Food Traps to Avoid

If your goal is to improve the quality of the food you eat, you'll find that it's actually lot harder said than done! There are so many foods that "look" healthy, but when you examine the list of ingredients and nutritional value, you discover that they really aren't. These "food traps" can cause you to overeat or consume the wrong thing, leading to setbacks in your diet and weight loss progress. Here are a few of the most common food traps to avoid:

Yogurt

On the face of it, yogurt is a very healthy food. Plain yogurt contains very little sugar, a lot of protein and healthy fats, and not too many calories. A small serving of yogurt can be incredibly filling, preventing you from snacking between meals. BUT, and this is a big but, flavored yogurts are usually high in sugar and artificial ingredients. Even the kind that claims to be natural, with pieces of fruit in it, will have more sugar than you'd like. If you're going to eat yogurt, ONLY allow yourself to eat the natural, unsweetened type. Anything else is just a food trap!

Bars

Not bars where you go out to drink, but cereal bars, breakfast bars, and protein bars. These bars are designed to give you a quick dose of energy, and they're handy if you're running a marathon or pushing the 90-minute mark on your workout. However, for the average person, these bars are just food traps to avoid. They contain a lot more sugar than they should, and they're loaded with empty calories and artificial ingredients. If you want a high-protein snack, try making your own protein bars at home.

Smoothies

Smoothies are all the rage these days! They masquerade as high-protein post-workout drinks, but pre-made smoothies contain far less protein than you'd think. Visit any Jamba Juice or smoothie shop, and you'll find that there's almost no protein in the smoothie at all. There is healthy fiber from the fruit, but there's also a lot of sugar. Pre-made smoothies are too high in calories and too low in actual nutrition. If you want a smoothie, make one yourself at home. Anything pre-made is a food trap.

Sugar-Free Foods

Just because it doesn't have sugar, that doesn't mean it's healthy. In fact, many experts agree that "sugar-free" versions of food are even LESS healthy then their full-sugar counterparts. Why is that? Two words: artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners are addictive, and they can have the same negative effect on your body as regular sugar. They have no calories, but they're a VERY unhealthy choice. Avoid any food that is marketed as "sugar-free" or "zero calorie".

Sports Drinks

Gatorade, Powerade, and other sports drinks contain electrolytes and calories to help you perform well during athletic events, but do you really need them? Your body has enough energy to keep up with about 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (or 20-30 minutes of high intensity exercise). If you're passing the 60-minute mark, you may want to consider having a sports drink handy. However, for the average person, a sports drink is just unnecessary calories. All you need is to drink water, and you'll hydrate just fine!

Juices

Fruits are very healthy thanks to their high antioxidant, vitamin, and fiber content. However, during the juice-making process, most of the vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants are removed, leaving mostly the sugar. Even specialty juices--like "cold pressed"--are still less than healthy, as they contain none of the fiber needed to mitigate the effects of the sugar. Fruit juices may be tasty, but they're food traps to avoid.

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