If we had to put money on it, those in the former group enjoy fitness because it has helped them lose weight, while those watching the second-hand spin haven’t seen the scale budge—even though they’ve been sticking to a consistent workout schedule. If you relate to the clock-watching crew, tweaking your diet is the easiest way to ensure you’ll see the results you crave. Despite the wide range of health benefits, numerous studies suggest that exercise alone isn’t enough to make the scale budge.
And as surprising as it may be, this is something that personal trainers—who are among the biggest proponents of physical fitness—adamantly support. “Weight loss is generally 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise,” says celebrity personal-trainer and diet expert, Jay Cardiello, NSCA. “No matter how many hours I put in at the gym, I know I cannot out run a bad diet. That’s why I eat a mix of fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats every day and steer clear of the foods I know can have a negative effect on my physique. All of your hard work in the gym will be nullified by eating the wrong foods.”
Here, Cardiello, and four other top personal trainers, reveal the foods and drinks that appear on their personal “do not eat” lists. If you want to make your time in the gym count, consider cutting them from your diet, too.
“We've been conditioned to look for low-cost food instead of the high-quality food. Now, to eat organic seems like a luxury when it really isn't. For both moral and health reasons (it’s free of growth hormones), I always buy and eat free-range organic chicken.” — Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X
(Start shedding pounds today with Dan’s exclusive Eat This, Not That! Rapid Weight Loss Workout.)
Nutrient- Stripped Breads
“White bread has been bleached and stripped of its bran and germ, the elements of the grain that contain beneficial nutrients. For this reason, white bread isn’t very filling, has almost no nutritional value and is converted into sugar once you eat it. Like table sugar, it then spikes insulin levels, which promotes fat storage.” — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
“Watch out for breads that list bleached flour on the ingredient list. Bleaching adds chemicals to the bread and strips away vital nutrients. Also, don't get caught up in phrases like, 'made with whole grains'. This catchy phrase can make you think your bread is a healthy choice, but it only means that the bread is made up of a mixture of whole-wheat flour and some other less nutritious flour that won’t benefit your health.” — Jay Cardiello, NSCA, personal-trainer to the stars
“Although protein bars are packed with energy, they’re not as good for you as you think. They’re often high in excess calories, sugar, fat and carbohydrates and are filled with an endless list of chemicals. Frequently I’ll see people treating protein bars as "snacks" when they really should be considered a meal replacement. Eating bars in this way can lead to weight gain.” — Lori-Ann Marchese, fitness celebrity and owner of Body Construct LLC
Can’t imagine giving up bars all together? Check out the best nutrition bars for weight loss.
Sugary Drinks and Candy
“I enjoy my daily cup of coffee, but I refuse to drink sugar-sweetened coffee drinks like Starbuck's Frappuccinos. Even the smallest sizes pack an average of 300 to 400 calories, which would take me about 40 minutes to jog off on a treadmill. These sugary drinks are also full of artificial colorings and preservatives that have been linked to childhood attention deficit disorders and allergic reactions. Instead of grabbing a Frappuccino, consider a tall 2% plain latte made with organic shade-grown grounds, sprinkled with some cinnamon on top to add a kick without the calories!” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS Owner and PT, Naples Personal Training
“Consuming fruit juice on occasion isn’t terrible for you, but drinking them too often can have a negative impact on health and body composition. A cup of grape juice, for example, contains nearly the same amount of sugar as two Glazed Cake Donuts and a large OJ from McDonald's has as much sugar as 25 Lifesavers Gummies. Processed juices also contain significant amounts of high fructose corn syrup, which can cause weight gain and elevated cholesterol levels. When it comes down to it, many juices are just as bad as soda.” — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS
“Tossing back a handful of candy may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the equivalent of chowing down on pure sugar. I would never do that and neither should anyone else.” — Lori-Ann Marchese
If you must indulge your sweet tooth, be sure to pick one of the best candies for weight loss.
“You may think that you’re getting a healthier slice when you opt for turkey over regular bacon, but that’s definitely not the case. Although it contains 13 fewer calories per slice and slightly less saturated fat, it typically has more sodium, which can be harmful if you have high blood pressure. Pork also offers more protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids than turkey bacon, making it the better pick if you’re going to indulge.” — Jay Cardiello, NSCA, personal-trainer to the stars
“Double Protein” Restaurant Orders
“Thanks to the Paleo craze, many people hoping to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass now eat more meat. While some extra protein can be beneficial for those who are very active, the protein still needs to come from healthy sources to be beneficial. Unfortunately, the meat craze has pushed some fast-food places to offer burger patties stacked on top of hot dogs and bacon, none of which are quality sources of protein. In fact, consuming a diet high in animal proteins has been associated with higher rates of cancer. Avoid the fast-food meat stacks and boost your protein intake with vegetable-based alternatives, such as beans, spinach and nuts instead.” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L
“Although it’s not good for you, I will have an occasional Coke. I quite like it. But I won’t ever have a Diet Coke—it’s full of chemicals and I don’t like it as much. If you’re going to indulge, you may as well have something you really like.” — Dan Roberts
“Don't let zero-calorie and diet drinks fool you, they’re some of the worst beverages one can drink. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda trigger the release of insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode, potentially leading to weight gain. Consuming diet drinks can also cause migraines and is associated with the risk of diabetes. I avoid them at all cost.” — Lori-Ann Marchese
“For starters, alcohol negatively affects the entire body: the brain, liver, heart and emotional well-being. And because it makes you sluggish and dehydrated, it can also make your cardio and weight training less effective and slow your progress. Although alcohol is a carbohydrate, it does not convert to glucose like other carbs. Instead, it becomes a fatty acid, which is more likely to be stored as fat.” — Jim White RD, ACSM HFS