Snacking Edition... again information from Men's Health - Eat This Not That section.
Snacking can be an important part of any diet—when done right.
Balanced snacks keep you feeling fuller, longer, and can prevent you from over-indulging by the time you finally sit down for dinner. But when between-meal bites turn into mindless munching throughout the day, those extra calories can be disastrous for your diet.
It doesn’t help that between 1977 and 1996, a simple snack of a bag of chips and a Coke increased by a whopping 142 calories. Sure, it’s the same snack as 30 years ago, but eat it just two or three times a week and you’ll gain up to 6 more pounds this year than you would have back then.
Even if you skip the chips and soda, seemingly “healthy” snacks can get you into trouble, too. Cornell University researchers found that people tend to eat an average of 28 percent more calories when snacking on low-fat foods. After all, flavor has to come from somewhere, and when food marketers eliminate the fat, they often make up for it with sugar (translation: added calories).
The good news is that it’s possible to munch away pounds, as long as you avoid snack traps like these.
Worst Snack Yogurt Stonyfield Farm Whole Milk Chocolate Underground (6 oz) 220 calories 5 g fat (3 g saturated) 36 g sugars
Stonyfield is notorious for being a little too generous with the sugar, but the nearly 3 tablespoons in their Chocolate Underground is bad even by their super-sweet standards. Not even Ben & Jerry’s makes a flavor of ice cream with this much sugar.
Eat This Instead! Breyers’ Cookies n’Cream YoCrunch Lowfat with Oreo Pieces (6 oz) 120 calories 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated) 11 g sugars
Worst Snack Cheese Kraft Snackables Cubes Colby & Monterey Jack (5 pieces, 21 g) 77 calories 6.5 g fat (4 g saturated) 168 mg sodium
Each tiny cube carries 6 percent of your daily recommended dose of saturated fat. The only thing these snacking cheeses has going for them is that they’re not cheddar—one of the highest calorie cheeses you can eat.
Eat This Instead! The Laughing Cow Light Gourmet Cheese Bites (5 pieces, 23.5 g) 35 calories 2 g fat (1 g saturated) 300 mg sodium
Worst Snack Soup Goya Black Bean Soup (1 cup, 246 g) 210 calories 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated) 1,050 mg sodium
The black beans are a good start—they offer protein, fiber, and antioxidants. But one serving of this soup has more sodium than 6 single-serving bags of Ruffles potato chips. One of the rules of smart snacking is to keep the sodium content down—hypertension trouble aside, the more salt you eat, the thirstier you’ll be. And the thirstier you are, the more likely you are to indulge in calorie- and sugar-laden beverages.
Eat This Instead! Amy’s Black Bean Vegetable Soup (1 cup, 240 mL) 130 calories 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated) 430 mg sodium
Worst Snack Chili ( when did chili become a snack?! ) Hormel Chili with Beans (1 container) 520 calories14 g fat (6 g saturated) 2,380 mg sodium
The sodium overload in this container exceeds the amount you should consume in a whole day. Not to mention a quarter of your daily calories and saturated fat. Choose Amy’s instead. There’s no turkey, but the wealth of black beans contributes 26 grams of protein—you won’t even miss it.
Eat This Instead! Amy’s Organic Chili Black Bean (1 cup, 280 calories) (not sure why the calorie counts are different here) 200 calories 2 g fat (0 g saturated) 680 mg sodium
Worst Snack Dried Fruit Sunsweet Premium Thailand Pineapple (1/3 cup, 40 g) 130 calories 0 g fat 31 g sugars
Added sweeteners and preservatives make this a less-worthy dried fruit. It comes with more sugar than a Twix bar! Choose fruit leather, instead.
Eat This Instead! Stretch Island Fruit Co. The Original Fruit Leather Abundant Apricot (1 strip, 14 g) 45 calories 0 g fat 8 g sugars
Worst Snack Canned Fruit Del Monte Peach Chunks in Heavy Syrup (1/2 cup, 127 g) 100 calories 0 g fat 23 g sugars
Translation for heavy syrup: overly sweetened goo that turns otherwise healthy fruit into sugar-loaded candy. The blend of corn syrup and sugar add more than a tablespoon of unnecessary sweet stuff to this can. When choosing canned fruit, 100% juice is the best you can hope for—it means you eat only real fruit and their juices.
Eat This Instead! Del Monte 100% Juice Tropical Fruit Salad (1/2 cup, 122 g) 60 calories 0 g fat
Worst Snack Applesauce Mott’s Original Apple Sauce (1 container, 113 g) 100 calories 0 g fat 22 g sugars
These abused apples have doubled their caloric load by soaking in a bath of high-fructose corn syrup. Choosing the no-sugar-added version gives you nothing but blended apples, water, and 20% of your vitamin C.
Eat This Instead! Mott’s Natural Apple Sauce No Sugar Added (1 container, 111 g) 50 calories 0 g fat 11 g sugars
Olives are a great quick snack, loaded with vitamin E, iron, fiber, and the same heart-healthy fats found in their oil. But of the Mezzetta Calamata olives has 720 calories and virtually no trace of the vitamins found in the Star alternative.
Eat This Instead! Star Spanish Olives 15 calories 1 g fat (0 g saturated) 260 mg sodium
“Bread and butter” means that these pickles have been injected with high-fructose corn syrup. Choose the Kosher Dill variety for a better choice, but keep a cap on the pickle snacking or the sodium will add up quickly.
Eat This Instead! Vlasic Stackers Kosher Dill (2 slices, 56 g) 10 calories 0 g fat 410 mg sodium
Worst Snack Crunch Mix Gardetto’s Special Request Roasted Garlic Rye Chips (1/2 cup, 30 g) 160 calories 10 g fat (2 g saturated, 2.5 g trans) 40 mg sodium
Gardetto extracts the worst part of its Original snack mix and tries to serve it as a gourmet snack—a sneaky move that might have serious repercussions for even casual munchers. Each single serving exceeds the amount of trans fat deemed safe to consume daily by the American Heart Association.
Eat This Instead! Snyder’s of Hanover Sourdough Nibblers (16 pieces, 30 g) 120 calories 0 g fat 200 mg sodium
Worst Snack Potato Chips Boulder Canyon Malt Vinegar & Sea Salt (~14 chips, 28 g) 150 calories 7 g fat (1 g saturated) 410 mg sodium
Boulder Canyon packs in nearly double the sodium of all major brands. Choose Popchips instead. They’re neither fried nor baked—the potatoes “pop” with heat and pressure. Delicious ingenuity.
Eat This Instead! Popchips Salt & Pepper (~20 chips, 28 g) 120 calories 4 g fat (0 g saturated) 290 mg sodium
Worst Snack Crackers Ritz (10 crackers, 30 g) 160 calories 8 g fat (2 g saturated) 250 mg sodium
The most famous name in crackers is also an easy way to get fat. Each cracker contains 2 grams of refined carbohydrates and nearly 1 gram of fat. Choose the Triscuit Original, which is about as unadulterated as wheat gets without chewing on chaff. Your reward: Nearly half a gram of fiber in every cracker.
Eat This Instead! Nabisco Triscuit Original (6 crakcers, 29 g) 120 calories 4.5 g fat (1 g saturated) 180 mg sodium
Worst Snack Popcorn Pop-Secret Movie Theater Butter (2 cups popped) 90 calories 6 fat (1.5 g saturated, 2.5 g trans) 150 mg sodium
The only “secret” here is that the company has no qualms with trans fat. Choose Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter for fewer calories, and no trans fats.
Eat This Instead! Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter (2 cups popped) 70 calories 5 g fat (2 g saturated) 110 mg sodium
Worst Snack Cereal Bar Kellogg’s Special K Bliss Chocolatey Dipped Raspberry (2 bars, 44 g) 180 calories 4 g fat (2 g saturated) 18 g sugars 1 g fiber
Special K shrinks their bar down to half the normal size, but the truth is that it’s 40 percent sugar and doesn’t even have 1 gram of fiber. You’ll feel twice as hungry half an hour after eating it. Choose Fiber One for a more filling snack.
Eat This Instead! Fiber One Oats & Chocolate (1 bar, 40 g) 140 calories 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated) 10 g sugars 9 g fiber
Worst Snack Cookie Pillsbury Big Deluxe Classics White Chunk Macadamia Nut (dough; 1 cookie, 38 g) 180 calories 10 g fat (3 g saturated, 2 g trans) 13 g sugars
Stick to Nestle Toll House when it comes to big-brand cookie dough; the people of Pillsbury have a penchant for scattering trans fats across your market’s refrigerated section. This cookie has one load of dangerous oils mixed into the flour and another blended with sugar and interspersed throughout the dough as “white confectionery chunks.”
Eat This Instead! Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (1 ½-inch ball, 28 g) 130 calories 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated) 11 g sugars
Worst Snack Candy Twix (1 package, 2 oz) 280 calories 14 g fat (11 g saturated) 27 g sugars
Twix takes the already-dubious candy-bar reputation and drags it through a murky pool of saturated fat. With more than half the USDA’s daily consumption recommendation for these dangerous fats in each package, this is one hazardous after-lunch snack.
Eat This Instead! 100 Grand (1 package) 190 calories 8 g fat (5 g saturated) 22 g sugars
Worst Snack Baked Good Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffin (1 muffin, 114 g) (Uh, yeah anything from them tastes amazing, but is VERY bad for you!) 460 calories 22 g fat (3 g saturated) 2 g fiber 32 g sugars
Despite popular belief, muffins are very rarely healthy. Case in point: The first ingredient in this muffin is sugar. The result is metabolic mayhem: Blood sugar climbs, pancreas goes into overdrive, and the body begins storing sugar as fat. Shortly after, you’ll feel sluggish and crave more sugar.
Eat This Instead! Vitalicious Apple Berry Muffin 100 calories 0 g fat 5 g fiber 10 g sugars
Worst Snack Pudding Swiss Miss Chocolate Vanilla Swirl (1 pudding cup, 113 g) 150 calories 4 g fat (3 g saturated) 20 g sugars
There’s almost a full teaspoon of sugar in every ounce of this cup. Sugar is the biggest concern with yogurts and puddings, so worry less about fat and calories and find one that is minimally sweetened, instead.
Eat This Instead! Jell-O Sugar Free Dark Chocolate (1 snack, 106 g) 60 calories 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated) 0 g sugars
Worst Snack Frozen Treat Toll House Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich (1 sandwich) 520 calories 23 g fat (9 g saturated) 44 g sugars
If the nearly 4 tablespoons of sugar doesn’t scare you away, the quarter of your day’s calories from an ice-cream novelty should. If you’re going to take in this much fat and calories in one sitting, it better be dinner.
Eat This Instead! Skinny Cow Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich (1 sandwich) (Skinny Cow treats are actually really good!) 140 calories 2 g fat (1 g saturated) 15 g sugars
Worst Snack in the Supermarket Hostess Chocolate Pudding Pie (Uh, gross! I don't know about you, but shelf stable fried foods don't appeal to me) 520 calories 24 g fat (14 g saturated, 1.5 g trans) 45 g sugars
Skip past the enriched flour and water on the ingredient list and here’s what you get: animal shortening, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, modified corn starch, butter, chocolate liqueur, and so on. Any one of these ingredients alone might prompt you to raise an eyebrow, but taken together they should invoke a gag reflex and a sprint for something far healthier.
Eat This Instead! Chocolatey Drizzle Rice Krispies Treat 100 calories 3 g fat (1 g saturated) 8 g sugars
Good Snacking Guidelines
The most effective way to lose weight is by eating the right foods at the right times. Slurping down a cup of coffee for breakfast and ignoring your rumbling stomach until noon isn’t just uncomfortable—it will also leave you more likely to order up a burger and fries at the first sight of a drive-thru. Would you like extra pounds with that?
The good news is that it's okay to munch in between meals. A 2005 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people on a weight-loss plan who snacked lost as much weight as those on the same weight-loss plan who didn't. Bet you can guess which group of people felt less restricted.
But that doesn’t mean you should go have a free-for-all in the aisles of 7-Eleven. Choosing the right snacks is essential to maintaining good health, reaching your goal weight, and having more energy. That’s why Eat This, Not That! developed the following snack-smart guidelines.
Don’t snack if you’re not hungry French researchers found that when people who weren’t hungry ate a snack a few hours after lunch, they did not eat fewer calories at dinner—regardless of whether the snack was high in carbohydrates or fat.
Go for high-protein, not high-carb Another group of French researchers found that high-protein snacks help people feel full longer and eat less at their next meal. Study participants ate 200 calories of protein or carbs or nothing at all. Those who ate high-carbohydrate snacks were hungry again just as quickly as those who ate no snacks.
Keep the salt down, especially for your kids A study published in an American Heart Association journal found that kids who eat salty snacks get thirstier (obviously), but they’re also more likely to drink calorie- and sugar-laden sodas to tame their thirst. According to the USDA, most of the sodium in the American diet comes from packaged and processed foods. Naturally occurring salt accounts for only 13 percent of total intake, while 77 percent is added by food manufacturers.
Take the family to the movies A study of popcorn consumers published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that popcorn eaters had a 22 percent higher intake of fiber and a 250 percent higher intake of whole grains than noneaters. (But order it without the scary faux-butter topping, to save hundreds of calories.
Go nuts and dark chocolate Purdue University researchers found that snackers who ate peanuts, peanut butter, almonds, chestnuts, or chocolate were significantly less hungry than those who ate rice cakes or pickles.
Reward yourself with ice cream British researchers conducted MRI scans and found that a single spoonful of ice cream triggers the pleasure centers in the brain. Plus, just half a cup of vanilla ice cream gives you 18 milligrams of choline, which recent USDA research shows lowers blood levels of homocysteine by 8 percent. That translates into protection from cancer, heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Best pick: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Light. One serving has at most 3 grams of saturated fat.
Think dips The average corn chip is hardly a model of nutrition. But you can turn it into something much healthier by pairing it with the right dip. Sour cream and dried onion soup? Not so fast. But mix a little avocado, some lime juice, half a jalapeno, and a few sprinkles of salt and you have instant guacamole—and a delivery system for fiber, vitamins and minerals, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Low-cal, high-in-vitamins salsa and fiber-rich bean dips are also smart choices.