In general, when trying to lose weight, it is best to reduce or avoid foods that are calorie dense. However, the number of calories in a food is not the only factor to consider.
For example, low-calorie foods that lack nutrients such as fiber and protein can still leave a person feeling hungry and unsatisfied, which can make it harder to resist snacking.
In this article, we discuss 14 different types of food to avoid eating when trying to lose weight.
1. Sugary beverages
Many beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices, are very high in added sugars but often low in other nutrients. Consuming these beverages adds calories to the diet but does not help a person feel full.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people limit calories from added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their total daily intake, which is around 12 teaspoons for a 2,000-calorie diet.
These Dietary Guidelines also state that the average person in the United States consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Almost half of this sugar comes from drinks, including sweetened teas and coffees.
A 2015 study found an association between consuming sugar-sweetened beverages and excess weight gain in children and adolescents.
2. Baked foods
Baked foods, such as cookies, pastries, and many premade desserts, are often very high in added sugars, including fructose.
A 2015 study found that participants who ingested fructose experienced greater hunger and desire for food than those who ingested glucose, another type of sugar.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) are the primary source of trans fats in processed foods. The FDA also state that “removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year.”
3. French fries
Fried foods, including French fries, are generally high in calories, salt, and unhealthful fats.
Many restaurants cook their fries in a deep fryer to give them a crispy texture, but this cooking method adds a significant amount of fat and calories. Despite this, because they lack fiber and protein, French fries do not help a person feel full for very long.
A 2017 study investigated the consumption of fried potatoes in 4,440 people aged between 45 and 79 years. The researchers reported that participants who ate fried potatoes at least twice a week had a higher risk of premature death than those who ate them less frequently. They also found that the consumption of unfried potatoes did not increase the risk of death.
When eating out, people looking to lose weight should select a salad, fresh fruit, or a pickle as a side instead of fries.
4. Restaurant hamburgers
Hamburgers from restaurants, especially fast-food establishments, are often high in fat and calories.
A 14-year study from 2013 investigated the consumption of restaurant foods in 19,479 young African-American women. The researchers reported that participants who ate restaurant burgers at least twice a week had a higher risk of obesity than those who ate them on fewer than five occasions per year.
Lean, ground beef can be part of a healthful diet if a person cooks it at home without added fats or oils. An occasional homemade burger can be a good source of protein, iron, and some B vitamins.
When trying to lose weight, it is best to avoid hamburgers and fried foods when eating out. More healthful alternatives can include grilled chicken, fish, or salads with grilled meat.