When you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, the primary number that you need to focus on is the amount of calories you’re taking in against how many you’re using in a day. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re also getting enough nutrition to help your body function more efficiently. It can be tough to find the right balance, though sticking mainly with fruits and vegetables is a great way of being able to lose weight and build health.
Some of those foods that are good for your overall health, however, might be hiding a lot more calories than you think. These are foods we traditionally think of as being good for us, and many people have made them part of their weight loss plans without knowing how many calories were within. If you’re having trouble losing weight, you might be eating the right foods, but not the right portion sizes. To show you which ones you should cut back on, here are some high calorie foods that might surprise you.
One of the trendier food options, quinoa has become a dietary staple for vegetarians and vegans alike, while also gathering steam in the gluten-free community. Those that are actively avoiding meat love quinoa because of the high amount of protein at 8.1 grams per cup (cooked), but that same portion size has 222 calories. It can be easy to lose track of how much you’re eating since it’s so dense, and tucking away 400 calories as a side dish can be an unpleasant surprise.
We love avocados because of all of the healthy fats that can boost your heart health, as well as the whopping 9.2 grams of fiber. Avocados are also incredibly high in nutrition with more than 20 percent of a half dozen essential vitamins and minerals, but it’s one of the highest calorie fruits you can find. One avocado without the skin and seeds (136 grams) contains 227 calories. For those that eat a cup of pureed avocado (which has become quite common), you’re looking at 384 calories from this fruit…but at least you’re getting great nutritional value that junk foods can’t provide for the same calorie count.
Granola is often touted as one of those healthier breakfast options, and typically consists of oats, honey and nuts. Even the unsweetened varieties, however, can be packed with calories, which is surprising due to how it’s marketed. In fact, granola actually became popular for being high calorie as hikers would often bring it (or trail mix) as fuel for long trips. Your standard granola that you get from the store contains nearly 400 calories in one cup. For reference, the same serving size of Wheaties in the morning is just 106 calories.
When it comes to dieting, not all vegetables are created equal. Corn does have a lot of nutritional value and helpful antioxidants that help you in many ways, but it’s not great for your diet. Even without the butter, sweet yellow corn contains more than 130 calories in a one cup serving. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, think back to the last time you ate corn. There’s a good chance that you ate well over one cup, making this a sneaky food. While you can certainly work it into your diet, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
Most of us already know that nuts, for the most part, are incredibly high in calories but have plenty of other benefits to provide. If you’re trying to lose weight, try to stick to a lower calorie nut in small portions such as the almond or cashew. These can typically come in 100 calorie packs, which is a huge life saver. If you want to avoid the big calories, stay away from macadamia nuts. Just one ounce contains a touch over 200 calories, while eating an entire cup (132 grams) is nearly 950 calories! For the lowest calorie nut or seed, you’ll want to look for the chia seed.
Fruits are a great part of any diet, really, but you’ll want to steer clear of any dried fruits if you’re cutting calories. Dried fruits typically contain much higher amounts of sugar, which means a lot more calories per serving. For example, dried cherries and blueberries contain more than 250 calories per each half cup serving. Raisins and prunes aren’t too far behind at 217 and 224 calories, respectively. Fruit juice can also be sneaky, especially if you’re drinking more than a few ounces at a time.
White bread has gotten a rotten reputation in the health community, as many people like to point out the problems with eating too much of it. Whole-wheat bread, on the other hand, gets a good reputation for having more natural ingredients. However, that doesn’t necessarily translate to fewer calories. In fact, whole-wheat bread contains more calories than white bread on average, clocking in at 70 calories per slice. Since many of us eat two at a time, that’s 140 calories right there. There are some lower calorie alternatives, thankfully, as some brands have whittled it down to 30 to 35 calories per slice.
If you’re trying to lose weight, seafood is usually a good way to go. Certain types of fish, though, are much lower in calories than others. Out of all the common types of fish we eat, it’s the mackerel that has the most calories at 231 per three ounce fillet (cooked on dry heat). In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a bad way to eat a meal, but three ounces is a fairly small portion compared to how much fish people can eat in one meal. Taking one fillet and combining it with healthy vegetables is a great 400 calorie meal, just make sure not to go overboard.
Just like quinoa, hummus has become trendier in some parts of the world despite being a very old recipe. Normally made with chickpeas and other ingredients that would be considered healthy on their own, hummus combines them all for a high calorie snack. Just one cup of hummus is more than 400 calories, though you are getting quite a bit of fiber and protein. Since you usually snack on hummus with pita chips, you can expect to add a lot more calories and end up taking in more than 700 for just one snack that you might have thought was much lower in calories.
Smoothies can be a great way to cool off in the summer or even get a quick start to your day, but you want to make sure that you’re preparing them at home. If you want a low calorie smoothie, be prepared to sacrifice some of the taste, using just one type of fruit and a small amount of milk or yogurt. The types of smoothies that you find at chain restaurants (such as McDonald’s or Jamba Juice) are packed with calories because of added sugars. For reference, a Peach Pleasure smoothie from Jamba Juice is 280 calories in just a small cup, and goes to nearly 500 calories for a large!
What to Consider
Finding low calorie foods that also provide you with the nutrition your body needs can be tough when you’re trying to lose weight. Even though the foods we listed are higher in calories than you might have thought, you can still work them into your diet. Being able to cut the portion sizes will still provide you with many of the great nutrients, while also helping you meet your calorie goals. Remember, you have to burn off 3,500 calories more than you eat just to burn one pound of body fat. That can be a tough goal to achieve, so remember to take your time and make sure you’re counting the calories you take in so that you meet your goals!