When you’re trying to lose weight, snacks can keep your metabolism revved up and give you the energy you need to power through your workouts. They can also help you stay satisfied and prevent you from overeating at meals. However, you have to make sure those munchies aren’t doing major damage to your diet. Let’s look at a few so-called “healthy” snacks and determine whether they’re really as nutritious as they seem:
- Fruit smoothies
Many dieters like to sip smoothies from their favorite fast-food chains and convenience stores. However, those smoothies can be full of sugar and stabilizers. They can also have as many calories as a large milkshake or another decadent dessert. Instead, opt to make your own concoction at home using ice and frozen fruit. By controlling exactly what goes into your smoothie, you’ll be able to determine the amount of calories you’re actually consuming. Logging your calories accurately is a great way to stay on track with your weight-loss goals.
- Bran muffins
When most people hear the word “bran,” they automatically think of health food. After all, bran is an excellent source of fiber. The main problem lies in the muffin part of this snack equation. Many of the muffins you’ll find in grocery stores or coffeehouses are as big as your head and contain more calories than a slice of chocolate cake. If you’re really craving one, bake your own miniature version to help keep the portion size in check. That way your muffin won’t lead to a “muffin top” when you squeeze into your skinny jeans.
- Protein bars
While prepackaged energy bars may pack a protein punch, they’re often loaded with unnecessary additives. With all of the sugar, fat and calories most of these little logs contain, they’re practically candy bars in disguise. Always read the label before you purchase any type of bar to figure out what’s really inside. Better yet, stick to a more natural form of protein like a bit of cheese or a serving of Greek yogurt. You’ll get the energy boost you need without all the unhealthy preservatives.
- Trail mix
At first glance, trail mix seems like such an innocent snack. What could be bad about the combination of nuts and dried fruits? Unfortunately, most of us don’t eat the recommended serving size. When you indulge in an entire bag rather than a small handful, you certainly aren’t helping your weight-loss efforts. Plus, you can’t forget about those candy-coated chocolates that could be lurking in the package. A piece of fresh fruit will do a much better job of satisfying your appetite without breaking the caloric bank. In other words, trail mix should be left to those burning massive amounts of calories on actual trails.
- Fat-free or reduced-fat products
Many companies hope to lure dieters by filling the snack aisles with low-fat or even fat-free products. However, cookies and crackers that have fewer grams of fat aren’t necessarily good for you. Many of the reduced-fat varieties have almost as many calories as the original selections. In addition, you may be prone to eat more just because you think of them as diet foods. Ditch the junk entirely and go for something “real” like an apple or a couple slices of lean turkey.
Dieting doesn’t have to mean starving yourself. In fact, your body needs some healthy snacks to keep your metabolic rate up to speed. However, the key word to remember is “healthy.” You should be aware of what foods will help you achieve your weight-loss goals as well as which ones may hinder your success. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the nutritious snack myths. By examining labels and choosing the correct portion sizes, you can snack smarter and finally lose those stubborn pounds!