Do Diet Foods Help You Lose Weight?

By: Cindy Kreisberg, PA-C, Director, Lehman College Student Health Center

Diet sodas are not always the best alternative
Media Credit: Wiki Commons

Now that you’re ready to shed the pounds you’ve gained over the holidays, are diet foods the way to go?  Since 60-70% of Americans are overweight, or at least 20% over their ideal weight, everyone is looking for a quick fix.  New year advertisements for weight loss are on every channel.

So you switch to turkey burgers, eat granola instead of Frosted Flakes, yogurt instead of ice cream, and eat or drink sugar-free choices.  But you don’t lose weight despite your best efforts!  And here’s why…

Yogurt-even plain yogurt has about 16 grams of sugar per cup!  Eat a fruity-flavored option and you could be eating another 15 grams of sugar or about 4 teaspoons of sugar!  Instead buy fat-free Greek yogurt  (which has twice the protein of regular yogurt) and add honey, all-fruit jam or maple syrup.

Sugar-free cookies and candy-many sugar-free cookies substitute fat for sugar so they’re as many calories as the real thing.  Try graham crackers or 100-calorie snack bags of cookies.  Sugar-free candy usually has the sweetener sorbitol, which can cause diarrhea.  Lollipops may have sugar but they’re far less calories than chocolate.

Trail Mix-commercially-made trail mix can have numerous ingredients which are anything but low calorie and healthy.  Banana chips are fried, yogurt-covered raisins have trans fats and either of these can have 10 grams of fat.  Make your own trail mix with whole-grain cereal, dried fruits, nuts, pretzels and every some chocolate chips.  Just limit your portion to one cup.

Fat-free chips or veggie chips-potato chips made with Olean, a fat-free oil may seem like the best of both worlds—you get to have your chips and eat them, too.  However, since your fat appetite is not appeased with fake fat Olean, you tend to eat more.  Veggie chips are often potato chips with enough vegetable (or even food coloring) just to color the chip. A handful is still around 150 calories with 10 grams of fat!  Try baked tortilla chips with salsa—12 chips with salsa is only about 153 calories with almost no fat.

Granola-one cup of Quaker granola cereal is equivalent to 10 slices of bacon in calories and fat!  Try a slimmer option—just sprinkle some granola on your regular low-calorie cereal to get the flavor but not the sugar, oil, and calories.

Sushi– yes, sushi!! California roll, anyone?  Filled with cream cheese, mayo, shredded cheese and a little avocado and synthetic crab, or a shrimp tempura roll filled with battered and fried shrimp can be 500 calories and 20 grams of fat! Stick to sashimi.

Smoothies-okay, so you do get your fruit servings but some commercially made smoothies can have 17 grams of fat and up to 500 calories.  Make your own and use low-fat milk instead of frozen yogurt, sorbet or sherbet.  Minimize use of peanut butter and granola and load on those fruits with a little honey.

Diet Soda– people who drink sodas with artificial sweeteners are triggered to crave the real thing.  Enjoy a diet soda on occasion but you’re better off drinking club soda flavored with real fruit.

Fat-free salad dressing-here’s the rub. You need a little fat in your dressings in order to absorb anti-oxidants from the vegetables in the salad.  Purchase an olive oil-based reduced fat dressing instead-or better yet, make your own and save money.

Ground Turkey-think you’re eating leaner with turkey instead of beef?  Think again.  Ground turkey can have ground skin and fat in levels even higher than ground beef.  Read your labels and try to purchase extra-lean ground turkey or 92% lean ground beef. Try a veggie burger for a change.







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