Some unhealthy foods are no brainers to avoid when you’re trying to lose weight: fattening donuts, salty potato chips, greasy cheeseburgers. However, a few detrimental ingredients may be sneaking their way into your daily diet without a second thought. Eating healthy isn’t just about cutting out junk food; it’s also about making smart decisions when cooking your own meals, which is why it’s so important to be aware of which ingredients could be putting your goal weight at risk.
To discover some of the worst options out there, we spoke to health experts Lisa Richards, nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet, functional nutritionist Amy Lippert, and Krutika Nanavati, Registered Nutritionist and Dietitian. They pointed out three in particular you should cut down on whenever possible: refined flour, refined sugar, and cooking oils.
1. Refined Flour
If you bake frequently, you likely go through a good amount of flour. However, Nanavati points out that you should be cautious of the refined variety because it can “sabotage your weight loss efforts.” Yikes! This is mainly due to the fact that refined flour, like many processed ingredients, is “high in calories and has little nutritional value.”
Additionally, another major risk of this ingredient is high blood sugar. Nanavati explains that “refined flour is higher on the glycemic index than whole wheat flour, meaning it raises your blood sugar levels more quickly. This can lead to increased hunger and cravings, and may contribute to weight gain,” he warns. What’s more, if you frequently indulge in foods made with refined flour, you’re also putting yourself at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. “Instead, try using whole wheat flour or almond flour,” Nanavati concludes.
2. Refined sugar
We probably don’t have to tell you twice that sugar should be avoided for weight loss—but it’s so important to call out when we’re talking about the worst ingredients out there. “When you consume [sugary foods and drinks] they have a negative impact on blood glucose levels and will cause a spike, resulting in an immediate burst of energy followed closely with a crash as the body works to bring the blood glucose levels back to a safe level,” Lippert warns. And those glucose spikes can be seriously detrimental to your weight loss goals. “High levels of glucose are damaging to the body, so in response to this spike, the body releases insulin, a hormone that is the key to opening up the door to our adipose tissue (fat) to store the glucose (as glucagon) in order to reduce the levels in our blood, leading to weight gain,” she explains. For this reason, laying off the sweets is crucial if you want to see that number on the scale go down—or if you just want to keep your body healthy overall.
3. Cooking Oils
Another common ingredient that could be wreaking havoc on your body and slowing your weight loss progress is none other than infamous cooking oils. “Oils are among the worst ingredients to cook with if you’re wanting to lose weight,” Richards tells us. “This is because they are very calorie-dense and provide little in the way of nutrients the body actually needs. Essentially, they are empty calories.”
Of course, it’s very difficult to cut all oil out of your diet for good, as some recipes can’t do without them. However, Richards notes that they’re not always necessary, especially in the high amounts many recipes call for. “For instance, when sauteing vegetables recipes will typically call for oil of some sort, about 2 tablespoons. This can be avoided by replacing oil for water or a low-calorie sauce like liquid aminos or balsamic vinegar,” she says. Noted!
There’s a similar story when it comes to cooking oil sprays, which she explains contain unnatural additives such as lecithin, “which acts as an emulsifier and dimethyl silicone which is an anti-foaming agent.” One exception is avocado oil, which makes a great replacement to your typical cooking oil spray.
Switching up your diet and cooking habits surely isn’t easy. However, if you want to see the fastest weight loss results possible, some sacrifices may be in order. That’s why, whenever possible, choosing healthy alternatives to fattening ingredients like these is always your best bet.
Author: Faith Geiger
Faith Geiger is a New York-based writer and editor. When she’s not covering the latest in health and wellness for SheFinds, she spends her time watching reality TV with her roommates, browsing used bookstores, and enjoying live music. You can reach Faith at [email protected]