Some foods that seem diet-friendly-like turkey burgers, granola, yogurt, and more-are shockingly high in calories and fat. Here's how to skirt six common fat traps.
1. Flavored Yogurt
Brace yourself for culture shock. Plain yogurt naturally contains about 16 grams of sugar per cup. But if you eat flavored yogurt, you could be downing 15 or more additional grams of sugar, which is like shoveling in four extra teaspoonfuls.
What to eat instead: Choose plain, low-fat yogurt and stir in a teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, or all-fruit spread for a hint of sweetness. Or opt for fat-free Greek yogurt, which is lower in sugar than even regular plain yogurt but often has double the protein to keep you satisfied longer.
2. Sugar-Free Cookies and Candy
Don't fall for the no-sugar scam: When manufacturers remove the sweet stuff, they often add fat. One popular brand offers chocolate-chip cookies that each contain 160 calories and 9 grams of fat, so why not eat the real thing? You might save calories with sugar-free candy, but many contain sorbitol, which can cause bloating and diarrhea.
What to eat instead: Get your cookie fix with graham crackers, which have almost a teaspoon less sugar per serving than many other packaged cookies. Or find a 100-calorie snack pack of your favorite (try Keebler Fudge Shoppe Mini Fudge Stripes). Taking a trip to candy land? Grab a 60-calorie Tootsie Pop or a York Peppermint Pattie (140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat).
3. Trail Mix
Store-bought versions of this hiking staple should take a hike. A 1-ounce handful of banana chips packs 10 grams of fat (they're usually deep-fried), and yogurt-covered raisins are coated with partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, which contains saturated and trans fats.
What to eat instead: Toss your own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit (raisins or chopped apricots), whole-grain cereal, mini pretzels, and a few chocolate chips. Limit your portion to one cup.
4. Veggie Chips
The rainbow-hued chips are no better than their potato counterparts. While both may boast a little vitamin A or C, your hips won't know the difference: The salty snacks have about 150 calories and 9 or 10 grams of fat per handful. And that bag may contain plain old chips in disguise; sometimes manufacturers simply add food coloring to potato flour.
What to eat instead: Be sure your chips list a vegetable, not potato flour or corn flour, as the first ingredient (we like Terra Chips) and stick with just one portion. Or skip them in favor of baked tortilla chips: Pair a serving (about 12 chips) with 1/2 cup of salsa; you'll quell your crunch craving and get a full serving of veggies with only 153 nearly fat-free calories.
Pancakes drowned in syrup, eggs swimming in hollandaise sauce -- is there a healthy option on the brunch menu? Granola seems harmless, but it's no breakfast of champions. One cup contains up to 560 calories and 28 grams of fat before you add milk.
What to eat instead: Reluctant to give up that sweet, nutty taste? Skip granola at restaurants, where you can't control your portion. Enjoy it at home by mixing a quarter cup into a cup of low-cal, whole-grain cereal, such as All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes, or sprinkle a tablespoon on oatmeal.
6. Ground Turkey
It seems like a no-brainer for burgers and lasagna, but ground turkey often includes fat and skin. A 3-ounce serving can contain 13 grams of fat -- almost triple the amount in lean ground beef. With 40-plus percent of your day's worth of cholesterol, regular ground chicken is no better.
What to eat instead: Look closely at labels. Extra-lean turkey is your best bet, with 1 gram of fat and no saturated fat per serving. Can't find it? Buy at least 92 percent lean ground beef.
-- Sally Kuzemchak, RD
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Burn more calories! Pick up the July/August issue of FITNESS magazine (on newsstands now) for 10 new ways to boost your metabolism.