Surprising List of 10 UNHEALTHY Foods for Weight Loss

You’re trying to eat healthy, yet somehow the weight just won’t seem to come off without feeling more deprived, and needing to exercise more and more, just to see any weight loss.

[box type=”note”]SURPRISE! Here are 10 foods you have been told are healthy but you should consider replacing with better alternatives if you are serious about weight loss.[/box]

First, This Important Message:

As you read this list please understand that some of these foods have been proven to offer excellent HEALTH BENEFITS, but, for various reasons they HARM dieters efforts at weight loss and therefore are NOT HEALTHY FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

In other words, in every case, there are better choices out there than can produce plenty of health benefits while HELPING your weight loss efforts.

Where Did This List Come From?

This list is based upon working with 100’s of dieters in the last 30+ months of all shapes and sizes. Finding alternatives with similar health benefits to the foods on this list has not harmed anyone’s health (verified by doctor’s results in many cases, including people with heart issues and diabetics) and has resulted in consistent weight loss.


Of course, if you love any of these foods, occasionally eating these “unhealthy for weight loss foods” in small portions is okay–just like any other junk food that can harm your weight loss efforts.


THE Surprising List of 10 UNHEALTHY Foods for Weight Loss

1. Cheese

High calorie and high fat. Hard to digest and metabolize for many.

2. Nuts

High calorie and high fat – very hard to control portions

3. Granola or Trail Mix

Insanely high calories, carbs and often high fat too.

4. Avocados

So many better fruit and vegetable choices with equal or greater nutritional value.

5. Salad with add ons and any regular dressing

The add ons to most salads (like croutons and bacon or ham) as well as the insane calories and high fat of most dressings make most salads horrible for weight loss and health. On the other hand, a spinach, broccoli and tomato vegetable salad with balsamic vinegar is most definitely healthy for weight loss!

6. Diet Soda, Tea and Flavored Water

The artificial sweeteners in these do far more to make you fat by increasing your appetite which negates any benefits the low calories can offer.[1]

“Human research must rely on subjective ratings and voluntary dietary control. Rodent models helped elucidate how artificial sweeteners contribute to energy balance. Rats conditioned with saccharin supplement had significantly elevated total energy intake and gained more weight with increased body adiposity compared to controls conditioned with glucose.”

7. Smoothies

There are RARE exceptions here but most are very high calorie and high carb, and they will not satisfy hunger as well as an equivalent amount of food in a meal.

8. Whole Wheat Breads and Pastas

The high carbs and calories are simply too much for the benefits they offer, so they have to be considered unhealthy for weight loss. Plus, the final nail in the coffin is that you almost never eat bread and pasta on their own. Toppings like butter, cheese, meat sauce, peanut butter, jams and the like ensure whole wheat bread and pastas fate as unhealthy. They are a great treat though!

9. Peanut Butter

Look at the nutritional profile. High calories, high fat AND not all that low in carbs either. Peanut butter might be one of the best weight GAINING foods around.

And last but certainly not least, the most controversial “unhealthy” food available today:


I can hear the screaming all the way from the Mediterranean now. Oilve Oil is SO HEALTHY FOR YOUR HEART! Studies have proven this over and over! Great, olive oil is good for your heart. But, so are a LOT of other foods like oat bran, vegetables and lean fish and they don’t have 120 calories of PURE FAT PER TABLESPOON!

One study found that a low-fat, high fiber diet was more effective for promoting weight loss in patients with diabetes than a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).  Olive Oil contains approximately 75% MUFAs. [2]

[box type=”note”]Instead of the foods on this list, focus on lean proteins, vegetables and a high fiber diet along with plenty of water, and use the incredible number of calories, carbs and fats you save from the above list to have an occasional treat that you really love, and you’ll find weight loss and optimal health can be a lot easier than you ever thought possible.[/box]


  1. Yang Q. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010 Jun;83(2):101-8. Review.
  2. Gerhard GT, Ahmann A, Meeuws K, McMurry MP, Duell PB, Connor WE. Effects of a low-fat diet compared with those of a high-monounsaturated fat diet on body weight, plasma lipids and lipoproteins, and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):668-73.

Jon Pearlstone

Jon Pearlstone, aka Mr. EET, is an International Fitness Consultant, Certified Personal Trainer and the Founder of the Eating and Exercise Timing (EET) Fitness Plan. EET is a diet and exercise plan that focuses on improving your metabolism through proper Eating, Activity and Exercise TIMING to match your body's natural metabolic cycle. EET allows you to eat without food restrictions or calorie counting, and to exercise less than 30 minutes per session, while achieving significant weight loss and improved fitness. The goal of EET is to end yo-yo dieting and short term exercise success by focusing on helping you build a sustainable plan for your lifestyle. This creates PERMANENT weight loss and fitness for people rather than the short term hype of "hot" plans like P90x or The Insanity Workout. Any questions can be sent to [email protected]

15 thoughts on “Surprising List of 10 UNHEALTHY Foods for Weight Loss

  • October 21, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I’ve lost 60 pounds eating all of these, with the exception of smoothies, granola, and diet soda. Do you know what was awful for fat loss for me? Low-fat eating. Moderate/high fat worked much better. As for bread and pasta, just make it whole wheat or whole grain (real grains, not just colored to look it). You won’t overeat that. I think the low-fat way of eating is a trainwreck, nutritionally, I couldn’t lose weight and I was miserable. Come on, this isn’t the 80’s anymore, get with the time.

  • August 22, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Lies. Avocados and nuts are healthy (and organic peanut butter if it is low-sodium is too). High fat is not bad, it’s all about portion control. If you do activities high in cardiovascular stress and eat a low fat diet you are more prone to heart disease and your skin cannot maintain proper barrier function. Basically you will look older and you are more likely to die younger. this is a little irresponsible for a health instructor to post. Dieting and weight loss is not equivalent to health, and to imply that something high in healthy fats should be shied away from is a terrible, unhealthy attitude.

    • August 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts — not sure you caught my first paragraph though:

      “As you read this list please understand that some of these foods have been proven to offer excellent HEALTH BENEFITS, but, for various reasons they HARM dieters efforts at weight loss and therefore are NOT HEALTHY FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

      and just a paragraph below that is this:


      Of course, if you love any of these foods, occasionally eating these “unhealthy for weight loss foods” in small portions is okay–just like any other junk food that can harm your weight loss efforts.”

      So I agreed they are healthy, and they can can be eaten in moderation, they are just not conducive to WEIGHT LOSS vs other options.

      In other words, in every case, there are better choices out there than can produce plenty of health benefits while HELPING your weight loss efforts.”

      So not sure why you would ignore those very clear statements.

      I stand behind this list completely — please email me at [email protected] and let me connect you with dozens of EET’s diabetic clients who were morbidly obese because many health experts keep implying that you won’t get fat eating healthy fats without clearly explaining that you really can’t eat very much healthy fat without gaining weight.

      EET’s clients haven’t just lost weight moderating their healthy fats–they are MUCH healthier — happy to prove it to you–just drop me a line, and thank you again for sharing your views!

  • January 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Jon,

    Your post elicited a response from the National Peanut Board:

    “Dear Editor of Hive Health Media,

    I am writing in response to Jon Pearlstone’s article “Surprising List of 10 Unhealthy Foods for Weight Loss” published on Hive Health Media’s website which lists nuts and peanut butter, saying they cause weight gain.

    However, peanuts and peanut butter are great foods for weight management.

    Peanuts provide over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients and are a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. Peanuts and peanut butter contain protein, fiber and good fats which all aid in satiety and maintaining a healthy weight.

    A Harvard supervised weight loss study showed that a moderate-fat diet, which included several nuts and peanut butter, resulted in greater and more sustained weight loss than similar subjects on a low-fat diet. In addition, patients on the nut and peanut butter diet were more likely to remain compliant after 18 months.

    Peanut butter is often recommended as a food source for a weight loss diet. Here is an article by Men’s Health, one of the leading health & fitness magazines, providing good reasons to keep peanut butter in your
    diet: Peanut Butter Diet

    -Lindsay Spencer,

    Marketing and Communications Specialist | National Peanut Board

    • January 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Hey Jarret

      I was also sent this letter–here was my reply:


      Thanks for the note.

      I was very clear in the article that many of these foods are healthy in many ways, their benefits simply do not outweigh the costs when it comes to WEIGHT LOSS.

      The main problem with the nuts and peanut butter you represent is they ARE TOO GOOD! Almost no one can limit themselves to the portions that would allow for weight loss using a conventional diet. Add to that the fact that people constantly mix nuts and peanut butter with high carb items which is not good for weight loss from a metabolic timing standpoint.

      For example, peanut butter on a low carb tortilla eaten at dinner, is MUCH BETTER FOR WEIGHT LOSS than peanut butter eaten on high carb whole wheat bread as an after dinner snack. EVEN IF THE CALORIES EATEN AT DINNER ARE HIGHER!

      That said, I eat plenty of nuts (almonds and honey roasted peanuts especially) and peanut butter and LOVE THEM BOTH. The key in my plan The EET (Eating and Exercise TIMING) Fitness Plan is to know the best TIMES to eat these foods where they best work with your bodies natural metabolic cycle.

      So rest assured that all of my clients eat nuts and/or peanut butter almost every day–just at the right times! With EET, there are no healthy or unhealthy foods, only foods eaten at the wrong TIMES.

      You can learn more about my EET plan at

      Thanks again for writing.

      EET Fitness

  • January 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Great post! I particularly like how you still acknowledge the healthy factor of many of these foods, like avocadoes and olive oil, but they really are a little more high in fat than a dieter truly wants.

    Another thing to consider is the possibility of being soy, casein, or gluten intolerant. No matter what I did, I was completely unable to lose weight no matter what I did, how many calories I cut, how hard I worked at the gym. Nothing worked! When I found out I had Celiac Disease, I switched to a gluten-free diet and in the first month I dropped 30 pounds with no effort (no joke!). It was my body’s inability to process food and the malnutrition that was forcing it to hold onto every calorie it took in.

    Just a thought!

    • January 21, 2011 at 7:41 am


      What a great comment! You are more living proof that the answers for sustainable weight loss are out there nearly everyone, if they have an open mind and are willing to LEARN, not struggle and suffer and rely on willpower they don’t have!

      I am hopeful someday the experts and skeptics out there will understand that deprivation based conventional dieting and exercise you hate is a horrible way to lose weight for most people AND I DON’T CARE if you use EET, I just want people to be happy and find the easiest most sustainable way to lose weight that works for them!

      Congrats on your success and I would love for you to write a blog post of your weight loss experience for EET’s Blog if you are interested–how you tried everything and how you came upon your success. If interested please contact me at [email protected]

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, you made my day!

  • January 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    If you are targeting not only a good shape body but also good health taking natural weight loss supplements will really help you. A large number of people getting obese due to lack of exercise and bad eating habits. Because of this increasing number of obese people natural weight loss pill are becoming popular.I decided to take natural weight loss pill for I believe it is not as risky as other program. And taking weight loss herbs helps me with my goal of loosing weight.

  • Pingback: Myth Busted: 10 UNHEALTHY Foods for Weight Loss that will surprise you. « The EET Fitness Plan: EET's Blog

  • January 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Hey Susan

    You’re right on target as far as my weight loss experience are concerned.

    I’ll actually many of these foods too, but they are limited treats for me, and of course with EET, I am extra careful to only have these foods during the right time of day where my metabolism can best handle them.

    As I developed and tested EET, The more I substituted for these foods, the more weight I lost, and this has held true for every other EETer as well.

    But, like you, people can eat 5 of these and be very successful in their weight loss efforts. People shouldn’t just eliminate any food they love entirely. A lot of the list are great tasting or have other health benefits so it’s not sensible to eliminate them entirely just because they don’t help weight loss.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  • January 16, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Jon,

    This is quite a surprising list. Surprising to me because some of the foods on the list, I thought were healthy. Like nuts…2 ounces of nuts a day, should be okay. But I do agree portion control can be an issue for some.

    Also with smoothies, the high calorie and high carbs come into play when a person adds a lot of fruit and adding other things to sweeten the smoothie. They can add low carb fruits like berries. I’ve found that when I add a protein powder, like hemp that I don’t get as hungry so fast and adding greens to the smoothie also helps.

    Very interesting!


    • January 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm


      Great comments and ideas to make these foods better “metabolic bargains” as EET likes to call them.

      Thanks for reading! I’m a big fan of your posts and blog.


      • January 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

        Hi Jon,

        Thanks and I’m glad you’re a fan. ;)


    • January 18, 2011 at 10:18 am

      Nuts are healthy. They are just really high in calories. Two ounces of dry-roasted almonds, for instance, has 334 calories.

      Those two ounces of nuts do have 12 grams of protein, but two cups of oatmeal has 332 calories and 12 grams of protein, plus 2 more grams of fiber than the nuts.

      Plus, if you eat two whole cups of oatmeal for breakfast, it’s a pretty good bet you won’t be hungry until lunchtime. That is a _lot_ of food.


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