Warning: These 3 “Healthy” Foods Will Make You Fat!

A customer, Mary, wrote in because she couldn’t seem to lose that stubborn last 10 pounds.

So we asked her about her daily diet, and it looked pretty good. Except there was one big problem…

She told me that she enjoyed a mid-morning granola bar daily. She bought her favorite snack by the case, thinking it was a healthy choice to include in her daily diet plan.

After all, this tasty treat contained a mere 200 calories and the package proclaimed to help keep her full all morning long.

You might also think granola bars are good for your diet. But it turns out that this was the very thing that was holding Mary back. You will find out why later in this article.

Many of us think we’re eating healthy, good-for-us foods that won’t make us gain an ounce because the package proclaims the foods are “natural” or “diet” or “calorie-free.” But in reality, many diet or natural foods are anything but.

Let’s take a closer look at three foods that might be working against your weight-loss efforts… and yes, one of those is granola bars…

1. “Diet” soda

Even diet soda can sabotage your weight loss efforts

The average 12-ounce can of regular soda packs about 150 calories, while the same size diet drink is…drum roll please…zero calories. Seems like a calorie-saving no-brainer, right? Not so fast. Diet sodas may actually be stoking your sweet tooth, setting off cravings that lead you to binge on high-calorie foods later.

How? Blame it on biology.

Let me explain. Normally, after your tastebuds have sensed sweet, a message is delivered to the brain that a high-calorie food’s a’comin. That triggers a biochemical cascade that promotes a feeling of fullness.

But the diet-soda sweet isn’t followed up with the promised calories. So if you drink diet drinks often enough, the brain will learn to ignore sweet taste as a predictor of a big-calorie payoff, and continue to want more and more food.

Science proves this out. In one study published in Physiology and Behavior1, researchers enrolled 24 healthy adults who either drank at least one diet soda daily or avoided drinking diet soda altogether.

After measuring brain scan activity, researchers found that regularly drinking diet sodas inhibits activation in a key area of the brain that helps to regulate food intake.

Additionally, the more diet soda participants drank, the less their sweet sensors worked properly. In other words, regularly drinking diet soda stymies the brain’s ability to let you know you are full.

Maybe that is why, according to a long-term study from the University of Texas, diet soda drinkers’ waists expanded five times more than those who did not drink diet sodas.2

2. Low-fat or fat-free salad dressings

You douse your lettuce and dip your celery stalks in so-called diet dressings to mask the ho hum flavor. But these packaged salad dressings typically contain high-fructose corn syrup, which, according to a 10-week study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation3, was found to not only increase abdominal fat, but also raise cholesterol and decrease insulin sensitivity.

In addition, the calories per serving—typically one to two tablespoons—tend to be deceptively low. You’re most likely shaking on two or three times more than a serving, doubling or even tripling the calorie count listed on the label.

3. Granola bars

As you now know, the word “natural” has nothing to do with low-calorie. A recent evaluation of over 2,500 packaged granola, protein or energy bars published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that almost four out of five contain cane sugar, corn syrup, honey or another sweetener that contributes empty calories of little or no nutritional value.4 Meaning they benefit neither your waistline nor your health.

So, what are some good alternatives? Here are a few ideas:

Instead of diet soda, use 100 percent fruit juice (try concord grape, pomegranate or cranberry) to make ice cubes then add them to a glass of seltzer. As the ice melts it will sweeten the seltzer and add loads of antioxidants.

Instead of granola bars, keep a perfect portion (one ounce) of almonds or walnuts in a small tin or plastic bag in your purse, briefcase, desk drawer or car to provide a protein-rich snack that will help curb your appetite. Craving something sweet? Add two squares of dark chocolate to the mix.

Healthy and tasty food alternatives

Instead of packaged, fat-free salad dressings, sub in your own, made fresh. Try olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs. Or, use the full-fat version of your favorite dressing. While it may contain more fat, you’ll likely be more satisfied with just a little bit of it, rather than the great gobs you have to use to feel fulfilled with the no-fat version. Thus, saving calories on the backend.

Added bonus: You’ll get more nutrients out of your salad. A study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, found that when people paired their salads with full-fat dressing, they absorbed more fat-soluble carotenoids, (antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease).5

What are the most common diet foods you’re eating these days? Are they truly helping you get to your weight-loss goal? Post your number one noshes and I’ll let you know.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

Join the Whole Body Club

Dr. Steve Sisskind is on a mission to help you achieve amazing health and vitality through the power of nutrition. Sign up to get access to his valuable health tips, recipes, videos, and discounts for FREE!

1. Green E, Murphy C. Altered processing of sweet taste in the brain of diet soda drinkers. Physiol Behav. 2012;107(4):560-567. PMID: 22583859.

2. http://www.uthscsa.edu/hscnews/singleformat2.asp?newID=3861

3. Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Keim NL, et al. Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. J Clin Invest. 2009;119(5):1322-1334. PMID: 19381015.

4. Ng SW, Slining MM, Popkin BM. Use of caloric and noncaloric sweeteners in US consumer packaged foods, 2005-2009. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(11):1828-1834. PMID: 23102182.

5. Shellen R. Goltz, Wayne W. Campbell, Chureeporn Chitchumroonchokchai, Mark L. Failla, Mario G. Ferruzzi. Meal triacylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2012; 56 (6): 866 DOI:

Check Also

Women sitting holding cheeseburger needs fiber

Appetite Troubles? Inulin Soluble Fiber Can Help

Raise your hand if you have ever experienced this… You wake up with fresh determination …


  1. Since May 1,2015 I’d loss 52 lbs. On August 22, 2016 i had a hysterectomy and in just 4 months I’d gained 20lbs back. I’m a very healthy eater…only veggies…baked, boiled or grilled chicken, turkey or fish…and no less then 100 ounces of water a day. This is how i loss the 52lbs but after surgery it doesn’t seem to work the same. Please Help.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Velma,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! There could be a number of reasons as to why gained some of the weight back rapidly. Reading through your comment, you seem to be doing everything right but the weight does not seem to budge. To help get you started, I suggest that you consume at least 10 grams of protein for every 25 pounds of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you need at least 60 grams of protein per day. An easy way to accomplish this is to eat at least 20 grams of protein with every meal. As for vegetables, make sure you are eating at least 6 servings a day. This would be 6 cups of raw vegetables or 3 cups of cooked vegetables. I do suggest that you take a look at the Mediterranean Diet and see if it is a good fit. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  2. I love watermelon. I’ve heard conflicting things about it such as….you’ll get diabetes, don’t combine it with other foods, watermelon juice diets or it’s great fiber. Can you give me the low down on watermelon?
    Thank you!

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Estelle,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! Water melons are fine to eat and in accordance with the Fat Loss Fast Start Program. However, we do advise you to be mindful of your portions as these types of fruits are relatively high in fructose and can lead to blood sugar spikes. A portion is roughly about the size of a baseball and you can have 1 or 2 servings per day. Hope this helps! make it a healthy day!

  3. I have heard that the 90-calorie brownies are just as unhealthy as regular. Is this true?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi J,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concern with us! I am not quite familiar about which 90 calorie brownie you mean but do know that if we feel that it is healthy, we tend to eat a lot more than usual. This in turn can still cause sugar spikes in your system and could set back your weight loss efforts. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  4. I’m nearly out of your powder and fat burning pills, I started of at 127 Kg = 279.4 Lb this morning I wheight in at 128 Kg =281.6 Lb I have your drink in the morning , pills a half hour before the drink, a pill half hour before lunch a full large salled with no dressing except beetroot juice out of the tin No bread no crackers no butter, drink black weak tea and 8 glasses of cool water a day, a pill 1/2 hr before tea and a drink each drik contains two scoops of powder 250 mil rise water 4 almonds 3 dried prunes and 3 dried dates a cup of black tea at 9 pm
    , a glass of water at bed time,once a week i eat a piece of lean meat my palm size and salad , A piece of steamed fish with brown steamed rice peas and carrots, I don’t eat sweets or soft drinks, I eat 2 pce. of fresh fruit per day apple orange pear pineapple rockmelon 1/2 banana through the week I don’t lose weight I would like to have my money back thank you Bill

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! I can clearly see you are frustrated and have gotten in touch with our RealCare team to look into your concern. Be on the lookout for an email from us shortly with your order details. That said, I do recommend that you get signed up to our Healthy Life program ( http://blogrd.wpengine.com/healthy-life-program/ )and have one of our coaches work with you with regards to your meal plan. By doing so, you are able to continue with your journey armed with a well balanced eating plan which is ideal for your body. I do look forward to seeing you there, Bill! Make it a healthy day!

  5. I have idiopathic constipation and nuts are a no-no for me. Do you have a suggestion because I have been eating the granola bars to help me go to the bathroom.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! If you are unable to eat nuts due to medical reasons, I do recommend that you try and make your very own Granola Bars or Muesli Mix at home. They are quite easy and you can easily substitute peanuts with almonds, pine nuts or cashew, if you are able to tolerate those. If you need to increase your fiber intake, green leafy vegetables are effective at that. Sweet potatoes and green beans are also great options and can be easily paired with meats and fish. Again, I thank you for writing in! Make it a healthy day!

  6. How about Fiber One oat & peanut butter bars? Has 9 grams of fiber but also 8 sugars…? Bad or Good?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Bridgette,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I am very sorry but are quite unfamiliar with the products you mentioned. However, I do know that while in essence oats and nuts are healthy for you, it is the other ingredients such as artificial sugar, flavor enhancers or additives which can negatively affect your health. That said, I do encourage you to take a closer look at the labels and see if there are synthetic or artificial ingredients added. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  7. I quit eating granola bars when I got my dentures lol.

    I quit drinking Diet Coke after reading about its effects on the body.

    I make my own salad dressing from olive oil, vinegar, water and Good Seasons Italian herb mix. So delish!! 😀

    Unfortunately I still weigh almost 300lbs so I have a ways to go yet. 🙁

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Catmando,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! My mother used to say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with single step. And often, that first step is the hardest one to make. That said, the fact that you have already changed your eating habits, and changed them for the better, shows your commitment to your journey to better health. Do not give up and simply continue with your diet and regimen, weight loss is soon to follow and it does take time to show. Should you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to let us know! Have a healthy day!

  8. I can munch an entire bag of colorful mini peppers everyday. Is this a good or bad habit? I can also eat a pound of grapes a day when munching. Too much natural sugar?

  9. I heard an apple half an hour before can help loose weight. What do you think?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Esther,

      Thank you for writing in and for posting your question! Yes, half an apple is a great addition to your meals but I may need to research how it affects weight loss. That said, I do recommend that you watch your portions to avoid sugar spikes. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  10. I can munch an entire bag of mini multicolored peppers a day. Is this a bad or good habit? I can also eat a pound of grapes a day. Too much natural sugar?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Priscilla,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! A small bag of sliced bell peppers (about 50 to 80 grams) is alright to have once in a while. However, a pound of grapes may be a little too much and could cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. I do encourage you to cut back on your intake of grapes and opt for berries or nuts instead. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  11. I am a registered nurse and I work night shift 7p-7a. My biggest thing is during the middle of the shift I crave for food high in salts such as potato chips. I know I not supposed to but I ended up eating it! I already lost 6 pounds and could not get my goal of loosing 10 pounds. Thanks for the advice. Sincerely Lane

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Lane,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! Congratulations on the weight loss and do not give up the fight! You are well on your way to reaching your weight loss and only have 4 more pounds to go. I do encourage you to maintain your healthy diet and try your best to steer clear of your chips and snacks. Opt for fruits and nuts if possible to hep cut down on your salt intake. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Lane,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your experience with us! Congratulations on the weight loss and do not give up the fight! You are well on your way to reaching your weight loss and only have 4 more pounds to go. I do encourage you to maintain your healthy diet and try your best to steer clear of your chips and snacks. Opt for fruits and nuts if possible to help cut down on your salt intake. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  12. I my self eat 2 of these salad dressing an sour cream but not very often im stuck an haven’t lodt anything lately so please anything to help an i drink water for the most part of the day!

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Shawna,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I completely understand your situation and know that there could be a number of factors that is stalling your progress. You may want to take a close look at your diet and note the amount of sodium or salt you are taking in. You may have also cut back drastically on your intake which has caused your metabolism to slow down. Have you added any new medications lately? All these could be stalling your weight loss and you may want to slowly revisit and adjust your diet accordingly. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

  13. The only thing I use of all the things you mentioned that are fattening is the salad dressing, but I do like soft corn tortillas, because corn has no gluten, and I love corn on the cob, do you thing that this is making me not to lose my belly fat?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Delia,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I am not certain if corn alone is to blame for your belly fat but adapting a healthy balanced diet will certainly help you lose firm up. We recommend one 1/2 cup serving of whole non processed grains daily preferably early in the day. Corn on the cob, lightly salted, is actually healthy so long as you stick to your portions. Hope this helps! Have a healthy day!

    • Nearly 98% of all American corn is a GMO. Even “organic” which only stands for the manner in which the plant was grown, it doesn’t mean it’s GMO free. You may have an intolerance/allergy to corn. I know I have it, I make rare concessions and allow myself to have some once in a while, knowing what it will do. Man, do I pay for it later in feeling like crap, but if it’s that good, it’s a worthy risk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *