3 Household Staples That Can Make You Fat

3 Household Staples That Can Make You Fat

Got any of these items lying around? They could be derailing your weight loss.

Embarking on a weight-loss journey, and staying the course, is no easy task. And it can be even tougher with temptations at every turn.

You may have already learned to navigate around trigger foods and unsupportive friends, but what about the things you encounter in the comfort of your own home?

We spoke with weight-loss surgeon Frank Chae, MD, of Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, to learn which common household items could be sidelining your diet.

1. Your bathroom scale
It’s not a bad thing to keep an eye on your numbers. In fact, research shows that tracking your pounds can be a great weight-loss tool. But for some people, stepping on the scale every day or over-monitoring, may mean setting themselves up for failure.

That’s because lasting weight loss involves making lifestyle changes over time. All your progress won’t necessarily be reflected on the scale every morning—and that can be discouraging. “Daily weighing is self-defeating,” Dr. Chae says. “And it can be frustrating at times. I think a weekly weigh-in is more productive."

2. Diet soda and fat-free snacks
Tossing unhealthy food is a great first step in losing weight. But replacing it with diet drinks and “fat-free” snacks can work against you.

The fat, sugar and salt content in our favorite foods is what makes them so tasty, says Chae. When you take one of those ingredients out, it’s often replaced with another. "Nobody's going to buy chips that taste like wood chips," he says. So a snack that's labeled “fat free” may be loaded with sugar or sodium to add more flavor. Plus, they can trick you into thinking you can eat more without packing on the pounds.

In the same sneaky way, a diet soda may seem "healthy" because it contains no sugar or calories. But the artificial sweetener can make you crave more sweets, which can lead to weight gain.

Instead, replace junk food with whole fruits, veggies, grains and protein that are loaded with nutrients that help keep you full and satisfied. Opt for water or unsweetened tea over sodas. Be wary of snacks with claims like “reduced fat,” “low-fat,” “fat-free,” “sugar-free” or “light,” and get smart about reading food labels.

3. Your television remote
After a long day, there's not much more tempting than plopping down on the couch and reaching for the remote. But too much Netflix time can make it that much harder to reach your weight loss goals—even if you plan on exercising later. Not only that, but because it encourages unhealthy eating habits and takes away from time when you could be active, hours of TV time can up your risk for weight-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

"When we sit down and become really immobile, our muscles stop generating, our metabolism changes and our bodies go into this shut-down mode where we stop burning calories," says Chae. "We go into a hibernation mode where we begin storing energy and increasing fat content.”

So before settling into the couch, go for an after-dinner walk or try to squeeze in a quick workout. And if the remote proves too tempting, make your TV time work for your weight loss by getting active during those commercial breaks.

Medically reviewed in February 2019.

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