Some of the food items that you’ll read below are the most popular ones when dieting and managing your weight goals. However, the same ones that experts advise to include can be the ones that are sabotaging your diet.

Why?

With hundreds of brands and options, you can get caught up on the marketing blur while overlooking the most important things when selecting your breakfast cereal or your snack bar.

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“For each food, the very first thing you want to look for is serving size because everything is based on this size,” points out Ximena Jimenez, MS, RD, LD and speaker for the American Dietetic Association.

Likewise, you have to assume a daily intake to play around with the calories breakdown. Robin Miller, expert on food and nutrition who has provided recipes for the American Heart Association and the American Institute of Cancer Research, explains that if you have a 2000-calorie diet, you should distribute around 45% to carbohydrates, 30% to protein and 25% to fat (225g, 150g and 55g respectively). So based on this, you can allocate a tally to your meals and snacks.

In general, this is what the experts recommend:

1. Cereals
Sugar: 10 gm or less
Fiber: 5 gm or more
Fat: 3 % of Daily Value or less than 5 grams
You also want to check that the first ingredient is a whole grain: oats, barley etc.

Miller adds that cereal can be deceiving, because some serving size is just 1/3 cup. Make sure that you get a serving size that fills you up.

2. Crackers
Fat: 3 gm per serving
Fiber 2 gm or more
Sodium: 5 % Daily Value or below 300mg
Also buy crackers with main ingredients whole grain: rye, barley

3. Chips
Fiber: 1 to 2 grams
Sodium: 140 mg
Fat: 3 grams
Baked ones are best followed by low fat chips

4. Ice cream
For ½ cup find one that has 120 calories per serving and 2 grams of saturated fat

5. Frozen food
Aim for the ones with 250 to 350 calories.
Saturated Fat: 4 gm
Sodium: less than 700 mg
Fiber: 3 gm or more

Miller suggests to add some vegetables. Keep sodium under 550 mg and fiber 5g if you can but beware that frozen meals are culprits for having low fiber and high sodium.

6. Snack Bars
Get the ones with 100 to 200 calories per serving
Fat: 5 gm
Saturated fat 1 gm
Sugar: 12 grams or less
Protein: At least 4 grams
Fiber: 3 or more grams

7. Breads
Aim for 100 calories
Fat: 2-3 g max
Sugar:  less than 8-10g.

First ingredient should be 100% whole wheat or whole grain; multi-grain does not mean whole grain. Look for Whole grain stamp.

8. Dressings
The usual serving size is 2 tablespoons, aim for 8 grams of fat or less; 1 gm of saturated fat or less; 5 grams of sugar and sodium less than 300 mg and calories 100 or less.

Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.

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Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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