Foods to Avoid when Trying to Lose Weight

Spoon full of sugar


When anyone makes the decision to begin losing weight, they’ll find that their success greatly depends on the specific TYPES of foods they include in their diet. Even though every type of food group (fruits, nuts, dairy, etc.) has different calorie compositions, there are some groups of food that are simply bad for health and will slow down weight loss. You may find that foods in this “bad” category may have health effects which you previously had not known about. Oftentimes, foods can be popularized without evidence that they do anything beneficial for the body. It’s important you do your homework and find out more about what you put into your body and how it will affect you.

After reading through what foods should be avoided, have a look at foods for weight loss and good health which lists what foods should be included so that you know what to replace “bad” foods with. Healthy eating is more about including the good foods than it is about avoiding “bad” ones.

Avoid the following foods when trying to lose weight:

  •   Foods packed with calories and little to no beneficial nutrients
  •   Foods that are toxic to health
  •   Foods that are addictive and likely to cause weight gain

Low Nutrient to Calorie Ratio

Nutrient to calorie ratio may sound confusing, but it basically describes how useful a food is by comparing its amount of nutrition to the amount of calories it has. There are some very health-promoting foods that are also high in calories and vice versa. When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, people do great when they limit foods with a low nutrient to calorie ratio. This includes:

  • Fried Foods & Potato Chips
  • Butter, Cupcakes & Croissants
  • Fatty Meats & Lard
  • Cream, Ice Cream, Cakes & Soft Drinks
These foods have high amounts of fat and calories, but provide little to no nutrients that the body needs. They are also the foods that are most likely to undermine our weight loss efforts. Remember to take a look at the foods for weight loss and good health article where we talk about the opposite side of the spectrum - foods with a very high nutrient to calorie ratio.

Foods with Toxic Properties

The next group of foods to avoid are those which breakdown bodily functions and carry toxins. One of the most commonly consumed toxic foods is dairy. Cow milk’s original purpose is to grow a 100lb calf into a large fully matured adult cow that weighs around 1200lbs in only 15 months! This is because dairy provides several growth and maturing hormones meant for cows that also affect human bodies. It’s been known for a long time that the estrogen in cow’s milk works just like estrogen in our own bodies. Humans however, experience hormonal imbalance with the growth-promoting effects of dairy. Available evidence has already shown that consuming milk and dairy products has been linked to countless health ailments such as increased cancer rates (1), acne (2) and human hormonal interference (3). As one final case against dairy, it’s also been shown that consuming dairy with other healthy foods such as tea, coffee, berries and chocolate can even actively block the absorption of health-promoting antioxidants (4)(5). So not only is dairy extremely detrimental to health and losing weight, but it may also block the effect of other healthy foods when consumed together!

There are also many other sources of toxins. Foods like processed junk food or items from fast food restaurants contain a large variety of preservative chemicals with harmful effects. As an example, see the long and complicated ingredient list for an item from a fast food restaurant.

Overall, the best strategy is to avoid processed foods preserved with chemicals as much as possible. Eat foods in the freshest and least processed state that you can afford. You don’t have to buy everything organic or purchase only the most expensive groceries, just try and limit the dry storage type items that come in bags, boxes and tins. This may actually save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Foods Designed to be Addictive and Cause Weight Gain

The last important area of foods to avoid, are foods that can be addictive and cause weight gain. Food addiction is no longer a rare condition. Due to the vast array of junk food, the rates of food addiction are estimated to have risen along with the global obesity epidemic. Based on US studies, about 50% of obese adults, 30% of those overweight, and 20% who are at a healthy weight, are actually addicted to a specific food, combinations of foods or, in some cases, volume of food in general (6). It’s been shown that those who are obese can actually lose sensitivity to the pleasure hormone (dopamine), which is what happens to those with cocaine or alcohol addiction.

It’s thought that the constant pleasure overload on the brain from highly sweet and fatty foods can overtime wear out dopamine senses in the brain. This is thought to be why so many people now suffer from food cravings and can actually develop harmful food addiction behaviors. Since the taste buds respond to sweet, salty and fatty sensations, foods that hit all three of these areas are typically:

  • Breads & Cookies
  • Potato Chips
  • Candies
  • Chocolate Bars
So stay away from these types of junk foods and try to keep a close eye on any other foods you find hard to limit or which have addictive properties. As an alternative you can substitute these foods with healthy whole foods that taste sweet - see the tricking yourself into eating healthier article.


The foods to stay away from are the ones which have a low nutrient to calorie ratio, have toxic properties or have addictive qualities. These include fried foods, fatty meats, sources of animal fat, dairy, junk food and heavily processed items preserved in bags and boxes. Take note that often times the body can react with odd signals when removing these from your diet. You may find that you experience withdrawals or changes in the sensitivity of your taste buds. Nevertheless, after a short amount of time and with incorporating health-promoting foods your body will adjust and feel much better. This is the first (and most important) step towards a healthier lifestyle, at a normal weight and protecting your body from disease.


1. Li, X. M., D. Ganmaa, and A. Sato. "The experience of Japan as a clue to the etiology of breast and ovarian cancers: relationship between death from both malignancies and dietary practices." Medical hypotheses 60.2 (2003): 268-275.

2. Adebamowo, Clement A., et al. "Milk consumption and acne in teenaged boys."Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 58.5 (2008): 787-793.

3. Melnik, Bodo. "Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies." JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft 7.4 (2009): 364-370.

4. Lorenz, Mario, et al. "Addition of milk prevents vascular protective effects of tea." European Heart Journal 28.2 (2007): 219-223.

5. Serafini, Mauro, et al. "Antioxidant activity of blueberry fruit is impaired by association with milk." Free Radical Biology and Medicine 46.6 (2009): 769-774.

6. Kessler, David A. The end of overeating: Taking control of the insatiable American appetite. Rodale, 2010.

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