Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
I apologise in advance for using the word “healthy food.” I don’t really like that term.
This is because it reinforces the whole concept of foods having morals.
If you classify foods as “good” or “bad” it brings with it negative connotations around food.
There are no “good” or “bad” foods per se. There is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” food.
Categorise foods as low nutrient or high nutrient foods. Low calorie or high calorie foods.
And I say this because it can lead to binge eating which, a lot of the time is as a result of you eat something that you think is bad, and then this is the negative mindset state you go into:
Everything is okay in moderation. Creating this moderation control will help you a lot.
That being said, a lot of people who enroll in my online coaching claim to be eating “healthy” or “clean” yet cannot understand why they’re not seeing progress.
Often, it can come down to over-eating these “healthy foods” which I’ll describe below.
There’s something about the word granola that makes it sound really healthy. Maybe because it sounds like the word grain?
Whatever the case, you can’t ignore the fact that this is made up of calorically dense ingredients that just won’t play well in an attempt to lose fat.
If you don’t make it yourself then you’re going to be guaranteeing yourself a ton of sugar and syrup as well, as both are needed to hold all of this “goodness” together.
I love the taste of granola as much as anyone. In fact, I remember once having what I’d consider to be a normal serving of one average sized bowl. Out of curiosity, I decided to weigh out my serving & figure out how many calories I was consuming.
As it turned out, I 3x exceeded Kellog’s ‘No added sugar’ and ‘high in fiber’ suggested serving size of just 45g. Per 45g serving, there’s a whopping 194 calories. Multiply that by 3 and we’re talking almost 600 calories per bowl (excluding the milk).
My Alternative Suggestion: Cook some porridge, add your own toppings (such as berries) and sprinkle on some granola if you like to add the finishing touches rather than having a full bowl of it.
I apologise to all of the farmers reading this who might be offended! But if you’re someone who’s trying to tone up yet you drink a pint of milk at your dinner or fill your bowl of granola up with it, this again might not be the best option for you.
Per 100ml of milk, you’re looking at 64 calories. A full pint of milk would set you back 350 calories alone. People might argue that milk is a good source of protein which I get, but there are much better alternatives with much less calories in them.
My Alternative Suggestion: Swap whole milk with unsweetened almond milk if you really like the taste of it. Per 100ml, almond milk only has 13 calories so you can swap your 350 calorie pint of milk with a 70 calorie alternative pint of almond milk.
3. Nut Butter
I absolutely love nut butters – peanut, almond, cashew you name it! They taste phenomenal and I used to literally eat it from the jar! In fact, I used to place a handful of peanuts or cashews, place them in the tub of nut butter, mix them together and eat it from the spoon (it tasted really good!).
However, nut butters are one of those foods that are so easy to consume yet have so many calories in it.
For instance, 1 tbsp of nut butter (not heaped) contains about 100 calories. And do you realise how small 1 tbsp of nut butter is?
To give you a better visual, those 2 tablespoons of nut butter are barely enough to spread across your slice of bread! I was equally as surprised when I found out and had to get out of the habit of having heaped nut butter + nuts as a snack!
My Alternative Suggestion: If you like nut butters, include them in your diet just be mindful of the serving. However, if you feel that might be an issue for you, a good alternative is to invest in powdered peanut butter which has about 50% less calories per serving than nut butter itself.
4. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit – specifically banana chips, chocolate coated raisins or even raisins, sultanas and figs themselves have a high sugar content in them but are also not very filling and satisfying and very easy to over consume.
I used to believe that I was just having a small, healthy treat in the form of dried banana chips or chocolate coated raisins until I realised the total amount of calories in each serving.
For example, per 100g of dried banana chips, there’s more than 500 calories! You could easily cook up a stir-fry with less calories than that!
I personally still enjoy raisins but I buy the small mini packets of them (which are made for students to bring to school with them!) with just 40 calories per serving which helps me with portion control.
My Alternative Suggestion: Eat real fruit. No surprises here. My personal favourites are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples.
5. Olive Oil
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many health benefits of using olive oil. This has been well researched.
However, per tbsp there’s approximately 120 calories. If you were to actually pour a tbsp of olive oil onto a hot pan, it would not be enough! It’s very easy to double or even triple the serving size when you’re cooking.
What might seem like 1 tbsp of 120 calories is likely to be 2-3 tbsp with up to 400 calories in it. Olive oil is also one of those foods that are easy to forget to track if you monitor your daily calorie intake on MyFitnessPal.
My Alternative Suggestion: Use olive oil spray. Instead of pouring it from the jar, using the spray is much easier. One thing I would say is be mindful of the spray you buy – if possible, try get a spray with 100% olive oil with no additional ingredients.
6. Guacamole & Pesto
I’m sorry if this offends anyone. If its any consolation, I always ask for guacamole in my burrito bowl in Boojum too!
The problem is, people confuse these healthy foods for lean foods.
With 40 calories in every tablespoon of guacamole and 60 calories per tablespoon of pesto, we tend to overlook the impact eating both of these foods can quickly have on our waistline by eating up to 10 tablespoons per serving.
Sure, healthy fats are healthy, but like anything else…eaten in excess you will quickly run into trouble with them.
My Alternative Suggestion: Eat your guacamole but do not eat it from the jar. Allow yourself 1-3 tablespoons but do not eat it from the spoon! Be particularly mindful of your consumption of pesto.
7. Orange Juice
Now I know a lot of people like to have their morning glass of OJ or other fruit juice, but if you are looking to tone up you are far better off opting for water and getting your fruit in solid form.
The amount of sugars packed into these “healthy” drinks is astounding. In fact, you are likely to find that a comparison between them and a glass of soda yield almost the same amount.
Add in the fact that liquid calories are far too easy to consume (and don’t provide the fiber benefits of the solid forms) and you’ve got another reason to limit these.
My Alternative Suggestion: Have a black coffee, a cup of tea or some water with some squeezed lemon for breakfast.
8. Fruit Flavoured/Low Fat Yogurts
Low fat or lite versions of foods are often way worse than the full fat, regular versions.
Beyond the fact that they usually just do a sugar for fat swap, you’re also getting a bunch of chemicals thrown in to these highly processed foods that you probably want to avoid all together.
The same is true for the majority of fruit flavoured yogurts which are labelled “healthy” or even some claim to help lower cholesterol!
My Alternative Suggestion: Get 0% Greek Yogurt and add your own fruit and berries to it instead.
I’m aware a lot of people (myself included) enjoy honey in their porridge or coating their pancakes with it.
And its sweet taste really tops of the taste of a nice warm, bowl of porridge or freshly cooked batch of pancakes.
However, it’s one of those foods that we tend to underestimate our serving size and the sweet taste of it makes it very easy to over consume.
My Alternative Suggestion: Buy wholesome and organic honey in which you squeeze it from the bottle instead of scooping it from the jar.
* I could suggest using a 0-calorie sweetener but the more research I do on them, the less likely I am to suggest their use because of all of the hidden ingredients and toxic chemicals in them which can have a negative affect on your gut and even impact your ability to digest your foods.
While I’ll never tell anyone to “not eat” something, I think it’s important to be educated about certain foods pitfalls so you can limit them in your diet when you’re trying to get and stay lean. To recap, the 9 foods are:
6.Guacamole and Pesto
8.“Lite” or Fruit Flavoured Yogurts
Syatt, J (2015): “5 of the Worlds Healthiest Foods That Are Actually Making You Fat.”
Cavaliere, J (2018): “These 8 Healthy Foods Are Actually Making You Fat.”
What To Do Next
If you found this post beneficial, then join my Free Facebook Group for more training tips.
If you’d like a coach to help put all of the above in operation for you, then book your free consultation call today to see if you’d be a good fit for my Online Coaching.
Having the structure and accountability you need to get the results you’ve always desired will make your journey much easier and quicker.
What’s the purpose of the consultation call?
To deep dive into your health & exercise history, your goals and current struggles and from there decide if we’d be able to work together (note – I am not the right coach for everyone which is why I have consultation calls with potential clients of mine).
If we are a good fit, we can get working on your personalised program so you can finally make the changes you’ve always wanted.
Adrian McDonnell -
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