Which Foods Will Give You Most Weight Gain – and Loss?

Could losing weight really be as easy as eliminating some foods and increasing others? US research seems to indicate it can.


This is one of those studies from the USA that will either cheer you enormously, or cause you to rethink your shopping trolley. It seems that the humble potato crisp may be the most dangerous food for your hips.

The man responsible for this – and other news – is Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Schools of Medicine and Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. He has laid out weight-associated foods by the pound and has calculated that roughly half of the average 3.35 pounds a healthy, non-obese American gains over four years could be chalked up to eating more potato crisps – though he doesn’t say exactly hw many so does one small bag of Smith’s non-salted really count?!

So what’s on the ‘hit’ list?

His results were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and the foods most strongly associated with weight gain are these:

– Potatoes
– Sugar-sweetened drinks
– Unprocessed red meats
– Processed meats
– Alcohol

What is interesting to me is that there is little difference in his analysis between processed and unprocessed meats, but if you are looking to lose some pounds then over a four-year period the most weight loss was associated with these foods:

What are the ‘good guys’?

– Yogurt
–  Fruits
–  Whole grains
–  Vegetables

This pretty much follows the well-known data that a vegetarian diet will generally help you lose weight and be healthier all round. In fact as we age, and tend to put on weight and this applies to menopause in particular. But a vegetarian diet may have only a slight creeping gain of 0.8 lb on average per year.

Two non-food items that will put on the weight are giving up smoking and too much television watching. If either of these is a factor for you then not surprisingly, physical activity will help you lost some of that extra weight effectively and healthily.

And if you are serious about weight loss, make sure you get a good night’s sleep as a lack of it can slow the rate at which you burn calories, increase blood sugar levels and make you feel hungrier. This can be a real issue at menopause with night sweats, hot flushes and more urgent bathroom calls at night, but researchers at the University of Chicago recently studied a group of dieting men and women, some of whom had 8.5 hours sleep a night, the others just 5.5 hours.

They found that those that got adequate sleep lost over 50% more weight than their sleep-deprived counterparts. Time for a snooze, then?

Helpful information:

The subject of diets is a contentious one, as in my opinion no one diet suits everyone so look for a healthy eating plan that you can manage easily as opposed to a strict diet regime that you are unlikely to stick to.

Menopause certainly seems to be a time for weight increase so look at the other factors that influence this such as hormone balance, oestrogen dominance and stress. If these are obvious in your life then you will certainly benefit from dealing with those as well as looking at what’s on your plate.