Snacks that suprisingly hurt – not help – your weight loss
Snacks can be an important part of weight loss efforts, fitness regimens and the ongoing battle to remain functional at your desk while waiting for lunchtime to roll around. However, some seemingly healthy snacks often do more harm than good. Some snacks even make you hungrier.
Elizabeth Zawila, a registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says having nutritionally dense choices is essential when it comes to healthy snacking, especially if snacks are a large part of your daily food intake.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of snack foods heavily marketed as health foods that come up short when it comes to actually being nutritious,” Zawila says. “I would encourage people to focus on produce as snacks vs. spending a lot of money on heavily marketed ‘healthy’ snacks.”
Still, snacking can play an important role in managing cravings, keeping metabolism up and preventing overeating at future meals. Even giving in to a desire for salty potato chips can help, so long as it is part of a diverse nutritional diet and consumed in moderation, Zawila says. She suggests people who go longer than five hours between meals should consider adding a healthy snack to their day.
But if you do, be sure to avoid these foods and reach for a piece of fruit or pre-cut veggies with a healthy dip instead:
Granola and trail mix are often the first two “I thought it was healthy but…” lessons people learn when watching what they eat. While both can contain a number of healthy ingredients – nuts and oats, for example – they often feature lots of unhealthy additions that drive up the sugar content such as honey, chocolate chips or dried fruit.
Some days, getting the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits can feel like a chore. Even on days when you’ve been good, throwing back a smoothie boasting a large percentage of your daily vitamins and minerals can help round out your diet for the day. But the ease of buying something already made often outweighs the nutritional benefits, especially when compared to what you can make on your own. Cut down on the calories and sugar and increase the nutrition by making at-home versions of the health smoothies at the store.
Low-fat versions of food
Fat is often viewed as an enemy to be defeated in the war that is weight management, but when enjoyed in moderation, good fats can help you stay full longer and make food taste better. Moreover, processed foods billed as low-fat or fat-free often have a ton of added sugar to make up for the lack of flavor.
Dried fruit/veggie chips
Both of these seem like they are good in theory – dried fruit can be a fun change of pace with new and interesting textures and flavors, and substituting your regular potato chips with vegetables seems like a no-brainer. But dried fruit often comes with extra sugars and are easier to overeat when compared to their fresh counterparts, and the vegetables in the chips are often cut so thin or so processed that they retain relatively little of the original nutrition.
Another of the early revelations for those looking to streamline the health of what they eat. But these juices often add a ton of sugar and are harder to gauge serving sizes than simply enjoying a piece of fruit. If you have a craving, you can always make your own!
Yogurt boasts a wide array of health benefits, including helpful probiotics and lots of protein. But many fall into the same trap as other low-fat versions of food, adding a ton of sugar and very little in the way of actual fruit or nutrition.
Though many processed cereals boast whole grains or that they are fortified with vitamins and minerals, they often are filled with refined grains, sugar and chemicals. Check the label before you buy.
The importance of hydration can hardly be understated, and sports drinks have long been pointed to as a must-have part of every fitness routine. However, they are also usually packed with sugar and calories, and the electrolytes and minerals the drinks boast can be found in a variety of healthier pre- and post-workout foods and drinks for non-athletes, including chocolate milk, beet juice and pickle water.
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About the Author
Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.