9 Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Weight Loss (2024)

Losing weight can be hard. Many fad diets are based on the idea that cutting out certain foods from your diet is the answer, but this is an oversimplification.

Eliminating specific foods from your diet won’t make you reach your health goals — there’s a place for all foods in a healthy diet.

But some foods can make weight loss difficult if you eat them frequently.

This article will look at nine foods and drinks to limit if you’re trying to lose weight.

Everyone responds to foods differently. What may help one person lose weight may not be right for another. The best approach will be unique to you.

With the ZOE at-home test, you can learn about your body’s blood sugar and blood fat responses, as well as the “good” and “bad” bugs in your gut. We’ll then provide you with personalized nutrition advice tailored to your body and health goals.

To get started, take our free quiz.

1. Deep-fried foods

Making foods like french fries, onion rings, and fried chicken involves large amounts of oil. The food absorbs lots of the oil, drastically increasing the amount of calories.

Fats are the least filling and most energy-dense macronutrient. A healthy diet has more fats with helpful compounds and fewer unhealthy fats.

In a recent review of the research, scientists found that regularly eating fried foods increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. An overall healthy diet incorporates fried foods infrequently, they found.

Instead of deep-frying, try sautéing or stir frying with a high-quality oil, like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. You could also try roasting, baking, grilling, or steaming foods instead.

2. Baked sweets

Regularly eating foods like cookies, cakes, and pastries can make weight loss difficult.

They’re often high in calories, sugar, and saturated fat. And large quantities of these foods aren’t good for our health.

You don’t have to completely cut baked sweets from your diet. But focus on having smaller portions or having them less often.

Baking sweets yourself using quality ingredients can be a good idea. But keep in mind that even homemade sweets might have plenty of calories and sugar.

If you have a regular sweet tooth, fruits, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate can be good replacements for baked goods.

3. Ultra-processed snacks

Many common snacks, like chips and cookies, are ultra-processed foods. They contain high amounts of unhealthy fats and salt, and they have few beneficial nutrients.

Research shows that a diet high in ultra-processed foods significantly increases the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as heart disease.

If you’re hungry between meals, try to grab something that will fill you up without the unnecessary additives.

You could try apple slices with peanut butter or carrot sticks with hummus.

If you’re looking for something to munch on — nuts, like almonds, pistachios, and pecans, can be a convenient, nutrient-dense option.

4. Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks — like certain sodas, sweetened teas, juices, and sports drinks — are high in sugar and calories and provide little nutritional benefit.

Research shows that sugary drinks can promote weight gain and increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions.

Because you usually drink quicker than you eat, drinking a lot of sugar quickly may overwhelm your body's insulin response, scientists suggest.

Also, the feeling of fullness may cause you to eat less at mealtimes, reducing your intake of important nutrients.

Studies also confirm that having fewer soft drinks can help prevent weight gain.

If you don’t want to replace sugary drinks with plain water, try infused waters or herbal teas. And eating whole fruits can satisfy a craving for juice. Whole fruits offer more nutrients and no added sugars.

5. Alcohol

Alcohol is energy-dense, containing about 7 calories per gram.

Research links drinking more than the recommended amount to overweight and obesity, as well as many other health conditions.

Alcohol isn’t filling, but it can stimulate your appetite, causing you to eat more, research indicates.

Tips for cutting back include:

  • having dedicated alcohol-free days

  • drinking alcohol more slowly than other drinks

  • alternating with alcohol-free options, like soda water

6. Refined grains

In their natural states, grains, like wheat, corn, rice, and oats, have many health-promoting nutrients.

But industrial processing removes lots of these nutrients. As a result, “refined” grains are less nutrient-dense. White rice is one example, and refined grains are made into white bread.

Evidence links a high intake of refined grains with a greater risk of overweight and obesity.

Also, refined grains are less filling than whole grains because they have less fiber, and your body can digest them more quickly. The result can be big spikes in your blood sugar levels.

ZOE’s own research shows that some people are prone to blood sugar dips after these spikes. This can make you feel hungry sooner and eat more throughout the day.

Try swapping out refined grains for whole grains that are rich in nutrients like iron and fiber. In fact, fiber can make you feel fuller for longer, which could help you on your weight loss journey.

Opting for less processed, higher-quality carbohydrates instead of refined grains can improve your health in many ways beyond weight loss.

It’s a good idea to focus on unprocessed whole grains, like whole oats, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, spelt, rye, barley, and bulgur wheat.

Join our mailing list

Sign up for fresh insights into our scientific discoveries and the latest nutrition updates. No spam, just science.

7. Processed meats

Deli meats, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs are all processed, which means that manufacturers have salted, cured, or smoked them. This either preserves the meat or adds flavor.

In a recent meta-analysis with more than 1.1 million participants, researchers discovered that those who ate the most processed meats were more likely to have obesity and a larger waist circumference.

Eating a lot of processed meats over time may contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of chronic diseases.

These foods are OK to have once in a while, but try to limit how often you eat them, particularly hot dogs, burgers, and sausages.

Processed meats also contain nitrites and nitrates. These added preservatives may increase your cancer risk.

8. Artificial sweeteners

Companies have marketed artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives to sugar, but it’s unclear whether this is true —the current research is conflicted.

Some reviews have suggested that artificial sweeteners help people lose weight. Other evidence indicates that they may actually contribute to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Researchers have also found that artificial sweeteners may trigger cravings for sugary foods.

And some scientists believe that these sweeteners might alter your gut microbiome — the trillions of microbes that live in your gut and impact your overall health.

Moderation can be key. So, if you use a sweetener in your morning coffee, try to limit sugary foods and sweeteners throughout the day.

If you drink a lot of soda, diet soda is a better option. But it’s worth trying to cut down on sweeteners overall. You could try swapping some of your soda for sparkling water, still water, tea, or coffee.

9. Candy

Most candies are full of processed sugars. They can be a nice treat every now and then, but having candy too often can lead to oral health problems and possible weight gain.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa, typically has less sugar and offers some health benefits. If you’re craving something sweet, it could be a good option.

Weight loss tips

No single weight loss plan works for everyone —all bodies are unique.

Still, a healthy diet is vital for good health, and here are some diet tips that might make your weight loss easier:

  • Eat more fiber. To feel fuller for longer, get plenty of fiber. But it’s best to increase your fiber intake slowly and drink plenty of water with your high-fiber foods to help your body adjust.

  • Look after your gut. A healthy gut microbiome is important for immunity, digestion, weight management, and other aspects of health.

  • Maybe consider intermittent fasting. It’s not for everyone, but some people find that focusing on when they eat can help with weight loss.

  • Focus on sleep hygiene. Research links poor sleep with an increased risk of obesity. Try minimizing noise and light, and aim for 7–9 hours a night.

  • Keep your body moving. While exercise is great for your health, on its own, it’s unlikely to lead to drastic weight loss. Couple it with changes to your diet, and exercise can support your long-term weight goals.

Building a balanced, varied diet

One of the best ways to reach your health goals is to have a wide variety of plants in your diet. Plants are packed with important nutrients and compounds like fiber and polyphenols.

Everyone’s best diet is different, but a healthy, balanced one will include:

  • vegetables, like spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale

  • fruits, like apples, pears, oranges, avocados, raspberries, and peaches

  • whole grains, like quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, and bulgur wheat

  • legumes, like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, peas, and lentils

  • nuts and seeds, like almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds

  • spices and herbs, like turmeric, oregano, basil, and rosemary

  • healthy oils, like extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil


Losing weight is difficult for most people. And weight loss is unique to each person — there’s no magic potion or quick-fix solution.

At ZOE, we believe that cutting out foods isn’t a sustainable weight loss plan. But it’s best to have some foods and drinks in moderation — or to save them for special occasions.

Generally, it’s a good idea to limit deep-fried foods, baked sweets, ultra-processed foods, sugary drinks, refined grains, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, alcoholic drinks, and candy.

And focus on having plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, spices and herbs, and healthy oils in your diet to promote your overall health.

With the ZOE at-home test, you can learn about your body’s blood sugar and blood fat responses. We’ll also send you a breakdown of the “good” and “bad” bugs in your gut.

From this, we’ll provide you with a personalized nutrition program to help you reach your long-term health and weight goals.

Take our free quiz to get started.


23 infused water ideas that will make you forget about soda. (2022). https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/infused-water-ideas/

Alcohol consumption and obesity: An update. Psychological Issues. (2015). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4

Consumption of fried foods and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN project. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases. (2013). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21824755/

Consumption of ultra-processed foods and health status: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Nutrition. (2021). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844609/

Counterpoint: Artificial sweeteners for obesity—better than sugary alternatives; potentially a solution. Endocrine Practice. (2021). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1530891X21011083

Dietary sugar and body weight: Have we reached a crisis in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes? Diabetes Care. (2014). https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/37/4/950/32201/Dietary-Sugar-and-Body-Weight-Have-We-Reached-a

Effects of whole grain Intake, compared with refined grain, on appetite and energy intake: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Advances in Nutrition. (2021). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33530093/

Food groups and risk of overweight, obesity, and weight gain: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Advances in Nutrition. (2019). https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/10/2/205/5364424

Fried food consumption and cardiovascular health: A review of current evidence. Nutrients. (2015). https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/10/5404/htm

Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. (2010).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/

Is there a relationship between red or processed meat intake and obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Obesity Reviews. (2014). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12172

Single-component versus multicomponent dietary goals for the metabolic syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine. (2015). https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/abs/10.7326/M14-0611?journalCode=aim

Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: A brief narrative review. BMJ Opens Sport & Exercise Medicine. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6196958/

Sugar consumption and oral health. Oral Epidemiology. (2020). https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-50123-5_19

The association between artificial sweeteners and obesity. Nutrition and Obesity. (2017). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11894-017-0602-9

The role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the global epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. (2022). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8778490/

Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: Prospective cohort study. BMJ. (2019). https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1451

Whole grains. (n.d.). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/

Share this article

  • 9 Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Weight Loss (3)
9 Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Weight Loss (2024)


9 Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Weight Loss? ›

If a person wishes to lose weight, they should avoid sugary beverages, baked goods, fried foods and processed foods.

What foods should I stop eating to lose weight? ›

If a person wishes to lose weight, they should avoid sugary beverages, baked goods, fried foods and processed foods.

What foods flush out fat? ›

Fat-Fighting Foods
  • Greek Yogurt. 1/26. Greek yogurt has almost twice as much protein as other yogurts. ...
  • Quinoa. 2/26. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a nutritional all-star that belongs in your weight loss plan. ...
  • Cinnamon. 3/26. ...
  • Hot Peppers. 4/26. ...
  • Green Tea. 5/26. ...
  • Grapefruit. 6/26. ...
  • Watermelon. 7/26. ...
  • Pears and Apples. 8/26.
Mar 22, 2024

What are the 5 foods that burn belly fat? ›

Five foods that may help burn belly fat include:
  • foods with soluble fiber like fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
  • foods with protein like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
  • fatty fish like tuna and salmon.
  • foods with probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
  • green tea.

What is the one food we should all stop eating? ›

Foods that you should not eat are those with little to no nutritional value, including foods high in fat, sugar, salt, and refined flour. Processed foods, fast foods, and other unhealthy foods may taste good, but they pose significant health risks when consumed in excess.

What is the number one unhealthiest food? ›

1. Bacon
  • Fried food. ...
  • Potato chips. ...
  • Added sugars. ...
  • Processed oils. Try to cut processed oils out of your diet as much as possible. ...
  • Hydrogenated fats. This category of fats lurks in many packaged foods and fast food products. ...
  • Refined carbohydrates. Advertisem*nt. ...
  • Breakfast sausages. Advertisem*nt. ...
  • Processed meat. Advertisem*nt.
Jan 30, 2022

What to eat to reduce belly fat? ›

In general, a low-carb way of eating shifts your intake away from problem foods—those high in carbs and sugar and without much fiber, like bread, bagels and sodas—and toward high-fiber or high-protein choices, like vegetables, beans and healthy meats.

What foods can you eat all you want and still lose weight? ›

If losing weight is your goal, these 16 foods may help support a healthy weight loss journey.
  • Eggs. ...
  • Leafy greens. ...
  • Fish. ...
  • Cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Chicken breast and some lean meats. ...
  • Potatoes and other root vegetables. ...
  • Beans and legumes. ...
  • Soups.

Is peanut butter good for weight loss? ›

Peanut butter may actually aid weight loss. Adults and adolescents who consume peanut and peanut butter regularly gain less weight than others who don't consume these nuts. They're often less likely to be overweight or obese and have lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol.

What foods burn fat crazy? ›

12 Metabolism-Boosting Foods to Aid Weight Loss
  • Fish & Shellfish. Metabolism-Boosting Powers: Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. ...
  • Legumes (Also known as beans) ...
  • Chili Peppers. ...
  • Lean Meats. ...
  • Low-Fat Milk. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Lentils. ...
  • Oatmeal.

How to reduce tummy? ›

One of the most effective ways to lose body fat is to eat fewer calories than the body burns. This leads to fat loss throughout the body, including the abdomen. Eating fewer calories than the body uses up creates a caloric deficit. This can help burn both visceral fat and excess subcutaneous fat.

What foods burn fat at night? ›

Best Foods to Eat Before Bed for Weight Loss
  • Whey Protein Shake. First and foremost, protein is important for weight loss, whey protein included! ...
  • A Warm Bowl of Oatmeal. ...
  • Greek Yogurt with Berries or Cherries. ...
  • Half a Turkey Sandwich. ...
  • Egg Wrap. ...
  • Smoked Salmon Bagel. ...
  • Cottage Cheese and Fruit. ...
  • Peanut and Nut Butters.
Aug 29, 2023

What are the two vegetables that destroy stomach fat? ›

She said that artichokes and asparagus are the best vegetables to eat to reduce abdominal fat. This is because they are both rich in fiber and antioxidants, and they help maintain a healthy gut microbiome to support weight loss.

How to reduce tummy in 1 week? ›

Diet tips to lose belly fat
  1. Eat six meals a day, once every 3 hours;
  2. Drink at least two liters of water or green tea a day;
  3. Eat a different salad every day and a serving of meat, fish or chicken that fits in the palm of your hand;
  4. Eat two pieces of fruit a day, preferably low-sugar fruit such as berries, kiwi or orange;
Jul 31, 2023

What is the best breakfast for weight loss? ›

To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. The best things to eat for breakfast include oatmeal, eggs, lean bacon or turkey, whole-grain toast, peanut butter, smoothies, and yogurt with muesli.

What are the three foods the gut doctor says not to eat? ›

The Top 10 Foods To Avoid for a Healthy Gut
  • Processed foods. Processed foods are high in additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats, which can harm your gut microbiome.
  • Refined sugar. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Dairy products. ...
  • Fried foods. ...
  • Red meat. ...
  • Artificial sweeteners. ...
  • Alcohol.
Apr 14, 2023

What are the three gut destroying foods? ›

As part of healthy eating, it's a good idea to avoid or limit foods packed with added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria, Blatner says, as well as highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners, red meat, and alcohol, which can have a negative effect on gut bacteria, and lead to inflammation.

What three foods should you avoid? ›

For better health, try to limit the amount of food that you eat from these categories:
  • Foods with added sugar. Examples: Cookies, cake, ice cream, candy, sugary breakfast cereals, flavored yogurt. ...
  • Foods with added salt. ...
  • Refined carbohydrates. ...
  • Processed meats.
Nov 18, 2021

What are three foods cardiologists say not to eat? ›

6 Foods Cardiologists Avoid
  • Bacon, sausage and processed meats.
  • Potato chips and other processed snacks.
  • Fast food.
  • Red meat.
  • Sugary drinks.
  • Movie theater popcorn.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Golda Nolan II

Last Updated:

Views: 6076

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Golda Nolan II

Birthday: 1998-05-14

Address: Suite 369 9754 Roberts Pines, West Benitaburgh, NM 69180-7958

Phone: +522993866487

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Shopping, Quilting, Cooking, Homebrewing, Leather crafting, Pet

Introduction: My name is Golda Nolan II, I am a thoughtful, clever, cute, jolly, brave, powerful, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.