Believe it or not, snacking is an essential part of reaching a weight loss goal. In fact, incorporating a few snacks in your diet can play a vital role in maintaining energy levels, reducing overeating at mealtime, and boosting your metabolism. However, not all snacking provides the same benefits. Check out these top five snacking mistakes and the healthy alternatives:
Not That – Trail Mix
Trail mix is often confused to be a “healthy” snack option. In reality, most trail mixes contain a variety of dried fruits and candies that contain added sugars. About 3 tablespoons of trail mix can contain up to 160 calories and over 10g of sugar. Calorically this may not seem too daunting. However, it’s important to consider the actual portion size of this snack. Reaching for a handful of trail mix can result in double the amount of calories and sugar – making it a 400+ calorie snack and over 20g of sugar.
Eat This! – Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Fresh fruit, as opposed to dried fruit, does not have concentrated nutrients such as calories and sugar per serving. One medium fruit can provide up to 300% more in volume while only containing 100-110 calories. Incorporating fresh fruit with a portion of nuts, nut butter, or seeds can be an ideal snack to enjoy between meals. The fat and protein that nuts and seeds provide is a great way to prevent a blood sugar spike and provide long lasting energy. This perfectly balanced snack is not only much more filling, but is also a great way to keep blood sugar levels steady, reduce cravings, and keep appetites steady.
Not That – Flavored Microwavable Popcorn
What many microwavable (already prepared) popcorn products have in common is the additional “not-so-good for us” ingredients. Ingredients such as palm or canola oil, excessive salt, or sugar can be risky when enjoying this food as a snack. One cup of pre-buttered popcorn can contain up to 8 grams of fat!
Eat This! – Pop your own!
Whether you are popping your own popcorn over the stove-top or popping a bag of plain popcorn in the microwave, this is a great way to control the ingredients you add to this snack. While the popcorn is warm, toss it with favorite herbs and spices such as salt and pepper, 1 tsp olive oil and rosemary, ½ tbsp raw sugar with cinnamon, or curry spice mix!
Not That – Granola Bars
Much like trail mix, granola bars are often considered to be a healthy snack option. The ugly truth is, some granola bars can contain as much sugar as a candy bar and little to no protein! A leading granola snack bar can contain up to 16 grams of sugar and less than 3 grams of protein. More likely than not, the top three ingredients in these bars are likely a sugar source (corn syrup, maple syrup, cane syrup, etc).
Eat This! – Protein Bars
Consuming sufficient protein is essential for weight loss, building lean muscle mass, maintaining blood sugar levels, and keeping you full longer. However, it is important to understand that this alternative is not as easy as simply replacing a granola bar with a protein bar. This switch will take a little bit more awareness since some protein bars can also contain as much sugar as a candy bar.
To choose the best protein bar, try to follow these recommendations:
- Protein: 10 grams or more
- Fat: 8-10 grams or less
- Carbohydrates: 25 grams or less
- Sugar: 6 grams or less
- Note: if there is more than 6 grams of sugar, review the ingredients. If the major source of sugar is derived from natural fruit sources, you are in the clear. If you see “fructose,” “sugar,” “corn syrup,” etc in the top 3 ingredients, this is not the best option.
G-Plans Approved Protein Bars: RxBar, One Protein Bars, Square Organics Bar, and KIND Protein Snack Bar
Not That – Chips
It is no secret that grabbing a bag of chips n is probably not the best snack for your waistline. Not to mention, directly eating from the bag can be the leading cause of overeating. One serving of chips can contain over 15 grams of fat, over 150 calories, and little to no nutritional benefits.
Eat This! – Homemade Chips!
Potatoes are often associated with weight gain or have been classified as “unhealthy.”Fortunately, this is completely false. Consuming potatoes in a balanced diet can have benefits that are essential for weight loss! One medium potato contains about 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and only 160 calories – making it an ideal unprocessed carbohydrate choice to include in any meal. One delicious and creative way to enjoy this tuber, is to make your own homemade potato chips! Check out the recipe here.
Not That – Crackers
Much like other processed food items that come packaged, eating crackers can be a slippery slope. Whether it’s due to ignoring the serving size and eating one too many or choosing a brand that contains excessive amounts of trans fats or sugars, crackers are usually not the best option for a snack. Not to mention, crackers are usually topped with cheese, peanut butter topping, or perhaps another calorically dense food.
Eat This! – Use Veggies Instead
When in doubt, snack on veggies! Slicing up a fresh cucumber or baking zucchini rounds are great options for pseudo-crackers! Veggies such as baby carrots or cherry tomatoes are also great for dipping. Check out this amazing recipe for spicy roasted zucchini rounds!
Keep your metabolism active and hot by incorporating at least one snack between meals. While reaching for that snack, consider your waistline and try out one of these tasty and healthy alternatives.