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Ultra-Processed Foods that Will Kill Your Dieting Attempts

Tim Boyer's picture
Breakfast cereals are not good for dieters

Here’s the low-down from U.S. News & World Report about how that eating ultra-processed foods will kill your dieting attempts.


One of the biggest reasons diets fail is because dieters do not always realize that some foods they believe are ok, actually contain more sugars and carbs than the target foods we typically avoid. According to writer K. Aleisha Fetters for U.S. News & World Report, it’s the processing done during manufacture that turns many foods into sugar and carb-packed diet killers that make up 58 percent of the calories we consume daily.

Ms. Fetters explains that many foods have become so processed (refined, bleached, combined with lab-spun additives and then refined again) that what is in them no longer resembles the food they mimic that consumers think they are buying.

To help dieters have a better grasp on what ultra-processed foods to avoid and the better alternatives to switch toward, she offers the following food advice:

Ultra-processed food #1: Breakfast Cereals and Bars

According to Ms. Fetters, even many healthy-appearing cereals and cereal bars are ultra-processed, full of added sugars and contain very few natural ingredients. In fact, those blueberries you see on the packaging are more likely to be processed bits of fake fruit containing sugar, corn cereal, food starch, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors rather than real dried fruit.

Her recommendation: go for natural steel-cut oat and add your own nuts, seeds and berries to it in place of store-bought cereal.

Ultra-processed food #2: Flavored Yogurts

Some flavored yogurts can actually be diet killers for people adopting a low carb diet. According to Ms. Fetters, some flavored yogurts contain more carbs and sugars than you'll find in 10 slices of white, refined bread!

The better choice: go for plain yogurt and add your own nuts, seeds and berries to it and/or choose the typically healthier Greek yogurt that has protein in it.

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Ultra-processed food #3: Reduced-Fat Anything

Manufacturers add extra sugar, chemicals, fillers and additives to make reduced-fat foods taste great. Sure—they have less fat than the food they mimic, but the processing to make them palatable leaves dieters feeling empty and still craving what fat has to offer, which then leads to snacking and eating more than they normally would have with the full-fat food.

The food tip here is to go ahead and take the full-fat version, but in moderation. Also, new research shows that switching back to whole milk may actually lead to reduced abdominal fat.

Ultra-processed food #4: Baked Goods

Ms. Fetters warns dieters that pre-made baked goods are a huge no-no, with the shocker that even those blueberry muffins behind the glass case at that coffee shop usually pack more calories than two candy bars, more carbs than five slices of bread and the amount of sugar found in four glazed doughnuts!

You are better off having one doughnut, but an even better choice is to pre-make your own muffin batter and store it away in the freezer ready for fresh baking in your oven when the need arises.

Ultra-processed food #5: Juice

Basically, if it’s not squeezed at home, it’s no good. According to Ms. Fetters, even "100 percent juice" drinks are so full of sugar that if you hold their nutrition labels next to those of sugary sodas, you'd have a hard time telling them apart.

If you don’t have the time and energy to squeeze your own juice, go for eating the fruit instead which will lead to feeling fuller and provide you with needed fiber for digestion.

For more health and dieting advice here are two fast weight loss diets ranked high by U.S. News & World Report.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report “5 Surprisingly 'Ultra-Processed' Foods Blocking Your Weight-Loss Goals