From an early age, we’re led to believe that fruits and vegetables can do no wrong and should thus be consumed in vast quantities in order for us to stay healthy. Indeed, many of us will remember being ordered to finish up all our greens, and wondering how on earth we were going to squeeze in five pieces of fruit each day.
But there are some fruits and vegetables that may also lead to weight gain and are best avoided if you’re aiming to lose a few pounds.
“Although it would be difficult to get fat on a vegetable-based diet, if you’re looking to burn body fat, not all vegetables are as beneficial as others – as some have a higher calorie count,” says Chris Hall, founder of Hall Training Systems.
In addition, some vegetables have a far higher GI – glycaemic index – than others. We found out the worst fruit and vegetables for your waistline.
1. Beans and legumes
“These contain a lot of protein and have a high-nutrient density. One cup of lentils has 227 calories, compared to broccoli with just 31 – so if you are on a limited calorie diet, you would need to watch your intake of these vegetables,” advises Hall.
According to Fresh Fitness Food’s Nutritional Expert, Emma Rose, this starchy vegetable has a high glycaemic index, which raises your blood sugar levels, resulting in a drop in glucose levels after only a few hours and leaving you feeling hungry quicker.
According to Elouise Bauskis, a nutritionist at NutriCentre, the much-loved potato is perhaps the worst vegetable for those watching their weight. Very high in starch and carbohydrates, excessive consumption can lead to weight gain over time.
A nutrient alternative would be low-calorie broccoli, which contains more vitamin C but fewer calories, or even sweet potatoes, which have a lower glycaemic load (GL).
Technically a fruit, this creamy and delicious addition to any meal is surprisingly calorific, with a large avocado containing a whopping 332 calories. So if you're watching the calories closely, this is perhaps one to avoid.
5. Dried fruit
This is far more calorie-dense than fresh fruit, so by adding even a small amount to liven up your muesli, yoghurt or salads, you may be adding more calories to your meal than you think.
6. Passion fruit
Fruits that generally taste sweeter are high in sugars, which can lead to a drop in glucose levels and leave you feeling hungry quicker.
What are the alternatives?
1. Cauliflower, broccoli and kale
These are all low-starch foods and can leave you feeling fuller for longer while regulating your blood sugar levels.
2. Cooked carrots
“If you’re trying to increase your vegetable intake at the same time as losing body fat, try choosing vegetables with high levels of dietary fibre. These foods will make you feel full without bumping up your calorie intake too much. Cooked carrots contain nearly 4 grams of soluble fibre per cup,” says Hall.
According to Rose, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries can leave you feeling fuller for longer and are packed with antioxidants to boost your intake of vitamins. This should keep you from reaching for unhealthy snacks!
This super-fruit can help speed up your metabolism and help you burn those extra calories.