The best part about being a grown-up is having the freedom to do—and eat—whatever you want. Pizza for breakfast? Yolo. But when the muffin tops and man boobs start to appear, it can be a rude wake-up call that many foods aren’t without consequence.
Even if you don’t feel any different than you did in your teens and twenties, the body changes in ways that make it harder to lose weight and remain in good health. To help you age gracefully into a body you’ll want to flaunt no matter how many years go by, the Eat This, Not That! research team dug into the science of aging and nutrition to uncover the foods that should never pass your lips after you’ve celebrated the big 3-0.
1. Flavored Yogurt
Even if you’ve started slathering on the wrinkle cream, no product changes the fact that your skin is beginning to age. After 30, collagen production slows and elastin—the protein that keeps skin firm—begins to break down, causing fine lines to form. Although it’s impossible to stop the aging process, it’s possible to keep your youthful complexion later into life by cutting back on sugar, a nutrient that’s been shown to accelerate wrinkling and sagging.
Already cutting back on candy and cookies? Don’t assume you’re in the clear. Many sources of the sweet stuff are hiding in less obvious places like bread, ketchup and flavored yogurts. Dannon’s Fruit on the Bottom flavored yogurt line, for example, has about 24 grams—or an entire day’s worth—of sugar in each 6-ounce container. That’s more sugar than you’d find in an entire bag of Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms!
Eat This! Tip
Calm your sugar cravings by snacking on a sweet piece of fruit. We’re fans of all produce, but bananas are, hands down, one of our favorites. Find out why in our exclusive report, 21 Amazing Things Bananas Do To Your Body.
2. Canned Soup
A cutting-edge study published in 2013 found a connection between high blood pressure and skin aging. Compared to their older-looking counterparts, female study participants with fewer wrinkles also had lower blood pressure. Although the connection between the two issues remains unclear, there’s no harm in cutting back on sodium, a mineral that’s known to raise blood pressure.
Not sure how to start scaling back? Head to your pantry and take a hard look at your shelf-stable soups. U.S. guidelines call for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but many popular cans carry 40 percent of the day’s recommended salt intake in just one serving. But that’s not the only reason you should stay away from the stuff. Many soup cans are laced with BPA, a chemical that’s been linked to cancer, infertility and weight gain.
Our suggestion: Next time you’re craving something warm and comforting, head to the kitchen and whip up one of these 20 Best-Ever Fat Burning Soups instead.
3. & 4. Pop-Tart & Breakfast Pastries
Put your hands behind your head and step away from the Pop-Tarts—and all of those sugary muffins and scones, too. You’re a grown up now, it’s time to start eating like one. Most sweet a.m. treats pack over a day’s worth of sugar into a standard sized serving which spells trouble if you want to become a parent one day and live to see your kids grow up.
Sugary diets cause a slew of health problems, including insulin resistance, which can lead to PCOS, a condition that’s been linked to female infertility. And if you’re lucky enough to start a family despite your diet, your sugar habit may lower the odds you’ll live long enough to see your little one grow up. People who consume between 17 and 21 percent of their daily calories from added sugar have a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar, according to recent findings.
To stay safe, ditch the junk and kick off your day with some of these 50 Best Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss—Ranked instead.
5. Special K Protein Bars
Fructose, dextrose, glycerin, sorbitol, zinc oxide, whey protein, palm oil. No, that isn’t the recipe for your niece’s Silly Putty, those are just some of the ingredients that go into Special K’s meal replacement bar. Appetizing, right?
“While younger folks can get away with skipping breakfast or simply eating a starchy ‘weight loss’ cereal or bar, current research suggests that eating 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is ideal for satiety, metabolism and weight loss—especially as we age,” explains former sports nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengal Chris Mohr.
Aside from its Frankenfood ingredients and high sugar count, Special K’s not-so-special bar only packs 10 grams of protein, which won’t do much in terms of keeping you full and satisfied until lunch. If you typically reach for a bar like this, swap it out for a homemade protein shake. All of these 23 Best Protein Shake Recipes are sure to satisfy your tastebuds and help you stay lean and fit for life.