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Obesity Prevention: 10 Refined Carbohydrates You Should Avoid at All Costs

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

This article is Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Along with the deadly pandemic came the rise in cases of obesity among Americans.

The CDC reported that 35% of the residents in 16 states are obese. The prevalence has almost doubled from its 2018 statistics.

As the country tries to go past the restrictions of COVID-19, the increasing number of cases of obesity still follows the same trend.

These data lead a lot of experts and individuals alike to revisit obesity prevention on a broader scale.

Naturally, the strategies begin with nutrition and diet, explicitly reducing or eliminating foods that promote obesity and weight gain altogether. And on top of the list are refined carbohydrates or sugar.

Carbohydrates and Obesity

Research has long suggested that refined or processed carbohydrates, especially those often included in a staple American or European diet, account for the surge of obesity over the years.

With this critical information at hand, it only makes sense to switch from processed carbohydrates to healthier counterparts.

Nonetheless, identifying food and products classified as refined carbohydrates is a crucial step to invoke awareness about its role in developing obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

Obesity: Its Nature, Causes, and Potential Complications

Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive weight gain and fat accumulation that leads to life-threatening health risks.

While obesity is often tied with excessive eating, more complex metabolic factors must be considered in hindsight.

For example, recent studies suggest the involvement of several genes in either promoting or controlling the development of obesity.

Researchers from the University of Virginia identified 14 genes associated with stimulating obesity and three genes that can prevent it. 

These discoveries highlight the potential innate nature of obesity or the genetic alterations caused by internal or external factors.


Researchers and medical experts established the identity of obesity as largely preventable. 

As fats are derived from the food you eat, managing your dietary lifestyle and ensuring regular physical activities have proven to be effective solutions.

However, as research on obesity and its causes has deepened over the years, a key finding added data outside lifestyle choices.

Here are the known causes of obesity

  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Genetics
  • Underlying medical conditions  

Hormonal imbalance contributes to metabolic problems.

Calories from food are bound to be converted to energy. The excess will then be stored in the form of lipids or fats.

Suppose the process is disrupted because of some failure from the endocrine system to produce hormones like insulin and thyroid hormones. In that case, the metabolic rate becomes slower, leading to more calories getting stored as fats.

This is why getting tested for health conditions such as hypothyroidism and Cushing syndrome is essential.

A Thyroid Health Profile Blood Test can help you assess underlying problems with hormones that actively participate in the metabolic processes.


Living with obesity is like having one foot in the grave. That is, if you don’t take immediate and appropriate actions. 

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.8 million people suffer from the fatal effects of obesity each year. Unfortunately, with the expansion of this epidemic, this figure is projected to rise.

In most cases, those who have died from obesity acquired other medical conditions contributing to their death. Here are the probable health complications you can develop if you’re obese.

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Cancer
  • Sleep problems
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Mental disorders
  • Death

Refined Carbohydrates vs. Whole Carbohydrates: What’s the Difference?

Carbohydrates are probably the first food group many people control or even eliminate from their diet when they try to lose weight.

Although there are arguments on whether or not eradicating carbohydrates from daily consumption is a wise and healthy choice, there are pieces of evidence supporting the benefits of its regulation.

Among the different organic macromolecules needed by the body, carbohydrates are the ones to provide the most energy in their simplest form, known as glucose.

With the evolution of food across the centuries, carbohydrates or sugar also expanded from simple to complex. Hence, we have the term refined and whole carbohydrates.

Simply put, refined carbohydrates have been processed many times over removing the natural nutrients and fibers.

On the other hand, whole carbohydrates are minimally processed, retaining and keeping the nutrients unchanged.

Obviously, whole carbohydrates are preferred over refined carbohydrates. They are considered as the healthier choices and rarely contribute to obesity.

However, the debate between refined and whole carbohydrates goes beyond which one is placed on top of the other. This is because refined carbohydrates are not just a second-rate option, it could be a deadly choice.

10 Bad Carbohydrates To Avoid 

Refined or bad carbohydrates are one the most significant contributors to the development of obesity.

Unfortunately, most of the American staples are made of refined carbohydrates. Hence, it is quite a challenge to avoid or completely eliminate them.

Nonetheless, if you recognize their detrimental effects, specifically how they promote obesity, it is easier to become more conscious.

Furthermore, knowing better alternatives can make the dietary transition smoother.

With that being said, here are some of the worse refined carbohydrates and their healthier counterparts.

  1. White Bread

On top of the list is white bread—a staple among many American households packed with high calories.

As it is made with very refined flour, it contains added sugar that can cause dysfunction in insulin production.

White bread does not only lead to a higher glycemic index. Eating it regularly can also increase abdominal fat.

Healthier Alternatives to White Bread:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Rye bread
  • Ezekiel bread
  • Wheat bread

So, the next time you make a sandwich, consider using whole grain bread to minimize your risk for obesity.

  1. Potato Chips

It may seem odd that a salty snack like potato chips is considered as one to cause obesity.

Nonetheless, just like white bread, potato chips have a higher glycemic index. So not only does it contain too many calories, but it also has high oil content that may contribute to cholesterol buildup.

Its association with obesity is clearly established through studies revolving around potato consumption. Clearly, consuming excessive potato chips paves the surest way to obesity.

Healthier Alternatives to Potato Chips:

  • Chickpea snacks
  • Carrot chips
  • Veggie crisps
  • Cottage cheese
  • Unflavored popcorn

Homemade veggie chips are often healthier especially prepared using good oils. Even better if you don’t use any oils at all.  

  1. Pasta

Everybody loves pasta. So it’s pretty heartbreaking knowing that eating them regularly can lead to obesity. 

However, all is not lost, as studies are currently being conducted on the actual effects of pasta consumption on weight gain.

Several findings suggest that pasta alone cannot cause obesity. 

Nonetheless, it is understandable that any pasts dish also contains ingredients with a higher glycemic index. 

Therefore, it could help to screen other ingredients when opting for a healthier dietary choice.

Healthier Alternatives to Pasta:

  • Spiralized vegetables
  • Cabbage noodles
  • Eggplant lasagna
  • Spaghetti squash

4. Sugary Cereal

Cereals are the go-to breakfast food for the majority of Americans.

It’s easy to prepare and can help you start your day fast. But, unfortunately, it’s also why many people diagnosed with obesity often consider sugary cereals as one of the culprits for their condition.

Healthier Alternatives to Sugary Cereals:

  • Muesli
  • Overnight oats
  • Apple almond oatmeal

5. Ice Cream

Frequent ice cream eating is sure to trigger type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Ice creams are rich in refined sugars, including dairy, that can increase body fat accumulation.

 Not only that. According to the Oregon Research Institute, ice cream overeating leads to weight gain and reduced reception on the part of the brain in charge of satisfaction.

Therefore, the more you eat ice cream, the less it makes you happy, which basically puts your risk for obesity even more senseless.

Healthier Alternatives to Ice Cream:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Fruit popsicles

6. Candies

About 18.5% of children in the US are obese. This leads medical experts to turn to the probable contribution of confectionery consumptions.

Candies are almost irresistible to children, and let’s face it, even adults.

The over-the-top sweetness of candy products is enough to suggest that it is high in refined sugars that promote obesity.

Hence, a confectionary addiction is a surefire way to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Healthier Alternatives to Candies:

  • Fruits (fresh, frozen, or dried)
  • Trail mix
  • Baked apples

7. Soda

Research has backed up the fact that sugary beverages like soft drinks have a direct link to weight gain and increased risks for obesity.

Therefore, consuming soda in almost every meal will not only lead to fat accumulation but open the gateway to other diseases concerning your kidneys, liver, and blood sugar levels.

Healthier Alternatives to Soda:

  • Kombucha
  • Tea
  • Fresh lemonade
  • Fruit and herb infusions
  • Coconut water

8. Pastries

Eating healthy isn’t exactly a piece of cake, especially if you are naturally drawn to a piece of cake.

Pastries like cookies, muffins, cakes, doughnuts, etc., are mostly refined carbohydrates. As a result, they are considered unhealthy, increasing the risks for obesity at a higher rate.

Healthier Alternatives to Pastries:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Fresh fruits
  • Whole grain pastries

9. White Rice

If you’re fond of risottos and Chinese take-outs, then you may want to rethink your dietary choices.

Consumption of white rice is linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and by extension, obesity.

Furthermore, research experiments showed that people who have diets centered on white rice are more likely to be obese if the intake is excessive.

Healthier Alternatives to White Rice:

  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Freekeh
  • Quinoa
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Shirataki rice

10. French Fries

French fries are as deadly as they are delicious. It has a higher glycemic index, not to mention, it is saturated with sodium and fats.

Aside from promoting obesity, these ingredients can lead to heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, it drives you to overeat which guarantees weight gain in the long run.

Healthier Alternatives to French Fries:

  • Apple chips
  • Zucchini fries
  • Baked potato fries
  • Fresh fruits

The Bottomline

Your diet accounts to the likelihood of developing obesity.

However, there is also strong evidence suggesting that the lack of exercise aggravates your risks for obesity instead of nutrition. Nonetheless, these two lifestyle choices go hand-in-hand.

If you are looking for ways to manage your weight and embrace a healthier routine, choose healthier food alternatives.

Come up with a feasible schedule for exercise or sports.

And lastly, get tested for underlying medical conditions to regulate your health.  

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