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Certain foods are high in sugar, refined carbs, and fat yet low in essential nutrients like protein and fiber. This can make weight loss more difficult and have other adverse health effects.

Most people focus solely on cutting calories to lose weight.

However, it’s also crucial to consider the foods that you’re eating.

Foods high in protein and fiber can keep you feeling fuller for longer, which may support weight loss (1, 2).

On the other hand, eating too many foods high in sugar, refined carbs, or fat can add extra calories to your diet without adding beneficial nutrients, making weight loss more challenging.

Here are 11 foods to limit when you’re trying to lose weight.

basket of French fries and sodaShare on Pinterest
Cameron Whitman/Stocksy United

1. French fries and potato chips

French fries and potato chips are often very high in calories and fat.

In an observational study, consuming French fries and potato chips has been linked to weight gain and obesity (3).

One 2011 study even found that potato chips may contribute to more weight gain per serving than any other food (4).

What’s more, baked, roasted, or fried potatoes may contain substances called acrylamides, which have been linked to cancer (5).

Therefore, it’s best to enjoy these foods in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


French fries and potato chips are high in calories and fat, which could contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy these foods in moderation.

2. Sugary drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda, are high in calories and added sugar.

They are strongly associated with weight gain and can negatively affect health when consumed in excess (6).

Even though sugary drinks contain many calories, your brain doesn’t register them like solid food (7).

Liquid sugar calories don’t make you feel as full, meaning you won’t eat less food to compensate. Instead, you may end up adding these calories on top of your normal intake.


If you are serious about losing weight, consider limiting your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and opting for drinks like:

  • flavored water
  • naturally sweetened kombucha
  • unsweetened tea
  • black coffee

Sugary drinks can negatively affect your weight and general health. If weight loss is your goal, then limiting your intake of soda and similar drinks may have a big impact.

3. White bread

White bread is highly refined and often contains a lot of added sugar. It also lacks beneficial nutrients like protein and fiber that help you feel more full.

It is high on the glycemic index, meaning that it can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels (8, 9).

One 2014 study of 9,267 people found that eating two slices (120 grams) of white bread per day was linked to a 40% greater risk of becoming overweight or having obesity (10).


There are many nutritious alternatives to conventional refined wheat bread, including:

  • Ezekiel bread, which is made from sprouted grains and legumes
  • whole grain bread
  • whole wheat bread

These alternatives are generally higher in fiber as they are made from unrefined flour and may have other nutritious ingredients, such as seeds and oats.

However, remember that all wheat breads contain gluten, which people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid.

Some other options for those following a gluten-free diet include:

  • oopsie bread
  • cornbread
  • almond flour bread

White bread has a high glycemic index and has been linked to overweight and obesity.

4. Candy bars

Candy bars pack high amounts of added sugar, added oils, and refined flour into a small package.

Candy bars are also high in calories and low in nutrients. Many varieties of candy bars covered in chocolate contain around 200–300 calories, and extra-large bars may contain even more (11, 12).


If you are craving something sweet, consider opting for a snack- or fun-sized candy bar or a few squares of dark chocolate enjoyed alongside other nutritious snacks, like:

  • fresh fruit
  • nuts
  • yogurt parfait
  • homemade granola
  • trail mix with minimal additives

Candy bars are high in sugar, refined flour, and added oils. They are also high in calories, but not very filling.

5. Some fruit juices

Some fruit juices at the supermarket have very little in common with whole fruit.

Some types can contain just as much sugar and calories as soda if not more (13).

Also, fruit juice usually contains no fiber and doesn’t require chewing.

This means that a glass of orange juice won’t have the same effects on fullness as an orange, making it easy to consume large quantities quickly (14).


Opt for whole fruit instead, or try limiting your fruit juice intake to around 4 ounces (118 milliliters) at a time of fruit juice without added sugar.


Fruit juice is high in calories and added sugar, but usually contains no fiber. It is best to stick to stick to smaller portions or choose whole fruit.

6. Pastries, cookies, and cakes

Pastries, cookies, and cakes are often packed with calories and added sugar.

These foods are also not very satisfying, meaning you may quickly become hungry after eating these high calorie foods.

Eating too much sugar is also linked to overweight and obesity (15).

If you’re trying to lose weight, try limiting your portion sizes of these foods and enjoy them from time to time as part of a balanced diet.


Foods like dark chocolate, fruit, trail mix, or chia pudding can also help satisfy your sweet tooth instead.

You can also try making your own desserts using unrefined and nutrient-dense ingredients, such as nut butter, whole-grain flour, almond flour, and raw honey.


Pastries, cookies, and cakes are high in calories and added sugar but are not very filling. Limiting your portion sizes or opting for other sweet snacks may help with weight management.

7. Some types of alcohol (especially beer)

Alcohol provides more calories than carbs and protein.

However, the evidence for alcohol and weight gain is unclear (16).

Drinking alcohol in moderation, or one drink or less per day for females and two drinks or less per day for males, seems okay and is linked to reduced weight gain. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is associated with increased weight gain (17, 18).

The type of alcohol also matters. Beer can cause weight gain, but drinking wine in moderation may provide some health benefits (19).


If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consider cutting back on alcohol or enjoying drinks like wine in small amounts.

8. Ice cream

In addition to being high in calories, most types of ice cream are also loaded with added sugar.

A small portion of ice cream is fine every now and then, but the problem is that it’s easy to consume massive amounts in one sitting.

Be sure to serve yourself a small portion of ice cream instead of eating straight from the container so you won’t eat too much.


Alternatively, consider making your own frozen desserts using less sugar and more nutritious ingredients like full-fat yogurt and fruit or blending frozen bananas into an ice cream-like consistency.


Store-bought ice cream is high in sugar and calories. Making your own frozen desserts at home using less sugar or sticking to smaller portion sizes of ice cream can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.

9. Pizza

Pizza is a popular fast food. However, commercially made pizzas are often high in calories and made with ingredients like highly refined flour and processed meat.


If you want to enjoy a slice of pizza, try making your own at home using nutritious ingredients and toppings. For instance, you can make a quick pizza using a whole-grain pita.

If you order from a restaurant, stick to lower-calorie toppings like grilled chicken, peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, or garlic.

You can also choose thin-crust pizza to reduce the calorie content or enjoy a slice or two alongside a salad or a side of steamed broccoli to round out your meal.


Commercial pizzas are often made from highly refined and processed ingredients. Making your own pizza at home or selecting lower calorie toppings can support weight management.

10. High calorie coffee drinks

Coffee contains several biologically active substances, including caffeine.

These chemicals can boost your metabolism and increase fat burning, at least in the short term (20).

However, many coffee drinks contain excessive amounts of cream and sugar, which can significantly increase the total calorie content in each serving.

If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to limit your consumption of these beverages or choose plain, black coffee sweetened with a bit of cream or milk.


Plain, black coffee may help increase fat burning and boost your metabolism. However, many coffee drinks contain excessive amounts of cream and sugar, which can increase the total calorie content.

11. Foods high in added sugar

Consuming high amounts of added sugar may contribute to several chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and liver disease (21).

Foods high in added sugar usually provide high amounts of calories but lack other important nutrients and are not very filling.

Examples of foods that may contain massive amounts of added sugar include:

You should be especially careful when selecting “low fat” or “fat-free” foods, as manufacturers often add extra sugar to compensate for the lost flavor when the fat is removed.


You may be able to select varieties of the above items that have low sugar or no added sugar.

Adding fruit, such as berries, to plain Greek yogurt can add flavor without added sugar.


Added sugar is high in calories and may be linked to several chronic health problems. Many products, such as low fat and fat-free foods, are high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation.

What foods help burn belly fat?

You may be able to support weight loss by swapping some high calorie foods for those higher in protein and fiber, such as lean meats, plant-based proteins, and high fiber vegetables. In addition to making some healthful food swaps, regular cardio exercise and strength training can support weight loss.

What foods should you avoid to lose belly fat?

You may reduce your overall weight by limiting ultra-processed foods and foods with added sugar. This can include foods with added sugar, processed meats, and sugary drinks.

What 3 foods should I quit?

Limiting how much ultra-processed food you eat may have a beneficial impact on your overall health. Examples of ultra-processed foods include chips, white bread, and soda.

The bottom line

If you’re trying to lose weight, the types of foods that you eat regularly can make a big impact.

In addition to being higher in calories, certain foods might also be less filling or lacking important nutrients, such as fiber and protein, that can support weight loss.

Be sure to check the label carefully and limit your intake of foods that are highly processed or high in added sugar.

Also, remember to consider the serving sizes. Some nutrient-dense foods, like nuts, dried fruit, and cheese, are high in calories, and eating too much can be very easy.

You can also practice mindful eating, in which you pay close attention to each bite, chew your foods slowly, and monitor your fullness. This technique can help moderate your food intake.