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Food groups to avoid when losing weight

Losing weight the healthy way is all about regular exercise and paying attention to what you eat and drink. Knowing which food groups to avoid on your weight loss journey can often be confusing – for example, can avoiding all low fat foods really help you lose weight? What are the least calorie dense food groups? And is fresh fruit better for weight loss than dried fruit?

In this article, we’ll share with you 5 food groups to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight and explain why they are not only bad for your waistline but bad for your overall health too. We’ll also give you some tips on how to replace them with healthier alternatives that can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

1.      Fried food

Chock-a-block with calories, salt and artificial fats, fried food is a big no-no if you’re trying to lose weight. Food such as chips, chicken nuggets, burgers and bacon not only release harmful chemicals that can cause increased inflammation, stomach aches, cancer and heart disease, but can create hormonal imbalances that will leave your body craving more food. They can even affect your mental health.

As an alternative, consider air-frying your food instead and opt for healthy oils and lean meats which have more protein and less fat and salt.

2.      Added sugars

Cutting down on added or ‘free’ sugars and artificial sweeteners is essential if you want to lose weight. High levels of sugar can be found in processed foods and drinks, but they have little nutritional value – and lots of extra calories. The NHS recommends adults should have no more than 30 grams of added sugar a day, (roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes) which amounts to approximately 116 calories.

For those of us with a sweet tooth, swap your free sugar for natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup or stevia.

3.      Ultra processed food

Food such as ice cream, ham, sausages, crisps, breakfast cereals and ready meals are all considered ultra processed, meaning they are made with artificial ingredients, such as preservatives, colours, sweeteners and flavouring. They are also generally high in calories and fat, leading to weight gain.

To avoid eating ultra processed foods, switch to foods that are minimally processed or completely unprocessed, such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.

4.      Dried fruits

Fresh fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, but it’s a different story for dried fruits where most of the water content has been removed, leaving them very high in calories and sugar, including both glucose and fructose.

For example, one cup of grapes contains around 104 calories while a cup of raisins has approximately 432 calories — more than four times the calories as one cup of grapes!

If you want some fruit as a snack or a drink, choose fresh or frozen fruit  instead. They are more filling, hydrating and far less fattening!

5.      (Some!) Low fat food

You might think that eating low fat food is key to losing weight but that’s not always the case. Some low fat foods are not actually low in calories as they substitute fat with added sugar or sweeteners. Sugar can spike your blood sugar levels and make you hungry again soon after eating. Fat and protein, on the other hand, can keep you full and satisfied for longer.

Low fat food can also trick you into eating more than you need, leading you to eat more of it and underestimate the calories consumed.

A smarter option is to eat foods that are high in ‘good’ fat, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado and fatty fish which are nutritious and can help you burn fat and improve your health.

What is the least calorie dense food group?

Calorie density is a measure of how many calories are in a specific weight of food. Food that tends to be less calorie dense include:

  • Vegetables: green vegetables have the lowest calorie density of all foods as they’re primarily made up of water, fibre and very few carbs.
  • Fruits: fruit such as apples are high in water and fibre which in turn lowers their calorie density. They also contain natural sugars which provide energy and sweetness.
  • White meat and fish: lean proteins like chicken, white fish and turkey have a lower calorie density than fattier meats which have a moderate to high density.
  • Starchy carbs: starchy foods such as potatoes and whole grains are higher in calorie density than vegetables and fruits, but still lower than most processed foods. They are rich in complex carbs, which provide slow release energy.

Want to lose weight the healthy way?

If you’re looking for support with weight loss, LiveWell Dorset is here to help!  Our website has lots of useful tools and resources to help you kickstart your weight loss journey. You can also contact our friendly team of coaches and advisers who are ready to offer bespoke, tailored advise to help you stay on track and reach your personal goals. We've helped more than 30,000 people in Dorset and would love to help you too!  Register with us today or get in touch to learn more about our services.


I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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