You might think that healthy eating and a lean, toned physique go hand in hand, but this isn't always the case. It would make sense that by picking more nutrient-dense foods with a higher vitamin and mineral content and less fat, sugar and salt, the pounds would literally fall off. Certain healthy foods can be packed with calories though, which can lead to fat gain.
Total Calorie Intake
Weight loss comes down to calories in versus calories out. You need to be consuming fewer calories than you burn to lose weight, and a surplus of calories will make you fat. Active women should get 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, according to United States Department of Agriculture guidelines, but if you're coming in over this, or slightly under but leading a very sedentary lifestyle, you could start putting on fat.
Fake Health Foods
The health foods market is huge, with consumers always looking for ways to make their diets healthier. You should watch out for the secret diet saboteurs though, advises dietician Sally Kuzemchak on the Fitness magazine website. Yogurt, trail mix, veggie chips and sugar-free cookies may all sound healthy, but they're often packed with hidden sugar, fat and calories, making them no better than the non-health foods you're replacing.
High-Calorie Health Foods
Some foods are genuinely healthy, but do require you to be careful with portion sizes. You might be a fan of peanut butter, for instance; while it is an excellent source of healthy fats, protein and fiber, it can contain a whopping 190 calories per 32-gram serving. Likewise raisins, which have a high vitamin C, iron and calcium content, contain 120 calories and 24 grams of sugar per quarter cup. Always check your food packaging to ensure that the foods you're eating fit into your daily calorie requirements.
If you eat enough of it, healthy food can make you fat. It's clearly going to be harder to eat 5,000 calories from lettuce, chicken breast and apples than it would be to get the same number of calories from burgers, fries and ice cream, but that doesn't automatically mean you don't need to watch your intake of healthy foods. Keep track of your calorie consumption to ensure you're not over-eating. Also be sure to exercise; 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week and total-body strength training at least two days a week is ideal.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.