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7 Summer Foods Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

Skip these warm weather staples if you have to drop some pounds.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Summertime means beach trips, lounging by the pool, and enjoying all of the great food you can grab at barbecues and picnics. Anyone who loves the signature tastes of the season has a lot of meals to look forward to, but that doesn't mean your diet agrees with all of these choices. While burgers, hot dogs, and corn on the cob all make summer feel that much special, your weight loss goals can easily suffer if you end up going too hard at your neighborhood cookout.

By identifying which summertime foods can do the most damage to your diet, you can stay one step ahead of packing on the pounds and ensure you make it to fall with a slimmer waist. Eat This, Not That! consulted a handful of experts to figure out exactly which items you need to keep an eye out for at your next barbecue in order to ensure you don't take your diet overboard.

At the same time, summer comes with a lot of in-season healthy foods, and there's no reason to not indulge in some healthy seasonal items that can help you hit your weight loss goals. Make sure to fill up your cart with The Best Summer Foods for Weight Loss in order to taste the very best items that summer has to offer.

Corn on the cob

corn on cob
Photo: Shutterstock

You might never expect corn on the cob to do too much damage to your figure. After all, corn is only a vegetable, and on paper, it shouldn't destabilize your diet too badly. Unfortunately, anyone who likes to load out their corn with butter and toppings could see their diet unravel before their eyes.

"Oftentimes, the add-ins contribute unnecessary calories," Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, explains. "Corn on the cob is healthy but adding too much butter can contribute to weight gain."

Make sure you avoid slathering this item with butter to keep this classic side dish from adding too many calories to your daily eating plan.

Grilled Burgers

grilled burgers

Summer is prime grilling season, and that means that everyone wants to show off their burger-making prowess. Like any other time of the year, this item can easily pack on the pounds, but burger add-ons can do even more damage.

"Enjoying an occasional burger is ok once in a while, but if you eat a burger with lots of ketchup… [it] can add unnecessary calories," Dr. Young says. "Be mindful of your choices and stick to the one BBQ food you most desire."

It might sound impossible, but you can actually construct a diet-friendly burger this summer. By trying out the 13 Hacks To Make Your Burger Healthier, you can dig into your favorite burger without worrying about packing on too many calories.

Smoothie Bowls

chocolate smoothie bowl with banana, peanut butter, and granola

A ton of fruit comes into season during summer, and you may be tempted to turn this produce into smoothie bowls. While delicious, these summertime treats can end up doing more harm than good.

"We tend to think of [smoothie bowls] as healthy and low-calorie summer snacks," says Dr. Young. "However, many store-bought [smoothie bowls] have lots of calories which can contribute to weight gain. Some are made with fruit juice, nut butter, and avocado, and they are supersized coming in 20-ounce plus bowls. Opt for a small size, limit fruit juice, opt for fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, low-fat milk or plant milk, and skip the high fat add-ins like avocado and nut butter."

 The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies

Ice Cream

ice cream

When the temperatures start to skyrocket, any kind of cool treat ends up sounding delicious. If you have a sweet tooth and love digging into your favorite ice cream during summer, make sure to go easy, or else you might just end up throwing off your weight loss goals.

"These can pack in 150-300 calories in half-cup scoops and don't really satiate you, adding calories into your day that you aren't burning off," says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD.

Knowing which kinds of ice cream offer fewer calories can make a world of difference when a cool craving strikes. If you want to treat yourself, reach for one of the 13 Best Brand Name Ice Creams for Weight Loss in order to keep your diet on track.


top sirloin steak

While small portions of lean red meat can be a part of a healthy diet, massive portions can easily add some unnecessary saturated fat into your diet and certain pieces of protein do more damage than others.

"Barbecue parties are common in summer," Bill Bradley, RD at Mediterranean Living said. "While it's a fun activity to do with family and friends in the summer, high-fat meats on the barbecue might add to your weight gain. For example, a 20-ounce T-bone steak contains 124 grams of fat and 1,540 calories."

If the idea of going a summer without grilling steaks seems like too much to bear, just make sure you opt for smaller cuts of meat to lessen the impact this food has on your weight loss goals.

Potato Salad

bowl of potato salad

"Deli foods are a tried-and-true favorite of summer," says Hayley Miller, MS, RDN, LDN at Persona Nutrition. "Who doesn't love a potato salad to complement their picnic? But too many of these decadent sides may end up causing weight gain. Deli salads are often saturated in oily dressings, giving them a high calorie density and raising the odds that you'll be eating more calories than you burn. If you're a sucker for sides, try making your own, so you can control the ingredients. This way you can still enjoy these summer foods with a fraction of the calories!"

Potato salad doesn't have to derail your diet. Make your potato salad and eat it too with 15 Quick & Healthy Potato Salad Recipes for Weight Loss and guarantee that this summer staple stays on your barbecue menu.

Egg Salad

bowl of egg salad

Mayonnaise-based sides don't pull any punches when it comes to packing in the fat and calorie content, and egg salad proves no different.

"Higher fat foods tend to be more caloric," Katie Tomaschko, MS, RDN at Sporting Smiles says. "In the summertime, foods like egg salads… can lead to weight gain due to the fat/calorie content of the mayo and oils they are made with. This is not to say that these foods will instantly cause you to gain weight, but the calories in them may add up. So, practicing moderation is important if weight gain is a concern to you."

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich