These 'diet foods' might seem healthy, but do you know how many calories they really contain?
At GLAMOUR, we're big fans of the 'everything in moderation' mantra, so this is more of an exercise in portion control than a call to cut these foods out completely.
Because unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So when you find a 'healthy food' that you LOVE, be wary not to go overboard or you might not see the benefits you were hoping for.
Dates are an ingredient that pops up in many 'healthy alternative' recipes, like 'raw caramel slice' and 'protein balls'. This is fine if you stick to a small serving, as a single date only comes in at 20 calories. But when a recipe calls for 500g, you're looking at a whopping 1,400 calories. And the fruit is surprisingly high in carbohydrates too.
Top Tip: If you're eating them fresh stick to 1/2 cup a day (and use it as a replacement fruit serving. If you're eating dried dates, stick to 1/4 cup per day.
Cereal bars might seem diet friendly, but while wholegrain varieties are high in slow release energy, vitamins and minerals, the sugars and fats used to flavour and bind them send the calorie count whizzing upwards (the average bar contains 250-300 calories).
Top Tip: Opt for naturally flavoured bars free from trans-fats and preservatives and factor the calorie count into your daily intake.
They draw us in with their promises to energise and refresh us, but the majority of specially fortified vitamin waters are also high in sugar and therefore pretty high in calories (some as much as 350 calories per bottle, which is the same amount as a small meal – Eek!).
Top Tip: Stick to good old-fashioned water instead. It will save your wallet AND your waistline in one fell swoop. Result!
Tasty? Yes. Nutritious? Yes. Low in fat? Most definitely not. Hummus – made from a blend of chickpeas, seasame paste, olive oil, lemon and cumin – is a healthy snack packed with protein, fibre, good fats and vitamins. However, the oil and the seasame send that calorie count rocketing sky high – a single cup of standard hummus is about 435 calories!
Top Tip: Portion control. Hummus is great for you, just have a tablespoon as an accompaniment, not the whole pot. And, where possible, opt for the reduced fat option, too.
There are leaves and vegetables in it, which means it must be the lowest item in calories on the menu, right? Wrong. The word ‘salad’ doesn’t automatically make anything diet friendly, it’s what it contains that really counts. Oily or creamy dressings , fried croutons and fatty meats like bacon, pork, lamb or beef, are loaded with fats and sugars, and can cancel out all your hard lettuce munching work in an instant.
Top Tip: Avoid creamy dressings completely, or ask for a dressing on the side so you can control the amount you put on your salad. Go for steamed or grilled chicken, turkey or oily fish, or just go completely veggie to hold off on mounting calories.
Low Fat Yoghurt
Remember – low fat doesn’t automatically equal low calories. Many ‘low fat’ yoghurts – while high in calcium and protein – are packed full of sugar, making some even higher in calories than regular yoghurts.
Top Tip: Opt for natural, flavour-free Greek yoghurt instead, keep your portion sizes small, and if you need sweetness, add it yourself with a small drizzle of honey and fresh fruits.
Fruit juices are a great, vitamin-packed beverage, but don’t drink them like water. Most, especially those made from concentrate, are full of sugars that can potentially send your blood sugar levels crashing and your calorie count soaring. The same goes with smoothies, especially those made with yoghurt or bananas.
Top Tip: One glass a day is enough to boost your vitamin count, just stick to that one glass (a 200ml serving is about 90 calories). And go for freshly pressed rather than those made from concentrate.
Those morning lattes might seem harmless, but whole milks, syrups and sugars catapult a low-cal coffee into the small meal count territory – a vente whole milk latte from Starbucks is around 180 calories, which is about the same as a pint of beer!
Top Tip: If you can, do away with lattes completely. If not, turn it into a once-or-twice weekly treat, opt for skimmed or soya milk, and factor it in to your daily intake.
Nuts are a fabulous source of beauty-boosting vitamin E, iron, magnesium and protein, as well as slow release energy, but their high-fat content makes them extremely calorific (100 grams of macadamia nuts notches up a whopping 718 calories).
Top Tip: Remember, not all fats are bad – some are essential for proper cell function in the body – and those contained within nuts are definitely the good kind. But they are still high in calories. So go for unsalted, and eat in moderation. Almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are the best to go for.
Yes, it is high in antioxidants, but hold off on scoffing the whole bar! While dark chocolate, on the whole, is lower in calories than fat-rich milk and white chocolate, there are often added sugars racking up the calories.
Top Tip: Everything in moderation. Treat yourself to a few squares now and then, just don’t eat the lot. For maximum nutrition, give raw chocolate a go too.
Cheese often worms its way into diet plans, fooling us into thinking it’s healthy with high levels of protein and calcium. But remember – animal fats are the most calorific food sources you can eat, so are best limited to a bare minimum if you are trying to lose weight.(100g chunk of cheddar cheese has 429 calories in it).
Top Tip: Can’t live without cheese? You don’t have to. Just show it some respect and elevate it to ‘treat’ status and enjoy moderate portions once or twice a week. Go for reduced fat options, too.
Avocado is unbelievably good for you. It’s full of vitamin E and C which boosts the skin’s vitality and luminosity, while avocado oil is thought to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin, improving its tone and texture. However, they are very high in fats – albeit healthy, polyunsaturated fats – which makes them particularly high in calories.
Top Tip: We love avocados and would never stop eating them. Just limit your intake to a quarter of a pear a day, rather than the whole thing.
Polyunsaturated fats like those found in olive oil can stop you feeling hungry, while olive oil itself contains a naturally-occurring chemical called oleic acid, which aids the breakdown of excess fats in the body. Good for you? Yes, but as with all vegetable fats, it is high in calories (120 calories per tablespoon? Yikes!).
Top Tip: Olive oil is the best of the bunch, as it’s not hydrogenated and therefore does not contain harmful trans fats. However, if you are on a calorie-controlled diet, limit your intake. Try using a low-cal olive oil spray for cooking, and minimise the salad dressing!
Low-carb diets like Atkins endorse peanut butter and while, much like all nuts, peanuts are high in proteins and vitamins, they are also very high in calories. Add to this the vegetable oils used to turn it into butter, and the calorific value is huge (100grams will provide on average 588 – a huge 29 per cent of your daily intake).
Top Tip: A small tablespoon of peanut butter is 90 calories, so eat as a treat over wholegrain toast in moderation. Also, opt for natural or organic peanut butter rather than standard shop-bought varieties.
Maybe it’s the association it has with salads that makes us think of mayonnaise as equally diet-friendly. The reality, however, is that it is high in both animal and vegetable fats, not particularly good for you, and high in calories (a tiny teaspoon is 50 calories, making a tablespoon around 150 calories!).
Top Tip: Go for a low calorie option, or try healthier alternatives like plain yogurt.
It’s become a bit of a fad snack of late, and who can blame us? A cup of popped pop corn contains just 20 calories, after all. However, it’s the addition of butter, sugar or toffee – like the stuff you’d buy in a cinema or from the supermarket – that racks up the calories, making it more of a diet hindrance than a help.
Top Tip: Make it yourself, and hold up on using too much to flavour it.
Better than ice cream, right? Not necessarily. While lollies tend to be lower in fat content, sugary varieties are full of hidden calories and lack the same nutritional values of calcium and protein that ice cream can have.
Top Tip: Avoid shop-bought sugar traps and make them at home yourself with fruit juice.
High in fibre and nutrients, there is no doubting that dried fruit – like apricots, pineapple, dates, raisins and apple rings – are good for you. However, calorie-controlled dieters should munch with caution. A tablespoon serving is 67 calories, while a 100g snack bag over 300 calories – more if they are sugared or treated with honey.
Top Tip: Sprinkle a spoonful over cereal, but opt for fresh fruit like apples or oranges as a snack instead.
Repeat out loud: “Liquid form does not equal diet friendly!” This very much applies to soups, particularly meat or cream-based varieties. While they might appear a healthy option on the outside, the animal fat content really notches up those calories.
Top Tip: Stick to cream-free vegetable soups or clears soups, and read the back of the packet to get an idea of serving size – a whole carton is usually for two people, not one!
Ahhh beans, delicious beans! How we love you. High in protein, high in slow-release carbs, and high in fibre. Unfortunately, though, high in calories too, particularly the baked variety.
Top Tip: Portion sizes are wonderful things. Opt for a quarter of a can per serving, and you’re laughing. Go for natural beans without sauce. If you fancy a sauce, have a go at making your own – that way you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
Bananas are highly nutritious and a great, energy-boosting snack when you’re on the go. However, unlike other fruits, they are higher in calories – the average, medium-sized banana has about 120 calories in it compared to an average sized apple, which has about 40 calories in it.
Top Tip: Most diets encourage you to eat as much fruit and vegetables as you want. Don’t apply this rule to bananas. Instead, factor in the calorie count to your daily intake, and limit your intake to one a day.
Original article on GLAMOUR UK. Read the full article here.