25 Foods You Have To Avoid When Trying To Lose Weight

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on April 17, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Losing weight often turns out to be a more difficult task than most people think. There are many guides, diets, and programs out there that claim to make this entire journey easy. Unfortunately, a lot of the programs focus on commercialization – they take a person’s money and end up providing inadequate information that can readily be found on the internet.

Dietary salad with fresh vegetables (tomato, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, red onion and cranberries). Top view wood backgtound

The good news is that weight loss is certainly possible, but only when a person has the right guidance and spends some time educating themselves. The meals and food that a person eats tend to have the most significant impact on how much they weight – with the wrong foods added to their plate, weight is sure to catch on, and obesity might be something they would have to face in their near future.

Understanding which foods cause excess weight gain is certainly an effective tool in any person’s journey to reducing their body weight, improving their body composition, and ultimately becoming healthier overall. In this post, we are going to be taking a look at some of the most important foods that should not be part of a person’s diet if they are looking to lose weight effectively.

Not All Calories Are The Same

Before we take a look at specific foods that should ideally not be included in a diet of a person who wants to reduce their body fat content, let us first consider the fact that not all calories are the same. The body requires a certain amount of calories each day to survive – cells, tissue, and all parts of the body depends on the intake of food and liquids to function normally.

This, however, does not mean that stuffing down a burger and having a plate filled with nutritious veggies are the same. Even though the calorie content of these two meals might be similar, the nutritional content and ingredients found in the foods included in the meals are completely different.

When a diet consists of healthy foods – this may include lots of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean meat cuts – it contributes to a better overall balance in nutrients throughout the body. Cells do not particularly rely on the intake of calories, but rather the nutrient content in the food that is consumed. Vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins all responsible for the important nutrients that help every single cell in the body perform certain functions.

In people whose diet primarily consist of fast foods and other meals that are high in calories, but low in nutrients, the body can start to suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Since each nutrient plays its own role in the body, it is sometimes difficult to link certain symptoms that a person experiences a deficiency in particular nutrients.

According to one scientific paper (1), common types of nutritional deficiencies often found in the general population tend to include low levels of riboflavin, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, and vitamin C. All of these nutrients play important roles in cardiovascular health, muscle health, energy product, bone health, and more.

Another paper (2) describes that many neurological symptoms and complications tend to occur in patients with certain nutritional deficiencies. These neurological complications may include optic neuropathy, polyneuropathy, polyradiculoneuropathy, myelopathy, and encephalopathy.

While these particular problems may not develop in all people who are not consuming a balanced diet, they are risks that individuals should at least be aware of. The risks are greatly reduced when a person ensures that the calories they consume counts – which means eating foods that are nutritious and not particularly harmful to the body.

Eliminate These Foods For Better Weight Loss Results

While there are a lot of delicious foods that a person can choose from if they wish to start living a healthy life and lose weight, it is important to note that a large number of food options should be completely eliminated from a diet for weight loss to become a more reachable goal.

Here, we will list some important foods that should not be part of a diet for a person who is finding that losing weight is difficult – these foods can make losing weight a much harder goal to reach and may rather cause even more pounds to start creeping on.

1. White Bread

First up is white bread – a culprit that is causing many people to gain excessive weight. Several studies have shown that white bread is not an appropriate food to be included in the diet of a person who wants to reduce their body weight. It is known that white bread contains ingredients that are refined and there are also added sugars in white bread. This leads to a spike in a person’s blood sugar levels, due to the high glycemic index of white bread.

In one study (3), 9,267 participants were recruited in order to determine the effect of white bread, as well as other bread types, on body weight. The study found that people who prefer white bread are at an approximate 40% higher risk of excessive weight gain. The study also linked white bread to an increased risk of obesity.

Fortunately, people who do enjoy bread as a snack or as part of their meals do have alternative options that they can opt for. There are bread options made from less processed ingredients, such as almond flour bread. Cornbread and oopsie bread are two other options. For those who are health-conscious, Ezekiel bread is a good option as well.

2. Fruit Juices

While fruit is generally considered a healthy food, it is important to note that the majority of fruit juices that are on the market today contain a lot of added sugars. Furthermore, these fruit juices are processed. What this means is that, while there might be some vitamins and minerals in these juices, there are also unhealthy ingredients that are not good for a person’s body weight.

One scientific paper (4) describes that fruit juices may just be another type of sugary drink. Studies have also found that some of the fruit juices on the market may actually contain more sugar than certain sodas that are available. Thus, even though these juices may contain extracts from real fruit, they also contain ingredients that may cause weight gain.

3. French Fries

French fries are some of the most popular snack options on the market and even forms part of important meals for some people – think about picking up a hamburger and some French fries at a local McDonalds when working late, for example. Unfortunately, eating a bunch of French fries is completely different from eating a potato that was not fried in unhealthy oils.

French fries contain a lot of calories. The fact that they are fried also means they usually contain unhealthy fats – this may, in turn, not only contribute to weight gain but possibly also cause additional health problems. Unhealthy fats may lead to an increase in “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, raise triglyceride levels, and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

In addition to French fries, we should note here that the same goes for potato chips. While convenient for picking up a quick snack, a packet of potato chips is certainly not a good food option for a person who wants to lose excess pounds that they have gained.

4. Candy Bars

Another food option that is often picked up as a quick snack when the day is busy, and there is no time to prepare a healthy meal, but these bars will add to a person’s weight, instead of helping them lose excess weight that they might have gained.

The main issue with candy bars is the fact that they contain a significant amount of added sugars. Additionally, candy bars usually also contain refined flours, as well as unhealthy oils. These are all bad ingredients – even though many of the brands out the brands out there will promote their bars as “health bars.” Apart from these unhealthy ingredients, these bars usually contain almost no good nutrients for the body. Sure, they might make a person feel a little full for some time, but they will also cause weight gain in the long run.

5. Pastries

The next food option on our list is pastries. These food options are filled with a lot of unpleasant and unhealthy ingredients – including refined flour and added sugars. Most pastries tend to contain trans fats that are artificially created as well – this type of ingredient is known to contribute to a large number of harmful diseases and medical conditions.

It is also important to note that pastries are exceptionally high in calories, yet they do not contain any important nutrients that will contribute to the health of a person. The high amount of calories will essentially lead to further weight gain. The fact that these foods do not contain adequate nutrients also means that they will not satisfy a person for a significant period of time – after eating pastries, a person will find that they feel hungry soon after again.

In addition to pastries, it is crucial to note here that the same goes for cakes and cookies – these are also food options that a person would ideally want to eliminate from their diet if their goal is to lose excess body fat.

6. Ice Cream

Surely ice cream is a great snack to have – something that a lot of people use to treat themselves with. Unfortunately, this treat is not good for the body and certainly not a person’s weight. Ice cream is loaded with calories, yet does not contain any important nutrients that can actually contribute to the health of the body. Furthermore, ice cream also contains a lot of added sugars – this leads to blood sugar spikes and other potential complications.

While it is perfectly fine to have ice cream on infrequent occasions, it is important to significantly limit the intake of ice cream when trying to reduce weight. It should be noted that it is also possible to create homemade ice creams that are healthier and not loaded with “empty calories.” Many homemade recipes will use fruit, yogurt, coconut milk – at the same time, and a person would have full control over the amount of sugar added when they make their own homemade ice cream.

7. Frozen meals

A lot of times, due to our busy schedules, we feel that we are trapped by time and we prioritize certain activities and events. Commonly, we do not prioritize the cooking and eating process. Most of us end up by eating a heated frozen meal for dinner along with some sugary drink. And later we feel nauseous, bloated, and unsatisfied with ourselves. That is because these frozen meals are filled with high levels of empty calories. They contain very little to no nutrients whatsoever. But they do contain too many calories that will only lead to weight gain and nothing good, believe us.

If you decide that the time to lose that extra weight has come, it is time to make the next step and throw out any frozen meal packages that are hiding in your freezer. It is time to go grocery shopping and buy yourself fresh ingredients that you will later use to prepare yourself a nice, healthy lunch or dinner.

8. Sugary cereals

Cereals are a great breakfast option, but you might want to avoid them during the process of weight loss. Or at least replace your favorite cereals with cereals that contain high levels of fiber in them, preferably those with more than five grams of fiber in them per serving. Sugary cereals offer a great taste packed with too many carbohydrates that will harm your waist and add to your already existing and unsatisfying belly fat.

One of the best breakfast options would be a chia pudding that you have prepared the night before and to which you can add some seasonal fruits or cocoa and a bit of honey for a great taste. Another great option is overnight oats which are high in both fiber and protein. Oatmeal has been a scientifically proven healthy breakfast option that you should not miss out on (5). Omelet or boiled eggs are highly recommended as well. All of these choices will keep you full for hours or at least until snack time has come.

9. Salad dressings that come in a bottle

Salad dressings are providing a great taste to our salads, and give us the motivation that we need to eat them and that way, provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals that come from freshly prepared salads. But not all salad dressings are good for us, especially not good for our weight loss process.

Most store-bought, bottled salad dressings are packed with too many calories and too many sugars. So the best thing to do is to avoid them altogether. But that does not mean avoiding the chance to give a little life to your salads. Instead of spending money on buying bottled salad dressings, why not prepare your own? Use virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and perhaps some freshly diced garlic to offer a great taste to your salads. Trust us, and you will never again think of buying salad dressings, you will be obsessed on experimenting to create your own!

10. Alcohol

The scenario where we end the busy day laying on the sofa and drinking a glass of cold wine or getting to our favorite bar where we order our usual choice for beer or cocktail is the perfect one, and we will give you that. But if you are interested in losing a couple of those extra body pounds, you might want to think about staying away from alcohol for a while. In fact, it has been scientifically proven back in 2010, that the excess alcohol intake increases the risk of weight gain and even obesity, in addition to all of its complications (6).

Some alcoholic beverages such as beer are packed with the highest amounts of calories. And then there is the incredible feeling of hunger that occurs after you consume alcohol. In those moments, if we are honest, not all of us are remembering to eat healthily. Usually, all of that ends up with consuming too many empty calories which will do nothing but harm our weight loss process.

11. Fatty red meat

A study ascertained that 27 percent of people who consume meat are most likely to become obese. Fatty red meat is not good for your diet because it has higher fat and energy contents. A healthy diet is suggested to avoid the risk of various chronic diseases that are caused by meat consumption. A healthy diet means that you consume plant-based foods and avoid or at least limit the consumption of fatty red meat (7).

Although the consumption of red meat also has health benefits as it contains various nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, most of the meats we consume nowadays are highly processed. What we buy in the market are usually meats from factory-fed animals, and after these animals are slaughtered, they are cured and smoked, then treated with various chemicals such as preservatives and nitrates (8).

12. Restaurant desserts

Perhaps, everything which desserts contain is a culprit of your weight gain- sodium, sugar, fats, and calories. These sweets are usually oversized, which can increase your calorie intake by up to a thousand (or even more!). Remember that your main meal is not yet included in the calorie count.

The good news is that a new study suggests that you can indulge in your cravings without compromising your weight-loss goals if you choose your dessert first. This will allow you to eat fewer calories as you can adjust your main meal (9). But then again, your weight does not only depend on calories alone. Remember its sodium, sugar, and fat contents.

13. Sugar-sweetened beverages

Do you know that your favorite beverages such as sodas, fruit drinks, iced tea, and lemonade are actually sugar-sweetened beverages? And do you know that a 12 oz. serving of soda contains ten tsp. of table sugar? It means that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages could lead to weight gain by up to 15 lb. in 1 year.

There are already a number of studies which show that sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain, much worse obesity. Drinking sodas, for instance, will not make us full because of the low satiety of liquid carbohydrates (10). Perhaps, the best and only option is to just drink water instead of any other beverages (11). Well, drinking more water can help you burn calories to lose weight.

14. Diet soda

Although diet sodas contain zero calories, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose weight. Low-calorie is not equated to low sugar. The consumption of both diet and regular sodas is linked with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, people who regularly consume diet soda is thrice at risk of belly fats compared to those who didn’t consumer over a nine-year period (12).

If our taste buds are conditioned for sweetness, we may find other foods as extremely salty or extremely sweet, especially if we stop eating salt or sugar. Actually, artificial sweeteners are sweeter than sugar. The sweetness of zero-calorie sodas can confuse our brain and metabolic processes, which can result in more sugar cravings, and if we eat more sweets, we gain more weight.

15. Chocolate bars

A chocolate bar may not cause any harm to your diet, but too much of it can actually lead to weight gain, especially if you don’t include it in your daily calorie count. While we all know how dark chocolate can be good for our health, it can still result in weight gain if you eat too much of it as well. A study proved that the habitual consumption of chocolates could increase body weight (13).

Chocolate is rich in calories, but the amount of calories you get depends on the kind of chocolate you eat. Usually, a 1.5 oz. Milk chocolate bar contains 235 calories, while a 3.5 oz. Dark chocolate bar contains 604 calories. Of course, larger bars mean higher calories. If we choose to eat chocolates instead of our regular meals, it can make us hungry, which will make it hard for us to stick within our daily required calorie intake.

16. Pretzels

Although pretzels seem to appear healthier compared to other snacks, eating too many pretzels could affect your health. Yes, pretzels are low in calories, but they are high in salt, plus they are made of refined wheat flour. Large grains of salt are sprinkled throughout a traditional pretzel before it is baked.

On the other hand, hard pretzels use more salt as a preservative in order to maintain its shelf life. A study reveals that pretzels contain two times more salt compared to an equal serving of potato chips. If we eat foods with more salt, the biological mechanisms in our body will be blunted, which will make us eat more. Salt can confuse our biological processes responsible for giving a signal that we are full (14).

17. Canned Soup

Canned meaning processed. You already know that almost all processed foods are not good for your entire well-being, especially if you want to lose weight. Canned and cream-based soups usually contain high fats and calories. From the fact that canned soup is processed, its sodium content is of the biggest concern.

Our sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 mg a day (15). Too much of it will not only lead to diabetes, blood pressure, and kidney disease, but it can also result in obesity. Because of the sodium content, our stomach tends to bloat, and our appetite tends to increase as a result of eating a lot of canned soup.

18. Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup is not solely used in pancakes. In fact, it’s versatile enough to fit your favorite oatmeal, waffles, crumpets, and French toasts. It is also used as an ingredient in baking, creating a dessert, candy manufacturing, and even in making beer.

But it’s not as healthy as you think. Using too much pancake syrup in your food will not only result in gaining weight. It contains sodium, calories, and carbohydrates that are detrimental to your health. Most pancake syrups have high fructose corn syrup contents, which are directly associated with weight gain and obesity (16). If you still want to put your pancakes with sweets, try to find pure maple syrup, but only use it in moderation.

19. Granola Bars

Oftentimes, granola bars are dubbed as healthy food, but the truth is, most granola bars are rich in calories, added sugar, and artificial ingredients. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that our daily calories from added sugar should only be 10 percent of the daily required calorie intake, such as for someone who has a 2,000 calorie diet (17).

Consuming too much sugar can increase our risk of various chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Besides, granola bars cannot serve as a replacement for our meal because they are typically lower in calories. Since not all granola bars are unhealthy, make sure to find one which is made of real foods such as grains, nuts, and fruits.

20. Muffins

We are surrounded by a number of bakeries offering muffins. Often times, we think that muffins are good for breakfast, but they are actually smaller versions of cake. You now know why muffins cannot aid you in losing weight, right?

Just like cakes, muffins are high in calories. A typical muffin has around 455 calories. Just come to imagine how eating a single muffin can take up to ¼ of your daily required calorie intake. Aside from that, muffins are also high in Trans fats and soybean oil, which are responsible for increasing your risk of heart diseases. And since muffins are all made of sugar, you will most likely starve as it is easily digested and absorbed by your body.

21. Bagels

Perhaps, you cannot resist the smell and the taste of a fresh bagel early in the morning. But, do you know that a bagel contains around 350 calories, which is equal to 3 to 4 slices of bread? Most bagels don’t have fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Since most bagels lack fiber, the carbs are easily digested to the body. These carbs are then converted to sugar and eventually to fats (18).

22. Croissants

On the other hand, croissants are also rich in calories because they are mostly made of butter. That is the reason why you cannot include croissants in your diet plan. Both bagels and croissants are made of flour and white sugar. They don’t contain much nutrients and fiber. And the explanation of why bagels can lead to weight gain is also the same with croissants.

23. Doughnuts

If you are craving for doughnuts, think twice! Doughnuts are sweet, fluffy, and inexpensive. There is no doubt why doughnuts are loved by many children and adults. But, do you know that a chocolate-covered doughnut contains around 303 calories? Some brands of doughnuts even offer 700-calorie doughnuts.

A single doughnut can cause great harm to our health, especially that it contains loads of sugar that could lead to various problems such as heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic problems, and obesity. Doughnuts are quickly converted to sugar, which causes our body to produce more insulin. If that is the case, then sugar enters into our cells, instead of our blood. Due to low blood sugar, we tend to get hungry easily as a result.

24. Dried fruits

We know why fruits are good for our health. But of course, fresh fruits are way different from dried fruits. The good thing about dried fruits is that it has a longer shelf life, which allows us to keep them in a long period of time. But since water is removed from dried fruits, it leaves the same with concentrated sugar and calories (19). That is the reason why dried fruits are very high in sugar and calories.

Approximately 22 percent to 51 percent of the sugar found in dried fruits is fructose. A study shows that the consumption of foods rich in fructose can have adverse effects on our health, including heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain (20). Just come to imagine that an ounce of raisins actually contains 84 calories. That’s a lot of sugar, right?

25. Coffee

Coffee contains caffeine, and the latter is usually used in most fat-burning supplements nowadays. It is known to increase our metabolism as well as to mobilize fats from our tissues. But, over time, our body becomes tolerant to the effects of caffeine, which loses its fat burning properties (21).

Another thing is that a 2017 study found out that 70 percent of people who consume coffee include sugar and creamer. Some coffee lovers even add whipped cream on top of their coffees (22). Do you know that a typical coffee from your favorite coffee shop could give you at most 600 calories per drink? Although coffee is said to have various health benefits, it is not good for losing weight in the long term and if added with sugar.


With the right diet, weight loss becomes a significantly easier task. In order to adjust a diet in order to be more appropriate for both weight loss and weight maintenance, a person needs to know exactly what foods are good for them and what foods are going to lead to weight gain. We listed some of the most crucial foods to be avoided on a weight loss diet in this post. Removing these foods from a diet, or at least adding a significant restriction on their consumption, can greatly increase the success a person is able to achieve in terms of losing weight.


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