'Diet' Foods That Actually Make You Fat

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artificial sweetenerEating right to lose weight isn't easy, especially when we have so many options at our fingertips. Do you try Weight Watchers, ZONE, Dukan, 17 Day Diet, or South Beach? Do you buy pre-packaged meals or try to cook and prepare food at home? OMG, I know, system overload, right? Getting the "cocktail" just right -- the plan, the food, the exercise -- for successful weight-loss can be mind-boggling.

But one thing that drives me nuts is that there are so many "diet" foods on our supermarket shelves. Light this, non-fat that, fat-free, carb-light, yadayada. Now gluten-free is in. Thinking lower-calorie, minimal fat is probably the best way to stay fit or shave off weight, tons of us buy into these labels while doing our shopping. Too bad many of those foods are actually fat traps in disguise!

Here, five "diet foods" that will actually hinder your weight-loss efforts ...

  1. Fat-free chips - Several years ago, I'd look at a bag of these and say to myself, "1 gram of fat per serving??? You have to be kidding me!" Because -- that's a dream come true for any Cool Ranch or Sour Cream & Onion fan. But, hold it right there! Any "guilt-free" crunch made with the faux fat Olean packs a heavy punch. Purdue researchers just concluded that not only does Olean trigger GI side effects in some people, but it can also make you gain weight. Rats who were fed Olean-containing potato chips as part of a high-fat diet ate more overall and gained more weight than those who were fed a high fat diet and regular, full-fat potato chips. Why? Fake fats screw with our body's ability to digest and metabolize food, making us more likely to retain weight from what we eat. Next time I'm at a BBQ, I will be reaching for the real thing, thankyouverymuch.
  2. Artificial sweetener - You hear it all the time. Someone in line at Starbucks or Dunkin' ordering their iced Americano with two Splendas or three Equals. They think they're doing themselves a favor. Sigh. Studies have proven that artificial sweeteners make you eat more and gain more weight. They confuse your brain and your metabolism, and as a result, they disrupt the body's ability to regulate incoming calories.
  3. Granola bars - Oh, look, it's all hippie-crunchy, protein-packed, and filled with "all-natural" dried fruit and oatmeal -- it must be good for you and help you stay slim, right? Nope. Sadly, most snacks that fall into this category are sugar and fat bombs in disguise. Even if it's 100 calories or fiber-filled, "coated" or "drizzled" tends to be code for partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, which contains saturated and trans fats.
  4. Diet soda - This one is such a biggie. And we even know it's bad for us, but so many of us still tout our "soda addiction." But please, no, stop the insanity! Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio even concluded that people who drink artificially sweetened drinks gained more weight than those who didn't, and blame it on the fact that those drinks often make you crave the real thing. I'll be the first to testify: I was addicted to diet soda, and it did not help me lose weight. It made me want chocolate. And there you have it.
  5. "Mediterranean" foods - We're told over and over that foods like wine and olive oil are good for us! They may even be slimming! Yay! But, just because there are antioxidants in red wine and healthy fats in EVOO doesn't mean we get a free pass to go to town with this stuff. You could unknowingly consume 478 calories and 54 grams of fat (7 grams saturated) in JUST olive oil, if you mindlessly dip bread into a plate of it at an Italian restaurant. And depending on how much you consume, drinking wine could cost ya 400 calories over the course of a meal.

And this, my friends, is why it pays to be savvy about false claims and fake labels. I swear, I think they're all trying to secretly keep us dieting so we keep coming back for more. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you!

Do you find yourself eating any of these diet foods? What are some other ones that are actually fat traps in disguise?


Image via Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

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butte... butterflyfreak

My thing lately has been trying to buy my food in as close to it's original form as possible. Meaning fresh fruits and veggies, possibly frozen, rarely canned. I won't buy the "convenience" meal items anymore because convenience almost alwya equals unhealthy with all the crap they have to put in it to make it "keep." I think you are right in that they are trying to keep us dieting, after all, if we successfully keep the weight off, why would we keep dieting?

nonmember avatar Brianna

If you aren't educating yourself on what you're consuming then you have bigger problems than just being fat. That makes you fat AND ignorant which is not a good way to be. Diets are not the way to go. Eat healthy, watch your portions, get lots of protein and fiber, and eat lots of raw foods and grains. It's not that hard if you just read up on foods and how they affect your body.

Madel... MadelynMc

I agree, except with your last point. You literally can eat all the olive oil you want and not get fat because it's not fats that make you fat. It's empty carbohydrates and *gasp* even your whole grains. Eat natural fats, skip grains and starches. I've lost 16 pounds in two months eating a buttload of saturated animal fat (from grassfed/free-range animals), moderate protein, and very little carbs except fruit and dark chocolate. Lots of veggies as well...covered in pasture butter. Mmmmm fat. I feel better than ever.



People should really get out there and read about nutrition. Just because the government or "conventional wisdom" tell you to eat it/do it, doesn't mean you should.

Kathlyn Schofield


 "I swear, I think they're all trying to secretly keep us dieting so we keep coming back for more. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you!"  Seriously, how would they keep making money of you if the "diet food" worked! You hit the nail on the head... the sooner WE ALL realize that "they" want us in a cycle of buy, buy, and buy some more, one our economy is dependent on it... and there stock holders demand it... ITS NOT ABOUT WHATS GOOD FOR US AS THE CONSUMER... THE ONLY REASON they care if it kills you, Is cause you wont be giving them $$$ anymore and It might mean bad press... But it these things kill you SLOW (soft kill) then who can point fingers!   Accept the reality and protect your self...



Dee Elle Gee

I think people need to get over their addiction to eating a ton of food. The truth is, we DON'T NEED to eat as much as we do! Get a clue; eating until your belly is bloated and you feel like you are going to explode is not good for you, no matter what you are eating. Wolfing food down on the run is also not good for you, fast foods and ready to eat foods are chock full of junk. Hence, "junk food."


Seriously, what most people eat in a day is sufficient for two or three days.

nonmember avatar Mae

Hmm I think people just need reinforcements when it comes to reminding them of healthy food choices. I was born slim or a little too thin for my own peace of mind but that doesn't give me due reason not to eat right and lose all that hidden fat. Knowing when to stop or, I mean, when we have enough to eat needs to be practiced.

Dannielle Richins

Crazy, I consume some of these items and besides normal stay-at-home-activities and walking the dog for 20 minutes every couple of days, I don't gain crazy weight.


At 6 months post partum, I've lost all my baby weight AND am currently 3 months pregnant, weighing less than I did before I got pregnant the first time.


Some of these studies are such a waste. I use Splenda. I drink diet sodas a few times a week. I LOVE granola/granola bars. Nature Valley makes a chocolate version and I buy the Costco size box. I'm not a fatty.


You know what makes you fat? Eating more calories than you burn.

marin... marine_wife0520

The key is portion control and exercise. It's not rocket science. Cutting calories to a healthy intake for weight loss and actually getting off my ass I've lost 60 pounds.

Marj Pike Hatzell

Diets don't work. Eating things in moderation, and a variety of foods, while maintaining and active lifestyle is what works. Folks need to stop being lazy and need to stop trying to take the easy way out.  Eating foods as close to their natural source as possible is so much healthier!

Meg Cantara Doucette

It's not ALL about the food. It is about exercise too! I eat granola bars almost every day, and I'm on a diet thru the My Fitness Pal website, and today I hit my 25lbs lost mark! 25lbs in 5 months I might add! That is the healthy way to lose! I use Splenda and Sweet n Low in my coffee and tea. I rarely go out to eat anymore, and I don't drink alcohol anymore (cuz it just has WAAAAAY too much sugar in it). I always eat pre packaged meals. But I also do Zumba for Wii 3x a week, 500 ab crunches 5x a week, and 20 minutes on my elliptical 2x a week. It's ALL about exercise!!!

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