The 4 Worst Foods for Weight Loss

by Millie
worst foods for weight loss

Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by Millie

When I started this (my last) weight loss journey for the diet portion I focussed on the foods that I CAN eat rather than the foods I can’t. And I have written about what I eat that has helped me lose 80 pounds (and counting). Yup, you read that correctly. 80 pounds! But today I want to talk about the worst foods for weight loss and why.

Diet information has changed a great deal in the last few years. I remember when we all spent years eating low-fat everything and now we found out that low-fat foods actually made us fatter. I also remember when fat made you fat, but apparently that is also not true. Eggs were high in cholesterol and we should avoid them, but now they are on the good list again.

There are many other examples of misinformation about diet, healthy eating, and weight loss so at one point I simply gave up and ate whatever I wanted.

That is. until last September when I became my own diet coach and researched extensively on what to eat to lose weight and what not to eat to lose weight and why. The ‘why’ was important to me because I was tired of blindly following bad advice. The consequences of which for me were huge weight gains despite repeated attempts.

So here are the worst foods for weight loss and why –  backed by science and research. You don’t have to follow this 100%. Consistency is better than perfection. The more days and weeks you make healthy choices the more results you will see. I have had a few times when I didn’t or couldn’t eat as well as I should and I am still proud to say that I have lost 80 pounds so far.

Also read Top 5 Foods for Permanent Weight Loss


the word sugar written in sugar surrounded by sweet, sugary candy
Avoid added sugar and you can lose about one pound a week

One of the worst foods for weight loss is sugar. I am not talking about sugar found naturally in fruit or vegetables. I am referring to refined sugar that is added to many foods or recipes.

I had a sweet tooth, correction, I had a mouth full of sweet teeth. I loved everything sweet. I craved everything sweet. 

For me, the majority of my extra sugar came from tea, soda, ice cream, chocolate, and bubble tea. I had tea with about triple the normal amount of sugar. I usually ordered a coke with lunch and dinner. And most nights in the summer I indulged with bubble tea with extra sugar. I also seem to naturally prefer honey garlic, teriyaki, and maple glazed dishes. However, in September, I quit all three of these bad habits cold turkey.

But I didn’t stop there. I didn’t have any more sweet desserts, cakes, cookies, pastries, or sugary cereals. However, I did celebrate my birthday with a large slice of chocolate cake. After all, you only have one birthday a year! 

There are some obvious places where you will find an abundance of sugar. However, sugar is hiding in places you least expect. Take a look at your pantry. If sugar is one of the first three ingredients on a food label, don’t eat it. 

Also, manufacturers use many different names for sugar. In fact, there are 56 different names for sugar on food labels. The most common include, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, galactose, and maltose. Check out the other names for sugar on food labels.

Once you start reading labels you will be surprised or shocked to see the many products that you think are not very sweet but contains sugar. For example, here are the ingredients for Heinz ketchup:

Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring.

So as you can see, the first four ingredients in ketchup are sugar! No wonder we love it and put it on particularly everything!

If you eat a typical American diet, you are consuming a lot of sugar. The average American eats 152 pounds of sugar a year! This is equivalent to about 6 cups of sugar per week. There are 773 calories in one cup of sugar. So you if significantly reduce your consumption of sugar you could easily lose about one pound a week!

I don’t know how much weight I gained or lost as a direct result of sugar. But I do know that sugar is one of the worst foods for weight loss and avoiding it helped me lose 80 pounds. 

White Bread, White Pasta, and White Rice

whole grain bread, while grain pasta and brown rice
Eliminate White Bread, White Pasta, and White Rice to Lose Weight

Next of the list of what not to eat to lose weight is white bread, white pasta, and white rice. I still can’t believe that I often chose white bread over ‘brown’ bread, it simply tasted better to me. I frequently chose restaurants because they had the best bread. But white bread is highly processed, contains a lot of calories, and has no fiber.

The lack of fiber in white bread is a problem because it does not leave you feeling full and eventually, you will eat more. Also, white bread causes your blood sugar level to rise and fall. Which then leads you wanting more food.  Hmm … why do restaurants give us free bread? Could it be that we will eat more food?

Studies have shown that eating white bread and other refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white rice cause weight gain because of the reasons above. You are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

You don’t have to give up bread completely. Fortunately, there are excellent alternatives to white bread. My favorite is Ezekiel bread. It is made from sprouted whole grains and contains legumes. But most importantly, it actually tastes quite good. 

There are also excellent alternatives to white pasta. You can try whole-wheat pasta, brown rice pasta, soba noodles, spelt pasta, or pasta made from beans like soybeans, mung beans, or back beans. 

If you love rice, as I do, consider buying brown rice. Instead of rice, I sometimes use quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, bulgar, farro, barley, whole wheat orzo, or riced cauliflower.  Also, you can load up on extra vegetables instead of having rice.

Fried Foods

a basket of unhealthy french fries
French fries and potato chips are the top two foods for weight gain

Want to reduce your calories? Try eliminating fried foods from your diet if you want to lose weight. Frying food typically adds a ton of oil to food. And this means it adds a ton of fat to food. For instance, a piece of fish can go from 105 calories to 230 calories if t is fried. Wow! that’s over double the calories.

It turns out that French fries and potato chips are the top two foods that cause weight gain according to Harvard University researchers. And probably should be number one on your list of what not to eat to lose weight.

We live in a culture where almost everything comes with a side of French fries. Sadly, that side of French fries is loaded with calories. Large French fries has over 500 calories. Imagine if you switch the French fries for a side of vegetables. So if you stop eating large French fries every day, you could easily lose one pound a week.

Fried foods are one of the worst things you can eat if you are trying to lose weight. Studies have shown that fried foods can significantly affect fat storage and the hormone that regulates hunger. And consequently increasing your chances of becoming obese.

Salty Foods

a spoonful of salt
Salty foods increase your body fat, especially belly fat

There is a very strong link between salty foods and weight gain. You may already know that eating too much salt causes you to retain water which shows up on the scale. But most importantly, extra salt is correlated with higher body fat, especially belly fat. Are you worried about belly fat? Then be sure you add salty food to your list of what not to eat to lose weight.

Many of the salty food we love is also high in calories. Most restaurants, and in particular fast-food restaurants, over salt their food. Sadly our taste buds have gotten used to the taste of too much salt. But it is possible to enjoy real food with little or no salt. 

Salt is one of the worst foods for weight loss, but you can slowly decrease the amount of salt you use. The easiest way that I found was limiting restaurant meals and fast food.

I very rarely cooked. I was always too busy or too tired to cook. Plus, I am surrounded by restaurant of all types and it was faster and more convenient to eat out or order in. But I did a complete change last September. Now, I very rarely eat restaurant food ad my weight reflects this change. 

Worst Foods for Weight Loss

a collection of unhealthy foods for weight loss including hamburger, french fries, donut, candy, ketchup, chocolate and muffin
What not to eat for weight loss

Here is a quick list of the worst foods to eat when you are trying to lose weight based on the information above:

  • French fries
  • Potato chips
  • Onion rings
  • Processed meat/Deli meat
  • Sugary cereals
  • Sugary drinks (including energy drinks)
  • White bread
  • Crackers
  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • Milk chocolate
  • Pretzels
  • Muffins
  • Donuts
  • Cake
  • Pastries
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt (sweetened)
  • Jam
  • Cream cheese
  • Pizza
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Fried chicken

There you have it! You now know the worst foods for weight loss and why. Knowledge is power. And now you have the power to change your diet and get rid of excess body fat and lose weight.

Also read How to Stop Eating Junk Food and Lose Weight

I always say if I can do it, anyone can, including you. You got this!

Please subscribe to get the Ultimate List of Foods for Weight Loss (with a bonus shopping list) to learn more about what to eat for permanent weight loss.

The 4 Worst Foods for Weight Loss

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Nicole -

Oh the bread is always the one that gets me!

Millie -

Hi Nicole, I know exactly how you feel. I still love bread! But fortunately, there are healthier options

Mae -

Thanks for sharing this! Very informative, some hiccups on weight loss are really from the food we eat.

Millie -

Hi Mae, you are right, if we get healthy, the weight will eventually come off.

Bookish Ayushi -

The pictures are so enticing but I agree with you. We can always choose healthier alternatives whenever possible. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Millie -

Hi Ayushi, Yes, your are right. There are always healthier alternatives. We just have to look for them

Carolyn -

Ugh, I have got to kick my sugar habit. Most of the foods on this list I can resist. And even when I’m craving bready stuff, I’ll make my own bread so I know exactly what’s in it (no extra sugar, that’s for sure!). But I have a really really bad sweet tooth. Sugar is my number one vice. Luckily as I get older, my body doesn’t tolerate any of these foods that well. If I eat like sh*t, I feel like sh*t. And I’m glad I kicked my soda habit years ago, but it definitely had long lasting effects. Great post! Straight, and to the point.

Millie -

Hi Carolyn, thanks for your kind words. If sugar is your only vice, you are way ahead the rest of us. And since your body is so sensitive to unhealthy foods, use it to your advantage. You got this!

Tami -

This list is going on the front of my fridge. I am so tempted by all these things but having a reminder like this will help me stay focused on healthier choices.

Millie -

Hi Tami, the fridge door is a perfect place for this list. Good luck!

Chris Kosto | -

There are so many posts about the best foods for weight loss, someone had to write about the worst ones too! Well done!
Unfortunately, the majority of tasty foods are bad for weight loss

Millie -

Thanks, Chris. You’re so right. The simple reason we eat unhealthy is because that stuff taste great! Thanks for your kind words.

Thomas -

Oh man!!!!!! I’ve been on my own weight loss journey and I too love sweets, especially chocolate. It’s definitely a challenge sometime. I’ve done intermittent fasting which has helped curve my desires a bit, but i’ve definitely subjected myself to an intense workout regime to offset the amount of sweets I eat. I know I can make my journey easier but I haven’t found a healthier adjustment yet.

Congrats on your success losing 80lbs thus far!!!

Millie -

Thank you so much, Thomas. It sounds like you are well on your path to being healthy. If only chocolate didn’t taste so good! Lol. Keep working hard!

Tisha -

Sugar is my worst habit… That is something that is always the hardest for me to get rid of. I know I need to.

Millie -

Hi Trisha, it seems that sugar is a problem for too many of us. But you can reduce your consumption a little bit at a time.

rachel -

This is really interesting. I’ve been reading some conflicting things in the intermittent fasting community, however!

Millie -

Hi Rachel, there are many experts and opinions out there. But I’m the end, it’s best to do what works for you

Sandra Ans -

Great post and I am happy to hear about your weight loss! That’s amazing!
I really need to print the list of the worst foods and put it somewhere on my table as a reminder!
My biggest struggle is with salt and salty foods. I can say NO to chocolate, but almost never to chips… Ahhh


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