People overeat and get fat for many reasons.
One of the main ones is eating too many calories.
That being said, certain foods are definitely more problematic than others.
Here's a list of 10 foods that are highly fattening.
Sugary soda may just be the most fattening thing you can put into your body.
One study found that people who drank soda on top of their normal diet consumed 17% more calories than they did before. Over time, this could easily lead to significant weight gain (4).
Bottom Line: Sugary soda adds no essential nutrients to your diet, just empty calories. People who drink soda are much more likely to gain weight.
2. Sugar-Sweetened Coffee
Coffee can be a very healthy beverage.
However, coffee sweetened with added sugar or syrup can contain as much sugar as a can of coke.
Bottom Line: Coffee drinks sweetened with syrups or sugars are very high in calories. Regularly drinking them could contribute to weight gain.
3. Ice Cream
Most commercially made ice cream is full of sugar. And since it's often eaten as a dessert, ice cream can add a lot of extra calories to your meal.
If you enjoy ice cream, it's probably best to have it as an occasional treat.
To choose a healthier ice cream, look for one with less than 15 grams of sugar per serving. Also, make sure to watch your portion sizes.
Bottom Line: Most commercially made ice creams are high in sugar and can add a lot of extra calories to your meal.
4. Takeaway Pizza
Pizzas are usually very tasty, but they contain high amounts of fat, refined carbs and calories.
Processed meats are meats that have been cured, salted or smoked.
However, not all pizza is created equal.
If you love pizza and want to include it in your life, try to find a pizzeria that uses healthy ingredients, such as vegetables and whole grain dough. You can also make your own pizza at home (18, 19, 20).
Bottom Line: Commercially prepared pizza can be loaded with calories and processed meats. Try choosing pizza made with healthier ingredients, or make your own at home.
5. Cookies and Doughnuts
Cookies and doughnuts contain high amounts of sugar, refined flour and added fats.
They can be extremely high in calories. To keep your weight in check, you should limit your intake.
If you do get a cookie craving, go for a small, single serving and not a giant cookie or a whole pack of cookies.
Also, an average medium-sized doughnut may contain over 200 calories. Some glazed doughnuts contain more than 300 calories.
For optimal health and weight, doughnuts should be avoided as much as possible.
Bottom Line: Cookies and doughnuts are high-calorie, high-sugar foods. If you choose to eat them, keep your portions small.
6. French Fries and Potato Chips
However, the average serving of french fries (5 oz or 139 g) will typically contain about 427 calories, making them a high-calorie side dish or snack.
French fries also often accompany other junk foods, and are commonly eaten with high-sugar sauces like ketchup.
Like french fries, potato chips are very high in fat, refined carbs and salt.
They have also been linked to weight gain in observational studies. One study even found them to be the food most likely to cause weight gain (29).
Boiling or baking potatoes is much healthier.
Bottom Line: French fries and potato chips are very high in added fats, refined carbs and salt. Studies have linked them both to weight gain.
7. Peanut Butter
Moderate amounts of peanut butter can be healthy.
This is particularly true if it's only made with wholesome ingredients like roasted and ground peanuts and a little salt.
Peanut butter is also extremely high in calories, and very easy for some people to overeat.
If you can limit your intake, then including peanut butter in your diet shouldn't be a problem. However, if you struggle to control your portions, then you're probably better off avoiding peanut butter.
Bottom Line: Most commercially made peanut butter contains added sugars and fats. It can easily make you gain weight if eaten in excess.
8. Milk Chocolate
However, most commercially produced milk and white chocolate has a ton of added sugar.
These types of chocolate are high in both fat and added sugar. Like other junk foods, they're super easy to overeat.
Bottom Line: Unlike dark chocolate, milk and white chocolate contain lots of added sugar. Chocolate is highly palatable and very easy to overeat.
9. Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is often seen as a healthy choice.
Bottom Line: Fruit juice contains high amounts of sugar. Drinking excessive amounts has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.
10. Other Commercially Processed Foods
Manufactured processed foods can look and taste like "real food," but in many cases they bear little nutritional resemblance to homemade foods (58).
Not all processed foods are bad, but many have been manufactured to look and taste like minimally processed foods, so it's important to read the food label.
Reducing your intake of processed foods could help you avoid unnecessary calories and improve the quality of your diet.
Bottom Line: Reducing processed foods high in added fat, added sugar and salt can improve the quality of your diet and help prevent weight gain.
Take Home Message
People gain weight because they eat more calories than they burn.
It should be noted that no single food on this list will make you fat if enjoyed occasionally, as part of a balanced diet.
However, regular and excessive consumption of these foods will likely make you gain weight over time.