Whether you’ve got big fitness goals, you want to get shredded or just want to feel fitter and healthier, sometimes the path to losing weight is filled with guessing games.
But if you’ve been asking yourself what foods will make you gain weight, or you’ve found yourself hitting the treadmill with no results, then don’t worry; below, we’ve created a list of sneaky things that make you gain weight without you realizing. So read on to smash through your goals and punch through your personal bests.
Unsure what foods will make you gain weight? Well, check out our extensive list…
Grazing when you’re not hungry
Many of us get caught in the trap of thinking that eating smaller meals or grazing on healthy snacks, like nuts or raw veg with dip, whilst we’re doing something else is better for us. But in fact, this mindless eating means that you’re way more likely to gain weight and eat more calories than you would if you were paying attention.
For example, nuts have a healthy reputation as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats. The catch is that the serving size is much smaller than many of us realize. Did you know that 24 almonds are one serving? Make sure to count them out or eat them in pre-packaged containers to avoid over-grazing.
If you’ve found yourself asking: do grits make you gain weight? Or can I have butter whilst on a diet? The key to remember is moderation. Aim for three balanced meals and a small snack each day. This also helps you maintain proper portion sizes and ensure you’re not eating too much or too little in one go.
Overindulging in diet food and drinks
The jury is out on this one because even though lots of diet drinks and foods are calorie-free or low calorie… is anything ever really free?
A growing body of scientific evidence has shown that those who regularly opt for diet foods and drinks are more likely to be obese and put on weight over time. Fat-free foods and drinks tend to be packed with sneaky sugars or additives that slowly build up over time. So when you think you’re doing the right thing… You could actually be consuming more sugars.
Cutting out carbs
When we’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to get laser-focused on reducing one input, whether it’s sugar, carbs, or fat.
Many diets encourage you to cut out carbs altogether, but this might be working against you. Although the anti-carb bandwagon has been around for some time now, cutting carbs out can actually affect your body’s production of T3, a hormone in your thyroid that’s responsible for your metabolism.
Make sure to stock up on (the right!) carbs post-workout and instead of focusing on calories burnt whilst you’re exercising, focus on the ‘afterburn’ and the calories that you’ll be burning even whilst you’re resting. Remember, we need a mix of carbs, protein, and fat to function at our best.
Another one of those things that will make you gain weight is skipping meals. By skipping meals, you’re throwing your metabolism out of whack and encouraging it to hold onto everything you’ve ever eaten because it doesn’t know when the next source of energy will come along.
You might feel like you’re doing the right thing, but as soon as that next meal comes your body is going to hold onto it for dear life.
We all love a good deal, especially if you’re a regular member of Costco or Sam’s Club. However, unless you’re strict on portion control, family bags and wholesale size packs are more likely to make you binge and over-eat. Make sure to break the large packs down into smaller portioned containers to keep your grazing in check.
Similarly, avoid eating from the bag. It’s so easy to grab one handful of chips and then another, and then another… Instead, grab a small bowl and measure out a portion and keep your diet going.
Fighting against food waste doesn’t count in calories… right?
Whether it’s finishing off the last of the kids’ dinners to stop it going to waste or eating the few broken crackers or biscuits at the bottom of the box, these extra mouthfuls all add up to extra calories over time.
Overindulging on whole grains
Whole grains are healthy, right? Whole wheat pasta, brown rice and quinoa are all good for you? Well, sure. They’re much more beneficial than refined and white grains.
However, you can have too much of a good thing, and these can all add a hefty number of extra calories to your day if you’re not careful. Limit yourself to a 1-cup serving of whole wheat grains and balance your meal with plenty of veggies and some lean protein.
Too much avocado toast
Over the last few years, we’ve all seen the rise in avocados as the ideal healthy fat. And it’s true. Avocados have a massive amount of nutrients as well heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
However, they’re also incredibly calorie-dense. An average avocado has 322 calories and around 30g of fat – a whopping 45% of the daily recommended amount of fat. Stick to about a fifth of an avocado per serving.
Overeating avocados and calorie-dense fats like it are unfortunately some of those things that will make you gain weight fast.
You go light on the butter but overdo it on oil
If this is you… well, you tried. When you’re eating out, telling a professional chef to go light on the butter, mayo or dip probably doesn’t mean the same to them as it does to you. Your best bet is to request any condiments on the side and use them sparingly (if at all).
We all use much more oil when cooking than we realize, with every tablespoon adding 120 calories to our meal. When cooking at home, if you’re sauteing your fish and veggies, that’s great. However, if you’re pouring from a larger bottle of oil, then that’s not so great. Instead, grab a spray-bottled oil to restrict the number of calories that you’re needlessly adding to your food.
Plus, if you’re one of those who opt to dip their bread in olive oil instead of spreading on butter because it’s healthier, then, unfortunately, we’re here to break the news to you: oil is higher in calories than butter.
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Sweet smoothies and green drinks
Smoothies and green drinks made from veg seem fantastic because there’s so much good stuff packed in, but did you know they’re also filled with calories? They can spike your blood sugar, causing it to drop down leaving you in a crash.
Plus, think about it – your average juice or smoothie might have a ton of fruit and veg packed in, but how often would you sit down and eat a banana, half a mango, an apple, and a cup of grapes in one sitting?
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Set yourself up for success, make sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with foods that you like, are healthy and keep you full and satisfied. Otherwise, it’s 6pm, you’re hungry, and with nothing easy to prepare, it’ll be minutes before you’re reaching for that takeout menu… and this is one of those sure-fire things that will make you gain weight fast.
Also Read: 5 Testosterone Killing Foods to Avoid
Similarly, if you’re relying on willpower to help you to swerve the donuts or muffins at your next meeting, then you might be fooling yourself. To lose weight or avoid putting it on, you need to set yourself a plan.
Unwinding with an ice cold beer
At the end of the week, sometimes all we want is a nice tall glass of something cold to celebrate the weekend. You probably know that beers are calorie-dense and can lead to beer belly.
But did you know that even low-cal beers can quickly add up and will make you gain weight?
Choosing an unhealthy dip on the side
Eating raw veggies like carrots or celery with ranch might seem like a healthy snack. But that ranch is packed with calories. Opt for a lighter dip like hummus instead, which packs in some protein and fiber.
Similarly, eating apple sticks with peanut or almond butter can quickly add up to lots of calories – each tablespoon of peanut butter is roughly 110 calories.
You reward exercise with a treat
We’ve all been there. Whether it’s grabbing a smoothie at the café at the gym on our way out or later in the day, believing that we deserve the sweet treat because of the gym session this morning. Often the reward will add more calories than we worked off.
Therefore, rewarding exercise with a treat is likely to leave you with weight gain and further from your goals.
Plus, what exercise are you doing? If you’re only hitting the treadmill or the elliptical, although aerobic exercise is vital for burning calories, you’re not going to see the weight loss that you desire. For actual results and boosting your metabolism, you’re going to need strength training. Find out how to get leaner, stronger and faster.
If losing weight or toning up was easy, we’d probably all be ripped. However, these fad diets might give us short-term solutions and some quick weight loss, but once you finish the cleanse or diet, then you’ll just regain the weight.
Calories vs calorie density
Which will make you feel fuller: a box of raisins or a large cup of grapes? Both are about 130 calories.
If you guess the cup of grapes, then you’re right. To feel comfortable, satisfied, and full up on fewer calories, you need to choose foods high in water and fiber. Add foods with a lot of water and protein, like low-fat yoghurt and egg whites, to bulk up your nutrition and eat less without getting hungry.
Variety is the spice of life, except…
When you’re trying to lose weight, too much variety is one of those sneaky things that will make you gain weight because it’s hard to stick to portions and cut the calories. Sometimes too many options can open the gates to overindulging and make it hard to curb calories.
You don’t need to eat the same thing every day but keeping one meal the same each day, like breakfast or your snacks, will make it easier to avoid overeating.
Foods that seem like the healthy option
For example, that salad you’ve gone for – by the time it’s topped with avo, cheese, nuts, and dressing, it can quickly add 1,000+ calories to your day.
If you’re a big fan of protein bars or shakes, unless you’re using them to replace a meal, then watch out. They contain around 200-250 calories per serving which is way more than you need as a snack and can quickly add up.
Veggie chips are another food that seems like a healthy option, but often there’s not much actual veg in these and can contain just as much processed potato as regular chips.
Another sneaky thing that will make you gain weight is switching to gummy vitamins from regular vitamins. Sure, they’re not packed with calories, but they have more than traditional vitamins, and they’re all sugar calories, causing weight gain slowly but surely.
Are you getting enough sleep?
What does getting in some good quality z’s have to do with weight loss? Well, not sleeping enough makes you crave high carb/fat comfort foods. Plus, sleep deprivation can mess with your hunger hormones through the day, making you vulnerable to binging at night.
Like sleep deprivation, stress is another thing that will make you gain weight. Part of the problem is turning to comfort foods, but chronic stress also contributes to elevated hormone levels that cause inflammation and leads to you packing on the pounds.
How accurate are your taste buds?
We all have our individual preferences, but when you start to overeat certain foods and gain weight, your taste buds start to dull, so you’ll start adding more sugar or salt to your foods to dial up the flavor.
Try scaling back slowly, have less sugar in your morning coffee or limit your salt-rich foods.
Sometimes, it’s not even about how much food you eat or the amount of exercising you’re doing, but it comes down to an underlying condition. If you’ve suddenly found yourself carrying an extra 5/10 pounds and you’re feeling tired, constipated or have dry skin, then your thyroid could be out of whack. See your healthcare provider to get your thyroid hormone levels checked out.
Additionally, antidepressants and blood pressure meds are known for causing you to put on a few pounds too. If you’re worried about your weight and think one of these tablets might be making you gain weight, speak to your doctor.
Where you live
Some more things that will make you gain weight are all about where you live. For example, if you live in a smoggy city, it’s not only bad for your lungs, but the congestion could also be causing weight gain. Whilst you probably can’t move home, try investing in an air purifier for your home.
Also Read: 10 Incredible Testosterone Boosting Foods
Unfortunately, living out in the ‘burbs doesn’t make you automatically fitter. Research has shown that those who live out in the suburbs are also likely to struggle with their weight as they rely heavily on cars for getting around.
Try getting a fitness tracker to see how much you’re doing each day.
Bright nights and dark days
Much research has been done around how exposure to blue light and screens can mess with your sleep, but did you know it also messes with your metabolism? According to research from Northwestern, bright lights can also slow your metabolism encouraging your body to hold onto fat for longer. However, the good news is that a dimmer switch can help.
Alternatively, too much artificial light and not enough natural light during the day can cause Vitamin D deficiencies and encourage your cells to store more fat. Make sure you get outside to see the sun for at least a few minutes each day.
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