Wednesday, September 7, 2011

8 Diet Food Ripoffs

8 Diet Food Ripoffs

On a particularly hot July day this summer, my air conditioning stopped working. I’m not particularly handy around the house, but with a quick Web search, I was able to diagnose the problem. The fix: a $40 part. When the repair guy came, he confirmed by diagnosis. Then he quoted me $535 to fix it.

That, my friends, is a ripoff. I gave back his quote and kept my dignity. I wish all ripoffs were so obvious. They’re not. In fact, you’re getting duped just as badly every day and don’t realize it. It happens at the lunch counter, in the supermarket, at the restaurant . . . anywhere “healthy” foods are sold.

Fact is, many supposed diet foods are more likely to add fat to your body than to strip it away. And they generally cost more! That’s why Eat This, Not That! has been on a crusade against diet-food ripoffs. Click to discover the worst offenders—and learn the simple swaps that will help you melt away belly fat fast.

#8: ‘HEALTHY’ DESSERT RIPOFF

Breyers Carb Smart Almond Bar (1 bar)
# 180 calories
# 15 g fat (10 g saturated)
# 5 g sugars

Kudos to Breyers for capping the carbohydrates at 9 grams, but that doesn't excuse this bar from being loaded with fat and calories. The primary ingredient in the chocolate coating is vegetable oil, and the second ingredient in the ice cream filling is milk fat. As a result, each bar contains nearly as much saturated fat as three McDonald's Cheeseburgers. Switch to Klondike’s Slim-a-Bear Vanilla Bars—proof that low-sugar desserts don’t require fatty compensation.

Eat This Instead!

Klondike Slim-a-Bear Vanilla Bar (1 bar)
# 100 calories
# 6 g fat (5 g saturated)
# 8 g sugars

#7: ‘HEALTHY’ SMOOTHIE RIPOFF

# Stonyfield Organic Smoothie, Peach (1 bottle, 10 oz) 230 calories
# 3 g fat (2 g saturated)
# 40 g sugars
“Organic” and “smoothie” may invoke health more than any other words in the English language, but here they join forces to create a decidedly unhealthy breakfast. Packing zero fiber and as much sugar as five Rice Krispies Treat bars, this smoothie will prime you for an explosive mid-morning sugar crash. For a serious nutritional bang, switch to kefir. It's a fermented dairy product from the Middle East, and it has been shown to lower cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and provide gut-friendly bacteria.

Eat This Instead!
# Lifeway Lowfat Kefir, Peach (1 bottle, 8 oz) 140 calories
# 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
# 20 g sugars

SIP SMARTER: The average American consumes more than 450 calories in beverages every day, and studies show these are the hardest calories to burn off.

#6: ‘HEALTHY’ BREAKFAST RIPOFF

Cosi Veggie Quiche
# 447 calories
# 31 g fat (17 g saturated)
# 466 mg sodium

At its best, quiche is a protein-packed, veggie-filled meal. At its worst—as this one illustrates—it’s little more than a custard pie’s savory cousin. The problem here is the massive pastry shell, which saddles these eggs with a stout load of saturated fat. The USDA recommends you consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat a day, and this one dish is nearly there. For a veggie-heavy breakfast without the cardiovascular repercussions, switch to the Roasted Veggie & Egg White Wrap. It eliminates nearly 200 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat, and it contains an astonishing 11 grams of hunger-fighting fiber.

Eat This Instead!

Cosi Roasted Veggie & Egg White Wrap
# 264 calories
# 12 g fat (4 g saturated)
# 683 mg sodium

BREAKFAST BLUNDERS: It's true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

#5: ‘HEALTHY’ YOGURT RIPOFF

Au Bon Pain Blueberry Yogurt with Blueberries (Large)
# 470 calories
# 5 g fat (3 g saturated)
# 80 g sugars

Dieters beware: This yogurt from Au Bon Pain has the distinction of being the single most sugary non-dessert food in the country. To paint a clearer picture of what 80 grams of sugar looks like, here are some equivalents:
# 8 bowls of Corn Pops
# 16 Chips Ahoy! Cookies
# More than a pint of Haagen-Dazs Butter Pecan ice cream
# 20 teaspoons of pure sugar

Trade the yogurt for oatmeal and your body will thank you.
Eat This Instead!

Au Bon Pain Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Medium)
# 280 calories
# 4 g fat (1 g saturated)
# 14 g sugars

SUPER SMOOTHIES! New rule: The best-tasting and healthiest smoothies are those you make at home.

#4: ‘HEALTHY’ CEREAL RIPOFF

Sunbelt Granola Cereal, Bananas & Almonds (1 cup)
# 500 calories
# 18 g fat (6 g saturated)
# 24 g sugars

Just one bowl of this cereal contains a quarter of your day's calorie intake, and that's before you add milk. It also has nearly a third of your saturated fat and more sugar than a full Kit Kat bar. Funny thing is, it looks really healthy. There's the giant sunburst, the glowing grains, the words "banana" and "almond" right on the package. But don't be fooled. You can cut 300 calories by switching to Kashi's cereal below, and if you do that every day, you'll drop more than 2.5 pounds every month.
Eat This Instead!

Kashi GoLean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax (1 cup)
# 200 calories
# 4.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
# 12 g sugars

DISCOVER THE CEREAL DIET! The average American consumes more than 160 bowls of cereal a year. Pick the right box and you can knock 15 pounds off your waistline.

#3: ‘HEALTHY’ SANDWICH RIPOFF

Arby’s Market Fresh Roast Turkey & Swiss (1 sandwich)
# 710 calories
# 28 g fat (7 g saturated)
# 1,780 mg sodium

What makes this sandwich "Market Fresh"? Your guess is as good as any. The bread certainly isn't responsible. Two slices pack in 380 calories and 14 grams of sugar, which practically qualifies it as dessert. Rarely should you opt for a sandwich with either “bacon” or “club” in the name, but in this case, you can have both and still save more than 200 calories.

Eat This Instead!

Arby’s Turkey Bacon Club Sub (1 sandwich)
# 480 calories
# 21 g fat (6 g saturated)
# 1,620 mg sodium

SINISTER SANDWICHES: A sandwich is only as strong as its weakest component, so you have to be smart about what you order. One bad move and you've just earned yourself a couple hours in the gym.

#2: ‘HEALTHY’ SALAD RIPOFF

Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad (Full size)
# 1,010 calories
# 69 g fat (12 g saturated)
# 2,650 mg sodium

Shrimp and spinach are an incredibly healthy duo, but Applebee’s drowns the protein and antioxidants under mounds of bacon bits and a thick glut of bacon-grease dressing. In fact, to earn this much fat from regular bacon, you'd have to wolf down 23 strips. And even then you wouldn't take in this many calories! Opt for Applebee's lightened-up version instead. It provides plenty of protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins for a fraction of the calories.

Eat This Instead!

Applebee’s Weight Watchers Spicy Pineapple Glazed Shrimp & Spinach (Full serving)
# 310 calories
# 5 g fat (1 g saturated)
# 1,690 mg sodium

#1: ‘HEALTHY’ PASTA RIPOFF

California Pizza Kitchen Asparagus and Spinach Spaghettini with Grilled Chicken Breast
# 1,281 calories
# 12 g saturated fat
# 1,346 mg sodium

This pasta is a prime example of how even the most savvy dieters can fall prey to misleading menus. Who wouldn’t think that a combination of grilled chicken, asparagus, and spinach sounds like a stellar order? But California Pizza Kitchen's pastas are so uniformly atrocious that you'd be better off splitting a pizza with a friend (and in some truly drastic cases, even the entire pizza would still win out over one of these bowls). It's true: By eating pizza instead of asparagus three times a week, you could lose 34 pounds over the course of a year!

Eat This Instead!

California Pizza Kitchen Roasted Artichoke and Spinach Thin Crust Pizza with Chicken (1/2 pizza)
# 515 calories
# 10 g saturated fat
# 1,313 mg sodium
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