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Trying to Lose Weight? Keep These "Health" Foods in Check

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    Don't Be Fooled

    It's easy to overestimate the calories you burn and underestimate the calories in the foods you use to reward yourself for those extra reps, says Kristin Reisinger, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., owner and founder of IronPlate Studios in Hoboken, NJ. Workouts vary dramatically in terms of calories burned, from 476 calories per hour for Spinning class to 170 calories per hour for Pilates according to MyFitnessPal. These differences can have a dramatic impact on weight loss, especially when you're eating large portions of seemingly healthy foods that are high in calories. To lose weight it's best to focus on small portions of foods that are high in fiber, protein, and complex carbs, which will help you feel satisfied for longer periods of time so you'll be less likely to snack. Choose fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, tofu, whole-wheat bread, whole grains such as barley and brown rice, fruits with skin or pulp (think apples and citrus), and raw vegetables. These foods may reduce overall caloric intake and will help you achieve your weight-loss goals. On the other hand, the next seven foods may derail your diet if you're not careful.

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    Fruit Smoothies

    Don't be misled by the word fruit! With the addition of yogurt, milk, nut butters, and protein powders—or even too much of the fruit itself—smoothies pack a caloric punch. A 16-ounce smoothie from your local smoothie joint may contain 280 to 420 calories with all the add-ins. In addition, most of the calories are from simple sugars, which tend to be stored as fat when eaten in excess. There are worse habits, of course, but make sure your smoothies don't have any added sugars, and don't overdo it because of the health halo.

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    Hummus

    Traditional hummus has a good-for-you chickpea base, but the tahini and olive oil mixed in add more calories than you realize. Individual hummus packs may contain 150 calories—and don't forget the calories from the chips or pretzels you're eating with it! While many of the calories in hummus are from healthy fats, it is recommended that no more than 35 percent of your daily calories come from fat. Be wary of portion sizes, especially if you're eating straight from the container.

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    Nuts

    It's true, nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but the calories from all that fat add up quickly. One ounce of raw almonds (23 nuts, or the amount that will fit in a shot glass) or cashews (roughly 18 nuts) contains more than 150 calories. Keep portions to a small handful to keep calories in check.

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    Vegan Pastries

    The term vegan connotes health, but a pastry is still a pastry and is likely high in calories. Vegan pastries don't contain the cholesterol and saturated fats found in dairy products, but the oil used as a substitute is still a fat. Oil has 9 calories per gram—the same amount found in animal fat. More food for thought: A tablespoon of a common sweetener such as honey or agave contains more calories than a tablespoon of sugar.

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    Granola

    With all those nuts and oats, granola seems healthy. But when dried fruit, seeds, sweeteners, and possibly even a nut butter are added into the mix, the extra calories will have you adding another workout to your already packed schedule. Portion control is key, so you can still enjoy this versatile food on yogurt, cereals, fruit salads, and desserts.

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    Coffee Drinks

    Yes, coffee has a ton of health benefits, but it's time to love your mocha latte a little less. Downsizing your cup and staying away from add-ins such as whipped cream and sweet syrups will help keep calories in check. These sugar bombs in a cup can also cause spikes and crashes in blood sugar, leaving you more tired and less interested in working out.

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    Wine

    We know, we know. Resveratrol is awesome. But remember, on average, one glass of wine contains 125 calories, which is similar to the calories burned in an hour of Pilates for a 150-pound person. Wine is fine in moderation, but be sure to keep your intake in check if you're trying to lose weight.

 

Deborah Tagliareni MS RD

Deborah Tagliareni, a Registered Dietitian and Founder of Milestone Nutrition, received her bachelors degree from Northwestern University and Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University.  More →

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