You know those days when your inbox feels like a confetti-filled piñata exploded in it and you can’t keep up? That’s exactly what happens to your blood sugar levels when you eat one of these foods when you’re hungry.
“Although juicing and juice cleanses are highly popular right now, the process used to make juice strips the most filling nutrient—fiber—from the sugary liquid,” explains registered dietitian Janel Funk. “This leaves you with a calorie-containing beverage that spikes your blood sugar, leading to a crash that leaves you hungrier. Studies have shown that our bodies aren’t any more satiated with the calories in juice as opposed to those from food, so stick with water for thirst and hydration and eat whole fruits and vegetables with their fiber intact.” If you’re craving something to drink and not a snack, try this idea from Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh: “Blend the fruits and veggies that you were planning on juicing. If you can’t get past all the pulp, try adding some protein powder or a nut butter. The added protein and fat act in a similar way to fiber in slowing down the absorption of the foods into your bloodstream.”
2. Low-fat yogurts
“While yogurt is constantly promoted as a super-healthy food, it truly depends on which one you choose to keep you full,” shares Kayleen St. John, registered dietitian at Natural Gourmet Institute, a health-supportive cooking school in New York City. “A typical 6-ounce fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt clocks in at 150 calories, 6 grams protein, 1.5 grams fat and around 25 grams sugar. The higher carbohydrate load and very low fat content will keep you looking for more to eat, even after your last spoonful.” Instead, opt for a plain Greek-style yogurt that has twice the protein, and add your own fruit, nuts and seeds for additional fiber and antioxidants. Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The WellNecessities, adds: “These foods, which are often touted as healthy snacks, do not satisfy us and do not require mastication. Without mastication, our body oftentimes does not feel satisfied as it would be compared to foods that require chewing. The tiny pre-portioned cups also set us up for disaster and leave us wanting more solid foods.” Find out if your go-to yogurt makes the cut with the 11 best and worst Greek yogurts for weight loss.
3. Egg whites
“There’s a reason you may feel hungry soon after your morning egg white omelet. While egg whites are a good source of protein, a great deal of the beneficial fats, vitamins and minerals lie within the egg’s yolk, and a 2010 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or coronary vascular disease,” shares St. John. “The saturated fat in egg yolks not only adds to satiety but is necessary for hormone production and the body’s absorption of some vitamins and minerals: vitamin A (great for skin and your immune system), B vitamins for energy, and choline, which is supportive of brain and muscle health.” We’ll raise our protein shake to St. John’s healthy pilgrimage to bring egg yolks back in style for dieters.
4. Fat-free salad dressings
“When we grab for the fat-free bottle, we think we are making the good choice,” says Hayim. Not the case. “These fat-free salads dressings can be loaded with salt and sugar to give them flavor. We end up pouring on more, making sure each piece of lettuce in our salad is doused. After the salad is over, the salt and sugar make you feel unsatisfied and craving more.” Exactly what the salad dressing company is hoping for, but not your diet.
5. Foods labeled “healthy”
“We tend to overeat those foods labeled healthy, according to a recent report published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research,” cautions St. John. “This tends to make people order larger portions and feel less full after eating foods touted as healthy. The exact reason behind it is unclear, but likely has to do with subconsciously programming ourselves to relate unhealthy foods to satiety.” Be wary of those label claims, and always check the ingredient list before you buy.
Sugar and all of its counterparts (from artificial sweeteners to organic cane sugar and everything in between) are addictive because of its associated heightened dopamine release. “Given the fact that we are evolutionarily designed to seek out sweetness in order to survive and that highly concentrated sources of sugar are omnipresent in endless quantities, sugar addiction has become increasingly prevalent and a huge contributor to our current global healthcare crisis,” says Julieanna Hever, a plant-based dietitian and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. “Refined and processed sweeteners are unrelenting in their ability to entice you to overeat, and yet don’t provide satiation, satiety, or nourishment.” Don’t swear off fruit, though. “Whole food sources of sugar, such as fruit, are different because fruit maintains its fiber and nutrients. That’s why you can swiftly consume a couple of candy bars or drink a huge cup of juice without feeling full, but eating 10 apples or pears would be challenging,” she adds.
7. Granola bars
“Traditional granola bars are often made of just sugar and hydrogenated oils and are void of protein (the stuff that fills you up),” shares Hayim. “They are often lower in calories than a traditional meal and do not serve as a meal replacement. The flavor is just enough to whet your appetite, but leaves you far from satiated.” Try one of these 7 protein bar recipes for weight loss instead.
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Think twice before smothering this condiment on your baked sweet potato fries or mixing with your breakfast egg dish. “Ketchup, or any food made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), can make your appetite continue to grow stronger. HFCS interrupts the body’s metabolism and slows down the production of leptin, which helps us feel full. As a result, there is no message being sent to body that you’re full and that it’s time to stop eating,” says Hayim.
“Ever stuff yourself with a giant blueberry muffin, only to find you were hungry right after?” asks Hayim. Been there, done that. “Although it can be loaded with calories, it is made almost completely of sugar. This sugar is rapidly digested and absorbed, leaving your body starved for more.” Instead, try one of these protein-rich breakfasts.
10. Sugary cereals
“Many sugar-sweetened cereals are void of fiber and protein, two nutrients you need first thing in the morning to keep your blood sugar stable and avoid a mid-morning hunger crash,” comments Funk. “Pairing your sugary cereal with fat-free milk means you’re missing out on satiating fat to keep you full as well. Look for cereals with more than five grams of naturally occurring fiber per serving, and don’t skimp on the fat or protein. Watch out for diet-friendly, low-calorie cereals, too. Even if they’re low in sugar and calories, they tend to be low in fiber and protein as well,” she advises. Try one of the 11 best cereals for weight loss.
11. Refined grains
…also known as white bread, crackers and more. “Fiber plus water equals ‘bulk,’” says Hever. “In your diet, bulk from fiber-rich whole foods promotes satiation and satiety. Because fiber is stripped away when refined, these foods can easily be eaten in excess. This is why chewing your way through a bread basket is way easier than finishing off a bucket of brown rice.” Love bread? Here are 20 secrets for eating bread without getting fat.
12. Salty snacks
“It’s true that you can never eat just one. That’s because salty snacks contain excessive amounts of sodium, and are often devoid of fiber or protein,” says St. John. “The high-salt content of these foods is dehydrating and can trick your body into eating more of the snack instead of reaching for a glass of water. The lack of protein and fiber means that the snack is carbohydrate-heavy and unbalanced, leading to an inevitable blood sugar spike.” Hayim adds: “Brain scans show that sodium triggers dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. That means the more salt you eat, the more you want it!”
13. Artificial sweeteners
Just because it’s “sugar-free” doesn’t give you license to dive in. Always check a label to see if artificial sweeteners were added. “Artificial sweeteners trick your brain into thinking it is getting a pleasurable food,” says Funk. “When you don’t eat the real thing and your body is expecting it, you’re likely to be left craving that sugary food even more.” Another reason to stay away: Artificial sweeteners can lead to abdominal pain and discomfort.
14. Store-bought soups
Soups can be a huge win for fast, effective weight loss when you’re making your own soup from scratch. But when you’re picking it up at the grocery store, that’s typically not the case. “Soups oftentimes contain more sodium than any other food. The sodium in these [seemingly harmless cans] causes that feeling of addiction and wanting more and more,” says Hayim.
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15. Fruit smoothies
Skip ‘em. “When smoothies have no protein or vegetables, they are just fructose,” says Hayim. “The result is a rapid rise in blood sugar, followed by a crash. In addition, they are usually too low in calories to actually fill you up, compelling you to want more food after.” Instead, opt for one of these 56 slimming smoothies we can’t get enough of ASAP.
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