You've cut back on chocolate, chucked out the biscuits and raided your nearest health-food store, so why aren't you losing weight? Unfortunately, you could be sabotaging your weight loss with the wrong foods. Check out the top 10 diet foods that could pile on the pounds
JUICES AND SMOOTHIES
When totting up our daily intake of kilojoules, many of us forget to take into account those that come in liquid form. However, the drinks you consume throughout the day can vastly contribute to weight gain. Smoothies and juices count towards your daily intake of fruit (and swapping fry-ups for a morning smoothie would certainly do wonders for your waistline), but supplementing meals with these sugary fruit drinks could add hundreds of extra kilojoules to your daily intake.
Smoothies and juices contain more sugar but less fibre than whole fruit, making fresh fruit a much better snacking option.
Many of us believe cereal bars are the perfect healthy snack and breakfast-on-the-go.
However, most breakfast bars are packed with cane sugar and corn syrup and high levels of fat. In fact, despite their healthy image, cereal bars can contain as much fat, sugar and kilojoules as an average chocolate bar and can cause crashes in blood-sugar levels that will leave you craving more food.
As with smoothies and juices, dried fruit has many beneficial properties and counts towards your daily intake of fruit.
However, because of the concentration of sugars that occurs when fruit is dehydrated, dried fruit is very high in kilojoules and sugar compared with the same amount of fresh fruit, and is much lower in fibre and nutrients. On top of this, many brands add sugar to dried fruit to improve the flavour, which boosts the kilojoule content even further.
Many of us turn to sugar-free versions of our favourite drinks to help stay trim, yet diet drinks may actually be causing you to pile on the pounds.
Research by the Texas Health Science Centre at San Antonio found that those who consumed diet drinks daily experienced a 70 per cent greater increase in waist circumference than those who drank none, and a previous study showed that obesity risk increased by 41 per cent for each diet drink consumed. A suggested reason for this is that artificial sweeteners trigger appetite, and they may also inhibit the brain cells that make you feel full.
When eating out or buying food on the go, salads are generally presented as the "healthy option". However, often this is not the case.
Although salads contain vegetables and other healthy ingredients, these are often buried under a layer of oily, sugary dressings which can be high in both fat and kilojoules. Many salads do contain good fats that can help with weight loss (such as in the case of avocados and olive oil), yet this is not always so. Avoid those sneaky kilojoules by drizzling your salads with a light dressing such as balsamic vinegar, or skipping the dressing entirely.
Soup can be the perfect weight-loss food when prepared correctly, but not all soups fall into the diet food category. Many soups rack up a significant amount of fat, particularly those containing dairy products such as cream or cheese.
On top of that, many soups are very high in salt, which can lead to bloating. To help stay trim buy (or better yet, make your own) vegetable-based, cream-free soups.
Hummus is often perceived as the perfect diet-friendly dip. However, while the healthy snack is undoubtedly nutritious, it is also packed with kilojoules and fat from its main ingredients of oil and tahini.
Another dip to watch out for is guacamole which, while packed with nutrients and good fats, often contains cream. Most dips can be eaten in moderation, but if you want to splurge guilt-free, go for a homemade tomato salsa packed with nutritious ingredients and almost fat-free.
Many people view vegetable chips as the "healthy" alternative to the potato variety. However, although some vegetable chips contain slightly more fibre and vitamins than potato chips, this is not always the case, and the difference is often slight. Most of the vitamins from fresh vegetables are lost in the process of making them into chips. On top of this, vegetable chips are often just as high in fat and kilojoules as potato ones, with just as much salt.
Air-popped popcorn is a great nutritious, high-fibre and diet-friendly snack. However, when butter is added, the tasty snack can quickly lose its healthy credentials.
Store-bought and cinema popcorn can be extremely high in fat and kilojoules, because of its liberal coating of butter and sugar, and is often also served in large quantities. Furthermore, as it is often eaten in front of a screen, we can easily eat far more than we intend to.
It's marketed as a health food, is sold in health-food stores and even looks remarkably healthy, so it must be a diet food, right? In the case of many mueslis, sadly the answer is no.
It is undoubtedly nutritious and full of fibre, but it often contains high quantities of sugar and oil, making it high in fat and kilojoules. Try eating in small portions or switch to a lower fat, sugar-free muesli for the benefits without the kilojoules.
For more lifestyle news see www.realbuzz.com