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12 "Fake Health Foods" to Stop Eating If You Want to Lose Weight, Fitness Expert Says

Michael Smoak of HigherUpWellness says these are his grocery store skips.

When you're trying to lose weight, grocery shopping can be an endless challenge. Even if you're trying to avoid "bad" foods, opting for healthier choices and ingredients, you might not realize that some products you think are nutritious—thanks to clever advertising and marketing strategies—aren't actually healthy at all. What you may be eating are "fake health foods," according to fitness expert Michael Smoak.

"You can eat a lot of different foods and still hit your calorie and weight loss or muscle gain goals," Smoak explains in a Jan. 11 video on TikTok, where he uses the handle @HigherUpWellness. "But a lot of people eat foods I'm gonna share with you because they think they are going to help with those goals, when in fact, they have no idea that they are extremely calorie-dense or sugar-loaded and not satiating."

Want to find out which products could be delaying your weight-loss goals? Read on for the 12 brands and products Smoak recommends skipping at the store.

RELATED: If You Want to Lose Weight, "Avoid These Foods Like the Plague," Fitness Expert Says.

High-calorie granola

kind peanut butter granola
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

First up on Smoak's list is calorie-dense granola, which a commenter asked about in response to Smoak's first video on foods to avoid.

"Someone specifically commented, 'But what about the granola in my yogurt?' No," he says, holding a bag of Kind-brand Peanut Butter Clusters. "[There's] 260 calories for only 10 grams of protein—that's absurd. Not to mention, this is a lot of calories for like three bites of food."

In general, Smoak isn't fond of the Kind brand either. So, if you love your granola, Smoak recommends swapping for a "cleaner" option from the Pure Elizabeth brand, which has "higher-quality" ingredients.

Anything that says "Reduced Fat"

reduced fat wheat thins
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

While you may think it's healthy, food products that say "reduced fat" are quite the opposite.

"Anything that says 'reduced fat'—absolutely [expletive] not," Smoak says, dubbing the phrase a "'90s move."

RELATED: Fitness Coach Shares "3 Easy Steps" to Lose Weight Before Summer.

Nature Valley products

nature valley bars
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Smoak isn't a fan of the Nature Valley brand—at least not anymore.

"I used to start my day with a lot of Nature Valley products," he says. "That is unhinged behavior."

While he jokes that the Nature Valley Crunchy Oats 'N Honey Granola Bars will "always have a special place" in his heart, even with 22 grams of "whole grain," the snacks aren't healthy.

Instead, he recommends you "start your day with protein, some eggs, an animal protein of your choosing." And if you must rely on bars for a grab-and-go option, consider the RXBAR brand.

"These aren't bad, little lower protein, but these are super clean," he says of RXBAR. "I just don't feel right about advertising any other protein bars, cause they have so many crazy ingredients in them nowadays."

Kodiak products

kodiak muffin mix
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Smoak says that the Kodiak brand "ain't safe either."

Holding up a package of Kodiak Chewy Granola Bars, he notes that they only have 7 grams of protein and a "large amount of ingredients."

However, while he says he wouldn't eat the Kodiak Flapjack and Waffle Mix because it wouldn't fill him up, "there are worse choices you can make."

Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookies

lenny and larry's complete cookie
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Next up on Smoak's list of "fake health foods" are the "Complete Cookies" from Lenny & Larry's.

"People eat these without looking at the label and realizing it's 420 calories for a cookie the size of your hand, for only 16 grams of protein," Smoak shares.

RELATED: Lose 50 Pounds by Following 2 Simple Rules, Successful Dieter Says.

"Dessert" snacks

trufru blueberries
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Holding up a bag of TruFru crème-covered blueberries, Smoak says that they may seem "a little healthy," but in reality, they're "kind of a dessert snack."

He continues, "And then you realize that eating like three of these blueberries is 150 calories."

If you do like dessert, Smoak says he's a big fan of Lindt chocolate bars. While they have "a fair amount of added sugar," they also have minimal ingredients.

"It's only, like 560 calories for this whole bar," he says of a dark chocolate option with sea salt. "Very satisfying way to stick to a diet if you have a sweet craving."

Dried fruit

dried mango slices
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

This one is especially tricky, as dried fruit isn't "inherently bad," Smoak notes.

"[But] when you take the water out of the fruit, you drastically reduce the volume," he explains. "So you can eat like six mangoes' worth in 28 pieces."

RELATED: Certain Foods Trigger Natural Ozempic-Like Weight Loss Effect, Doctor Says.

Welch's Fruit Snacks

welch's fruit snacks
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

While he doesn't share much context, Welch's Fruit Snacks are also on Smoak's no-no list.

"If you feed these to your kid in the morning, we got beef," he says.

Nuts as a protein source

nuts at food store
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Nuts are a great addition to your diet, but you want to ensure you understand portion sizes and their nutritional value.

"Please read the nutrition labels on your nuts," Smoak urges. "No, nuts are not inherently unhealthy, like everyone thought I said [in my last video], but they are a fat source, not a protein source like they're marketed as."

He adds, "[A] small, small handful of nuts: 170 calories. People eat 600 calories of almonds or nuts a day and wonder why they can't lose weight—[it's] cause they're not tracking it."

RELATED: The Only Foods You Should Be Eating at Night, Doctor Says.

Yoplait yogurt

yoplait yogurt
Copyright MIchael Smoak / TikTok

Yoplait yogurt is another skip in Smoak's book. Go for the Fage brand instead.

"Add a little raw honey or some Stevia and some fruit—[that's a] go-to for me," Smoak tells viewers. "Kills a sweet tooth."

"Healthy" cereals

post raisin bran
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

In his previous video, Smoak advised his followers to avoid the cereal aisle as a whole. But in his follow-up, he highlights specific options to skip, like Raisin Bran, which you may think is healthy because it's "high in fiber."

"You're still having 41 grams of carbohydrates for only 5 grams of protein," he says. "[When] you have carbohydrates in the absence of protein, you are not satiated or full for a long time."

Plant-based butters

country crock plant based butter
Copyright Michael Smoak / TikTok

Plant-based butter is another food you might believe is a health-conscious choice.

"[You see] made 'with avocado oil,' so you grab it off the shelf," Smoak says, holding up a tub of Country Crock Plant Butter. "What you don't do is look at the back and see 'blend of plant-based oils'—soybean, palm, palm kernel—and avocado as the last one."

Another Country Crock option made "with olive oil" is one he'd skip too, as is I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

"I'm not one of those guys who says, 'You're gonna blow up if you have seed oil now and then,' but when you learn how they're made, you're just like, 'Oh, I don't wanna put that in my body,'" he explains. "They didn't even exist in the human diet until like 70 years ago."

Smoak encourages you to go for regular butter, as it's been a staple in human diets for "thousands of years" and has the same amount of calories.

You don't need to be "miserable" to get fit.

woman wheeling shopping cart in grocery store, looking at sausages and ham. Buyer shopping in supermarket. Food shop concept

Overall, Smoak preaches moderation, specifically cautioning viewers about overdoing it with things like coffee creamer—as those calories can add up quickly.

In general, he says, "Being fit isn't about being miserable, it's about raising your level of awareness around food labels and how much of certain foods you can eat. Most people are just not cognizant of calories."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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