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Top 10 Foods to Stay Away From on a Diet

author image Kelsey Casselbury
Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in Arizona Weddings, Virginia Bride and on Gin & Pork and
Top 10 Foods to Stay Away From on a Diet
A bagel with cream cheese on a plate. Photo Credit: mu_mu_/iStock/Getty Images

Fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, lean protein -- all these foods belong on a diet. Other foods, however, will do nothing but derail your efforts to lose weight. These foods don't belong on your diet because they're high in fat, calories or sugar. Sometimes they're easy to spot, but other times, they're dressed up in diet-friendly packaging.

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Hidden Dangers

You think you're choosing healthier options, but some foods are just sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. For example, registered dietitian Joy Bauer recommends never eating stick margarine. It's lower in calories than butter -- around 100 calories per tablespoons -- but it's full of trans fat, which increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. Also stay away from frozen diet entrees, which are full of sodium but low in nutrients, and fiber or protein bars, which are loaded with sugar and essentially candy bars in disguise. In and of itself, fruit is a healthy option, but never eat canned fruit packed in syrup when you're on a diet. According to, these cans of fruit can be up to 22 percent sugar.

Bad-News Breakfast

Eating breakfast can boost your weight-loss success, but not all breakfasts are created equal. Bauer recommends skipping a morning bagel and cream cheese, particularly the white and flavored varieties made with refined flour. They're very dense and very high in calories. She recommends English muffins or sandwich thins instead. Sugary, ready-to-eat cereal or instant flavored oatmeal can also derail your diet, as they're often very high in sugar. Ready-to-eat cereal can be up to 56 percent sugar, says, while an instant oatmeal package can be 39 percent sugar. Choose unflavored, low-sugar oatmeal instead.

Fat Bombs

Out of the three macronutrients -- carbohydrates, fat and protein -- fat is the highest in calories, with 9 calories per gram. It's in your best dietary interest to avoid foods excessively high in fat, as they're typically higher in calories. For example, commercial salad dressings are often high in fat and sugar; according to, French is the least healthy with 631 calories per 100-gram serving. Other high-fat foods to avoid on a diet include fried foods such as chicken strips, which have 463 calories per 100 grams, and processed meats such as foie gras, a pate made from goose liver that has 462 calories per 100-gram serving.

Beverage Bust

Drinking your calories can destroy your weight-loss efforts. The calories in regular soda come solely from sugar, so Bauer calls it "liquid candy." Soda not only promotes tooth decay and potentially weakens your bones, but it also boosts weight gain. Drink seltzer water instead for a carbonated beverage that won't hinder weight loss.

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