For those trying to eat healthier and avoid gaining unwanted pounds, there's one thing to do that's quite obvious to most - eliminate all junk food and processed foods in exchange for healthier options. There's so much healthy food out there these days that it's hard to ignore them. From proteins to produce and everything in between, people from all types of food preferences, intolerances, and allergies are sure to find many items that will fit their lifestyle and help them attain their weight goals.
But there is the mistaken notion that you can simply lose weight by eating as much healthy food as possible. That's simply not true; rather, you need to be in a significant calorie deficit that's sustainable for your lifestyle. That's especially important when eating healthy because there are plenty of foods out there that are touted as being healthy by dieticians, doctors, and fitness experts alike. But upon closer inspection, you quickly learn that they're higher in calories than you may have thought. That can make you feel like your weight loss journey is much harder than it really is.
These 25 healthy foods are all high in calories to some extent. That doesn't mean that you need to avoid them like the plague if you're currently trying to control your weight. The key is to follow the recommended serving size, and to not consume too much on a regular basis. After all, unhealthy eating consistently is what causes people to pack on the pounds. These foods don't need to be excluded, but you need to exert caution when consuming them.
25 All Dried Fruit
Bananas, nectarines, and peaches are just some fruits that are available both fresh and dried. Fruit is dried when all of its water has been taken out, concentrating all its sugar and calories in a smaller package.
This causes dried fruit to contain the same amount of nutrients as its fresh counterpart, but also have way more calories for a smaller amount.
Their delicious, sweet taste can may it much easier to consume too much without realizing it. Experts recommend choosing fresh fruit over dried fruit as much as possible, and limit your intake on dried fruit to a minimum.
24 Peanut Butter
For many, this is a childhood favourite for sandwiches - and it can carry on into adulthood! Peanut butter is still good as part of a sandwich, but can also be added into oatmeal, smoothies, and so much more. It's a good source of fats, and can even be used as a source of protein for those practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet.
As popular as peanut butter is, it's also extremely calorie dense.
Moreover, it's so easy to eat too much- especially if you don't pay attention to just how much you're using in one meal. Anytime you use it, measure it out carefully so you can keep your calorie content in check.
Nuts are known to carry plenty of healthy antioxidants that make them an ideal snack, or as part of a healthy meal. Those that are vegan tend to gravitate towards them as an ideal source of protein and healthy fats. But most nuts are notorious for being high in calorie content; and just like with dried fruit, it's extremely easy to go overboard on them before it's too late. Chowing down on nuts like their candy is a surefire way to nullify your weight loss efforts. So, measure out your servings carefully on a food scale, and find nuts that are known to be healthier (almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, etc.).
A popular sweetener used often in baked goods, breakfast, and even to sweeten tea, honey is a delicious and healthier alternative to plain old white sugar. Still, it's important to remember that it's still a sugar-based food.
Not only does it have a high sugar content, but it also contains a high calorie content.
This has lead some experts to think of honey as a decent- but not great- sugar substitute. If you want to keep using honey regularly, just be mindful of how much you use each time. Alternately, you can use a low-calorie sugar substitute such as stevia.
Corn is often seen as a delicious vegetable choice that's usually paired with some kind of protein. It's tasty, and contains a good amount of fibre and vitamin C to nourish your body well. But not only is it somewhat calorie dense, it also is quite easy to overeat. This is especially true when it's canned or frozen corn, as it's not quite as easy to control serving sizes. So be cautious when portioning it out, or else you'll run the risk of consuming too much corn. That will ruin your calorie deficit, making it harder for you to lose weight.
20 Coconut Milk
Whether it comes from a carton or a can, coconut milk is used for many different things. It's one of many choices for those that are avoiding dairy for one reason or another. It's high in saturated fats (specifically, a type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs), but it's also high in calories because of that. To avoid consuming too many calories by mistake, buy light coconut milk, as it more often than not contains less calories than its regular counterpart. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even go so far as to make your own coconut milk at home.
This tropical piece of fruit is a tasty addition to fruit salads and yogurt, but it can also be eaten by itself. It's a healthy source of carbohydrates and fibre, as well as a laundry list of vitamins and antioxidants. But mangoes are one such fruit that's high in calories. It's also not that well-known to be so calorie dense, making it easier to over-consume due to lacking this particular fact. Like with any high calorie item, limit your intake with a good amount of restraint. By doing this, you can have mangoes in your diet and lose weight at the same time.
18 Olive Oil
Olive oil is used in the kitchen for a number of different ways. This includes roasting vegetables, keeping food from not sticking to the pan, adding a little flavour to food, and more. It's often seen as a multi-purpose tool that can also be consumed.
However, it's way too easy to pack on the calories in your next meal just by adding a bit of olive oil before or during your cooking.
There are other cooking oils you can choose from that are just as healthy (i.e. avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.). If you want to stick with olive oil though, be careful so that you don't add too many calories by accident.
17 Dark Chocolate
Believe it or not, dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to be a healthy food option for many reasons. That's because it's choke full of many minerals and antioxidants, and can also help with both blood pressure and heart disease prevention. The problem is that it's chocolate- because it's so decadent and tasty, it's extremely tempting to overeat. Small amounts are all that should be consumed so that you can eat it while maintaining a calorie deficit. However, if you think that you can't trust yourself to not binge on dark chocolate, than cut it out of your life altogether.
Like eggs, avocados tend to provoke strong opinions- you either love them or you hate them. Avocado toast is obviously the most popular meal choice, but avocados can also be added to different kinds of salads, sandwiches, tacos...the possibilities truly are endless. They're high in healthy fats, and contain plenty of vitamins. What's also well documented about avocados is that they're extremely calorie dense. Even eating just half an avocado can put your calorie deficit in jeopardy. Limit your avocado intake in a strict manner, and don't consume over calorie dense foods on the same day. This will most likely help you stay in that calorie deficit.
Bananas are a naturally sweet fruit that have maintained a strong amount of popularity for so many years. They're the perfect addition to toast, pancakes, cereal, and so much more. That's because bananas are high in fibre, potassium, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. But the problem with bananas is that their size can vary widely. While smaller bananas are okay, larger ones can be much higher in calorie content. If you wish to keep bananas in your diet, weigh them so you can determine their calorie content properly. It's much more accurate than simply going off their size alone.
Salmon is an excellent source of protein that's perfect for those that are either limiting their meat intake, or are avoiding it altogether. In addition to being high in protein, it's also high in B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. It's also quite high in calories, mainly because salmon is known to be a fatty, oily fish. To try and limit your calorie intake, try to have a smaller portion if it's possible. If you can, try to cook it yourself so you can make it somewhat healthier. That way, you can enjoy salmon and be able to lose weight.
13 Ground Beef
If you're a meat eater, then ground beef is more than likely a food item that you're already consuming on a regular basis. It's high in protein and fat, and it's also low in carbohydrates. However, ground beef is high in calories, and is often seen as a poor choice to get your protein in. Even lean or extra lean ground beef is calorie dense in their own right. You can still eat red meat- you don't have to cut it out completely if you don't want to. Just limit it greatly, and choose leaner meat (i.e. poultry) whenever possible.
Another popular plant-based protein source, quinoa is also seen as a "superfood" by many nutritional experts. It's often included as part of a healthy meal to include protein, and is also great for those that must consume a gluten-free diet. However, many don't realize that quinoa is actually really high in calories. This has led to many consuming too much quinoa in one serving without realizing the consequences- until it's too late, that is. Don't make that same mistake! Carefully measure out how much you consume in one meal so that you don't blow your calorie budget in such a careless manner.
Arguably the most controversial food item on this list, many people have strong opinions on just how healthy eggs are. Some think of them as a great source of protein - others find them unhealthy due to their fat and cholesterol content. Despite wherever you may stand on the matter, eggs can be part of a healthy diet.
Just remember that they're still quite calorie dense, so having one too many can ruin your calorie deficit in a flash.
If you want the protein but not as many calories, you can swap eggs out for liquid egg whites, or limit your intake to just two eggs per day.
10 Full-Fat Yogurt
This popular food item has been a choice for many people for quite a long time. When paired with fruit, seeds, and/or nuts, it can be a healthy breakfast or snack option. Full-fat yogurt is often the most popular choice because it's high in calcium- a vital nutrient that everyone needs. While it's high in calcium, it's also high in both fat and calories due to it containing full-fat milk as its key ingredient. If you want to keep consuming full-fat yogurt, skip other products that are also full-fat, and measure your portions out carefully to prevent any overconsumption.
9 Whey Protein Powder
If you struggle to get enough protein through food, then protein powder is an option to explore. The most popular choice is whey because it's been known to help with weight loss. You can add it to smoothies, oatmeal, or just make a protein shake after a workout.
But like any protein powder, it's high in calories due in large part to its high protein content.
Some experts try to advise against whey protein powder because of this, with the suggestion of protein rich foods instead. If you find that you need protein powder, try to consume it as little as possible.
This popular food item has no doubt followed you around for most of your life. It's cheap, easy to make, and can be made into a delicious meal with the right ingredients added. While pasta is delicious, it's also very high in calories. Not only that, but it's so easy to eat too much in one sitting because it's tasty and filling. It also doesn't help that most sauces or ingredients often added to pasta are also calorie dense. Try to opt for lower calorie additions to your pasta dishes, and always try to consume the recommended serving size. It might not be easy, but it is definitely doable.
Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein, making them a great choice for those that are consuming either a vegetarian or vegan diet. Also known as garbanzo beans, this "superfood" is known to be low in fat, and high in many vitamins and nutrients including (but not limited to) iron, potassium, and vitamin C. But chickpeas are also quite high in calories, so it's wise to be careful when including them in your next meal. You may end up consuming too many, and that can ruin your calorie deficit, which will ruin your weight loss efforts as a result.
6 Sweet Potatoes
More often than not, sweet potatoes are seem are healthier and superior than their siblings. Namely, they have more vitamin A, which can better your skin in a number of ways. But like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are calorie dense- in fact, they contain more calories then their regular counterparts. It also doesn't help that sweet potatoes are often much bigger, causing their calorie content to skyrocket even higher. If you don't want to make the switch to regular potatoes, just measure out your portion of sweet potatoes with a food scale. It's the most accurate way to keep the calorie count low while still allowing you to enjoy it.
5 Salad Dressing
Let's be honest - plain salad is quite bland to eat on its own. Most try to add some much-needed flavour by using some kind of salad dressing. There are so many for you to pick and choose from. They all have one thing in common for the most part- they can add an obscene amount of calories to what was supposed to be a healthy meal. Depending on the ingredients or the amount of certain ingredients (especially high calorie ones), salad dressing can ruin the healthiness of your meal. The best way to prevent this is to make your own salad dressing at home.
4 Chia Seeds
These may be small in size, but a lot of them can pack quite a punch. Whether they're used for chia seed pudding, or an addition to yogurt or salad, chia seeds are widely considered by nutritional experts as a so-called "superfood".
This is in large part due to being high in calcium, fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and many more antioxidants.
Not only that, but they're also quite high in calories; one estimate puts one ounce of chia seeds at a staggering 131 calories. This might not sound like a lot, but it can add up quickly. Like with any other calorie dense food, just be mindful of how much you consume in one meal.
3 Almond Butter
For those that can't or don't consume peanut butter, almond butter is another option to seriously consider. It can also be used on toast, in oatmeal, and in most every other way that peanut butter is used. It contains healthy fats and fibre, meaning that it will help keep you full hours after your meal is over. Like peanut butter however, almond butter is quite calorie dense- especially in high servings. In fact, it's been said that almond butter can be higher in calories than peanut butter. The rule of thumb is to measure out your serving precisely so that you don't go overboard.
Granola can be eaten in many ways- with yogurt or cereal, as well as part of a tasty snack. Typically speaking, granola is made up of oats, nuts, honey or maple syrup, and even dried fruit. As tasty as that may sound, its ingredients are why it's so calorie dense in the first place. Combining so many high calorie foods into one meal that can easily be over consumed is only asking for trouble when it comes to weight loss. You can avoid this by trying to buy a low calorie granola, or making your own so that you can control the ingredients that go in, as well as how much.
This sesame seed-based food item as gained a lot of traction in recents years, particularly from the vegan community as a dairy-free option to use as a spread in place of butter or mayonnaise. It has plenty of healthy fats and a good amount of protein to make it a strong choice to use for your next sandwich.
What you may not know is that it contains a lot of calories.
A two tablespoon serving can contain upwards of 178 calories (depending on the brand you buy). If you do decide to use it, be mindful of how much you consume so that you can keep your calorie intake in check.