BY now we've all heard the phrase "pandemic pounds" and while some people might be content with gaining weight, others might choose to lose it.
If you're trying to lose weight then it's likely you've swapped your crisps and other snacks for so-called "healthy" or "low fat" options – but one expert has now revealed that these foods could be doing more harm than good.
Dr Michael Mosley, author of the Fast 800 said it can often become confusing to know exactly which foods are healthy when you’re navigating the supermarket.
He explained: "With huge signs at the end of each aisle, telling you exactly why the latest products will turn your health around, it’s easy to fall into their well set traps and spend a fortune on “healthy” foods that are not so healthy."
While we should all have a little bit of what we fancy from time to time, if we're over indulging – it's likely to lead to weight gain.
Here Dr Mosley reveals the foods that you're eating that could be sabotaging your results on the scales and reveals how to avoid healthy foods that aren't so healthy.
1. Vegetable crisps
While these snacks might sound nutritious, most of them are actually fried in sunflower oil – which is the reason you get the same crunch you are used to with your normal potato snacks, Dr Mosley says.
He added that these snacks are also high in salt and that this mixed with their carbohydrates and fat content, makes them so addictive that you’ll struggle to stop yourself going back for more.
"Vegetable crisps, in reality, are no healthier than a standard packet of potato crisps.
"If you are looking to satisfy your craving for crunch, there are ways to do so without jeopardising a healthy lifestyle", he said.
Dr Mosley recommended alternatives such as raw vegetables such as carrots, nuts and seeds and fermented foods.
Margarine has previously been dubbed as a low fat alternative to butter, but Dr Mosley says that while it does have less saturated fat than butter – saturated fat isn't always a bad thing.
He explained: "Margarine itself is processed and made from vegetable oil. As vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature, a process called hydrogenation takes place, which resultantly creates trans-fat.
"Trans fats should be avoided where possible as there is a plethora of scientific evidence linking increased intake of trans fat with inflammation, heart disease, stroke and poor cholesterol."
Butter, on the other hand, is made from churning cream, a natural whole food.
"As a concentrated dairy product, we’re not advising you to lather butter onto every meal; however, a small amount every now and then will cause far less harm than processed margarine and spreads", Dr Mosley said.
3. Low fat foods
If you want to lose fat then surely you should buy low fat foods, right? Dr Mosley said this is wrong and that these products are often stripped of nutrients and laden with additives.
He added: "Products high in sugar and low in fat will spike your glucose levels and leave you craving more as there is nothing to prolong the energy release.
"Eating healthy fats, rich in mono and poly-unsaturates will not only satisfy your taste buds but curb your appetite too as they slow the rate in which the stomach empties, delaying its cue to signal for more food."
4. Flavoured porridge
Sachets of porridge that say we can "just add water", may as well be telling us to "just add sugar".
Dr Mosley said that this is because some brands add 16g of sugar to their tiny portions of porridge.
Instead he said you should make it yourself from rolled oats and water, or whole milk, and you’ve got yourself a winning breakfast.
5. Salad dressing
Sometimes a plain salad can look a little bit sad, but Dr Mosley said you should be careful with the dressings you use.
He said many shop-bought dressings have lots of sugar in and that it can be hard to stick to the correct serving.
Instead of using these dressings he said you should make your own with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or a glug of good quality balsamic vinegar (just definitely not the glaze!).
6. Vegan foods
If you're trying to opt for a more plant-based diet then it's key to be mindful that just because something says it's vegan or gluten free – it doesn't automatically mean it's healthy, Dr Mosley said.
Some vegan foods can be high in trans fat, sugar and simple carbohydrates.
You should try and swap out processed ready meals with healthy whole foods with protein sources like tempeh and chickpeas.
7. Breakfast cereal
Dr Mosley said that while you might think you are going for the healthy, fibre loaded cereal, some can contain up to 23g of sugar per serving.
He said granola is one of the key culprits of this as it is high in sugars, carbohydrates and calories.
"Not only this, the recommended serving size is considerably smaller than you may think with most brands recommending 40g, which is the equivalent of around three tablespoons.
"If you enjoy granola or cereal for breakfast, always check the ingredients and avoid any with dried fruits and chocolate chips. Or, better yet, make your own and top with Greek yogurt and fresh berries", he added.
With all that it mind – you might be wondering how to spot these additive laden foods masquerading as health foods.
Dr Mosley added that the best possible way to avoid these big brand claims and long standing rumours around ‘healthy’ foods is to cook fresh, whole foods each day that align to a Mediterranean-style diet.
He added: "Or, if you are looking for convenience foods, find ones that are made up of only healthy and satiating ingredients.
"If you do go for pre-packaged foods, always read the ingredients carefully and if you wouldn’t find the ingredients in your cupboard, or you’re not entirely sure what they are, it’s best to leave the item firmly on the shelf!"
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