You're well aware of the benefits of eating well: maintaining a healthy weight, disease prevention, looking and feeling better (not to mention younger), and more. So you make an effort to eliminate bad foods for you from your diet and incorporate healthy snacks and meals instead. But there can actually be bad junk food behind those "lowfat" labels, including snacks and meals loaded with salt, sugar and carbs (which you still have to burn off if you want to slim that waistline). What unhealthy foods are masquerading as wise diet choices? We've narrowed them down.
Many lowfat diet plans suggest healthy snacks—including yogurt—and rightfully so. Plain varieties are low in sugar and are packed with probiotics, which aid in digestion. Other perks: A cup of yogurt also provides calcium, potassium and vitamin D. So this one's a no-brainer, right? Well, that depends. Fruit-flavored yogurts or kids' brands often contain high fructose corn syrup—which is about the equivalent of dipping a banana in chocolate and calling it a diet-friendly food. Another warning: Don't load up plain yogurt (the healthiest choice) with sugary granola mixes. Instead, toss in a few blueberries, or, if you're craving some crunch, shredded wheat.
Let's face it: It can be confusing when fattening foods are sold right at the gym. But protein bars are really only necessary if you're not getting enough protein from your natural diet (think along the lines of beans, tofu, egg whites, fish, lean meats, poultry, etc.). Many protein bars are also loaded with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup, not to mention 200 plus calories... that won't fill you up.
When you're trying to avoid unhealthy foods, frozen meals can seem like the best thing on earth; you don't have to think about what you're eating as much as check the back label and pop that sucker in the microwave. The catch? Many frozen diet meals contain bad foods for you thanks to a high sodium content (not to mention, in some cases, preservatives and an overload of carbs). You're better off preparing your own "pre-made" meals using fresh ingredients, then packaging them in Tupperware to heat up during the week.
A glass of orange juice in the morning is fine, but throwing back more O.J., cranberry juice, grape juice and the like during the day can pack some serious calories (as in, 150 per serving), not to mention some serious sugar (as much as 20 grams per serving). Your best bet: Make your own fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice to lose weight.
We bet you wouldn't eat cake for breakfast—not even if it were fat free. Sound about right? Well, a "fat-free" muffin can actually have more calories than a piece of regular cake (about 600) and contain more sugar than a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie. Even fat-free bran muffins—which are often advertised as being good for digestion—contain as many calories as three Hershey bars. Unhealthy foods like these are not the way to start your morning, and they won't even have you feeling full until lunch.
Cutting back on red meat isn't a bad thing, but substituting your regular hamburger with a turkey burger isn't going to get you very far. In fact, some turkey burgers have more calories (850!) and fat than a typical burger. They're also contain unhealthy levels of salt—and that's without the side of fries.
Okay, so you knew that a bag full of lowfat cookies or crackers wasn't exactly a healthy snack, but it didn't seem that bad either, right? Wrong. Chowing down on empty calories—even if it's just 100—is only going to make you crave food more, especially considering that most of what you're getting from these snacks is sugar, salt and carbs. Instead, make your own "snack packs" of dried fruits and unsalted nuts so you're prepared when a craving strikes.