Losing weight is dependent on a number of factors, some within your control and some outside of it. Above all, your diet is one of the most significant parts of your daily routine which may dictate your ability to shed excess weight, but it can be difficult to find the proper starting point for improving your diet and prioritizing meals and snacks that support your goals without leaving you feeling deprived. One common trap to fall into when working to lose weight is leaning on products marketed as ‘diet foods’ which claim to be lower in calories, sugar, or fat, and paint the image that they will allow you to lose weight with more ease than other foods.
However, the surprising reality is that most diet foods are not actually much better for you than any other items, and instead may be standing in your way of seeing significant results if you’re under the impression that these foods don’t need to be consumed in moderation as well. To get a better understanding of the true impact diet foods may be having on your body, we spoke with Michele Canon, XPRO; NASM CPT; FNS, Behavioral Change Specialist for Xponential+ so you can move forward in creating an eating plan that actually supports your goals.
Products labeled as ‘diet food’ or low sugar, calorie, or fat all prey on the fragile mindset that diet culture has created that some foods are better than others, while some foods are ‘bad’ and therefore need to be replaced with a healthier counterpart. But the reality is that there is room for all foods in moderation within your eating routine, so long as you’re prioritizing whole ingredients such as fruits and veggies as you work to lose weight.
Diet foods, while oftentimes truly lower in calories, are generally loaded with artificial sweeteners and other ingredients which may be just as bad for your body as other processed foods despite their clever marketing. “‘Diet’ foods that contain artificial ingredients like aspartame, sucralose, saccharine even though they are void of calories can be detrimental to your health if you consume them regularly, and can also lead to weight gain,” explains Canon.
The reality is that processed foods are generally one of the primary culprits of weight gain and digestive issues, and these ‘diet’ foods are no exception as they’re likely just as processed as a bag of chips. “In general, most commercial ‘diet’ foods will be highly processed and contain ingredients that our body does not have the ability to effectively metabolize,” notes Canon. The result of consuming these ingredients in a misguided attempt to eat healthier may be digestive struggles, bloating, worsened cravings, and even a rise in insulin levels. While it’s true these foods can help to limit your calories, their side effects beg the question of whether these “saved” calories are even worth it.
Some of the worst offenders of these ‘healthier’ diet options are sugar free desserts, diet sodas, and fat free food items. It’s a safe assumption that if a food is advertised as fat free, that fat has been replaced with artificial sweeteners which may wreak havoc on your gut and body on the whole.
“Artificial sweeteners still trigger our digestive system. The act of consuming a food, even though it has zero calories will trigger centers in your brain that alerts your body to the incoming sugar. When it doesn’t receive it, your satiety hormones are “tricked” and which can slow the metabolic process and cause us to overeat,” explains Canon. What’s more, chemical sweeteners are often even sweeter than natural options, training your sweet tooth to worsen cravings.
Instead of turning to diet foods to help you lose weight, focusing on whole food options and naturally sweetened items will ultimately provide your body with the healthiest path to success. “Moderation is key because those [natural] ingredients, though made in nature, are still very high in calories and sugar,” says Canon. Creating a healthy approach to eating is the best way to make sure you can maintain your results in the long term, so steering clear of diet foods will allow you to feel your best without creating a negative relationship with eating.
Author: Merrell Readman
Merrell Readman is an Associate Editor at SheFinds Media. When she isn’t trying out new recipes and making a mess of the kitchen, she can be found covering the latest on wellness, beauty, fashion and celebrity news. You can reach Merrell at [email protected]