What Are The 3 Foods That Make You Fat


Want to know what the 3 foods are that make you fat? I can guess — maybe you’ve already guessed. But, have you ever considered if there is evidence behind those guesses? I’m betting not. I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for more than a decade, and there are three foods that are constantly brought up when it comes to fat loss. So, what they heck is this three food group that makes us fat?

What Are The 3 Foods That Make You Fat

Processed Meats

Processed meats sausage hot dog red meat deli meat

Eating deli meats, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage aren’t just making you gain weight—they may also be putting your life at risk. According to a Harvard study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, processed meat consumption is associated with nearly an extra pound of weight gain over a 4-year period. Weight gain isn’t the only reason you should cut back on your processed meat consumption. The food has also been associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. That’s why these are also on our list of 50 Foods That Can Cause Heart Disease

Diet Soda

soda glasses

Multiple studies have linked artificial sweeteners to excessive long-term weight gain. Researchers believe that drinking these non-nutritive sweeteners trick your body into thinking there are calories there aren’t. The result is what they call “metabolic arrangements.” Examples include poor insulin response and elevated blood glucose levels, which can lead to fat storage and weight gain. You may also suffer from a host of related disorders such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Potato Chips

Ridge potato chips in bag

While potato chips have never been confused as a health food, what’s surprising is that out of all the foods that can cause you to gain weight—soda, junk food, ice cream—the greasy potato chip is the worst offender. According to that same Harvard study referenced earlier, potato chips are the food most strongly associated with weight gain over four years. Don’t believe us? Take a closer look at The Unhealthiest Potato Chips on the Planet.

French Fries

Deep fry french fries in oil

The second food Harvard researchers found to cause the most weight gain? Potatoes. And more specifically, French fries, which were associated with an additional 3.35 pounds of weight gain over the course of four years. It’s not just that French fries extremely caloric due to absorbing all that fat, but they’re also made through a dangerous process that can also cause weight gain. French fries are deep-fried. This method has been shown to yield a dangerous, carcinogenic chemical compound called acrylamide, which is associated with belly fat.


Door handle open to toilet can see toilet

Sure, an occasional glass or so of alcohol won’t cause weight gain alone; however, overdoing it on the booze is what will cause you to pack on the pounds. It’s not just that alcohol is full of empty calories. It’s also that consuming alcohol has actually been shown to trick your body into eating more, too. A study published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that drinking alcohol can cause people to eat an extra 384 calories a day. To drink in a healthy way, take sips of water in between alcoholic drinks and try to avoid sugary cocktails

White Bread

White bread on wooden cutting board

Eating highly-refined, white bread should be avoided at all cost while you’re working to lose belly fat. Studies show that eating refined grains can increase belly fat. Plus, bread is the food that contributes the most sodium to Americans’ diets. All that sodium will cause you to gain water weight and will lead to permanent bloating.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Like Soda

Iced tea

Sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, sweet tea, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, and coffee drinks) are the single largest source of added sugar and the top source of calories in the U.S. diet. There is sufficient evidence to support that these sweetened beverages are the food item most closely linked to obesity and weight gain. Swap soda for water, smoothies, tea, or coffee. For some hydration inspiration, check out the detox waters for weight loss!

Foods That May Contribute to Weight Gain

1. Soda

Soda is high in calories and added sugar, yet it lacks important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants

What’s more, drinking soda too often could contribute to weight gain.

In fact, research shows that people who regularly drink sugary soda are much more likely to gain weight than those who don’t

One study found that people who drank soda alongside their normal diet consumed 572 more calories per day. Over time, this could easily lead to significant weight gain

Additionally, drinking soda may be tied to a higher risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer

While you can still enjoy the occasional glass of soda, try to limit your intake to around 12 ounces (354 mL), and don’t make it a daily habit. You can also opt for sugar-free versions of your favorite beverages to cut down your sugar intake.

SUMMARYSoda is high in sugar and calories but lacks important nutrients. It could also contribute to weight gain and several chronic conditions, so limit your intake and prioritize sugar-free varieties.

2. Sugar-sweetened coffee

Rich in caffeine and a variety of health-promoting antioxidants, coffee can be a nutritious beverage

However, if sweetened with added syrup or sugar, coffee and coffee-based drinks like frappés, caffe lattes, or frozen mochas can contain just as much sugar as soda.

Like soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks, high sugar coffee drinks can contribute to weight gain and may harm your health, for example by increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes

Therefore, if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, it’s best to avoid sugar-packed options at your local coffee shop and limit how much sugar you add to your coffee at home or in the office. You can also opt for a low calorie sweetener like stevia instead.

SUMMARYCoffee drinks sweetened with syrup or sugar are high in calories. Regularly drinking them could contribute to weight gain, so limit your intake or use low calories sweeteners like stevia in place of sugar.

3. Ice cream

Most commercially made ice cream is high in sugar and fat

Additionally, because ice cream is often eaten as a dessert, it can add many extra calories to your meal — even if you’re already feeling full after the main course.

For this reason, it’s best to enjoy ice cream as an occasional treat rather than a staple in your diet.

To choose a healthier type of ice cream, look for one with fewer than 15 grams of sugar per serving, and be sure to watch your portion sizes. You can also make homemade “nice cream” by blending frozen fruit and Greek yogurt for a more nutritious alternative.

SUMMARYMost ice creams are high in sugar and fat and can add a lot of extra calories to your meal. Enjoy it as an occasional treat, not as a dietary staple, and choose low sugar or homemade alternatives if possible.

4. Pizza

pizza in the oven

Commercially prepared pizzas are a popular convenience food, including among children and adolescents

Unfortunately, most pizzas are high in fat, refined carbs, and calories. Some varieties are also made with large amounts of cheese and processed meats that have been cured, smoked, or salted.

A higher intake of processed meats has been linked to obesity and an increased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer

Nevertheless, pizza can still fit into a well-rounded diet — as long as you only enjoy it occasionally and in moderation.

Plus, keep in mind that not all pizzas are created equal.

For example, you can experiment with healthier homemade versions featuring plenty of veggies, unprocessed protein like sliced chicken breast, smaller amounts of cheese, and whole grain pizza bases. You can also try to find a pizzeria that uses these ingredients.

SUMMARYCommercially prepared pizza is often high in calories and processed meats. Try finding a pizzeria that uses healthier ingredients or make your own at home.

5. Cookies and doughnuts

Cookies and doughnuts often contain high amounts of sugar, refined flour, and fat.

They’re also typically high in calories. For example, 1 large chocolate chip cookie can contain more than 220 calories, while a single glazed doughnut packs over 300 calories

When cravings strike, stick to one small serving rather than an entire packet of cookies or doughnuts. This allows you to enjoy these foods as an occasional treat while limiting your consumption of excess calories and sugar.

SUMMARYCookies and doughnuts are high in calories and sugar. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy them as an occasional treat and keep your portion sizes in check.

6. French fries and potato chips

French fries are a popular choice of snack or side, particularly when eating out.

An average serving of 4 ounces (117 grams) typically contains around 378 calories, making fries a high calorie food

Most commercially made french fries are also high in fat and salt — two palatable ingredients that increase the risk of overeating

What’s more, they’re often served alongside other high calorie foods like burgers or deep-fried fish. Many people also enjoy eating them with sauces like ketchup or mayonnaise that can be high in salt, sugar, and fat.

Combined, this means you’ll potentially eat a high number of calories in one sitting, which can increase your risk of gaining weight. In fact, several studies link eating french fries to weight gain

Similarly, potato chips are high in fat, refined carbs, and salt, and observational studies have associated them with weight gain

Instead of frying potatoes, you can boil or bake them before seasoning them with your favorite dried herbs and spices. If you’re also craving a dipping sauce, try making your own using unsweetened Greek yogurt and flavorings like chives, garlic, or smoked paprika.

SUMMARYFrench fries and potato chips are high in fat, refined carbs, and salt. Studies link both foods to weight gain. Instead, opt for boiled or baked potatoes for a more nutritious alternative.

7. Sugary breakfast cereals

Many types of breakfast cereal are loaded with calories and added sugar, with some varieties packing a whopping 13 grams of sugar per cup (36 grams). In other words, sugary cereal can consist of almost 40% added sugar

These cereals are also highly processed and refined, meaning that they’ve been stripped of much of the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains.

Some research suggests that swapping refined grains for whole grains could help prevent weight gain and improve diet quality

Fortunately, plenty of healthy low sugar and whole grain options are available, so you don’t need to give up cereal if you enjoy eating it for breakfast.

In fact, studies show that eating whole grain or high fiber breakfast cereals may be linked to a lower risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease

When shopping for cereal, be sure to check the label and steer clear of varieties high in added sugar. Choose minimally processed, whole grain cereals made with ingredients like oats or wheat bran. Suitable options typically include bran sticks or Bircher muesli.

SUMMARYMany varieties of breakfast cereal are high in calories and added sugar. Certain types are also highly refined, which could contribute to weight gain. Instead, opt for low sugar, whole grain varieties.

8. Chocolate

Dark chocolate has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved heart health and brain function

Still, it can be high in calories and fat. Plus, most commercially produced milk and white chocolate is high in added sugar. Overall, this means that chocolate, regardless of the type, can contribute to weight gain if you eat large quantities of it too often.

Therefore, it’s best to moderate your portion sizes and stick to around 1–2 ounces (30–60-grams) of chocolate per day to prevent weight gain.

If you struggle with moderation, keep in mind that dark chocolate may be easier to enjoy in moderation. It has been shown to increase feelings of fullness and reduce food intake later in the day, compared with milk chocolate or white chocolate

SUMMARYDark, milk, and white varieties of chocolate are high in fat and calories. The latter two types are typically also higher in added sugar. As such, chocolate could cause weight gain if eaten in large amounts too often.

9. Fruit juice

Although fruit juice is often seen as a healthy drink, most commercial brands contain just as much sugar as soda. Juice also lacks the fiber and other nutrients you’d get by eating whole fruits

Drinking excessive amounts of fruit juice has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, especially in children

As such, you should instead aim to quench your thirst with water. You can still enjoy the juicy, sweet flavor of fruit by enjoying them whole. This way, you also reap the benefits of their fiber and other nutrients.

If you do want to include fruit juice in your diet, be sure to choose unsweetened, 100% fruit juice whenever possible and keep an eye on your serving sizes. For children, it’s recommended to limit their intake to 4–6 ounces (100–130 mL) of fruit juice per day

SUMMARYFruit juice is high in sugar and low in fiber. Drinking excessive amounts has been linked to an increased risk of obesity. Instead, quench your thirst in water, and enjoy fruits whole rather than juiced.

10. Other commercially processed foods

Increased consumption of convenience food may be partially to blame for increased rates of obesity in many areas around the globe

While not all processed foods are unhealthy, many are high in calories, added sugar, fat, and sodium.

Furthermore, some studies have found that eating more processed foods could be linked to weight gain and decreased diet quality

In addition to the other foods listed in this article, other foods to keep an eye on include

  • Convenience meals: canned soup, fish sticks, frozen dinners, packaged meals
  • Sweets: granola bars, protein bars, pies, cookies, pastries, puddings
  • Savory snacks: crackers, chips, pretzels, microwave popcorn
  • Sweetened dairy products: flavored yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, milk-based drinks, frozen yogurt
  • Processed meats: hot dogs, deli meat, beef jerky, pepperoni, bologna, sausage, canned meat

Therefore, it’s important to read the food label carefully when purchasing processed foods and look for products that are low in calories, added sugar, and sodium.

Reducing your intake of processed foods could also improve your diet quality and make it much easier to maintain a moderate weight.

SUMMARYEating fewer processed foods high in added fat, sugar, and salt can improve your diet quality and help prevent weight gain.

11. Fast food

french fries on a tray with ketchup

Fast food is often considered a convenient and time-saving alternative to cooking at home.

However, most fast food items are highly processed and loaded with calories, fat, sodium, and added sugar.

For this reason, many studies have reported that eating fast food more frequently could be tied to an increased risk of obesity, along with other health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes (51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).

Ideally, limit your intake of high calorie fast food items, including:

  • burgers
  • tacos
  • burritos
  • pizza
  • fish and chips
  • mozzarella sticks
  • french fries
  • donuts
  • fried rice
  • chicken nuggets

Instead, aim to cook most of your meals at home and not eat fast food more than 1–2 times per week.

When you do swing by the drive-through, look for restaurants with healthier takeout options whenever possible, such as soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, or burrito bowls. Plus, aim to load up on the veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.

SUMMARYMany fast food items are high in calories, fat, added sugar, and sodium. Limiting your intake and choosing healthier options can help prevent weight gain.

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