The 9 So-Called Superfoods That Can Cause Weight Gain

Updated: May 29, 2018

Trying to drop some weight? Take care—these "healthy" foods may be good for you, but they pack more calories than might think.


Trail mix

Whether you’re out on a trek or just at work, this snack is touted as one of the best superfoods out there. Loaded with nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit, it does deliver the health goods—with one big fat caveat: The calorie value of this snack is far higher than you might think. For example, a serving of Great Value Tropical Trail Mix from Walmart packs 120 calories. That’s high but not terrible until you realize this 26-ounce bag supposedly contains 25 servings. In other words, eat three or four handfuls and you could be downing nearly 500 calories—a meal’s worth—for an afternoon snack. Stick to the one-ounce serving. Try these delicious superfoods to boost your diet.



If you’re trying to get lean, using salmon as a staple may be a smart move. However, portion control is absolutely essential here. The recommended serving size—about three ounces—contains 208 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That in itself isn’t too worrying, but the typical salmon steak is about twice that size. And if you buy the pre-seasoned fish in marinade, the extras can bump up the calorie count astonishingly: One version of a six-ounce salmon steak comes out at 1,470 calories. That’s 75 percent of the average woman’s daily calorie needs in one meal. Avoid this pitfall and grill salmon at home and split the steak.


Green juice smoothies

Green juice smoothies have been a major fad over the last few years. Usually, people blend variations of kale, spinach, banana, and berries, and other healthy-sounding ingredients. But even when you make a smoothie at home, it will be full of concentrated fruit sugar from all the sweet produce you put in them. Then consider add-ons like peanut butter, coconut milk, rice milk, and yogurt and the calorie count really starts to climb. Try these simple tricks to make these superfoods even healthier.


Chia seed

One of the newer superfoods, chia seeds are an easy and nutritious addition to many meals. And that in itself is the problem. Just 12 grams of these seeds contain 60 calories, which means that sprinkling a load of them atop your yogurt or oatmeal could double or even triple your calorie-count. Don’t cut out this healthful addition, but you’ll want to use judgment when sprinkling it over your dishes.


Dark chocolate

Remember the day you learned that dark chocolate was good for you? What could be better than chomping down on delicious treats knowning that you’re being health conscious? Although chocolate with a 70% cocoa or higher is a source of potent antioxidants like cocoa phenols, you still need to exercise caution. This treat is still full of sugar, and just over three ounces of the good stuff contains 450 calories. These superfoods help boost your brain.


Red wine

One of the major things that people seem to forget is that alcohol is packed full of calories. Sipping on a glass of flavorful Rioja, you may not realize that you’re guzzling down hundreds of liquid calories. A single serving of red wine (five ounces) has 125 calories. And who has just one glass—or pours only five ounces per glass, for that matter? (Depending on the glass you’re using, you could easily go half again as much.) Stick to one serving or you’ll be adding dangerously to your daily calorie count.



Ah, the king of superfoods. Avocados are healthy and an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. Eating just one of these bad boys a day could lower your ‘bad cholesterol’, according to the American Heart Association. What’s more, this fruit (yes—actually a berry) is delicious and goes well with any Mexican culinary endeavors. There’s a catch. Over-indulging on avocados could lead to some serious weight gain since they are actually one of the most fattening foods. Yes, a standard avocado has 322 calories in it, according to the USDA. Watch out for these surprisingly unhealthy foods.


Dried fruit

Those of you with a sweet tooth may turn to dried fruit as a seemingly reasonable and healthy substitute. You’d be shocked at how the calorie count can match—and even surpass—the levels of the bad stuff you’re cutting out. Just over three ounces of dried fruit contains a shocking 359 calories. Oh, and and the drying process wipes out many of the vitamins and nutrients.


Flavored yogurt

Eating loads of low-fat, flavored yogurt may make you gain pounds rather than lose them. These snacks are often laced with artificial sweeteners. Although calorie-free, fake sweeteners are still linked to weight gain, according to researchers at Purdue University: Rats that were fed saccharin-sweetened food ended up eating more, gaining more weight, and packing on more body fat than rats who ate real sugar-sweetened chow. That backs up other research tying artificial sweeteners to obesity—the theory is that the sweet taste primes your brain for calories; when your body gets none, the brain sets off hunger alarms, and you overeat. Buy plain yogurt and add your own chopped up fruit. Your scale will thank you. Next, read about the unhealthiest foods you can buy at the supermarket.