Low KJ snacks - 5 clean eating mistakes - PHOTO - Women's Health & Fitness

4. Low kJ Snacks
Who says? Nutritionist Alis Alexander

The gripe: The belief that low-energy foods equal weight loss is one of the biggest fat loss furphies, Alexander laments. Often the side effect of chasing minimum kJs is meals based on highly processed, nutrient-poor foods. High GI foods like rice crackers and rice cakes may be low in kJs but are broken down very quickly, Alexander says. That means a similar hit of energy to that which you'd get with table sugar. It places strain on the pancreas to produce lots of insulin very quickly, says Alexander. In the short term, that means energy slumps and hunger soon after eating. Longer term, the pressure can promote type 2 diabetes and weight gain, Alexander warns.

The correction: Base meals and snacks on whole foods, which are less energy dense (translation: more filling bang for your calorie buck). For snacks, get creative with vegies – think zucchini chips with ricotta or Greek yoghurt.

For meals, include vegetables, a portion of protein such as dairy, legumes or meat, and a serve of grains or low-GI carbs – try wholegrain bread, brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat groats. "By eating complex, whole food meals instead of focusing on low-kilojoule foods you'll have increased and sustained energy, increased nutrient intake, increased appetite control, decreased chances of weight gain and increased general wellbeing."