You can’t outrun a bad diet. The phrase is a bit of a cliché for a reason—it’s the truth. When shedding pounds is the goal, what you eat is more important that whatever workout you’re doing. There are foods to avoid for weight loss.
“There aren’t exercises you do to target body fat—nutrition and what you’re putting into your body plays a huge role,” says Jenna Stangland, R.D.N., sports dietician for the Minnesota Wild and performance engineer with Momentous. Also important, she says: Avoiding foods that cause inflammation. “With weight gain, a lot of times there’s something going on with your body’s biochemistry and inflammation. When you’re experiencing inflammation, that’s a lot of stress for your body to take on. Trying to lose weight is another stressor, and if you’re already taxed from inflammation, your body’s not going to want to respond to a diet.”
That doesn’t mean you need to steer clear of certain foods entirely, even your fast-food favorite or go-to snack. “We know that restriction backfires on most people,” says Jen Bruning, a registered dietician nutritionist and media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But you do need to limit some of your favorite treat foods and look for better options.
Here’s what you should limit or avoid to boost your chances of weight-loss success, plus some suggestions for healthier swaps for when you really can’t kick a craving.