One of the most frustrating experiences for many people who try to eat healthier to lose weight is eating all of the healthier foods they are “supposed to” eat and still not seeing any difference on the scale. This quickly leads many people to conclude that they have slow metabolisms and are doomed to never lose weight. However, odds are they are still eating more calories than they think. This is because we are collectively bad at estimating the calories we consume, often underestimating by 30% or more! These are a few of the “healthy” foods that many people tend to consume without realizing that they could be the culprits stopping the pounds from falling off on the scale.
Fruit smoothies are probably one of the least healthy foods that have a reputation of being healthy from clever marketing. This is coming from a former Jamba Juice employee (Jamba Jesse, hollah). This is not limited to just Jamba Juice, but instead applies to most commercial smoothie places.
I would often see long lines of people waiting to get what they thought was a healthy snack or meal in the form of a smoothie. However, that smoothie that they thought was made with fruit was actually mostly flavored with sugar heavy fruit juice. The amount of real fruit in the smoothie was disgustingly small. I would be making large shakes that contained 3 whole strawberries, 4 chunks of mango, and half a banana. The majority of the flavor came from the sugar heavy fruit juice. This makes these smoothies calorie dense and the fruit juice digests so fast that you will quickly be hungry again.
When I talked with a sports nutritionist as part of my college’s rugby team, they advised us to stay far away from these “healthy” smoothies. The nutrition of these smoothies was almost nonexistent compared to what people thought they were getting. This, paired with seeing how they were made, is why I never once had a smoothie from Jamba Juice the entire time I worked there. Do yourself a favor and blend up your own smoothie at home.if you have the craving.
Somehow breakfast companies have made muffins seem like a healthy food. I used to believe this as well. However, things that seem too good to be true usually are.
Muffins are so damn delicious because they are loaded with butter and sugar. A medium sized muffin that you eat as part of your breakfast can typically be around 400-500 calories. A large muffin can easily get up to the 700-900 calorie range! That’s a whole meal that we typically eat as a side.
Honestly, it is usually healthier and lower calories to eat cake or donuts rather than a muffin. Muffins are one of those foods that are extremely difficult to justify keeping in your diet because there are tastier and lower calorie alternatives. This is one of those foods that I recommend cutting from your diet completely because it is very hard to look like a stud muffin while eating them.
I love peanut butter. I could eat spoonful after spoonful and would have at least one peanut butter and honey/jelly sandwich a day throughout college (crunchy > smooth. Don’t @ me).
Sadly, I have had to cut back on regular peanut butter and now try to not keep it in my pantry because it is just so calorie dense. Take a look at the nutrition label next time you go to eat a spoonful of peanut butter. It is typically about 200 calories per a 2 tbsp serving. That would typically be the minimum size of my normal spoonful. Odds are, you are probably eating more calories than you think every time you have peanut butter and you would never know.
I make the choice to mostly cut traditional peanut butter from my diet and save it for special occasions to save my calories for other more satisfying and filling foods. I am still able to get my peanut butter craving by using PB2 powder, which is ⅓ of the calories and still has that peanut butter taste I crave. I have also found adding Combat Powder Peanut Butter cup protein powder to certain meals can give me the peanut butter taste I crave. Try these swaps next time and to keep your calories lower and keep your weight loss goal on track.
Chips and Guac
As a millenial, I have to love everything avocado related. And I do love me some chips and guac. However, this is one snack I avoid having in my house. While guac is loaded with healthy fats and nutrients, it is also loaded with calorie dense fat. Furthermore, chips add up in calories faster than you would think. Even ones that are marketed as healthy.
This sadly means that combining chips and guacs is a quick way to turn your snack into the calories of a meal. As a result, I try to limit how many chips and guac I consume because it is so easy to mindlessly eat. This usually means I never buy it for myself and usually only eat it at parties with friends so I do not eat it all myself.
Snacking in general can be a quick way to consume more calories than you think. Try to avoid mindlessly snacking as much as possible.
If you read an article about healthy snacks, I can almost promise you that nuts and granola are on there. I fell for this trap and snacked on nuts for many years before I actually looked at the nutrition label and realized how many calories were in such a small serving size.
- 23 almonds is about 165 calories
- 18 cashews is about 160 calories
- 28 peanuts is about 160 calories.
This small amount of nuts could easily be a quick handful. The volume of nuts is also so small that I have found trouble being satisfied with such a small amount of nuts.
Granola and trail mix fall into this section because they are usually nuts, dried fruit (loaded with sugar), and candy pieces, which just add even more calories. Take a look at the serving size of a bag of granola or trail mix and see how many servings are in that bag. It is very common that one “snack” sized bag of nuts, trail mix, or granola is 1000-2000 calories!
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and vitamins, but there are better ways to get these without packing in the calories.
I try to avoid drinking my calories whenever possible. They do not help you feel full and are an easy way to pack on extra calories. While fruit juices can contain some of the vitamins and minerals of fruit, a lot of them are loaded with sugar. Even the natural ones are high in calories for how satisfying they are.
You get a lot more bang for your buck when you just choose to eat the actual fruit instead of drinking the juice. This is because you will get the natural fiber found in fruit that keeps you full and slows the release of the natural fructose into your body. This smoothes out any blood sugar spikes and lowers the chance you have an energy crash.
Fresh Fruit Yogurt
Yogurts can be a great food to eat but more times than not, when they advertise fresh fruit, they are loaded with sugar, which completely ruins the healthy part of yogurt. Instead of buying yogurt with fruit added in, consider adding your own fresh or frozen fruit.Just make sure that the frozen fruit does not contain added sugar. Take a look through the yogurt area in your grocery store and you can find plenty of lower calorie options. A good place to start is with greek yogurt, which is usually high in protein. If you have a Kroger near you, look for the Kroger brand carb-master yogurt. It is low in calories, high in protein, and delicious. The cinnamon roll or white chocolate raspberry flavors are 10/10 amazing and taste like you are eating a dessert.
While some of these foods have more redeeming qualities than others, they all are common culprits that can cause people to eat more calories than they thought. This is why I recommend everyone track their calories by weighing their food and using an app like MyFitnessPal for at least a couple weeks. This can be an eye opening experience for many people as they will notice which foods are higher in calories than they would have assumed. It can also point out the types of foods that are lower in calories than you would have thought. Either way, with this information, you can make smart swaps and choices with your diet to make sure that you stay on track to your goals.
Disclaimer: the links for products on amazon are affiliate links and I will get a few shiny pennies and nickels if you buy from these links. These are all products I fully endorse and use myself, the links are meant to show you what they look like.