What makes a food healthy? The answer is pretty simple. Will it aid in your bodily functions or even improve them? If so, eat it. A lot of it.
The real question we all want to know is: what makes a food fattening?
There’s a good chance if you’re reading this, you’re working on building a better you - specifically a better physique.
If you’re thinking about starting up a diet, or have just started one and want to make sure your food choices are optimal, you’re already ahead of the curve.
In our culture, every magazine, health guru, and specialist has a set of foods you absolutely cannot eat while you’re dieting. But to be honest, we need to also address just how risky it can be to consume healthy foods that are secretly loaded with calories.
But wait, I thought if it’s in fact a healthy food, how can it possible be fattening?
In this article, we cover 10 healthy foods you’re probably consuming that you have got to be mindful about. Let’s get started!
- Granola - roughly 20-30 grams of fat per cup - Very rarely do our Pinterest feeds actually reflect what just 1 serving of granola looks like. Whether you like it or not, most granolas are loaded with processed sugars, preservatives, and questionable add-ins our gut biomes won’t like. ¼ cup of granola is pretty reasonable calorically speaking, however the amount of granola this yields is underwhelming. If you struggle with portion control, which be honest, most of us do, you can easily start your first meal off with upwards of 400 calories.
Alternatively, you might be better off opting for raw oats and nuts.
- Oils - 2 tablespoons run just at 200 calories - Whether your go-to is olive, coconut, MCT or even avocado, cooking with oils can pack on the calories to nearly ever meal. Kudos for passing on appetizers at your office happy hour but you’re not doing yourself any favors if every part of your meal is doused in 3-4tbsp of oil. While certain oils will help increase your healthy fat intake, is the opportunity cost much worse when you’re now consuming an additional 600 calories just in oils. Stick with those measuring spoons. They’ll keep you accountable and from overdoing it.
- Nut Butter - 2 tablespoons run just at 200 calories - No one wants to hear this but regardless of how yummy those spreads look slathered on your morning oats, they’re packed not only with healthy fats, but a ton of calories per tablespoon. If you’re like most fit chicks, two spoonfuls can easily turn into 3, then 4, and before you know it, your meal is now an additional 400 calories just from your nut butter. If you love nut butters but have issues with keeping that jar in your pantry, opt for a high fat protein bar like the Perfect Bars.
- Dried Fruit - 300 calories of almost all carbs for merely 1 cup - Although it’s heavily debated whether fruit should be included in your diet by low carb dieters, that’s not the issue here. The real problem with this food is that fruit in itself have a tremendous amount of health benefits. However you’re not going to get nearly the same volume if you go with fruit that’s been dried and doused with added sugars. Most fruits are going to yield a large portion for even just 100 calories. When you dehydrate a fruit though, you’re shrinking down the volume requiring you to eat a significantly larger portion than you would it wasn’t dehydrated. Instead, opt for raw fruit in it’s natural form.
- Smoothies: 400-600 calories for a medium or large depending on the ingredients - Although you can still customize your smoothies to be low calorie, be wary of getting them at your local gym or cafe down the street. You see, most establishments tack on an additional 200-300 calories in ingredients specifically designed to improve the taste of the drink. Frankly, they don’t care if your smoothie is actually low calorie. They just want you to keep coming back to them the next time you want a smoothie. An easy way to do is adding in palatable, low-quality protein powders, high-calorie nut butters, and high-fat dairy products- turning your post-workout meal into a dessert.
Tip: It doesn’t hurt to ask what products they use to make their ‘high protein’ shake. Because of the nature of how smoothies are made, this should be pretty easy for them to answer.
- Guacamole: Avocado, diced onion, and tomatoes aren’t inherently bad, however, I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who’s eaten guac straight from a spoon. You can easily shovel down ½ a bag of tortilla chips over salsa and guac.
Tip: Carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower are calorie friendly serving options when indulging in guac. Although not nearly as fun, your waistline will be thanking you later!
- Tahini - Or hummus can quickly go from a slight boost in protein to satiate hunger to a whole tub devoured. Even if you opt for veggies as your mechanism to move hummus from the bowl to your mouth, the dip itself is still loaded with calories.
- Chia Seeds: - 100 per tablespoon - Another food we’ve fall victim to. Believing for many years, chia seeds were actually the key to rapid weight loss, most of us know now that although healthy, these seeds are not magic. I see women at the gym drinking water speckled with chia seeds nearly every day. While the health benefits are undeniable, don’t treat them like they're low calorie. Not only do they pack a caloric punch but if over consumed, they can actually hinder your GI tract.
- Coconut: One of my favorite ingredients whether we’re talking milk, shaving, coffee creamer, oil, - hell even lotions and scrubs! Coconut caught fire amongst the health and fitness industry and for good reason. With that being said, we should dispel the hype that coconut alone with increase your metabolism, directly cause fat loss, and decrease cellulite. On the contrary, over-consuming coconut (much easier to do than I’d like to admit), can actually cause you to gain weight. Read labels. Read your ingredients. If you have the self-control to cook with it, there are a ton of health benefits in its raw unrefined form. Don’t be misled and think it’s a superfood and that eating copious amounts will result in fat loss. Sadly, that’s just not the case.
- Trail Mix: I like to call it: “M&M’s but with obstacles”. In our culture, trail mix isn’t just utilized by extreme adventurists and hikers. It’s a snack many have regularly. If you’re out in the wilderness and need to pack light for an all-day trek, trail mix is perfect. If you’re grabbing handfuls on handfuls while watching a football game and socializing though, it’s overkill - calorically speaking. Especially given most trail mixes now include candy, chocolate, yogurt, and granola.
The Bottom Line
You have to account for the portions you consume.
Regardless of how intense your workouts are, if you’re eating more than you’re burning, you will not lose weight.
If you struggle with portion control, minimize the number of high-calorie foods you’re consuming and opt for something a little less calorie dense!
Don’t miss our next article on 5 food swaps you can make to save 100 calories every single meal!