01/03/2024

There are so many ways to change your diet for weight loss. You can reduce your total calorie intake, narrow the amount of time you eat during the day, cut out certain foods, or follow a low-carb diet. If cutting carbs is your preferred method, you’ll probably find yourself eating a lot more protein. This can be beneficial for weight loss for a few reasons. First, protein is very satiating, which can keep you fuller throughout the day and less prone to overeating. Protein also has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates, which can lead to more calories burned. Finally, carbohydrates help store water in your body, so when you swap carbohydrates for protein, you will naturally lose some water weight. With all these benefits that protein offers, you might be surprised to know the worst protein foods for weight loss, which we are going to talk about today.

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A high-protein diet may aid in weight reduction and may be able to prevent obesity and related diseases, but know that not all high-protein foods are created equally. Fat, added sugar, and sodium are often found in high-protein foods. While each of these ingredients can be consumed in moderation, a diet rich in any of them can slow weight loss. The added sugar and fat grams add calories to food, potentially creating an imbalance between calories eaten and calories burned, and sodium can lead to weight gain from water retention.

When choosing high-protein foods for weight loss, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

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  • Leaner is usually better, especially when it comes to animal protein.
  • Limit your intake of fatty pieces of meat and instead choose options like fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products.
  • Choose minimally processed foods to reduce your intake of added sugar and sodium.

To make sure you get the most out of your high protein diet, there are some foods you should avoid. Here are the 10 worst protein foods for weight loss.

Lazy food fried chicken
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While delicious and a good source of protein, fried chicken is known to be high in fat and sodium. While a single skinless chicken breast contains less than eight grams of fat, a skin-on fried chicken breast can contain as much as 20 grams. This leads to a significant difference in calories and could make weight loss more challenging. Dark meat, which is also a good source of protein, is higher in fat than white meat and is often used in frying. This further contributes to your calorie intake and may slow your weight loss progress.

Instead of fried chicken, choose grilled, baked, or air-fried options to limit additional fat, and enjoy white meat more often than dark.

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sausage links on the cutting board, worst foods to lose visceral fat
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A popular source of protein, sausage can be found on your plates morning, noon and night. Whether you’re enjoying sausage with eggs for breakfast, from a barbecue restaurant at lunch, or grilled and served in a sandwich for dinner, sausage is another protein that could be hindering your weight loss. Pork sausage, in particular, actually contains more fat than protein per ounce, and some varieties can supply more than a third of your daily sodium needs in a three-ounce serving.

The spices, herbs and seasonings in the sausage are what make its flavor unique. For a similarly flavorful protein with much less fat, try chicken or turkey sausage.

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Sliced ​​salami
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Salami is considered processed meat, which is the category of meats that have been cured, salted, or smoked to extend their shelf life. This processing also tends to improve the taste and texture, making cured meats a popular source of protein.

Unlike other common processed meats like turkey, salami is high in fat making it a high-calorie option. Salami is popular because it requires no preparation and can be enjoyed in many ways. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to swap salami for deli turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef. These options are low in fat and calories, and offer the same convenience and versatility as salami.

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close-up woman's hands adding bacon to plate of eggs next to stove, concept of empty calorie foods that make you gain weight
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Perhaps one of the most common breakfast proteins, bacon is another high-fat meat. While lean meat options contain far more protein than fat, bacon provides nearly the same amount of fat and protein per serving. This is better than the ratios seen in sausage, but not by much. Pork belly is the most common variety and the highest fat option.

For a similar taste and texture, try turkey bacon. While this swap will cut calories and fat and may provide more protein per ounce, it’s still a high-sodium food. For this reason, it’s best to go easy on all forms of bacon and choose less processed meats more often.

two hot dogs with ketchup and mustard
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Next time you attend a backyard barbecue, chances are hot dogs are on the menu. Popular with kids and adults alike, hot dogs can be found in beef, pork, and turkey varieties. Like some other processed meats, you’ll find that pork and beef hot dogs typically contain more fat than protein. While this gives hot dogs the flavor so many love, it also makes them high-calorie foods that can make weight loss more challenging. Additionally, hot dogs are typically served on white bread, another low-calorie source, which further contributes to weight-loss issues.

You might be better off with a burger at your next barbecue, and if hot dogs are the only protein available, skip the bun and stick to just one frankfurter.

meal replacement protein bars next to protein powder
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With so many options on the market, not all meal replacement bars are created equal. However, you can usually count on these bars to contain high amounts of protein and calories. The convenience of these bars is hard to beat, but when you realize that some options have more than 400 calories in a single bar, you might be better off with a different meal option. While a 400-calorie count isn’t unreasonable for a meal, you’ll often find that added sugar makes up a portion of those calories. This can make the bar delicious, but less filling than an option with less added sugar and more fiber. If bars are a convenient meal for you, look for options with minimal added sugar and at least three grams of fiber.

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flavored Greek yogurt
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Compared to traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is known for its higher protein content. This makes it an easy and versatile source of protein; however, popular flavored options you may have in your fridge likely contain added sugar that could slow down your weight loss efforts.

Greek yogurt can be enjoyed on its own, added to a smoothie as a protein source, or enjoyed with a variety of toppings to make a parfait. To limit the added sugar in your yogurt, go with plain Greek yogurt and add your own toppings. Fresh fruit and nuts are great ingredients that add valuable nutrients without added sugar.

bowl of plain oatmeal
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These days, you’ll find many traditional foods that now have a variety infused with protein. This is true of flavored oatmeal, cookies, and even potato chips. While oatmeal provides important nutrients like fiber and iron, flavored options are also known for their sugar content. A single serving of protein oatmeal can contain 10 grams of protein and equal amounts of added sugar. While the total calories in this single serving are appropriate for a meal, the amount of added sugar is not.

Instead, try making your own protein oatmeal at home by cooking plain oats, adding a scoop of your own protein powder, and incorporating fresh fruit for a natural sweetness.

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protein biscuits
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Traditionally, cookies aren’t a notable source of protein, but now you can find options infused with this nutrient. In theory, this sounds great, as you can get essential protein packed into a beloved treat. Basically, you may be disappointed to learn that these protein cookies may be leading you off course when it comes to weight loss. These options also pack in the fiber, which is a plus, but still leave a lot to be desired nutritionally. Next time, enjoy a single (non-protein-rich) cookie on its own, and get your protein from leaner, lower-calorie sources.

woman drinking protein shake to build muscle after weight loss
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A ready-to-drink protein shake that can be pulled out of the fridge and enjoyed on the go can be so convenient. There are some high-protein options in this category that keep calories at bay, but you might be surprised to see added sugar in some varieties. A shake with 30 grams of protein contributes plenty to a meal; however, when that protein comes along with 25 grams of added sugar, you better put your protein elsewhere.

Smoothies can be a great addition to a snack or meal, but check the nutritional facts before your next purchase. Look for options with less than five grams of added sugar and at least 15 grams of protein for the best balance of nutrients.

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