesli. To make muesli, you need buy oats, sunflower seeds, a small amount of dried fruit, and some macadamia nuts (though you should be conservative when adding the fruit and nuts in order to keep the sugar and fat content of your muesli under control).
With a serving of fat free milk, this homemade muesli will give you the fuel you need to start your day without causing your blood sugar levels to skyrocket.
2. Banana Chips
Anything associated with fruits or vegetables will tend to get a reputation as a healthy food, and many dieters are in denial about the idea that any type of fruit could be bad for the body.
Unfortunately, banana chips are made by deep frying bananas, which means that just one serving will contain a staggering 10g of saturated fat and at least 150 calories.
This high saturated fat content will cause your cholesterol to spike, raising your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and potentially increasing the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at some point in your lifetime.
In addition, it is worth noting that banana coins contain fewer of the essential vitamins and minerals that can be found in a fresh banana.
Bananas themselves are virtually fat free and provide just 100 calories per average serving. If you particularly like the taste of banana chips, and were not simply attracted to them because you thought they were healthy, you can try putting sliced banana in a food dehydrator or opt to bake banana slices in the oven.
After a few hours of baking at a low temperature, they should emerge with a crispy texture and no added calories.
3. Tuna sushi
Not all unhealthy foods are bad for you because they cause you to gain weight. Some are dangerous in other ways.
Tuna sushi is a classic example of a seemingly healthy food that can be hazardous to your health in large doses.
While sushi is compatible with trying to lose weight because it is relatively low in calories and fat, there is a hidden possibility of consuming an excess of mercury.
The key to healthy tuna (or any fish caught in the wild) is to avoid eating more than six ounces of per week.
You should also be aware of the fact that the sushi served in restaurants typically contains more mercury than the types that you can buy in stores. Eating out is almost never a better option than preparing a meal yourself and sushi is just one more example of this fact.
If you do end up consuming too much mercury, you can develop mercury toxicity and may develop systems such as sleeplessness, weakness, poor memory, vomiting, high blood pressure, anxiety abdominal pain, and even hair loss. At worst, you could be at risk of sustaining permanent neurological damage.
Pregnant women should be especially careful when it comes to tuna sushi, as there is a documented increase of disabilities in unborn babies whose mothers consume sources of mercury
4. Energy bars
Unscrupulous or undereducated grocery store owners might deliberately put energy bars in the aisle reserved for foods that enhance weight loss.
Energy bars are not for weight loss. These bars are also commonly featured in many health food stores, though they aren’t really health food.
In reality, the average energy bar is anything but good for your waistline. They may even be worse than a candy bar when it comes to encouraging your body to store excess fat and calorie content.
Most energy bars contain at least 500 calories, providing the same amount of calories as a small dinner or a large lunch. This is because they are designed to be meal replacements for active, on-the-go individuals.
In spite of the huge amount of calories inside them, however, energy bars are often very small. This discrepancy in size leaves you feeling hungry again soon after eating one. So, you get a huge calorie load without feeling satiated.
The major draw of the energy bar is its high protein content and load of nutrients like calcium, iron, potassium, and folate. Unfortunately, protein bars don’t contain all that many nutrients. Soy, which provides the protein in energy bars, does contain nutrients. Processing to make the bars, however, strips most of the nutrients from the soy, leaving just the protein. The problem gets worse though.
Soy is high in fat. The fat is removed, when making energy bars, through the use of a chemical called hexane. Hexane, however is neurotoxic (damaging brain and nerve cells) and has come under scrutiny recently as an unacceptable mechanism for processing food.
The use of hexane in protein bars is made all the more perplexing by the fact that sugar and salt are added, in vast quantity, to make these bars palatable. In short, whatever benefits were gained by removing the fat are negated by adding sugar.
5. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a highly convenient snack and the fact that it typically contains plenty of nuts and dried fruit tends to create the impression that it is a healthy addition to your diet.
Most trail mix products, however, often contain sugar-covered nuts, yogurt-coated raisins, corn syrup, and the aforementioned deep fried banana chips.
As a result, just a couple of servings of trail mix could easily lead you to consume as many as 600 calories, a hefty amount of trans fats, and excessive amounts of refined sugars.
If you eat trail mix on a regular basis, you may be horrified and confused the next time you step onto the scales. Fortunately, it is possible to locate and purchase healthy trail mix.
Bypass the mixes that are full of candy, and look out for ones that are almost entirely comprised of nuts, with a couple of pieces of dark chocolate and some dried fruit thrown in.
If you can’t find healthy trail mix in a store, you can make your own using a few key ingredients. Eating conservative portions of this type of trail mix is perfectly compatible with living a healthy lifestyle and keeping a trim figure.
In the end, however, you are better off going without trail mix and eating its component ingredients separately. This will allow you to keep better track of overall calorie consumption.
6. Prepared Salads
When you order a salad at a restaurant, you probably think that you are treating your body properly and showing remarkable restraint.
Lamentably, while some salads are truly good for you, most of them can be just as bad as the burger you yearned to order the first place. What is worse, since they don’t fill you up, you’re likely to order that burger anyway.
The most popular salads found in restaurants will often be drowned in extra fats and calories so that consumers will find them tastier.
In many cases, these salads are particularly unhealthy due to the chef’s decision to add huge amounts of mayonnaise (which is high in both calories and fat).
In addition, you may find that the meat isn’t as lean as you would like it to be and that there are fatty flakes of Parmesan cheese all over your greens.
If you are concerned that a restaurant salad might not be healthy, ask your waiter about the ingredients. If you receive a vague answer or learn that your salad will be full of fat, it is better to order something else from the menu.
Of course, an even better option is to make your own salad at home (using green vegetables, lean meat, delicious herbs, and a modest dressing with low fat and sugar content).
7. Light Yogurts
Dieters often gravitate toward the low-fat yogurt shelf in the dairy section because the promise of reduced fat content implies that these yogurts will be helpful for those who want to lose weight.
This isn’t true because the lack of fat tends to create yogurt that tastes bland.
In an attempt to compensate, yogurt manufacturers will often choose to heap a lot of extra sugar into their products, creating a much more palatable yogurt at the cost of selling an unhealthy snack.
The high sugar content can make these reduced-fat yogurts less healthy than a regular yogurt, so it pays to be particularly careful when choosing yogurts at the store. The ideal yogurt will contain low levels of fat and sugar, including enough of each to create an acceptable flavor but not so much of either that the yogurt becomes unhealthy.
It should come as no surprise to those who keep up with food research that the artificial sweeteners in light foods may do more harm than good. Though reducing sugar intake is healthy, reducing intake by substituting in artificial sweeteners is not healthy.
In addition to links between artificial sweeteners and conditions like stroke and depression, research is also finding that these products may increase appetite. Though the sweetener itself contains fewer calories than sugar, people who consume sweeteners tend to be hungrier and thus consume more calories over a day.
The problems with light yogurt begin with the artificial sweeteners added to them, but that is not where they end. Other problems include the addition of modified corn starches, preservatives, and artificial colors. This may leave you with the impression that plain yogurt is the best alternative, which would be partly right.
Plain yogurt is preferable to light or flavored yogurt, but it has its own drawbacks as well. If you do go with plain yogurt, you can add honey or vanilla to flavor it.
8. Gluten-Free Foods
For those with Celiac Sprue, a disease in which the body develops antibodies against itself as a result of a protein in gluten, gluten-free foods are nothing short of a miracle.
For the rest of us, gluten-free foods not only fail to provide a benefit, they also decrease our nutrient intake and thus do us a little bit of harm overall. If you don’t need gluten-free food, then don’t buy it.
Gluten-free products are highly refined amalgams of grains and sugar, but they often do not contain whole grain because it is difficult to create gluten-free, great-tasting foods out of whole grain.
That means that gluten-free bread is lower in fiber and natural B-vitamins than whole grain bread. It is also lower in antioxidant compounds known to combat everything from heart disease to cancer to the effects of aging.
If you are not sensitive to gluten, there is no need to cut it from your diet. If you are sensitive to gluten, then look for products that list a whole grain as being among the ingredients. Brown rice flour is a popular whole grain that is gluten free.
Other options include quinoa, buckwheat, and oats. Be careful with oats though if you are gluten sensitive as they are often contaminated with wheat during growing or processing.
9. Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereal packages are constantly claiming that their contents are a good source of one vitamin or another.
They are always touting a cereal’s benefits in fighting heart disease, and go out of their way to advertise the whole grain origins of their contents.
The problem is, breakfast cereal really isn’t anything more than a processed grain with a panacea of synthetic vitamins and minerals added to it.
The truth is that most breakfast cereals have little intrinsic nutritional value. The steps taken to create cereals are simply too damaging to vitamins, minerals, and fibers to leave much of the natural benefit of the grains intact.
The only option for manufacturers is to add a synthetic multivitamin into the fray. Multivitamins, however, don’t deliver all of the same benefits as the real things. They are certainly safe to consume, but they aren’t as beneficial as their natural counterparts.
All this talk of vitamins ignores the fact that cereals are usually high in sugar. The U.S. government, along with many others, does not have regulations that set daily allowances for sugar. Thus, the nutritional label won’t tell you how much of your daily allowance of sugar a cereal provides.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 5 teaspoons, about 20 grams, of sugar per day. The average serving of cereal contains several grams of sugar (kid’s cereal contains more than adult cereal does), making up a huge portion, sometimes more than 50%, of what the AHA recommends for daily consumption.
This is to say nothing about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Just skip the cereal if you can. Otherwise, look for one with very little sugar and no HFCS.
10. Sports Drinks
One of the claims made about energy drinks or sports drinks is that they are “better than soda.” That is true, but it isn’t setting the bar very high.
In truth, these drinks are high in sugar and contain a number of dyes and preservatives that have come under fire recently for their adverse health effects.
Source: Daily Diet