1. “Light” coffee drinks. Starbucks can now make your caramel Frappuccino “lite” with less calories and fat. Don’t fool yourself, however, in to thinking it’s somehow healthier. To compensate for less fat, many of these drinks pack more sugar than their regular versions. Likewise, “light” coffee drinks you buy in convenience stores come loaded with artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, nonfat milk, and other additives that wreak metabolic havoc. Even without the sweeteners, the caffeine-milk combo cranks up your blood sugar and leaves you craving that low-fat apple streusel muffin. Skip the java and opt for green tea (iced or hot) instead.
2. Cereal and skim milk. Let’s bust this nutritional urban legend once and for all. Despite that your receptionist swears her fat-free cereal with milk and a banana keeps her full and lean, this is hardly the ideal way to start your morning. Your body converts even the “healthiest” cereals into sugar, which raises your insulin levels, stores fat, and sets you up for a mid-morning bagel-cart crash. Dump the processed crap and start your morning with protein. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded increased protein helps you eat less food and promotes fast fat loss. And stop with the time excuses: a fast, easy Virgin Diet All-in-One Shake satiates you and promotes fast fat loss.
3. “Healthy” cookies. Low-fat, high-fiber, low-carb: whatever. A cookie is a cookie, period. Manufacturers pull all kinds of stunts to convince you junk foods like cookies are suddenly healthy. (Looking at you, cookie diet.) Stop kidding yourself with the healthy cookie oxymoron and be honest: when’s the last time you opened a box of Girl Scouts Thin Mints and ate just one? If you must have a cookie, go to your bakery for the absolute best one, eat three bites, and toss the rest.
4. Baked chips other “healthy” snack foods. Speaking of eating just one, when was the last time you noshed on just one handful of popcorn? I don’t care if Whole Foods promotes their new white cheddar popcorn with 67% less fat, or that potato chip brand that rhymes with “plays” makes baked (rather than fried) potato chips. The halo effect alone can make you devour an entire bag. And just because they’re lower in fat doesn’t mean these chips or popcorn aren’t still high glycemic, which means they raise your blood sugar and store fat. Skip the crunchy snacks for a handful of nutrient-packed raw almonds.
5. “Healthy” sugars. Your best friend and your favorite magazine both hype agave as a healthier sweetener. Reality check. Agave contains up to 97% fructose: way more than even often-maligned high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose wreaks havoc on your liver, which metabolizes agave like alcohol and can create fatty liver. Fructose also raises cholesterol and inflammation levels. And guess how your liver repackages fructose? Here’s a hint: you can kiss fast fat loss and your size-4 skinny jeans goodbye. Dump the agave and whatever other “healthy” sugars you see at Whole Foods for xylitol, which actually contains health benefits.
Sources: Astrup A. The satiating power of protein—a key to obesity prevention? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 1, 1-2, July 2005. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/30/beware-of-the-agave-nectar-health-food.aspx © 2012 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more at www.thevirgindiet.com.