Can't figure out why you aren't losing weight? You might think that healthy, low-fat, low-calorie, flavorless whipped Styrofoam you're eating is good for you, but there are secret ways that the foods you think are healthy are actually sabotaging your diet. We spoke to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, creator of the Go! Foods for You nutrition program about what "healthy" foods can throw a wrench into your fitness goals. But there's a bright side too. Some of those "bad" foods you avoid like the plague actually pack a nutritious punch. So, drop the turkey burger, grab a frosty brew and reap the healthy benefits of indulging (in moderation, of course).
Five supposedly healthy foods that can sabotage your diet
GREEN TEA Green tea itself is good for you, but some of the ones at your local grocer are packed with so much sugar that they could have drastic side effects. “Those types of sugars increase inflammation in the body,” says Jamieson-Petonic, which may then affect sexual function. Look for teas without sweetener. CEREAL BARS “Many of them are just glorified candy bars, given the added sugars and fats that they have,” Jamieson-Petonic says. Look for bars that are 150 calories or less, made with only a few (pronounceable) ingredients—yes to fruits and nuts, no to items like “propylene glycol.” Skip any bars made with enriched flour, which is stripped of all the bran that’s good for you. SOY MILK “A lot of times, soy milk is sweetened with evaporated cane juice,” Jamieson-Petonic says, which adds six times the amount of sugar as in the unsweetened varieties. YOGURT RAISINS Two rights seem to make a wrong in this case. Often the yogurts used to coat the raisins have palm oil, which is full of saturated fat. “Yogurt raisins can be about as unhealthy as a hamburger, with all the saturated fats and cholesterol,” she says. GROUND TURKEY Often, store-bought ground turkey contains not only white meat but also dark meat, which is high in fat. Look for turkey that is ground with white meat or breast meat only. “To put things in perspective, I’ve seen lean ground beef with as low as 4.5 grams of saturated fat per 3-ounce serving,” she says, “and ground turkey mixed with light and dark meat with as much as 17 grams of fat for the same serving size.”
Five foods that don’t deserve their bad rap (when consumed in moderation)
CHOCOLATE Dark (not milk) chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao improves the elasticity of blood vessels, which improves blood flow, reduces the chance of stroke, and helps you maintain healthy blood pressure. COFFEE Coffee has been shown to have some cardiovascular benefits, Jamieson-Petonic says. And taking it black, not with milk and sugar, might also play a role in preventing type-2 diabetes, improving memory, and providing antioxidants. She recommends no more than three cups a day. POTATOES This starchy vegetable is high in carbs, but it’s the good kind (complex) that provides sustained energy to your system. Eat one before your workout—its B vitamins will provide longer-lasting energy. SALT If you’re working out longer than an hour, you need sodium to replace electrolytes lost through sweat—but no more than 3,000 milligrams a day. BEER Two cold ones a day have essential B vitamins. If you’re counting calories, light beer is a good option. “And if it’s a darker lager beer, it’s going to have lutein, which helps eyesight,” says Joy Dubost, R.D., “and soluble fiber that’s good for your heart.”