Snacks have been a subtle staple in most people’s diets, some forgoing entire ‘traditional’ meals because their elegant snack sustain them throughout the work day.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re munching on the right foods. For example, high-protein, afternoon nibbles can curb hunger, improve the quality of your diet, and even speed up weight loss.
But the wrong snacks can add extra weight quickly; researchers say snacks can account for an extra 580 extra calories per day in our diets.
So there lies the problem in snacking: it can either be really beneficial, or very detrimental. Some popular snacks – cookies, chocolate – you probably already know aren’t great for you. But some foods branded as ‘healthy’ aren’t as good as you might’ve heard.
Here’s a list of the worst “healthy” snacks for weight loss, and some damage control tips if you need to stay on track:
Plain Rice Cakes
This is a vintage healthy-snack staple. Despite it’s good rep, rice cakes have a surprisingly high carb count, ranking in the upper echelon of foods on the glycemic index (GI). GI measures how quickly blood rises in response to food on a scale from 1 to 100 – rice cakes have a score of 82. High GI foods provide a rush of energy, but can leave you hungry within a few hours. This causes excessive hunger, making overeating and weight gain a real threat.
Damage Control: Adding healthy fats or proteins to high GI foods will lower the glycemic load. For rice cakes in particular, instead of eating two with nothing, have one with a generous helping of nut butter. Keeps the GI level respectable; the meal becomes a ‘complete protein’, including all nine essential amino acids.
This would is another shocker on the list. Almonds are a healthy combo with foods like kale, which bring out the potency of its healthier side. Roasted almonds aren’t as good. Store-bought varieties are often roasted in oil and then tossed in salt and preservatives. Some even contain the controversial MSG, a flavor enhancer linked to weight gain in some studies.
Damage Control: Raw almonds is where the health’s at. Better still, go for the in-shell varieties. Coined as ‘The Pistachio Effect’, research shows the act of shelling nuts can slow you down and give your body a chance to register fullness more quickly.
These are becoming more common, those precisely weighted packs of cookies or crackers that’s supposed to keep snacking under control. The problem with the little snack packs is dieters perceive small snacks in small portions as diet-friendly, so they end up eating multiple packets, and more calories overall than they typically would.
Damage Control: If you`re dieting, you`re better off dividing your own portions from a regular-sized package, rather than taking a bunch of 100-calorie packs.
You’ve heard about juicing, and how fruit smoothies are an easy alternative to get your daily helping of fruits in. If you’re buying smoothies all the time though, many store-bought options are blended with high-calorie dairy bases and cheap sweeteners that make them more dessert-like than diet-friendly.
Damage Control: This may sound obvious (and it is), but if you want something that’s fruity and sweet…have some fruit! As a general rule: eat, don’t drink, your fruits.
If it’s creamy that you’re craving, pair your fruit with a cup of low-fat plain cottage cheese or yogurt; this is an example of a high-protein afternoon snack that can be a boon to your health.
Think granola is healthy? Consider how it’s made: take a bowl of oats, drown them in oil, cover them with sugar, and bake them on a cookie tray. It’s highly delicious, highly caloric, and very likely you’ll go over your recommended daily calorie intake with just one serving. Comparing a bowl of granola cereal with corn flakes, you’d be consuming five times the calories!
Damage Control: Swap the granola for a big bowl of oatmeal, topped with something like fruit. It’ll fill you up at a fraction of the calories and fat compared to granola.