Some of the most popular go-to healthy foods can often be very high in calories, which can make reaching your weight goals more challenging. This doesn’t mean you should avoid them, but if you’re aiming to stay within a certain daily calorie allowance, you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with how these foods measure up in terms of calories and macronutrients.
Here are some common healthy go-to foods that may sabotage your weight loss efforts, so be mindful of the labels and your portion size:
Everyone loves a good protein shake or smoothie, especially at this time of year. But you must be mindful of what you are putting in it as most are between 250-600 calories per a 16-oz serving. Also, check the labels of your protein powder to make sure you are using one with minimal sugar. My favorite low-carb and low-calorie protein shake consists of 1 scoop of protein powder, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter powder, 1/2 of a small container of Greek yogurt, and a splash of almond milk. It is filling but macro-friendly.
Guacamole is packed with heart-healthy and potassium-rich avocados, and it’s also packed with calories. One cup (which sounds like a lot but have you ever sat at a table with guac and chips?!) contains about 360 calories. If you want to indulge, you can swap your chips for veggies to cut out some calories and carbs.
Chia seeds are a great healthy choice thanks to their fiber, omega-3, and protein content, but they are also very caloric. A single tablespoon contains 70 calories, meaning you can easily add an extra 200 calories to that smoothie without even realizing it. Use chia seeds sparingly in order to still get the health benefits minus the unwanted calories.
Just two tablespoons of olive oil add 238 calories to your meal or salad. And yes, those calories count even if you are just using it to cook. While olive oil is undoubtedly a healthy fat, use it sparingly to keep the calories in check.
They say that dried fruit is a healthy snack, but for those of us with diabetes, it might be one to avoid. Dried fruit is very high in sugar and carbohydrates and it’s not the easiest snack to keep to one portion at a time. It also doesn’t have the water that’s in regular fruit, so it is not as filling and satiating. My idea? Assemble small single portions ahead of time to keep the calories in check.
Nuts and Nut Butter
Nut butter is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It contains healthy fat and is very versatile and can be added to a variety of snacks or dishes, such as smoothies, yogurts, and much more. But two tablespoons of peanut butter contain almost 200 calories, so be careful with your serving size. For some recipes, such as smoothies, you can switch to one of the many new peanut butter powders which are less caloric because they contain a lot less fat.
Nuts are also a great healthy snack, just one small handful of almonds contains over 7 grams of protein and 18 grams of healthy fats. Since they’re very calorie-dense, just two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack can quickly add hundreds of calories. Make sure to be mindful of portion size with this snack.
If you are one of many people living with diabetes who also have celiac disease, you’re already accustomed to eating gluten-free foods. While gluten-free baked goods are amazing substitutes for wheat, they are not necessarily any healthier. Many contain less protein than their wheat counterparts, and just as many carbs. Also, while the calorie count usually remains the same, you may eat more of the gluten-free one because it appears “healthier.”
Prepared Salad Kits
We all love the convenience of running into a store on your lunch break and grabbing a salad to go. But to think that it’s automatically a healthier choice because it is a salad is incorrect. Many are loaded with extra calories and fat from the cheese, bacon, and large pouches of dressing. You can still buy these prepared kits but don’t overload on all the toppings. Or better yet, create your own salad and keep the calories in check.
Supposedly healthy, but super calorie-dense. One cup of homemade granola can serve up a full meal’s worth of calories. At 597 calories and a whopping 29.4 grams of fat per cup (exact totals may differ based on ingredients), this is one of the foods you should skip if you want to lose weight. Consider making your own, there are great recipes out there to try.
The fish, seaweed, and vegetable components of sushi are healthy, but once you add in the rice, creamy sauces, deep-fried crispy bits, and so on, it can become a real dent in your diet. One roll can easily contain 500 calories, and sushi is famously a glucose-management nightmare! Consider having a few pieces of a sushi roll along with a salad, miso soup, and edamame. Or, choose rolls that don’t contain mayonnaise or fried ingredients.
Also, read more about some other common dietary pitfalls here.