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Calorie Traps: The Sneaky Six Saboteurs

z1By Dr. Bo Rosenblat

Chief Physician for Dr. Bo’s Diet

So you’ve been doing your part: trying to eat healthy, working out when you can, and generally being mindful of what you eat. But the scale isn’t budging. You might be caught in a calorie trap and not even know it. Calorie traps are hidden calorie sources that sabotage your efforts without your even knowing. These deceptively unhealthy foods masquerade as healthy ones, keeping you from your goals. Make sure that you aren’t falling prey to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Here is my list of the six sneakiest offenders:

Diet soda. While diet soda won’t add calories to your bottom line, this zero-calorie beverage will likely affect your daily consumption and bodily function. Originally marketed as a calorie-free carbonated beverage to fill you up without filling you out, diet soda has been proven to make you consume more calories per day. High in sodium and laden with artificial sweeteners, it will likely make you crave and eat more. If you’re looking for fizz, try seltzer or club soda, but your best bet is—you guessed it—water.

Yogurt. A single serving of yogurt will help you get additional calcium and protein into your diet; however, you may be getting a lot of additional sugar too! A single 6-ounce serving of fruit-flavored yogurt can contain as much sugar as a can of Coke, making your “healthy breakfast” pretty much equivalent to eating a candy bar. Even sneakier are vanilla-flavored or blended yogurts. Just because you can’t see the sugar doesn’t mean it’s not there, and 30 grams or more can be found in a single serving of yogurt. Your best bet is to replace your current cup with plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with fresh or frozen fruit and, if necessary, a natural sweetener such as stevia or Truvia.

Sushi. So you’re thinking raw fish, seaweed, and a little rice—how bad can that be, right? Well, believe it or not, those tasty little bites can actually pack a hefty caloric punch. While the fish, veggies, and seaweed are generally pretty good for you, the rice, sauces, and toppings tend to pile on the calories. First, while it doesn’t look like much rice, a single roll can have anywhere from a half to a full cup of rice. Add some spicy mayo and a sprinkle of crunchy toppings, and you are at about 375 calories per roll. When ordering sushi, try choosing rolls with more fish and/or vegetables, and ask that the rolls be prepared with less rice. Sushi can be filling, but often people order it as an appetizer, not a main course. Two rolls can fall just shy of 800 calories if you aren’t careful. Instead, make it a meal by swapping sashimi for one roll and adding a low-calorie miso soup and seaweed salad.

Packaged “health food” snacks. Here is where I see a lot of people take a bad turn. A package that says “all-natural,” “organic,” “gluten-free,” or “non-GMO” does not equal low-calorie or unlimited portions. Most people have become aware of the calorie traps in low-fat and fat-free food, but many are still baited by these newer “health foods.” Reading nutrition labels is still your best defense. Be especially mindful of portion size. Many companies now advertise a low-calorie count in big, bold letters on the front of what may look like a single-serving container, but upon further inspection it may hold two or more servings.

Cereal. Apart from the sugar-laden colorful varieties, even healthier options like whole-grain or high-fiber cereals can become a nutritional nightmare when you consider your portion size. How many times have you actually measured out the ¾- to 1-cup serving size listed on most boxes? Probably not many. When you do, you will probably be looking sadly into a practically empty bowl. If cereal is a must for you, try measuring it out for a whole week to get used to what a true serving size looks like. Also, a smaller bowl or mug may help you adjust to the smaller portion.

Coffee. Regarding high-calorie coffee, most of us already know that a little frappuccino can cost more calorically than it does financially, which is hard to believe. Regular coffee taken with cream and sugar can also add up throughout the day, but the biggest coffee conundrum I see is people using coffee as a meal replacement. Some people wake up, have coffee, go to work, have more coffee . . . until finally it’s late afternoon and they haven’t had anything substantial to eat. At that point, any temptation is hard to resist and easier still to rationalize.

The trouble is you’ve allowed your metabolism to grow sluggish and your hunger to build. Once you start eating, it may seem hard to fill up on anything, so you eat more and more. When you allow your hunger hormones to get out of control, your impulsivity grows and your satiation hormone decreases. Coffee can be a great pick-me-up and the caffeine has even been shown to aid in weight loss and weight management—but only when used appropriately and not to replace meals. Also, try to drink a cup of water per cup of caffeinated coffee so your body can stay hydrated and happy.

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Most of us are creatures of habit, reaching for the same list of items throughout the day. If you are stumped on what may be causing a roadblock in your weight loss, keep a food journal throughout the week. Check for hidden calorie sources that may otherwise go overlooked. Also, don’t be afraid to change things up by adding different fruits, vegetables, and proteins to your menu. Sometimes all you need is a fresh start to get your body to kick-start again. v

Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center, with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit

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Posted by on April 28, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.