This post has been updated from its original post date to include more information from experts.
Maintaining a healthy weight loss diet can be difficult if you often don’t have all the time you need to cook nutritious meals at home. Unfortunately, the most convenient foods are often the least healthy and the worst for your waistline. But not every food or drink that destroys metabolism comes with bright red flags. In fact, there are a few highly processed options that are often marketed as healthy snacks or drinks. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to know which seemingly innocent foods can actually slow down your weight loss goals.
To learn more about one of the worst options out there, we spoke to Heather Hanks, nutritionist at Medical Solutions Barcelona, Lisa Richards, nutritionist and founder of The Candida Diet, Tania Longnutritionist for Meal Fan, and beth hawkea registered nurse of the nurses code. They told us why you should avoid sugary, processed granola bars and store-bought fruit juices. Find all their thoughts below!
You might think grabbing a healthy-looking granola bar on the way out of the house is a great way to fit in for a quick, nutrient-dense breakfast when you’re pressed for time in the morning. However, health experts say you should think again. These bars usually do more damage to your body than they are worth, especially when it comes to your weight.
“Granola bars are the worst ‘healthy’ food for weight loss because they’re full of inflammatory ingredients that inhibit weight loss, including refined sugars and grains,” Hanks tells us. “Many food manufacturers claim their granola bars are healthy because they contain oats,” she continues. And while oats are certainly a good source of fiber, the real problem lies in the other ingredients. “The ingredients added to granola bars are what make them so unhealthy,” says Hanks. Typically, the most popular varieties contain added sugars, carbs, and calories, which can mess with your metabolism, worsen inflammation, and lead to weight gain.
“While [granola bars] can be convenient, they can impede weight loss efforts, among other negative side effects,” agrees Richards, noting that “processed foods are made with refined carbs that are highly inflammatory and wreak havoc on gut health.”
If you’re in a hurry and want a snack that’s both convenient and nutritious, a granola bar isn’t the answer. Instead, try to eat healthy nuts and fruits that will keep you energized and full, without overloading with added sugar and calories.
Although it may seem healthy because it contains fruit, health experts say that doesn’t make it healthy. This is because fruit juice is packed full of unnecessary sugar. If you drink apple juice every day, it can lead to health issues like bloating, inflammation, ruined metabolism, and weight gain. Ouch!
Long warns about fruit juices that while they may seem like a good choice over sodas, “the sugar level in fruit juices can be much higher than the sugar content in sodas.” Hawkes agrees, “fruit juices are often packed with sugar,” she notes. “For example, there are about 31 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving of orange juice, which is more than the 22 grams found in the same amount of cola.”
Fruit juices contain too much sugar, but offer almost no nutritional value. “Unlike a piece of fruit, fruit juice contains no fiber to limit the body’s absorption of sugar, which leads to an insulin surge,” says Long.
Hawkes notes that because fruit juice contains very little fiber, drinking too often “makes weight loss impossible” because without the fiber, it won’t keep you full. This can lead to overeating and slow metabolism. “When you eat so many sweets, your blood sugar levels skyrocket into the stratosphere,” she says. “This tells our metabolism to slow down and therefore burn fewer calories, which instead causes us to gain weight.” Healthy alternatives to store-bought fruit juices include unsweetened tea, naturally flavored water (this morning, flavored water can reduce bloating!) or even freshly squeezed fruit juice.