by Jessica Girdwain
From the Cheerio-toting toddler to the vending machine-loving employee, we’re a nation obsessed with snacks. How obsessed? Most of us eat nearly 600 calories a day—that’s roughly a third of our food—in snacks rather than meals, according to a 2010 study from the University of North Carolina.
That’s a lot of snacking, something that can make or break your weight loss efforts. “There is a right way and a wrong way to snack,” says Katie Ferraro, MPH, a San Diego-based registered dietitian at Ingrain Health. Done right, snacking can keep your appetite in check, fuel your workout, and give you valuable nutrients. Done wrong, and you’re downing gut-busting snacks loaded with sugar and fat, says Ferraro.
And here’s where it gets tricky—it’s all too easy to be fooled into thinking seemingly healthy snacks are good for your waistline. Here are 15 weight loss-sabotaging snacks to avoid, and the tasty swaps to make instead.
Instead of: ½ cup of trail mix with chocolate pieces
Reach for: A fruit-and-nut bar
The standard serving size of trail mix is a quarter cup, a measly amount that most of never come close to sticking to—especially when eating straight out of the bag (just two handfuls put you at 350 calories!). A fruit-and-nut bar, like KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt or a LaraBar is great way to meet your craving for something nutty and slightly sweet, but in a single-serve package that you can’t overdo. (Check out these other healthy snacks that satisfy every craving.)
Instead of: Strawberry yogurt
Reach for: Plain Greek yogurt with fresh strawberry slices
Some fruit-on-the-bottom varieties of yogurt contain 26 grams of sugar in a six-ounce container (that’s the equivalent of three Oreo cookies). And while 12 grams of that comes from the milk itself, the rest is from the sugar-packed fruit flavoring. A recent study review published in the BMJ found that cutting back on sugar is associated with about a two-pound weight loss, while eating more results in a similar amount of weight gain. Stick to plain Greek yogurt for less sugar and a healthy dose of protein (just beware of these 6 Greek yogurt myths).
Head on to Prevention for the list