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So much of the battle with weight loss happens at the grocery store. What goes into your cart, ends up on your plate, and by then it’s too late. Let’s me honest, navigating the grocery store is it’s own challenge. There are thousands of ‘food’ products on the shelves, and most of these products have been designed in food labs to overwhelm your taste buds, making them extremely tempting. Most of the ‘food’ items would be better classified as ‘desserts’ and most of them have little to no nutritional value. These foods will just make you fatter, and negatively impact your health.
The vast majority of people wander into the grocery store without a healthy grocery list, and essentially ‘wing it’. They also tend to buy the same sugar loaded, preservative packed foods over and over again, and the numbers on the scale keep creeping upwards. If you are buying groceries for your family, it’s even worse, because you are establishing a pattern and habit of eating the wrong types of foods for your kids - which at some point they will have to try and overcome. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels, and for the first time ever, children are expected to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. The good news is that you can ensure that you are armed with healthy grocery lists that support easy to prep, ‘family approved’ meals, snacks and deserts that are optimized for nutritional value and weight loss. Our meal plan provides exactly that. Imagine eating meals that actually support your goals, are good for your loved ones and will help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals. How would your energy shift if you got off garbage foods?
That's why we compiled a list of the worst foods for your body, the ones you should avoid if you're trying to be healthy and lose weight. So, if you're trying to lose a few pounds and make healthier choices, here are the worst foods that you are likely eating on the regular.
1. Potato Chips
You can't possibly eat just one...serving. A typical serving is equal to about 18 chips. Can you stop there? Does anyone actually count out 18 chips? Does that small chip count? If you are starving, you can crush 18 chips in 2-3 handfuls. Who hasn’t gone elbow deep into a big bag of chips?
If you're eating the salt and vinegar variety, best of luck. Salt and vinegar chips contain 500 milligrammes of sodium and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which is roughly one-third of the total milligrammes of sodium that The American Heart Association recommends the average adult consume in a day.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, potato chips added more pounds to consumers' bodies than sugary drinks, processed meats, red meat, and other extremely unhealthy foods.
2. Fried Chicken.
Chicken is considered a healthier alternative to red meats because it contains less saturated fat than beef and is high in protein. Coating it in flour and deep frying it in a sizzling bath of hot oil, however, transforms a nutritious protein into one of the unhealthiest meals you can eat.
When you batter and fry chicken in oil, it absorbs a lot of fat, increasing the calorie count of the meal. Worse, according to the Journal of Food Science and Technology, frying foods at high temperatures in vegetable oils (such as canola and corn oil) or seed oils (such as sesame or grapeseed oil) produces trans fats, which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The saturated fats in skin-on chicken raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, which contributes to artery plaque and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The name already tells you why they're bad for you: Dough! They're made with white flour, sugar, and vegetable shortening, then deep-fried. This means that donuts contain trans fats, the worst type of fat that raises bad cholesterol while decreasing good cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It is essentially edible playdough. What's the catch? Sugar (25 g per serving), water, gelatin, vegetable fat or shortening, and glycerol are all ingredients in this calorie bomb. Yum. Oh, and propylene glycol, according to the National Kidney Foundation, has been linked to poor kidney health.
5. Processed Deli Meat Slices.
Cured lunch meats contain sodium nitrate, a preservative that may cause chronic inflammation in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, or artery narrowing. Deli meats are very common go-to grocery items, and the good news is that there are huge swings in both quality and ingredients. The next time you are picking up sandwich meats, take a second and give the nutrition labels a read and opt for meats with lower amounts of sodium nitrate.
6. Cheese Fries.
Cousin to processed, liquid cheese nachos, cheese fries are one of those foods that are just so bad for you that you notice when other people are eating it. Everyone knows that French fries are the poster child for bad-for-you foods, so it's no surprise that slathering on that gooey, salty cheese sauce instantly makes them worse. Store-bought cheese sauces, such as Kraft Cheese Wiz, can contain 430 milligrammes of sodium, or 19% of your daily recommended sodium intake per serving, and as with potato chips, no one has literally ever measured out an exact serving of liquid cheese. It’s safe to assume that the average portion is at least 2-3X the actual serving size suggested. Furthermore, it contains nearly 10% of your daily recommended fats in just one serving – and that's before the fries, additional added salt and other condiments.
7. White Russian
Even tho they aren’t likely serving shots in the produce isle of the grocery store, we came across this cocktail while researching for this article. The White Russian, made with vodka, Kahlua, and heavy cream (or half-and-half), has nearly 600 calories and 16 grammes of sugar. That's a cocktail recipe for a bowling ball-shaped belly.
Alcohol is a major contributor to obesity, and is covered in detail in our Meal Plan. There are wines and spirits that are more ‘healthy’ than others, and making a shift here can make a massive difference in your overall health and weight loss efforts. For more information on alcohol and excess body fat, check out this article.
8. Canned Soups
Even soups with an abundance of beans and vegetables can be extremely salty. For example, it would be difficult to find a tasty split pea soup with less than 500 milligrammes of sodium per serving. It's no surprise that canned soups are on the American Heart Association's "Salty Six" list of heart-wrenching foods.
9. Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers
Do you have any in your desk drawer right now? I'll tell you what: throw 'em. These coffee creamers are typically made from partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats. Remember that trans fats increase your risk of heart disease or stroke by raising your LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also typically spike the calorie count of your coffee, turning your favourite blend of Joe into a dessert. How many of these liquid treats are you drinking in a typical day?
Because it contains trans fats, margarine raises the risk of coronary heart disease. According to a study published in Epidemiology, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fats it contains. For toast, butter is usually a better option. According to a 2016 review published in PLOS One, there are very few links between butter consumption and heart disease.
Margarine is a food habit that is often inherited. At some point, someone in your family decided to start buying Margarine, and for decades, that was just what has been on your table. You might be still buying it - because, well, that’s just the way it’s always been. It’s a great example of how unhealthy food habits are established and passed on from generation to generation.
11. Hot Dogs
First and foremost, what exactly is this pinkish-brown mystery meat made of? Hot dogs are made from the trimmings of better cuts of beef that make up ground beef, steaks, and so on, mixed with nitrates to help the meat proteins bond together, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
Hot dogs, like the majority of the other foods in this article, are high in saturated fats and sodium, and many contain high levels of nitrates, a cancer-causing preservative, according to The National Cancer Institute.
Hot Dogs are a cultural habit in North America - they go hand in hand with BBQ’s, Baseball games and summer get togethers. Just like Deli Meats, the quality of hot dogs ranges from ‘street meat’ to more ‘gourmet’ options. Read your food labels, but if its meat that you crave, look at opting for lean grilled chicken, beef or turkey.
12. Veggie Burgers
As a fan of the A&W veggie burger, this one hurt. Adopting a plant-based Meal Plan can be a wise decision for some, unless you choose products that substitute another unhealthy ingredient for the meat.
"Some plant-based burgers will have added fat, and the added fat is often a saturated fat," says Katherine Zertasky, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic. "Saturated fat has been linked to an increase in bad cholesterol, raising concerns that it may increase our risk of heart disease." Sodium content is another red flag for veggie burgers. Some are extremely salty, with up to 900 milligrammes of sodium per serving. If plant based burgers are your thing, look for burgers that are low on saturated fats and sodium - just like the one from our Plant Based Meal Plan
Here is that Veggie Burger Recipe from our Plant Based Meal Plan:
1. Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. Set aside to cool completely.
2. Cook the millet: In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Stir in the millet, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain off any remaining liquid and set aside to cool. OR cook the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander, then combine with 2⁄3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then drain off any excess water and set aside to cool.
3. Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.
4. Mix the burgers: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and millet, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle or paprika, cayenne (optional, add to taste for spicier burgers) and salt. Use a potato masher, big mixing spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. It’s ok if the black beans get smashed in the process.
5. Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If possible, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results (the patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first).
6. Shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out 1⁄2 cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3 1⁄2 inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8. If you would like to toast your hamburger buns, preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.
7. Pan fry the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.
8. Toast the buns (optional): Place the buns on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
13. Sugar Cereals
Admit it: you know that bowl of cereal contains zero fibre and a lot of carbs and sugar. As a result, it is regarded as the worst breakfast for weight loss. A better breakfast option would be to mix some chocolate milk into your hot oatmeal, which is high in dietary fibre.
14. Honey Wheat Bread
What makes honey wheat bread, which sounds so healthy, a candidate for our worst list? The fact that it sounds so wholesome, deceives us into believing it is healthy. The problem is that honey wheat bread isn't all that different from white bread. Yes, despite the word "wheat" in its name, its grain has been stripped of its fibre, as has most white bread. The bread isn't made with whole grains unless the label says "whole wheat" or "whole grain." Make it a habit to only eat whole wheat or whole grain bread.
This is one of the worst breakfast options available. Typically, a Bagel is a large ball of white-flour dough with the carbohydrate content of about five slices of white bread. Even if a typical bagel has about 250-350 calories, you'll be hungry soon after. It will quickly raise your blood sugar, followed by a rapid drop, making you crave more carbs. The math on the Bagel is sobering. If I offered you 5 slices of toast at once, instead of 2, you might object and be concerned about overeating. If you have 1 Bagel, you might be tempted to have another (we have been programmed to eat bread like carbs in pairs) at which point you would be essentially eating a loaf of white bread. Awareness works wonders.
The Bottom Line.
Awareness is power. If you have healthy grocery lists that support great tasting, healthy meals that are quick to prep, the foods that go into your cart will transform your nutrition, and your health and fitness goals will follow. Remember - garbage in, garbage out. We’ve put a lot of energy into developing our Meal Plans, and they have helped over 10,000 people and counting take positive control over their diets. I invite you to check them out here - and I hope that this article has inspired you to take action when it comes to making better choices for you and your family.
Butter is thought to be a better diet option than hydrogenated margarine since it contains less trans-fat. Still, the American Heart Association (AHA) indicates both butter and margarine can increase LDL cholesterol, but margarine more so.
Don’t believe the article was promoting butter, but stating it was a better option.
Why are you promoting butter as healthier than margarine? They both have trans fats. The more solid the presentation of EITHER the higher the trans fat content. Butter also has more saturated fats. Neither one is particularly healthy, moderation is key.