20 Foods to Avoid When Losing Weight

Overweight Woman Close Her Eyes Avoid Junk Food

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Losing weight is tough for everyone-especially women. Add to that the sheer number of diets out there, and figuring out what works can be overwhelming.

One thing’s for sure: all foods are okay in moderation, even if they’re considered “bad.” What you should avoid are overly processed or refined foods that offer little nutritional value. Although these are lower in calories, they can cause your blood sugar to spike or crash, which over time will lead to weight gain.


The best tactic is finding a sustainable diet for you and filling it with foods that fill you up while keeping the number of calories down.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

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Hidden Sugars in Common Foods

In the quest for healthier eating and weight loss, many people are vigilant about monitoring their sugar intake. They might avoid sugary drinks, candies, and desserts with a watchful eye. However, what often goes unnoticed are the hidden sugars lurking in seemingly innocent foods. These covert culprits can sabotage your weight loss efforts without you even realizing it.

Here are some common foods where hidden sugars can unexpectedly add up:

  1. Yogurt: While yogurt is hailed as a healthy snack, flavored varieties can pack a sugary punch. Opt for plain yogurt and add fresh fruit for natural sweetness.
  2. Granola: Store-bought granola is notorious for its added sugars. Check labels and consider making your own granola with minimal sweeteners.
  3. Salad Dressings: Salad dressings, especially the creamy ones, can contain added sugars for flavor. Choose vinaigrettes or make your dressings at home.
  4. Spaghetti Sauce: Many commercial spaghetti sauces contain sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Look for sugar-free options or make your sauce.
  5. Cereal: Breakfast cereals, even those marketed as healthy, can be sugar-laden. Opt for whole-grain, low-sugar cereals or oatmeal.
  6. Bread: Some bread, particularly those labeled as “white” or “honey wheat,” can have added sugars. Read labels and choose whole-grain, sugar-free options.
  7. Smoothies: Pre-made smoothies or those from smoothie shops can contain added sugars from fruit juices and sweeteners. Make your smoothies at home with whole fruits.
  8. Packaged Snacks: Processed snacks like energy bars, protein bars, and even some trail mixes can hide added sugars. Check labels for healthier options.
  9. Dried Fruit: While dried fruit seems like a nutritious snack, it’s often concentrated in sugars. Consume in moderation.
  10. Low-Fat Foods: Some low-fat or fat-free products replace the fat with sugar to improve taste. Opt for whole-fat options or, better yet, whole foods.
  11. Condiments: Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and even some mustard brands can contain added sugars. Use them sparingly or seek sugar-free versions.
  12. Canned Soup: Soups, particularly those in cans, can have added sugars for flavor. Look for reduced-sugar or make homemade soups.

By becoming a savvy label reader and choosing whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, you can uncover and eliminate hidden sugars from your diet. This small change can have a big impact on your weight loss journey and overall health.

Here are 20 Food to Avoid When Losing Weight

1. Potato Chips

Some might say that French fries are the ultimate diet-buster. What’s worse, though is potato chips. Not only are these just as salty, but they’re also extremely high in fat and calories. One ounce has 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 20 percent of your recommended sodium intake. And if you go easy on the salt, you’d be surprised how low-calorie these bad boys are.

2. Soda

While it might seem like an easy way to flush out water weight, drinking large amounts of soda is not that helpful for weight loss. Research shows that sugary beverages may cause people to crave carbohydrates and gain weight over time. As a beverage with 120 to 150 calories per serving, soda is full of sugar and has no nutritional value; it may also cause bloating and indigestion.

3. Fruit Juice

While fruit juice can be great for reaping the benefits of fruit without eating it, the juice isn’t as healthy as you might think. When you juice fruit, you’re removing all of the fiber it naturally contains, which slows down the digestion process. This means that your blood sugar levels will spike more quickly, so if weight loss is one of your goals, opt for whole fruit instead of juice. Furthermore, none of the fiber helps fill you up, so you’ll be left wanting more and more, and the increased sugar will cause you to gain weight over time.

4. Pastries and Sweets

You might find it easier to say no to pastry if you know it’s loaded with calories-there’s a reason why we think of them as comfort foods. But this doesn’t mean they should be off-limits completely. Pastries and sweets are okay in moderation, but when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to stay away from overly processed or refined foods that offer little nutritional value because these are lower in calories but can cause your blood sugar to spike or crash over time which will lead to weight gain.

5. Bread

While whole-grain bread are a great source of fiber, they’re also dense in calories-a slice can have anywhere from 100 to 200 calories. The key is not to avoid bread completely but opt for whole-grain versions because these contain more nutrients and have been proven to keep you full longer, so you eat less overall.

6. Fried Food

You probably already know that deep-fried foods are loaded with fat and calories. You might not know that fried food also contains acrylamides, a chemical compound formed when carbohydrates and sugars meet with heat and proteins break down. This harmful byproduct has been linked to cancer, so while chips and fries might be an American favorite, cut them out (or at least indulge as little as possible) to reduce cancer risk.

7. Candy Bars

Candy bars may not be the worst offenders on this list, but they’re one of the most calorie-dense: a Hershey bar has 260 calories, and other popular brands like Snickers and Milky Way aren’t far behind with 210 or 240 calories per serving. In general, stick to eating one ounce of chocolate a day because this is the smallest amount that won’t cause weight gain over time.

8. Ice Cream

Ice cream isn’t something you should avoid completely, but if your primary goal is losing weight, it’s best to keep these desserts in moderation. One serving of ice cream has anywhere from 200 to 400 calories, depending on the size and brand. To keep your weight under control, eat one serving of ice cream a week or switch to frozen yogurt if you have a major sweet tooth.

9. Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is another food that’s not necessarily bad; it just so happens to be high in fat and calories. Look for baked or broiled alternatives instead because these are lower in saturated fats. If you’re craving the classic, try making your own oven-fried version at home because this will allow you to use less oil and even add less salt.

10. Pasta and Pizza

Carb-rich items like pasta and pizza can be great for a treat, but you need to stay away from them if your goal is weight loss because they’re loaded with carbs that your body can quickly turn into sugar and store as fat when you overeat or don’t burn enough. Opt for whole-grain pasta or cauliflower crust when you crave these types of foods to keep your weight in check.

11. French Fries

While it’s fine to have a small portion of french fries every now and then, they’re not the best for you if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only are potatoes high in starches that are quickly turned into sugar once you eat them, but the fat content is through the roof because most fried food uses high heat oils like cottonseed or soybean oil.

12. Donuts

Donuts may be one of the most popular pastries, but they’re also one of the worst for your waistline if you’re looking to lose weight. They contain high-fructose corn syrup, which can turn into fat once it’s eaten and has been linked to a greater risk of obesity. If you have a major sweet tooth, opt for other desserts that are just as sweet but contain fewer calories and less sugar.

13. Bagels

If you’re cutting carbs to lose weight, bagels should be off your list or eaten in moderation because one bagel can contain as much as 350 to 400 calories. Stick to whole-grain options and limit yourself to one bagel a day or eat half as one serving.

14. Cream Cheese

It’s fine to have a small amount of cream cheese on occasion, but not if your goal is weight loss because this condiment can contain around 100 calories per tablespoon, and it’s high in saturated fats that can negatively affect your heart. Go for a lower calorie option like peanut butter instead and use no more than one tablespoon each day if you’re looking to lose weight.

15. Pretzels

Pretzels are high in refined carbs that your body can easily turn into sugar when you overeat. If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, opt for lower-calorie options like fruits or veggies because they will give you a dose of energy without the added sugar or refined carbs.

16. Ice Cream Cones

Just like ice cream, it’s okay to have an ice cream cone once in a while but if you’re more concerned with losing weight than enjoying your favorite dessert, stick to eating two scoops of ice cream and ditch the cone because they contain almost as many calories as a piece of cake and can be loaded with sugar.

17. Mayonnaise

Although mayonnaise is high in fat, it’s one of the lowest-calorie condiments that you can have aside from mustard or vinegar. The main difference is that low-fat mayos are made with vegetable oil as opposed to the traditional soybean, cottonseed, or canola oils. If you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake while keeping the same flavors, use a low-fat mayo instead.

18. Whole Milk and Full-Fat Cheese

While having a small amount of whole milk and full-fat cheese now and then won’t interfere with your weight loss progress, going overboard can be disastrous because these foods are high in calories that will easily turn into fat if you overdo it. Opt instead for skim milk, low-fat cheese, or yogurt because they will give you the same nutritional benefits without compromising your weight loss efforts.

19. Salad Dressings

Most store-bought salad dressings are full of fat and sugar because they’re made with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. One tablespoon can contain around 100 calories, so useless, or make your own instead. For instance, mix a tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper to make a perfect salad dressing.

20. Alcohol

Although some alcoholic drinks may not contain a significant number of calories, there are plenty that does. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing afternoon drink or an evening cocktail before dinner, it’s best to stick with low-calorie options like wine or light beer. If you want something stronger, drink no more than one glass because if you drink more, you’re likely to eat more as well because alcohol lowers your inhibitions.

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In conclusion, it’s best to stick with foods that are high in nutrition and avoid those that can easily turn into fat when eaten in excess and regularly. This is because these foods are high in calories and lack nutritional value.


What are foods to avoid when trying to lose weight?

Foods that contain a lot of sugar. Foods that contain refined carbohydrates. Foods high in saturated fats.

Why should you avoid these foods if you’re trying to lose weight?

These foods are loaded with calories and can easily turn into fat if eaten in excess of on a regular basis because they lack nutritional value.

What are some alternatives to high-calorie, low-nutritional foods?

High-calorie, low-nutritional foods like potato chips may be replaced with lower-calorie options like fruits or vegetables.

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