When losing weight, the biggest factor is calorie balance. You must ingest fewer calories than you burn each day to lose weight. That said, the types of food you eat are important, too. Certain foods can kick off cravings and spike blood sugar levels, making you want to eat more and sabotaging your weight-loss efforts.
Ban the Baked Goods
Processed baked goods are one of the first foods to avoid when embarking on a weight-loss quest. These are chock-full of sugar and preservatives, high in calories and easy to overeat. Bagels and white bread fall into this category, too. While they may not have quite the sugar content of a doughnut or pastry, toppings like cream cheese can take the calorie count through the roof.
Go Easy on the Low Fat
Low-fat foods may seem like every dieter's best friend, but they're not always beneficial. While naturally low-fat foods can be good for you, artificially produced low-fat foods could be worse than their regular alternatives. When manufacturers take out fats, they often add in extra sugar to make up for a lack of taste. A classic example is low-fat peanut butter, which has the naturally healthy monounsaturated fats taken out, only for them to be replaced with sugar, which can spike your blood sugar levels. The same can be said of many low-fat salad dressings and dairy products.
Ditch the High-Carb Snacks
Rice cakes, cereal bars and low-fat crackers might seem like good, low-calorie options for a snack or a quick energy boost, but they're not all they're made out to be. Rice cakes score high on the glycemic index, meaning they cause a rapid rise in insulin, which is bad for both weight loss and health. Avoid snacks that are based on fast-digesting carbs and look for ones that also contain protein, healthy fat and fiber to slow digestion.
Take a Pass on the Fast Food
Most people know that fast food isn't the best choice when trying to lose weight, but just how bad it is may surprise you. Aside from the high sugar, refined carbohydrate and trans fat content, fast food is alarmingly high in calories. A breakfast from some fast-food places can come in at over 1,350 calories, a 3/4-pound cheeseburger without fries or a drink rings in at more than 1,100 calories, and even some subs and sandwiches can contain in the region of 700 to 900 calories. Considering the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that the average moderately active adult needs between 2,000 and 2,800 calories per day to maintain his weight, just one of these meals can make a serious dent in your daily intake.