1. Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is glucose derived from corn, in the same way that table sugar is the powdered form of glucose derived from sugar cane.
In animal studies done at Princeton University, rats that drank a corn syrup and water solution gained weight, while rats in another group drank a sugar and water solution and did not gain weight, even though both groups had the same amount of food.
The corn syrup solution the rats consumed was half as potent as soda. Not only did these rats gain weight, they developed metabolic syndrome, a precursor for obesity.
If you must reach for soda, grab a corn syrup-free option like Pepsi Throwback or Mexican Coke. There are also lots of natural sodas on the market.
You could also try sparkling water with a bit of lemon and/or lime.
Splenda has been shown in studies to decrease the beneficial bacteria living in our gut, leading to adverse health effects and weight gain.
Instead use Stevia, which is derived from a dried leaf, or just go without. Even a teaspoon of sugar has only 15 calories — not really enough to derail your diet progress if you stick to a modest amount.
3. Trans Fats
Because saturated fats (coconut oil, butter, etc.) tend to be more expensive, food manufacturers have found a way to take cheap vegetable oils and make them behave like saturated fats by adding more hydrogen molecules to them.
These fats “confuse” our bodies because they are neither saturated nor unsaturated, so it doesn’t know how to process them.
Trans fats end up raising our bad cholesterol while simultaneously lowering our good cholesterol, a double whammy of bad health effects. In addition, they can clog arteries, leading to an increase in stroke and heart disease risk factors.
Trans fats are found mainly in processed foods, but they can lurk anywhere, so read the labels!
4. Water Enhancers/Enhanced Waters
There are a number of products on supermarket shelves designed to make water taste like juice. MiO Liquid Water Enhancer comes in flavors like Berry Pomegranate and Black Cherry, and vitaminwater hides it flavors behind attractive action verbs like “revive” (which really means fruit punch).
Unfortunately, these supposedly vitamin-packed versions of water are about as far as you can get from good ol’ H20.
MiO has sucralose (an artificial sweetener), preservatives, and artificial colorings. Vitaminwater’s “energy” has 32 g of sugar, as well as quite a few ingredients that you definitely don’t find in water normally (ah, the thirst-quenching goodness of gum acacia).
These products may contain important vitamins, but they also contain plenty of unhealthy ingredients, too. Stick to regular water and focus on getting vitamins from whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
Producers of non-dairy creamers seem to replace the lactose in regular creamers with a scary amount of chemicals, preservatives, and other ingredients that should never be a part of your diet. The first two ingredients in Coffee-mate Original are corn syrup solids and trans fat — that says it all right there. There are also multisyllabic ingredients that purportedly “moderate coffee acidity” and “prevent oil separation.” Isn’t creamer just supposed to make your coffee, well, creamier? Rather than non-dairy creamer, pour a little half-and-half into your next cup of joe; it’s bound to taste better than this chemical powder. If you’re lactose intolerant, there are numerous non-dairy creamers made with soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and so forth.