What Are the Foods That Cause the Most Weight Gain?

Many times we embark on a new diet to lose weight without noticing if we are truly reducing the food that cause the most weight gain. It's important to identify these foods and reduce or eliminate their consumption in order to make the best out of our diets.
What Are the Foods That Cause the Most Weight Gain?

Last update: 11 June, 2022

There have been several studies that talk about “the worst foods on the face of the Earth”.  It is true that they are bad, but everything depends on the portions in which you consume them and how frequently. However, it is necessary to avoid and eliminate these harmful foods from your diet in order to lose weight, reduce cholesterol and have more energy throughout the day. Here we will identify the foods that cause the most weight gain.

Foods that cause the most weight gain

The 12 foods that cause the most weight gain, according to Harvard University, are the following (starting from greatest or most dangerous):

French fries

Fries sold at fast food restaurants are one of the most harmful foods out there, as they are delicious and addictive. People that frequently eat french fries can gain almost a pound and a half each year. And making them at home only makes them a little bit “better”.

French fries are part of the foods that cause the most weight gain
Potato chips

This is an excellent snack for an appetizer, get-togethers, or a small bite before dinner. They have a lot of oil and salt, which causes weight gain. Additionally, they don’t satiate hunger and thus are easily eaten in large amounts.

Sugar-sweetened drinks

Consuming one or two sodas a day could not only cause weight gain but also cause glucose levels in the blood to shoot through the roof. It doesn’t matter if they’re diet or not; they are damaging to health.

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Fatty Meat

Eating too much beef or pork contributes to weight gain and could also increase cholesterol due to the fat contained therein.

Red meat can cause cancer and weight gain

Processed Meats

Just like sausages, processed meats contain a lot of saturated fats, calories, sodium, and coloring.  They are not healthy for children nor for adults, and consuming them is not advisable.

Trans fat

Hundreds of products seen in the supermarket contain trans fat, which is very damaging for health.  They are found primarily in frozen foods, processed foods, and foods that come “ready to eat”.


Without taking into consideration the method of preparing this tuber that is popular in several countries, one plate of potatoes a day creates problems in the body, like stomach heaviness and a “false” sense of satiety.

Sweets and pastries

Cookies, cakes, bakery goods, and others, are bad for health because they contain large amounts of sugar and fats. It’s better to eat fruits after meals. Sweets and pastries are some of those foods that cause the most weight gain.

Refined grains

Like rice, for example, which is another highly consumed food around the world, for its price and performance. The problem doesn’t have to do with the grain itself, but rather, with the “bleaching” process. Nothing whitened is good because it is not natural. Opt for whole grain rice or Brown rice.

Fried foods

Setting aside the potatoes that we mentioned previously, other deep fat fried foods or foods fried in oil are damaging. Especially those that are purchased in restaurants or food stands, more so than those prepared at home. You can include any sort of breaded meat or chicken, vegetables in this category.

Prepared fruit juices

Even those that are labeled at 100% natural, are not, because they contain too much sugar to truly fit into the “healthy” sector. Many times their coloring and preservatives are harmful to us.

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The fat used to make butter makes this bad for the body and the skin. It has been proven that people who consume butter or mayonnaise have more acne or oil on their face. Additionally, studies have proved that it raises cholesterol levels.

Other “bad” foods

In addition to the 12 foods already established, let’s add the following foods. Professionals advise against consuming these frequently, since they are foods that cause the most weight gain when consumed often:

  • Pasta: especially if made with white flour. A moderate amount once a week won’t cause any damage, the problem comes into play when you eat it every day and with sauces or creams, as well as cheese and fatty condiments. Everything that contains calories and carbohydrates will cause weight gain.

Pasta is good to eat once a week

  • Salad or meat dressings: this group includes mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, rubs, Caesar’s dressing, among others. All of these contain a lot of salt and fat, which makes triglyceride levels skyrocket.
  • Chocolate: we need to make a few exceptions here. For example, bitter chocolate that contains more cacao is not harmful (if eaten with care, of course). But if you buy the commercial and cheaper kinds of chocolate, that definitely have additives, preservatives, and sweeteners they may be harmful. In every way possible, avoid white chocolate, which contains large amounts of chemicals, fat, and sugar.

Foods that cause the least weight gain

And in contrast to those foods that cause the most weight gain, we have those foods that give us a free pass and can be eaten whenever and however much you would like:

  • White or oily fish: goldfish, whiting, red bream, hake, and cod are good because they don’t have carbohydrates nor fats, and they offer omega-3 and phosphorous.
  • Lean meats: like chicken or turkey, always removing the fat. They also satiate and have a lot of protein.
  • Shellfish and crustaceans: clams, lobster, oyster, calamari and spider crab. They have very little fat and are rich in iodine and zinc, good quality proteins and they have very few carbohydrates.
  • Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, onions, lettuces, cabbage, Swiss chard, leeks, asparagus, and the list continues. They provide excellent amounts of vitamins and minerals and they have very little fat. They also provide a lot of water for the body.

Fruits and vegetables cause the least weight gain

  • Legumes: lentils, garbanzos, soy, and green beans provide the body with zinc, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and a lot of vitamins. Additionally, they have high levels of protein.
  • Fruits: all fruits that you can think of, except for bananas, grapes, coconuts, and quince, because they have a lot of sugar. All other fruits provide water and antioxidants.
Photos courtesy of Harsha K R, Stu_Spivack, grendelkhan, Jessica Merz, Sean McEntee, John Loo, Christopher.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.