It’s no secret that maintaining a balanced diet is one of the most important parts of leading a healthy life and losing weight—and that means that in addition to adding nutritious foods to your plate, you should also be cutting out highly processed options. Processed foods that pack in fat and calories without offering any nutritional value put you at risk for a whole range of health issues, and should especially be avoided by anyone looking to shed some pounds. And while you’re likely already conscious of the most obvious culprits, like fast food and potato chips, there still may be some sneaky foods making their way onto your plate, including a variety of processed meats.
To shed light on some of the worst processed meats you should cut out of your diet if you want to slim down, we spoke to registered dietitian Catherine Gervacio, nutrition writer for Living.Fit. She told us that three of the worst, most common ones to look out for are bacon, deli meat, and tubed meats like hot dogs and sausages. Learn more about the risks of these meats below!
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The extremely high fat content of bacon makes this meat a serious red flag for anyone looking to lose weight. In fact, Gervacio points out that bacon is “actually considered fat due to the ratio of fat to the actual meat.” She says that a single slice contains a whopping 10.4 grams of fat, offering only 3.84 grams of protein. “The fat contributes to a high caloric amount of 110 calories, which is already equivalent to 2 slices of bread,” she warns. Yikes! If you love a good old bacon egg and cheese sandwich but don’t want to put your health goals at risk, Gervacio offers some better-for-you alternatives: “Tofu bacon or plant-based bacon is a healthy alternative since it has no cholesterol and has a taste similar to bacon,” she suggests.
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2. Deli meats
As much as we love a tasty ham sandwich made with lunch meat, Gervacio warns that processed deli meat is another food you might want to cut out if you’re after a flatter belly. “Lunch meats and corned beef also have a high amount of fat in them,” she says, noting that these meats are highly processed, which means they’ve lost much of the nutrients they would otherwise offer, like B vitamins and vitamin C. “This jeopardizes healthy weight loss as the needed nutrients for daily function and metabolism can be affected,” Gervacio explains. “It is best to still choose lean meats that are fresh off the market, have no visible fats, and are cooked with little or no fat.” got it!
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3. Hot dogs and sausages
While tube-shaped meats might be delicious, they’re typically not a great idea when it comes to your health—especially if you want to lose weight. Gervacio explains that options like hot dogs and sausages “have a mix of fat and meat to make them more flavorful. This means it contributes a lot of calories from fat.” But it isn’t just the fat content that makes these meats an unhealthy option. Gervacio warns that many of them also contain nitrites, “which are linked to cancer.” Overall, it’s best to cut these processed options out of your diet to improve your health. “Instead of processed meats, choose ground, lean meats and cook them with available seasonings,” Gervacio recommends. “A 90% ground beef is just as tasty as a sausage when cooked with a sausage seasoning available in the market.” Good to know!
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The bottom line
Overall, filling your body with processed foods is never a good idea, as they can take a serious toll on your health. Choosing whole, nutritious foods is always the best way to go, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Of course, treating yourself to a hot dog or a few slices of bacon every now and then won’t cause you to put on an excessive amount of weight overnight, but eating these foods in excess can definitely be detrimental to your weight loss journey. So whenever possible, you should swap these options for lean meats or plant-based proteins—you may be surprised by the difference it can make!