Although your total calorie intake determines whether or not you become fat, certain foods are associated with overweight and obesity. In fact, even some diet foods people eat in hope of losing weight are associated with weight gain. Eating a variety of healthy foods each day and controlling your calorie intake will help prevent the gain of unwanted pounds.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as sodas, are associated with obesity and weight gain, according to a review published in a 2006 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Sugary drinks provide you with calories but no nutrients, plus they likely won’t satisfy your hunger or cause you to feel full. One can of carbonated cola contains about 140 calories. If you’re a soda drinker, simply cutting two sodas from your diet each day can help you lose about 1/2 pound per week.
Despite the fact that diet drinks are much lower in calories than sugary drinks, they may still make you fat. A review published in a 2010 edition of the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” found that artificial sweeteners — found in low-calorie drinks such as diet sodas — are actually associated with weight gain. The authors of this review reported that the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners may enhance your appetite, causing you to increase your calorie intake.
Since fiber helps you feel full, eating too many low-fiber foods such as refined grains can affect your appetite, body weight and even body fat. During processing, many nutrients, including fiber, are removed from refined grains. According to a study published in a 2010 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” women with higher intakes of refined grains had higher amounts of subcutaneous fat -- the fat just below your skin that you can pinch with your fingers -- and visceral or abdominal fat. Examples of refined grains include white bread, white rice and regular pasta. Replace them with whole-grain bread, brown rice and whole-grain pasta.
Although you need fat in your diet — especially heart-healthy, unsaturated fats, such as oils, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and hummus — eating too many fatty foods will increase your caloric intake and pack on extra pounds. Fats provide 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein each contain only 4 grams. In a study published in a 2012 edition of the journal “Nutrition,” researchers found that carbohydrate and fat consumption determine total calorie intake. Keep your fat intake between 20 and 35 percent of your daily calorie intake, according to the Institute of Medicine, or 44 to 78 grams of fat per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. Limit or avoid artery-clogging saturated and trans fats, found in butter, lard, shortening, high-fat meats, full-fat dairy products, greasy potato chips, doughnuts and fried foods.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Intake of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Carbonated Beverage, Cola, Contains Caffeine
- Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: Gain Weight by “Going Diet?” Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Whole- and Refined-Grain Intakes are Differentially Associated with Abdominal Visceral and Subcutaneous Adiposity in Healthy Adults: the Framingham Heart Study
- Nutrition: Is Obesity Development Associated with Dietary Sugar Intake in the U.S.?
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.