10 Foods That Drain Energy and Pack on the Pounds

When it comes to weight loss, you need to avoid these 10 foods that drain energy and pack on the pounds. Some of you know I’m training a group of women for Steve Harvey’s Bridal Bootcamp. These women are nothing short of awesome, and we’ve really had a chance to get to know each other over the past few weeks. We talk about a lot of things pertaining to weight loss, and one subject that’s come up is energy.

If energy levels are low, hunger, appetite, mood and decision-making can get thrown off, too. There are a lot of foods out there wrapped in packages that may sound healthy, but they’re really nothing more than energy suckers in disguise. Here are 10 big offenders.


Bagels: Just because it’s low fat doesn’t mean it won’t pack on the pounds and sap your energy…fast. Most bagels are loaded with 45+ grams of refined carbohydrate, very little fiber and virtually no nutritive value. Even though this all-too-common breakfast or lunch meal doesn’t have a lot of added sugar, the carbs alone will cause a post-meal energy crash sending you into a food coma in no time. If you have to have a bagel, cut the size in half and pair it with a energy-giving food, like an egg or serving of almond butter.


Specialty Coffees: Coffee isn’t just coffee anymore. It’s a comfort food that is loaded with all sorts of ingredients that reach far beyond the lonely coffee bean. And don’t be fooled by low fat, skinny or light versions of specialty coffee drinks, either. They’re still laden with sugar. In fact, a medium mocha from Starbucks contains 35 grams of sugar. That’s almost 9 teaspoons! Yikes. This is one drink that does your body no favors.

Sugary Cereal

Commercial Cereals: Not all cereals are bad. In there are quite a few that are fairly clean. But many are loaded with energy-draining sugar and other nasty ingredients, despite labels that make claims to trim waistlines. The best way to make an informed decision is to turn the package over and read labels. If you see the words “enriched flour,” “high fructose corn syrup” or “partially hydrogenated,” put it back on the shelf and look for something else with higher quality ingredients.


Soda: That can of Coke may give you a burst of energy for 15 minutes, but your body will likely crash shortly afterward, potentially creating an urge to look for other foods or drinks that will give you another short burst of energy.  Right up there with specialty coffee drinks, sodas can really push your body’s limits of sugar consumption. Instead of reaching for a soda, try a club soda with a small splash of lemon juice in it. At first, your taste buds will cry out for more sugar, but after you start kicking the addiction to the sweet stuff, cravings for sugar will greatly diminish. Give it time!

Sugary Yogurt

Yogurt: Most commercial yogurts that contain a fruity flavor are almost always loaded with sugar. And if they don’t contain a lot of sugar, they contain a lot of other crappy sweeteners, like aspartame or sucralose, that does your belly no favors at all. Your best bet in the yogurt department is to buy plain yogurt and add stevia, cinnamon or fresh fruit to it. If you’re not a fan of stevia, add a little bit of honey instead.

Submarine Sandwich

Submarine Sandwiches: Subs are just really big sandwiches. And sometimes they’re really, really big sandwiches. Nope, not a diet food. They don’t possess the power to enhance energy anymore than a bagel. In fact, they have nearly the same amount of refined carbohydrates, pumped full of enriched flour. When a flour is enriched, it’s been stripped of most of its nutrients, only to have them pumped in on the back end of the refinement process. Steer clear of this ingredient.

orange juice

Orange Juice: Unless you’re squeezing it at home, most orange juices are a hodge podge of high fructose corn syrup, other sugars, water and sometimes artificial flavorings and colors. To give your body a real boost, eat fresh fruit instead.

MuffinsMuffins: Even if they’re low fat, a typical muffin from a bakery can run close to, if not more than, 400 calories. Often times muffins are paired with a healthy-sounding word, like blueberries or grains. Don’t be fooled. What you’re really getting is a couple hundred calories of refined carbohydrate, some unhealthy fat and residual protein – none of which your body really needs. Instead of the muffin, try a big bowl of old fashioned oats with blueberries, some almonds and cinnamon. The protein and fat from the almonds will stave off hunger, and your blood sugar will stay level with the cinnamon.

Potato chips

Potato Chips: You know it. I know it. Nothing really good happens when we eat chips. Whether they’re potato chips, tortilla chips or Sun Chips, you’re getting a lot of sodium and rancid fat that does nothing more than rust your body from the inside out. A handful here or there will not kill you, but if you make savory snacks like chips a part of regular meals, cut back. It doesn’t matter if they’re baked or fried. Keep it clean and watch your energy soar.

Fruit Smoothies

Fruit Smoothies: With the exception of homemade fruit smoothies made with a reasonable amount of fruit and hopefully some other smoothie-friendly ingredients, like cinnamon, nut butters, avocado, non-dairy milk and the occasional vegetable, store-bought fruit smoothies are a haven for energy-sucking sugar. In fact, a SMALL banana berry smoothie from Jamba Juice contains a whopping 60 grams of sugar. And the large…120 grams. That’s 27 teaspoons. Most people would end up in a food coma after eating this much sugar.

A few rules to help keep you on track:

1) If a serving of any processed food contains more than 13 grams of sugar (or about 3 teaspoons), put it back. It’s easy to rack up the sugar and our body doesn’t need any extra. Need perspective on sugar in foods? Watch me explain it in this video.

2) Regardless of your body type, where you store fat or what your energy levels are like, shift the focus away from what you SHOULDN’T eat to what you SHOULD eat. Healthy fat, including avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and for some people, butter, should be in most meals.

3) Packages labeled as low fat or fat free are almost always places where you’ll find excess sugar lurking. Get to know the food labels on staple foods in your diet. It might be time to find some new go-to foods.
If you like these tips, don’t miss out on a day. Keep up with me on Facebook for day-to-day updates. 


Traci Danielson MitchellAbout Traci

Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey’s Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. OzThe TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email traci@tracidmitchell.com. 

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