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Watching Out for Diet Saboteurs

Posted March 20, 2012

A “diet saboteur” is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing – it may look healthy, but upon closer inspection you will find hidden sugars, hydrogenated oils, and even high sodium – and it can definitely put a damper on your weight loss goals. Here are a few common ones to watch out for:

Fat-free yogurt with added fruit. Plain yogurt is better for you as it typically contains 6grams of protein, 6grams of carbohydrates and a few grams of fat. A fat-free yogurt contains 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein and no fat. Purchase plain yogurt and add your own fruit. Or, if you really must have the sweetened yogurt, mix half of it with unsweetened or plain yogurt to decrease the amount of sugar per serving.

Packets of artificial sweeteners and foods containing artificial sweeteners. This includes diet pop! Although sweeteners do not seem to influence blood sugars, they have been found to alter insulin, resulting in increased cravings and hunger. Many sweeteners have also been linked to certain types of cancers.

Packaged nuts (almonds, peanuts). Most of these products contain hydrogenated oils or vegetable oils. Substitute with raw nuts you can purchase from a health food or bulk food store.

Cereals which are marketed as “healthy choices”. For example, Kellogg’s Vector cereal does contain more vitamins and minerals than other cereals, but it also contains a ton of sugar. The only breakfast cereal I would recommend is Kashi GoLEAN or slow-cooked oatmeal. Even with both of these options, you still need to add more protein to your breakfast (such as two or three egg whites) to remain in glycemic balance.

Too much fruit. Fruits contain natural sugars and just like anything else, too much is rarely a good thing. Aim for a maximum of three fruits per day and at least one of these daily servings should be berries. Other fruits you can enjoy include apples, pears, peaches, cherries or grapefruit. Avoid bananas and melons and never eat fruits on their own. Always enjoy fruits with foods that contain fat and protein such as nuts, yogurt or cheese.

Fizzy water (Perrier, etc.). Although fizzy water has little or no calories, it is very high in sodium and can cause water retention and bloating. Choose sodium-free options or better yet, drink pure water with lemon instead.

Coffee, lattes, teas. Too much caffeine interferes with fat metabolism. It influences blood sugar and insulin balance and can contribute to more abdominal fat. Although it is beneficial for weight loss to consume caffeine before a workout, high amounts of caffeine consumed throughout the day can be detrimental to your health. Drink green tea instead and limit your coffee intake to once daily. Avoid sugary drinks such as caramel or vanilla lattes that are high in calories.

Skipping meals, especially breakfast, and excessive caloric restriction. We should eat every three to four hours to make sure our metabolic engines keep running at top speed. Never skip meals and travel with snacks such as pieces of string cheese, raw almonds and cashews. Skipping meals and caloric restriction messes with blood sugar balance which may cause us to overeat later in the day. Skipping meals also raises stress hormones which inhibit weight loss and damage metabolism.

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