There’s a long list of snacks that have been marketed as “healthy”, but in reality, they’re anything but. We’ll take a look at 25 of the top supposedly-healthy snacks that aren’t, but before we do, it’s important to remember the following nutrition basics:
- Your body needs sugar in order to make energy. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and only sugar goes in. However, extra sugar is turned into fat and stored for later use.
- Diets are not the same as a lifestyle change. Diets are temporary and once you go off of them, you’ll gain the weight back and then some.
- Your body needs fats and oils to produce hormones and maintain cell membranes. However, too much fat can cause weight gain and/or high blood pressure.
- Real food is always better than processed foods.
- Antioxidants only work if they have never been in contact with oxygen. Therefore, processing any type of fruit or vegetable will destroy the antioxidants.
Sweet Potato Chips: Sweet potatoes are good for you because they have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and much-needed carbohydrates for energy. However, if you chop them up, deep fry them, and shove them all in a bag, you lose most of those nutrients and vitamins. All you’re left with is fat and salt and dried potato.
Naturally Sweetened Candy: Candy is candy, no matter where the sugar comes from. All candy is full of sugar, and not much else.
Sugar-Free or Fat-Free cookies: If a cookie is sugar free, it’s loaded with fat. If it’s fat-free, it’s loaded with sugar. Why? Because that’s the only way to make the cookie yummy.
Plant-Based Ice cream: Oil from a coconut and fats from milk are the same type of macro-molecule. Eating too much of either will make you gain weight and clog your arteries. Plant-based ice cream is great if you have a dairy-allergy, but it’s not great for weight loss.
Gluten-free cookies and crackers: Unless you have a wheat allergy or Celiac disease, going gluten-free isn’t a weight loss magic bullet. Cookies and crackers will contain the same preservatives, sugar and salt content, regardless of the source of the flour.
Dairy-free yogurt: This is similar to plant-based ice cream. To get the consistency of real yogurt, companies add emulsifiers to plant oils. This means you’re still consuming quite a lot of fats.
Flavored yogurt: If you hate yogurt so much that you need to eat ones that taste like candy, don’t bother! It’s okay to not like yogurt. Flavored yogurts are so processed with so much sugar and artificial coloring that it outweighs any minute benefits that yogurt has.
Plantain chips: Like the sweet potato chips, they’re fried in oil. Just eat plantains.
Bottled teas: The flavored and sweetened ones are similar to drinking soda. Go for the unsweetened kind or better yet, brew your own!
Sugar-free candy: Sugar-free food was invented for diabetics. But candy is still candy, it has no nutritional value.
Packaged juices: It might seem healthy to drink liquid squeezed from the reproductive organs of plants. But by the time the juices are processed, packaged and gets to you, most of the vitamins have degraded. You’re basically just drinking sugar water. If you love juice, squeeze your own plant organs!
Dried fruit: Once again, drying out the reproductive organs of plants leaves you with fiber and sugar. You can’t digest fiber and there are no vitamins left in dried fruit.
Multi-grain chips: At the end of the day, any type of chips are still just chips. They have lots of starch in them, but none of the vitamins and minerals of actual grains. If you want the health benefits of grains, eat the grains!
Gluten-free pretzels: Gluten-free or not, pretzels are basically dried starch in a fancy shape, sprinkled with salt. There’s no nutritional value in pretzels whatsoever.
Protein bars: These are fine after a hard workout, but protein bars are packed with sugar to give the recovering athlete a fuel source. This means they’re high in calories and not the best option if you’re looking to lose weight.
Store-bought trail mix: This type of trail-mix is mostly candy (M&M’s) and dried fruit. The nutritional value of nuts that have been processed and salted is low as well. Eat these if you’re on a trail, but even then, making your own is a healthier option.
Vegan or paleo cookies: No matter how you dress up a cookie, it’s still a cookie. Most processed vegan foods are high in sugar and fats (plant oils) to make them taste better.
Granola bars: The ads are great for granola bars, they do give you a boost of energy if you’re on a hike. But that’s because they contain lots of sugar. They’re, however, not ideal for weight loss or people with a non-active lifestyle.
Bottled smoothies: These drinks are processed to the point where the vitamins have mostly degraded or oxidized. You’re basically drinking viscous sugar water with bottled smoothies.
Fruit bars: These snacks are high in sugar and the fruit has no nutritional value since it’s been dried. Fruits bars contain mostly sugar and starch and not much else.
Pre-made energy bites: Guess what gives you energy? Sugar! So pre-made energy bites are filled with sugar. It’s great for a pre-workout or post-workout pick me up, but you can do better than process round balls of sugar and who-knows-what. Pick up a banana, an apple or an orange for sugar from the original source. Plus, you get the bonus of vitamins and minerals and fiber. None of them are processed.
What are your favorite healthy snacks?