Do you exercise and eat a “healthier” diet, but are still gaining weight?
How do you explain weight gain when your lifestyle includes regular exercise and you eat a healthier diet, where day after day, you’ve refused deserts, nibbled on baggies of carrots, switched to low fat meals and snacks, and may be perhaps started eating vegetarian, or even vegan? Gaining weight is absolutely maddening, especially when you really don’t understand why the needle on the scale just won’t budge downward.
So what’s the big mystery as to why people struggle with their weight despite watching calories and being physically? They eat more than they should. And more than likely, it’s a variety of lifestyle factors working together that have resulted in the weight gain.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Even foods which are genuinely healthy can lead to an overweight you and me if we consume too much of them. If we eat only healthy fresh, whole foods but consistently consume twice what our body needs (in terms of our energy requirements), we’ll get fat. If we’re fat, we’re at a greater health risk. Simple.
Obviously, what types of food we eat is essential to get right, but for many of us, why, when and how much we eat are the biggest issues. Not only are we the sit-down generation but we are also the over-eating generation. We have an incredible ‘skill’ for putting food in our mouth that our body doesn’t need. Our want over-rides our need and the net result is… the overweight condition and obesity.
Here are the top 10 healthier and healthy food mistakes people make.
- Seeds and Nuts. Yep, healthy and “Nutrient Rich”. Except of course when you’re eating a bucket of cashews before lunch. When it comes to eating nuts, at 180+ calories per oz, you have to know how much you are putting in your mouth. Nuts are a quality natural food, but they are also very high in calories from healthy fats. So eating too much of them will lead to weight gain.
- Fruit Smoothies. The term ‘healthy smoothie’ can be an oxymoron with some smoothies (from well-known outlets or Jamba Juice ) having as many as 600 calories and 70 grams (14 teaspoons) of sugar. Wanna get fat? Throw down a couple of those bad boys each day.
- Dried fruit. We take out the water, we leave the sugar and the calories and we’re left with dried fruit. A very energy-dense and healthy food for highly active people. Fresh fruit is a much (much, much) better option. Compare 100 grams of fresh apricot (40 calories) with 100 grams of dried apricot (over 250 calories). Same weight, very different calories. If you’re going to eat dried fruit, do it sparingly.
- Salads. Just the word ‘salad’ wreaks of health, vitality and goodness, doesn’t it? If only it were true in all instances. As a rule, the only salad you wanna eat is the one with fresh ingredients and no refined and added oil, salt and sugar based dressings. Not all, but many salads that you buy when eating out are laced with high-fat (oil) dressings and high-sugar sauces. A Caesar salad can easily contain 50-60 grams of fat (the same as two Big Macs). And we haven’t even factored in the cheese, chicken etc!
- Muesli (nuts, oats, dried fruit) bars. The majority are high fat, high-sugar, high-calorie crap with way more than nuts oats and dried fruit. Avoid them unless it’s the absolute best you can get.
- Protein bars. Some are okay but not many, starting with the protein source; whey, and isolated soy protein are not health promoting. Most are also high in preservatives, interesting chemicals, and calories and fat. Some are laced with artificial sweeteners and who knows what the long-term consequences of those will be.
- Many protein bars have a similar calorie and fat content to a Mars bar (of comparative weight). Read the labels and choose wisely if you must have one, but keep in mind that you can find healthy options of protein in plant based foods like beans itself as a safer and nutrient rich option.
- Low fat ice-creams and dinners: Low fat is not really “low in fat” anyway. It assumes that fat is bad when only unhealthy, nutrient poor fat is bad, and what good is low fat anyway when all the other ingredients in the food stuff will sit as fat on your body anyway!
- Cereal. In America, the vast majority of supermarket cereals are high-sugar, refined “health food as junk food.” Cereal is a beloved food, even this author loves cereal, but most of the popular cereals (in terms of sales) live somewhere in the twenty to thirty five percent refined sugar ranges and are based on what may have once been whole, organic foods, but are not more organic or whole anymore than your mahogany desk is a live tree. Great for the dentists, not so good for our kids. Or you. Look on the back of the pack and as a rule, the less more natural ingredients, the better.
- Vegetarian meals. Some people assume that if a meal is vegetarian, it’s automatically healthy. Erroneous assumption. Some vegetarian meals are fantastic. Some are high in unhealthy animal fats (yes, from eggs, milk, cheese, and other animal foods), none of which are really health promoting. Some vegetarian meals contain plenty of oil and other high saturated fat ingredients like coconut milk. By the way, one cup of coconut milk contains fifty seven grams (!!!) of fat – more than most of us should consume in an entire day or two. Don’t avoid vegetarian foods; just know that “vegetarian” is one of those vague terms that are not really clear.There are many more hidden diet traps that people get caught up in, these are some of the most common. Stays tuned for more, but at a deeper level, check out the 7 fundamental reasons why even healthy eaters can gain weight,See the 7 Basic Food Bullets to Eat and Live By Nutrient Rich Principles