In today’s world of fad diets and speedy weight loss gimmicks, it’s tricky to figure out how to lose weight and keep it off. Whether it’s a celebrity endorsing a product that helped them lose weight or a website advertising the latest secret to slimming down, finding trustworthy resources can be overwhelming.
When it comes to “health” foods, many people have been misled. Through clever (and sometimes deceptive) marketing, some foods tend to slip under the radar.
Nutrition Facts: How to Read Food Labels
To best explore your healthiest options, learning to read and understand food labels is essential. A quick rule of thumb to follow is the five percent and 20 percent guideline. If a food contains 5 percent of a specific nutrient (like fat or fiber) it’s not considered to be a good source of that specific nutrient. On the other hand, if something is 20 percent or more, it can be considered a good source. Example: For cholesterol, a value of five percent or less is ideal. For fiber, a value over 20 percent is fantastic!
Next time you’re grocery shopping, watch out for some of the more deceptive foods – like the ones on this list!
Don’t get me wrong. Granola can be a nutritious treat – especially when the ingredient label lists whole grains, nuts and seeds. But many store-bought varieties are heavily processed. The first item to look at is the sugar content. Some brands contain 15-20 grams of sugar in a single serving!
Next, take a glance at the serving size, which could be ¼ cup, ¾ cup and so on. Finally, find a granola that contains at least five grams of fiber and protein with less than five grams of sugar per serving, such as KIND Dark Chocolate Whole Grain Clusters – or, you could always make your own!
As research continues to emphasize the connection between the brain and the gut, it’s no wonder that probiotic-rich foods are making their way into shopping carts. Yogurt, however, is one of those sneaky foods that can pack a huge sugar-laden punch! When it comes to selecting your favorite yogurt, stay away from the flavored ones. Instead, add your own fresh or frozen fruit. Also, opt for Greek varieties. Most of these have healthier ratios of sugar and protein. A general rule of thumb for yogurt is to find one with at least 10 grams of protein and less than five grams of sugar.
There’s no denying that you can gain benefits from a gluten-free diet, but that doesn’t mean that gluten-free foods are always the best option. Many packaged foods marked gluten-free are full of sugar to help preserve or improve their taste. The gluten may be gone, but what’s left are the negative consequences of excess calories and sugar. But let me be clear, this doesn’t mean you should avoid a gluten-free diet. It simply means that, more often than not, opt to make your own gluten-free food at home. This way, you’re in control of the ingredients. And, since most gluten-free items are priced higher than their glutenous counterparts, you’ll even save money in the process!
4. Flavored instant oatmeal
Of course, oatmeal has a plethora of health benefits. This superfood can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, contains a variety of minerals, vitamins and fiber, and keeps us regular. However, most of the flavored options – you guessed it – also have high amounts of sugar. As with yogurt, be sure to stick with plain and original flavors and add your own fruits and spices at home. Recipe to try: Vegan Overnight Oats with Chia and Coconut.
5. Agave nectar
Agave nectar is extremely popular in the kitchens of many health-conscious eaters. This natural sweetener, however, is not as healthy as one may think. Agave is a refined sweetener with an extremely high amount of fructose. In fact, agave is anywhere from 70-90 percent fructose, whereas regular table sugar is 50 percent fructose. Instead of using agave, explore healthier options like stevia or xylitol.