Although all foods trigger the reward centres in our brains, some seem to affect it to a much greater extent than others.
Quick digesting carbohydrates, particular sugar of any type, are the biggest culprits. Researchers at Princeton found that rats fed sugar water have a large dopamine release in their brain. Drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin, cause a release or an increase in dopamine levels in the same area of the brain. This would explain why many people find themselves almost unconsciously eating candies, cookies, and crackers even when they are no longer hungry.
Finally, the most fattening foods are high in calories. This seems obvious but probably accounts for much of the difference between very similar foods. For example, a large glass of OJ has about 250 calories. We would need to eat four oranges to get the same amount of calories! Both oranges and orange juice taste good, they are both high in sugar, and they both cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.
Without further ado, here is my list of the eight most fattening foods.
Eight Most Fattening Foods
1) Salted nuts
Nuts are a fairly low carbohydrate food and they do not cause much of a blood sugar spike. But they are incredibly high in calories AND can be eaten compulsively. Varieties with added sugar, such as honey roasted peanuts or candied walnuts, are the most fattening but all varieties can cause problems.
This is another low carb food that can be easily eaten to excess. There is also some research that shows dairy fat has a unique ability to stimulate an insulin release (most fats have no effect whatsoever on insulin release).
3) Any food labelled “Fat Free” or “Reduced Fat”
Foods labelled “reduced fat” should really be labelled “increased sugar.” Almost inevitably when food processors remove fat they replace it with sugar or some other high glycemic index carbohydrate.
4) Potato chips and other salty snack foods
Chips, crackers, and other salty snack foods are all fattening. They are all high in calories, cause a significant insulin release, and are often eaten compulsively. Even popular diets foods like baked potato chips and fat free pretzels should be avoided.
5) Bread and other wheat products – Bread is another food that fits all three of my criteria for fattening foods. In addition, there is some research that suggests wheat may interfere with leptin signaling.
*Leptin is a hormone that decreases appetite and increases energy expenditure. It is released by fat cells in direct proportion to the amount of body fat a person has. It is theorized that wheat can cause leptin sensitivity, thereby changing a persons body fat set point.
6) Breakfast cereals – Most breakfast cereals, even supposedly heart-healthy ones like cheerios, spike blood sugar to extremely high levels. In fact, Cheerios actually have a higher hypoglycemic index than soda! And cereal is often eaten compulsively. How many of us have raided the pantry at night for a bowl of cereal? And how often does it end at just one bowl?
Most people make this food even worse by adding raisins or bananas. Although considered by most to be healthy, a breakfast of Cheerios and sliced bananas in skim milk with a glass of orange juice will ensure a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day. You’d be better off skipping breakfast than starting your day like that.
7) Milk chocolate and other candy – Candy is loaded with calories and sugar. Most of us already know we need to avoid these foods if we are trying to loss weight. If you have an insatiable sweet tooth or you are a “chocoholic”, try eating only chocolate that is at least 75% cocoa. Also consider shaving it off with a sharp knife or potato slicer and letting the shavings dissolve on your tongue one or two at a time.
8) Sweetened Beverages – Soda, sweet tea, and other sweetened beverages are the most fattening foods around. They are very quickly digested and cause a large insulin release. It takes only a few seconds to chug a 12 ounce can of soda, yet that beverage contains 150 calories! Consuming that many calories from solid food sources, even candy, would take much longer.