You may have seen television shows exploring some of the most calorie-dense foods available. People will chow down on some of the most “extreme” food out there – gigantic sundaes, a two foot rack of ribs, or a hamburger as big as your head. There is no doubt that eating this way is very fattening.
For most people, though, these enormous meals are not the reason for their excess weight. While a 2,500 calorie burger certainly will not do your waistline any favors, it is the food eaten on a daily basis that causes obesity. Listed below are some of the most fattening foods that make it into the average diet on a regular basis.
The Most Fattening Everyday Foods
Sweetened beverages: Sweetened beverages like colas, sports drinks, and sweet tea deliver calories without the benefit of any nutritional value. A 12-ounce can of cola has almost 150 calories, most of which come from sugar. While you may reach for one as a quick way to quench your thirst, you may actually be making the problem worse. Caffeinated drinks can act as diuretics, further dehydrating you.
Instead of nutrient-free sweetened beverages, reach for water or a drink that offers some nutrients with its calories. For example, low-fat milk has more calories than water, but it also contains potassium and calcium, nutrients your body needs. For hydration, though, nothing beats a glass of water. Add a splash of lemon or lime juice to give it a little flavor. While you may miss the shockingly sweet taste of cola at first, after a few days without it your taste buds will adjust.
Salad dressing: Salads can be a delicious and low-calorie way to get a number of essential vitamins and nutrients. However, if you add a creamy salad dressing to your plate you’ll add lots of unnecessary calories to the mix as well. Creamy salad dressings like ranch, blue cheese, and French are deceptive. Because they are added to a food that is considered healthy, you can consume a lot of calories without realizing it.
If you can’t stomach a salad without some dressing, there are alternatives. Light dressings like balsamic vinaigrette can add moisture and flavor without the calories. Alternatively, add a bit of creamy dressings to your salad, but only a bit. Limit yourself to one two-tablespoon serving or less to keep the calories under control.
Nuts, chips, and candy: Sometimes food is fattening not because of what it contains but because of how it is eaten. If you have food on hand that you eat without thinking you are likely to consume unnecessary calories without realizing it. This is true of low-nutrient snacks like chocolate and potato chips, but the same can be said of nuts. Nuts contain healthy fats that will do you a lot of good if eaten in small amounts. However, they are also calorie dense, making them very fattening if eaten unconsciously.
Avoiding foods you tend to eat unconsciously can be difficult and will likely take some time. However, a good first step is to make sure the food that usually tempts you is no longer around. Getting enough sleep and eating a full breakfast will also help curb cravings throughout the day. There is nothing wrong with snacking on nuts (or even a little chocolate now and then), but be sure to limit your serving size to a small handful.
Processed meats: Processed meats like bologna and deli cold cuts add calories, sodium, and preservatives to your lunch break. While you are offered some protein in return, the sodium content alone should encourage you to look elsewhere. A high sodium diet is associated with a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
There is no need to eschew meat sandwiches, just change the origin of your fillings. Roasted chicken, turkey, or roast beef will give you fewer calories, more nutrients, and much less sodium. You will also avoid potentially harmful preservatives like nitrates.
No one would argue that a triple bacon cheeseburger is fattening, but that kind of high calorie food is usually not a regular part of a person’s diet. Instead, it is the common foods that you eat on a regular basis that cause obesity. Be mindful of the calories you consume to avoid the worst effects of these fattening foods.