This post has been updated since its original publication date to include more expert information.
Maintaining a healthy weight loss diet can be difficult if you often don’t have enough time to prepare nutritious meals at home. Unfortunately, the most convenient foods are often the least healthy and worst for your waistline. But not all metabolism-wrecking foods or drinks carry bright red flags—in fact, there are a few highly processed options that are often marketed as healthy snacks or drinks. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to know which seemingly innocent foods may actually be slowing down your weight loss goals.
To learn more about one of the worst options, we spoke with Medical Solutions Barcelona nutritionist Heather Hanks, nutritionist and Candida Diet founder Lisa Richards, Tania Pitkänutritionist for Meal Fan and Beth HawkesNurse Code registered nurse. They told us all about why you should avoid sugary, processed granola bars and store-bought fruit juices. Find all their insights below!
You might think that grabbing a healthy-looking granola bar on your way out the door is a good way to fit in a quick, nutritious breakfast when you’re feeling heartburn in the morning. However, health experts say you should think again. These bars tend to do more damage to your body than they’re worth – especially when it comes to your weight.
“Granola bars are the worst ‘healthy’ diet food because they’re loaded with inflammatory ingredients that prevent weight loss, including refined sugars and grains,” says Hanks. “Many food manufacturers claim that their granola bars are healthy because they contain oats,” she continues. And while oats are definitely a good source of fiber, the real problem lies in the other ingredients. “It’s the ingredients added to granola bars that make them so unhealthy,” explains Hanks. Typically, the most popular varieties are loaded with added sugars, carbs, and calories that can wreak havoc on your metabolism, worsen inflammation, and lead to weight gain.
“Meanwhile [granola bars] can be beneficial, they can hinder weight loss efforts, among other negative side effects,” Richards agrees, noting that “processed foods are made with refined carbohydrates, which are highly inflammatory and wreak havoc on gut health.”
If you’re in a hurry and want a snack that’s as convenient as it is nutritious, a granola bar isn’t the way to go. Instead, try reaching for healthy nuts and fruits that will keep you energized and full—without overloading with added sugar and calories.
While it may look healthy because it contains fruit, health experts say that doesn’t make it healthy. This is because fruit juice is full of unnecessary sugar. If you drink apple juice every day, it can cause health problems such as bloating, inflammation, impaired metabolism and weight gain. Yup!
Long warns about fruit juice that while it may seem like a good choice over soda, “the sugar content of fruit juice may be much higher than the sugar content of soda.” Hawkes agrees: “Fruit juices are often loaded with sugar,” he notes. “For example, a 12-ounce serving of orange juice has about 31 grams of sugar, which is more than the 22 grams in the same amount of cola.”
Fruit juice has too much sugar but offers little nutritional value. “Unlike fruit, fruit juice does not contain fiber, which would limit the absorption of sugar in the body, leading to a spike in insulin,” says Long.
Hawkes notes that because fruit juice is very low in fiber, drinking it too often “makes weight loss impossible” because without fiber it doesn’t keep you full. This can lead to overeating and slow metabolism. “When you eat that much sugar, your blood sugar levels go into the stratosphere,” she says. “This tells our metabolism to slow down and therefore burn fewer calories, leading us to gain weight instead.” Healthy alternatives to store-bought fruit juices include unsweetened tea, naturally flavored water (flavored water this morning can help reduce bloating!), or even freshly squeezed fruit juice.