5 “Bad” Foods That Actually Help With Weight Loss

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Certain foods have an unwarranted negative reputation. When people talk about these foods, they use words like “bad” and “weight gain”. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. No single food can cause weight gain or loss. Weight fluctuations occur as a result of your daily diet over time. 

As a matter of fact, these five “bad” foods may actually help with weight loss. Although the foods on this list can have an unhealthy stigma, they are full of protein and fiber, two nutrients that help facilitate weight loss. This article will look at six foods that are often looked down upon and prove why they can be part of a healthy diet.  

5 “Bad” Foods That Actually Help With Weight Loss

Believe it or not, many foods you may believe are off-limits can be part of a healthy eating pattern. Here are five “bad” foods that may help you reach your weight loss goals. 

1. Full-Fat Dairy

You’ve probably seen recommendations to include low-fat dairy in your daily eating pattern, but what about full-fat dairy, like whole milk, cheese or butter? These foods have more calories and fat than their lower-fat counterparts, but research suggests that including full-fat dairy may not affect weight. 

A 2020 review in Advances in Nutrition observed whether or not consuming whole-fat dairy products was linked to weight gain or body fat in children. The study authors did not find a link between consuming full-fat dairy and weight gain. Another 2020 review in Advanced in Nutrition summarized that eating full-fat dairy foods is not associated with an increased risk of obesity in children or adults. And although calorie concerns are higher among whole-milk drinkers, most Americans don’t consume the recommended 3 servings of dairy foods per day in the first place. 

Another concern about full-fat dairy is that it has more saturated fat than lower-fat versions. For reference, an 8-ounce serving of milk has 4.5 grams of saturated fat as compared to 1.4 grams in 8-ounces of 1% milk. Yet, research concludes full-fat dairy consumption does not negatively affect cardiometabolic risk factors or heart disease. In addition, fermented dairy foods, such as full-fat yogurt and cheese, may actually protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

2. Carb-Rich Grains 

Carbohydrate-forward grains, like pasta, bread and rice, are often thought of as “bad” foods that people should restrict. Although these grains are rich in carbohydrates, they can still be part of a healthy weight-loss diet. A 2022 review found no difference in weight loss results when people who were overweight followed a low-carbohydrate diet instead of a balanced-carbohydrate diet. Rather, the authors claim that the total calorie intake matters more for weight changes.

In addition, whole grain carbs, like brown rice and quinoa, are rich in fiber, a nutrient that helps regulate appetite and contributes to a healthy weight. 

3. Eggs 

Eggs are constantly under the spotlight because they are a cholesterol-containing food. But eating eggs does not directly impact cholesterol levels or heart disease risk, and eggs can be a healthy part of a weight loss plan. One large egg has just 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein, making it a balanced addition to the diet.

A 2023 review examined 32 controlled clinical trials and revealed that eating eggs did not significantly affect body weight. In addition, studies with calorie restriction and healthy subjects found that whole egg intake actually decreased body mass index (BMI). The study authors attribute these findings to the protein in the egg, which helps increase satiety and fullness.

4. Potatoes 

This starchy root veggie receives a lot of shade due to its high carb content. But, believe it or not, the type of starch in potatoes can help contribute to weight loss. Potatoes contain resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that “resists” digestion and controls appetite. A 2020 study found that eating potatoes suppressed appetite and reduced short-term food consumption. In addition, pairing potatoes with a protein-rich food increased satiety and reduced hunger. So go ahead and fill your potato with plenty of protein-rich foods, like beans, eggs, dairy or chicken, for a weight loss-friendly meal. 

5. Popcorn 

Some people may think of popcorn as a “bad” snack food, but it’s a healthy fiber-rich, low-calorie whole grain. One cup of air-popped popcorn has just 30 calories and 1 gram of fiber, making it a crunchy and satisfying low-calorie snack. Although there isn’t much research on the benefits of popcorn for weight loss, one study compared the short-term satiety from low-fat popcorn with potato chips and found that people who ate popcorn expressed less hunger, more satisfaction and said they ate less food overall.

But, when enjoying popcorn, be mindful of the other added ingredients. Additional flavors, like butter, caramel or chocolate, can add up to a lot of calories and fat that may not align as well with weight loss goals.  

The Bottom Line

Although you may think a certin food is “bad” for weight loss, perception doesn’t always match reality. Foods like potatoes, popcorn, eggs and rice can be part of a healthy weight-loss diet. It’s also important to remember that one food cannot make or break your weight loss goals or healthy eating regimen. Think of the diet as a whole and include a variety of whole foods with fiber and protein to keep you full and satisfied.

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