Most high-fiber foods deserve a lot of credit for amping up your nutrition, sustaining your energy, aiding weight loss, and much more. That's why we know that your intentions are well-meaning, as you stroll through the grocery store with your cart and toss in products labeled with "high in fiber."
But it turns out that some fiber foods have enough negative characteristics or side effects that it's not worth the good that they may do; some may even be sabotaging your waistline without you knowing it! Read on for nutritionists' picks of the worst offenders and then find out 30 Reasons Why You're Getting Fat.
Baked Goods with "Added Fiber"
A sneaky way companies try to convince you junk food is good for you: "Although these [cookies and brownies] may be better than their fiber-free counterparts, they offer little else in the way of nutrition," offers Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN, a Nashville-based nutritionist and author of Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week. "And psychologically, they may lead you to believe you can eat more since they tout their 'health' benefits." That's called a "health halo" and these are the 32 Health Halo Foods to Stop Eating Immediately.
Quick Cook Oats
Steel-cut or rolled oats are great, but packets of instant oatmeal are a trap. "Quick cook oats are rolled oats that are cut into small pieces, pre-cooked by steaming, and usually accompanied with sugar-rich flavors such as apple strudel or maple brown sugar to seem appealing," explains Lisa Hayim, registered dietitian and founder of The WellNecessities. While oats are one of the healthiest foods, instant oats are often loaded with added sugar, salt, and artificial coloring. "The quick cooking oats also have a higher glycemic index, which means they cause your blood sugar to rise rapidly—a particular concern for diabetics and pre-diabetes," Hayim adds. Don't have time in the morning for anything other than instant? Then make time at night and whip up any of these 50 Best Overnight Oats Recipes!
Whole Wheat Bread
They have about 1.9 grams of fiber per slice, but it's not exactly a blessing for your bikini body. "It's a food trap; whole wheat bread actually does not have much ﬁber," comments Dr.Tasneem Bhatia, MD, also known as "Dr.Taz," a weight loss expert and author of What Doctors Eat and The 21-Day Belly Fix. "It may be a bit better than its white bread counterpart, but still pales in comparison to the ﬁber in fruits and vegetables."
Fiber One Cottage Cheese
"Indeed, cottage cheese makes a great snack or base for a meal since it is packed with protein, which is important for weight loss," says Janel Funk, MS RD LDN, founder of EatWellWithJanelBlog.com. "However, adding fiber to cottage cheese makes this a heavily -processed product; Fiber One cottage cheese has five grams of added fiber. Stick with a basic cottage cheese in which the ingredients should just be cultured milk, cream, and salt, and then top it with mixed berries for naturally-occurring fiber." Get more ideas with these 15 Healthy Breakfast Ideas: 5 Minutes, 5 Ingredients!
High-Fiber Fruit Juice
While you may get some fiber and vitamin C from fortified juice, the negatives outweigh the good—especially when it comes to weight loss. "When losing weight, you want to consume foods that will keep you satisfied, so that you are less likely to overeat later," explains Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, Corporate Dietitian at Medifast, Inc. "A serving of fruit juice is four ounces or half a cup. For that half-cup of juice, you'll get about 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates." Most of us are drinking more like a 12-ounce cup, which means 180 calories and 45 grams of carbs. Yikes! If you're looking to lose weight, stick with plain water. Infuse it with fresh herbs, fruit, and veggies if you're looking for a splash of flavor. Try these 14 detox waters that banish bloat!
Ever notice a handful of dried currants or apricots turns reaching into the tub for more and more? You're not alone. "Dried fruit is packed with nutrients, but is very easy to overeat and extremely high in sugar," says Hayim. "Instead, opt for whole, fresh fruit. You will be more satiated, feel fuller longer, and be able to eat a large quantity."
Creamed Vegetable Soups
Put down that can opener; a dieting landmine lingers within these canned soups. "Whether it be tomato, broccoli, or mushroom, these foods are more than what meets the eye," says Hayim. "While you may still get the fiber from the vegetables—assuming they haven't been cooked out—the addition of cream can add upward of 300 calories to what was meant to be an appetizer. Instead, opt for vegetable broth, a low-fat milk, or puree your vegetables without the cream." And always avoid these 20 Worst Ingredients to Put Into Your Soup.
Popcorn may have 3.6 grams of fiber per cup, but when it comes to fiber-filled weight loss foods, microwave popcorn is not one of them. Hayim says that if you're not popping your own, or choosing an air popped variety, chances are you're consuming fiber-rich popcorn that comes with a high-calorie and saturated fat content. Be sure to read the ingredients and make sure you are getting just the popped corn. Or, Netflix and chew with one of these 25 healthy, high-protein snacks instead.
Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches
We don't mean to pick on anyone here, but this is a fiber-focused mission that we are on, and this is not where you ought to be getting it. "Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches have three grams of fiber, added in from inulin," explains Funk. "Fiber is naturally-occurring in plant-based foods, so when you find it in something like ice cream, you know it was added in. Inulin contributes fiber, but research shows it doesn't have the same filling, blood sugar-stabilizing effects as naturally-occurring fiber—which is what you want when it comes to weight management." Craving something sweet? Make your own banana ice cream by blending frozen bananas with yogurt and sprinkling with your favorite toppings.
Del Monte Fruit Cups
"This brand may not add sugar, but they do add cellulose and sugar alcohols," offers Hayim. "Too much sugar alcohols can lead to GI distress. Meanwhile, cellulose is the type of fiber that isn't digestible and serves no other purpose than to aid in waste removal from your body. Instead, opt for a fresh, sliced fruit, made at home, with no additives."
According to Miller, it may be best to avoid granola if you struggle with portion control—even if it is high in fiber. "One-fourth of a cup of granola is considered a serving which is about the size of a golf ball," she says. "Depending on the brand, that serving size could have anywhere from 80 to 125 calories. If you were to have a cup, which is about the size of your fist, you would be consuming anywhere from 320 to 500 calories. Add a little milk or yogurt to that, and you'll see how quickly the calories add up." Yikes! If you crave a granola fix, try the world's 10 healthiest granolas and skip adding in toppings or yogurt to keep the calorie count in check.
Fiber One Muffin Mix
Talk about muffins for a muffin top: "The first ingredient in this is sugar, which means it is the most prominent ingredient in the muffin. Don't be fooled by products labeled with 'fiber' in the brand," cautions Hayim. "Although they pack all this 'junk' into just 190 calories, remember that fiber from real food sources, like fruits, vegetables, and grains, will provide the fiber your body needs—as well as nutrients and vitamins, but without the extra calories."
We know, we know; they can be darn tasty. But the chances are pretty good that you'll want to avoid these treats. "The other day at the grocery store, I saw some fruit snacks touting their fiber content," Bedwell tells us. "They did contain some real fruit juice and three grams of fiber per serving from added corn fiber, but they also contained sugar and corn syrup for a total of 10 grams of sugar per serving. That is not exactly a great fiber-sugar ratio for weight loss!"
Whole Wheat Bagels
Regardless of what kind of bagels they are, they're always high in carbohydrates and calories but lack very many vitamins, minerals, and protein. And then they are often consumed at breakfast with jellies, jams, butter, and other high-sugar or high-fat spreads. "Instead of a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, which is what would likely occur should you have a bagel, choose a protein-rich breakfast instead," Miller recommends. Find out the 30 Best Breakfast Habits to Drop 5 Pounds for more weight loss tips in the a.m.!
Just because a cereal is labeled as 'whole grain' or 'fiber-enriched' does not make it healthy or a good choice for weight loss, warns our experts. "Frosted Mini Wheats, for example, boast about containing 23 percent of your daily value of fiber for adults," says Hayim. "But what it doesn't say is that it is made up of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and a bunch of other preservatives and chemicals to make it last on the shelf. When looking for whole grain cereal, make sure that whole grains are the first ingredient and that sugar is not lurking too close behind."
"There is a lot of confusion about healthy pasta. Unless it says 'whole grain' or 'whole wheat,' it does not include all three layers of the kernel," explains Dr.Taz. " Be careful when reading labels and make sure to pick whole grain over whole wheat—otherwise the glycemic index increases and the ﬁber count is negligible."
Pretty Much Anything Fortified With Fiber
If we didn't name your favorite fiber-infused snack, it's not necessarily off the hook. "Fruit snacks, candy, cookies, and other sweet treats that are fortified with fiber may contain a little added fiber, but these types of products offer little to no additional benefit nutritionally," states Miller. "It is highly unlikely that these will fill you up or provide you with the nutrition you need for healthy and effective weight loss." So, ICYMI: Stick with these 30 High Fiber Foods That Should Be In Your Diet instead!