This month, C. W. Randolph Jr., M.D., Diet.com expert and co-author of From Belly Fat to Belly Flat, writes about common misconceptions about diet-friendly foods.
Most dieters mistake the following food choices as great to eat while dieting. Unfortunately, they are loaded with fats, preservatives and hidden calories... all big saboteurs of a slimmer belly, thighs or rear.
1. Diet soda
Soda is never good for you, but diet sodas create more insulin in your body, which means more sugar. Diet soda also inhibits the hormone leptin, which regulates your metabolism and appetite. Try a glass of water with your meal instead.
You may think they're better than potato chips, but they're made with enriched white flour and loaded with carbohydrates, a big diet no-no.
3. Fruit juices
These can contain high amounts of sugar. And depending on the brand, some may only have 5 percent natural fruit juice. Eat your fruits rather than drink them. Two servings of citrus a day provides your body with D-Limonene, which has been shown to promote the detoxification of estrogen.
4. Salad kits
Salad dressings can add hundreds of calories and more fat than you need to consume in one day. Lighter varieties are better.
5. Reduced-fat peanut butter
A reduced-fat version seems like a great idea, but the fat that is removed is replaced with fillers, with no reduction in calories. Using a bit less of the full-fat version is the healthiest choice.
6. Poultry hot dogs
All hot dogs include skin and fat, even those made from poultry. Try a low-fat or fat-free dog as a lower-calorie alternative for your cookouts.
7. Cereal bars
You can find plenty of cereal bars that are low in fat and calories, but you have to look. Many are high in sugar and saturated fat. Make sure to read the labels to avoid starting your morning with an addition to your belly!
8. Frozen yogurt
Frozen yogurt contains added sugar, which translates to extra calories. Look for the low-fat labels and indulge sparingly.
9. Rice cakes
These crispy treats can cause your blood sugar to spike, which in turn causes your body to store unwanted fat by slowing down its ability to burn it off. And beware of flavored rice cakes: They're loaded with sodium.
All those wonderful healthy things added together must be good for you, right? Wrong. Granola contains about 350 calories and 12 grams of fat per 3/4 cup — plus a ton of sugar. Low-fat or low-sugar granolas make for a better snack.
C.W. Randolph, Jr., M.D. and Genie James, M.M.Sc., are co-authors of From Belly Fat to Belly Flat and co-founders of The Natural Hormone Institute of America.