Inflammatory Foods to Avoid to Lose Weight and Optimize Your Health
If you’ve crafted weight loss goals for yourself, incorporated healthy habits, even prioritized exercise, but still aren’t seeing results, you’re not alone. What we mean by that is that many individuals who put forth an effort to lose weight and optimize their health are missing out on something that can be fundamental to making progress and shedding pounds—and it has everything to do with inflammatory foods.
Let’s start with the question of chronic inflammation. What is it and why is it so important in the discussion of weight loss?
As a naturally triggered response to fight an invader, inflammation can be likened to our body’s front line. When something potentially harmful makes it through, our body reacts by creating an environment that works to eliminate the danger and repair the damage. Though this is the basis of a response to a virus, infection, or injury, inflammation caused by inflammatory foods causes an incessant inflammatory response that can lead to weight gain, obesity, and other health-related diseases.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, make it a priority to check your diet and eliminate these inflammatory foods.
9 Foods That Can Cause Inflammation
- Fried Foods—A staple of many diets, foods like french fries, onion rings, and fried chicken are among the top of the list of inflammatory foods to avoid to lose weight. In addition to being fried in inflammation-causing vegetable oils, fried foods also contain something called advanced glycation end products or AGEs. These AGEs are quick to negatively affect weight loss efforts with their inflammation-causing properties. Make it a point to avoid these foods to keep these negative consequences and unwanted weight gain at bay.
- Trans Fats—Processed foods and packaged treats contain high levels of trans fats that can contribute to chronic inflammation and damage to the cells surrounding our blood vessels. As artificial, hydrogenated oils, trans fats create an inflammatory reaction in our body because of their unnatural nature. In other words, because trans fats are not a naturally-occurring component found in food, our bodies are at a loss regarding how to process them and put them to use. This leads to a negative reaction that can cause undesirable weight gain and frustration on our weight loss journey.
- Sugary Foods—As one of the biggest foods to avoid to lose weight, high-sugar foods seem to be everywhere. From sodas and candy bars to pastries and sugar-filled juices, sugar can wreak havoc on weight loss efforts. When our bodies are unable to process the large amounts of sugar that come in, the number of inflammatory messengers called cytokines begin to increase. Instead of sugary food choices, opt for healthy fats, fiber, and protein-rich foods that provide your body with the proper fuel. For special occasions or those moments when you can’t seem to kick the sweet tooth, you can go after treats that utilize only natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup.
- Fast Food—Another food to avoid to lose weight is often the choice that is the quickest, simplest, and most convenient. However, as quick and convenient as it may be, fast food can contain dangerous toxins that can upset our hormone levels and draw us further away from our weight loss goals. Along with toxins, fast food favorites also typically contain trans fats, vegetable oils, and processed meats – all of which have a spot on our list of inflammatory foods to avoid. In order to avoid consuming fast food, make time to pack healthy snacks that can be taken on the go or to meal prep for a busy day ahead.
- Artificial Sweeteners—Though artificial sweeteners may be a tempting alternative when compared to their refined sugar counterparts, the truth is that they can damage our bodies by causing an imbalance of good and harmful bacteria in our gut. Because beneficial bacteria is linked to the release of anti-inflammatory molecules, disrupting our gut balance can lead to weight gain and a chronic inflammatory response. In addition to that, our bodies inability to process the artificial sweeteners can also lead to a release of cytokines, a molecule that promotes inflammation.
- Vegetable Oils—Vegetable oils like soy, corn, safflower, palm, and sunflower oil have high concentrations of omega-6, which are recognized for their inflammatory properties. Foods like crackers, potato chips, salad dressings, and condiments should be double-checked for their nutritional value and vegetable oil content. Opting for choices that are made with healthier alternatives and incorporating more omega-3 rich-foods, which are known for their anti-inflammatory capacities, can help you get on the right track. Healthier alternatives include avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Refined Flour—Commonly found in white bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals, refined flour is another food to avoid to lose weight. Because refined flours are lacking in fiber and nutrients, our body processes them more quickly when compared to non-refined carbohydrate alternatives. This can spike our blood sugar levels and increase the concentration of inflammatory compounds in our body, which can ultimately prevent us from losing weight and reaching our weight loss goals.
- Processed Meats—While we’re quick to turn to meats like bacon, cured salami, and jerky as high-protein snacks, the truth is that processed meats often contain high levels of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, all of which are considered foreign objects upon entering our body. Additionally, advanced glycation end products, also known as AGEs, are a common ingredient found in processed meats and are linked to inflammation.
- Excessive Alcohol—Though some studies show one glass of wine has benefits when it comes to heart health and providing helpful antioxidants, excessive drinking has implications that can lead to inflammation and stubborn weight gain. Consistently consuming too much alcohol can cause stress to cells within the liver that are responsible for processing alcohol. Too much stress on these cells and on the liver itself can lead to chronic inflammation. Limiting alcohol consumption to one drink per day allows you to reap the benefits and avoid the consequences.
Do you need help to lose weight? Have you tried many different diets and approaches on your own without lasting success? If you leave in the Tomball, Spring, Cypress or Houston areas, check out our Medical Weight Loss Plan.