Healthy food doesn’t always go hand in hand with low calories and consuming too many of some ‘healthy’ foods is more likely to cause weight gain than loss. So which healthy foods won’t help you lose weight?
With so much information about the foods that aren't healthy, most of us are aware that chocolate, crisps, cake etc are high in calories. But according to a survey conducted for the World Cancer Research Fund, it is our lack of knowledge and underestimation of the calorific content in many ‘healthy’ foods which catches us out.
One reason is the confusion over labelling, e.g. ‘light’ or ‘reduced fat’. All these terms really mean is they have fewer calories or less fat than the original version. They could, however, still be a high fat or high calorie food.
Following are some examples of healthy foods which are high in calories.
Even though olive oil is a healthier fat, all fats have 9 calories per gram. A regular 230g pot of houmous can have 600 calories and 50g of fat (70% of the recommended daily amount of fat for adults). If you’re wanting to include houmous as part of your weight loss plan, it’s best to stick to reduced fat varieties in small, individual pots as found in this post.
2. Dried Fruit, Nuts and Seeds
Dried fruit, nuts and seeds make handy and nutritious snacks. However, they're extremely energy dense and each handful is crammed with calories. It’s easy to get carried away eating them as they’re so small and before you realise it, you’ve packed away half a day's calories allowance in a few minutes.
One ounce, a small handful (28g) of peanuts has around 170 calories and over half of those are from fat. Although this is the healthy sort of fat, it still has the same calories as unhealthy fat. Dried fruit on the other hand, gets its calories from sugar. Since dried fruit, nuts and seeds contain a multitude of health benefits, include them in your healthy diet, but eat them sparingly.
3. Breakfast Cereals
Eating a bowl of cereal provides a quick and easy breakfast or snack at any time of day. But the truth is, nearly all breakfast cereals are high in calories, even those targeted at dieters and those trying to eat more healthily. Like houmous, cereals are energy dense, so you’re getting more calories per mouthful than many other foods. If you want to lose weight eating breakfast cereal, you have to eat it in smaller quantities.
The highest calorie culprits for breakfast cereals are those which are bursting with nuts, fruit and seeds as well as those granola types with large clusters. These all have large amounts of sugar in them. In many cases they have more calories per 100g than some children's sugary or chocolate coated cereals.
The best way of understanding how much of your favourite cereal you should be eating, is to weigh the recommended portion size the next time you pour it out. This way, you’ll have a better idea of how much you need.
One of the healthiest ways to start your day is to eat a bowl of porridge. Not only is it nutritious, filling and tasty, it's also a low energy dense food, whether it's made with water or milk.
4. Fruit Juice
While fruit juice isn't energy dense, it is seen as healthy by some. A single glass (250ml) can count as one of the recommended five-a day, but many fruit juices are high in sugar. The average 250ml glass of orange juice contains 110 calories.
If you're drinking juice throughout the day, you could end up consuming hundreds of extra calories. Try using smaller glasses just for juice so you're not tempted to drink too much or dilute it with water.
Most cheeses, with the exception of quark, cottage cheese and some very low fat cream cheeses, are high calorie foods. This includes cheeses such as Edam or Feta as well as those which are labelled as ‘reduced fat’ and ‘lighter’. These are often seen as a healthier and lower calorie alternative. They may have fewer calories but they're not low in calories. As such, they should only be eaten in small quantities.
If you’re in any doubt as to whether the food you’re about to eat is a high calorie one, check the label or nutritional information to find out whether it has more than 225 calories per 100g. If it does, then it’s a high calorie food and should be eaten in small amounts only. Doing this could go a long way towards helping you succeed with your weight loss efforts.
The Mayo Clinic website also has lots more information on high and low energy dense food.
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