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The 10 Supposedly Healthy Foods That Cause Bloating and Weight Gain (Hint: One of Them is This Green Vegetable)
That new diet you’re on should help you to lose weight. But a lot of the supposedly healthy foods in that diet may have the opposite effect. Here are ten “healthy” foods that cause weight gain and bloating.
Almost everyone has sat in front of a mirror at least once and told themselves the same thing: “I need to lose weight.” Of course, this leads to the usual diet and exercise routine. You start going to the gym more often and you make sweeping changes to how you eat. You cut out all of those sugars and carbs and replace them with the healthy foods that will help you lose weight.
But there’s a problem. Those healthy foods that you’re forcing down your throat may not be the answer to your weight problems. At worst, they may actually contribute to weight gain. That leads us to the obvious question. Which supposedly healthy foods do you need to avoid? Here are ten that cause weight gain and bloating.
Food #1 – Broccoli
There’s a general rule of thumb when dieting. If it’s green, it’s good for you. And while broccoli certainly has its benefits, it’s also a cruciferous vegetable. And much like cabbage and Brussels sprouts, that can cause bloating. It comes down to the poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates in the vegetable. Also called FODMAPS, these carbohydrates can cause your body to produce more methane1. This is especially the case for those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). More methane means more bloating. In fact, broccoli and other cruciferous veggies can cause several digestive issues due to their FODMAP content. Cooking broccoli does make it a little easier to digest. However, you may want to stick to the likes of spinach and lettuce to avoid bloating all together.
Food #2 – Breakfast Cereals
There are all sorts of breakfast cereals that make claims of being good for you. You’ll see plenty of claims that they have low-fat content. Many are also wholegrain cereals, which many people claim help you to lose weight. However, almost all breakfast cereals have the same problem – they’re loaded with refined carbohydrates. Many cereals fall into the high-glycaemic index category. When eaten as part of a high-carb diet, they can actually promote weight gain2. This is a common trap to fall into. Many people just go low-fat when trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, this means they’re not paying attention to the carbs that they consume. Avoid breakfast cereals as much as possible. If you do want to eat them, check the label beforehand. You’ll often find that even the “healthiest” of cereals has a high sugar content.
Food #3 – Avocados
Often seen as a superfood, the avocado offers all sorts of benefits. The fruit comes packed with a bunch of the healthy fats that your body needs. Plus, it offers good doses of Vitamins C, E, and K. The problem is that avocados contain more calories than almost any other fruit. You can compare avocados to strawberries to see what this means. 100g of strawberries contain just 32 calories3. By contrast, the same amount of avocado contains 160 calories. That’s five times as many calories. That means you have to exercise strict portion control if you add avocados to your diet. If you don’t, this healthy food could end up causing you to consume too many calories.
Food #4 – Beans
Much like cruciferous vegetables, beans contain those dreaded FODMAPS. In particular, they contain oligosaccharides (which are the Os in FODMAPS). Oligosaccharides are a type of short-chain carbohydrates, which your body finds difficult to break down. They’re made up of monosaccharides, which are also known as simple sugars. Glucose is one of these simple sugars. However, oligosaccharides may also contain fructose or galactose. These are the sugars that your body struggles with.Overconsumption of beans can lead to the same bloating as you may experience with cruciferous vegetables. Combine that with beans’ high fibre content and you’re in trouble. Soaking the beans before eating them can help. However, much like with avocado, portion control is your friend here.
Food #5 – Agave Nectar
We all love a bit of sugar. That’s why so many people seek out alternatives when they start dieting. That search will often lead you to agave nectar. Many point to this as a healthy sugar alternative, which means it goes straight into your diet. The problem is that agave nectar contains a huge amount of fructose. As you’ll remember from the beans, that’s a simple sugar that your body struggles with. Worse yet, agave nectar may actually be worse for you than regular sugar. Agave can contain as much as 90% fructose compared to sugar’s 50%. And high fructose consumption has direct links to obesity6. Look for natural sweeteners with low fructose levels instead.
Food #6 – Onions
Onions are one of the more versatile vegetables around. You can cook them in all sorts of dishes. Or, you can take a page out of Lethal Weapon character Martin Riggs’ playbook and eat them raw. The problem is that onions are also one of our main sources of fructans. And when eaten to excess, fructans can cause bloating. This is particularly the case for those who have a fructan intolerance. However, eating onions raw can also lead to bloating in those without intolerances. Cooking your onions may help you to avoid this bloating. However, you may want to consider using other herbs and spices to add flavour to your cooking.
Food #7 – Dried Fruit
Dried fruit seems like it should be a great addition to your diet. They last longer than fresh fruits and are general seen as being a handy little snack. Unfortunately, they also contain loads of calories. Just look at the comparison between regular grapes and their dried variant, raisins. A cup of raw grapes contains 104 calories. The same serving of seedless raisins contains almost five times as many calories, as they clock in at 4939. That means that four cups of raisins almost comes in at 2,000 calories. Again, portion control is your friend if you’re going to add dried fruit to your diet.
Food #8 – Diet Soft Drinks
The diet colas of the world seem purpose-built for losing weight. They even have diet in the name. And drinking them will cut down on the amount of calories and sugar that you consume. Unfortunately, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests otherwise. It shows that diet soft drinks don’t have much of an effect on weight. Worse yet, the sweeteners used in these diet drinks may actually stimulate your appetite.
Food #9 – Apples
Among the most popular fruits in the world, apples are another health food that can cause bloating. As with agave syrup, apples contain a lot of fructose. Combine that with their high fibre content and you have a recipe for bloating. Both fibre and fructose can ferment in your intestines, which leads to gas production. You may be able to lessen the effects if you cook the fruit first. However, it may be best to stick to other fruits, such as bananas and strawberries.
Food #10 – Granola
This last one comes with a couple of conditions. If you’re eating completely natural granola, it’s a great addition to your diet.The problem comes when you start eating processed granola, such as that found in granola bars. These “healthy” snacks come with many of the same problems as other processed foods. Namely, they have high sugar and oil content. As established earlier, eating too much sugar can lead to obesity. Granola is also a very energy-intense food. In fact, a single granola bar contains almost 500 calories.
The Final Word
What are you to do when you want to lose weight? So many traditional diet foods cause bloating. In fact, some of them can even cause you to gain weight. Portion control can help in some cases. However, your best bet is to understand what your food contains before you eat it. The presence of a “diet” or “low-fat” label isn’t enough. You need to look deeper and check things like the fibre content or the presence of FODMAPS. Furthermore, you should try to avoid processed foods wherever possible. If you avoid the foods on this list, and find healthier alternatives, you’ll cut down on bloating and stand a better chance of losing weight.