Walk down the aisles of your local grocery store and you’ll likely be bombarded with hundreds of processed, packaged snacks—many of which claim to be healthy. And while there’s no question that certain snacks are extremely healthy (bring on the nuts!), others might actually be hindering your weight loss efforts, or even causing weight gain.
Here’s the one snack registered dietitians want you to stop eating in the name of weight loss—and other snacks you should probably avoid too.
The One ‘Healthy’ Snack To Avoid When You’re Trying To Lose Weight, According to Registered Dietitians
If you’re trying to lose weight, Kelly Costa, RD, a nutritionist with the National Coalition on Healthcare (NCHC) recommends avoiding veggie sticks and chips. “Veggie chips and sticks are often promoted as a healthier alternative, but since they primarily consist of potato starch and potato flour, they offer minimal nutritional benefits beyond that of regular potato chips,” she explains. “Additionally, they tend to be high in sodium and inflammatory oils while lacking in fiber content.”
As a result, she says, it’s best to think of them as potato chips and enjoy them in moderation or abstain from them completely—especially if weight loss is your goal.
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Other Snacks To Avoid When You Want To Lose Weight
Of course, veggie sticks and chips aren’t the only snacks to avoid when you want to lose weight. Costa also recommends steering clear of certain granola and energy bars. “People often assume that granola, energy and protein bars are healthy snacks,” she says. “However, many of these products are highly processed and contain added sugars, vegetable oils, preservatives, artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors.”
While they may provide some healthy ingredients, Costa adds, they still need to be evaluated based on their nutritional value when considering them as a snack while trying to lose weight.
Cesar Sauza, RD, a nutritionist at NCHC, adding that yogurt is often thought of as an excellent snack for weight loss, but yogurt can be loaded with sugar. “Yogurts are a ‘healthy’ snack to be careful with mainly due to their high sugar content,” he explains. “Many yogurts appear healthy but contain significant amounts of added sugars. I teach patients to read labels and choose yogurts with under 10 grams of sugar per serving.”
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What To Eat When You Want To Lose Weight
So, what should you eat when you want to lose weight? One rule of thumb Sauza swears by is including at least one fruit or veggie in every snack.
“When it comes to snacks, I always teach patients to include at least one fruit or vegetable in every snack, paired with a protein or healthy fat,” he says. “The protein/healthy fat is usually some type of nut or seed like almonds, walnuts, pepitas or sunflower seeds.”
Berries make good snack options, he adds, but fruit should be the sole source of sugar if weight loss is the goal. “Raw vegetables like carrots, celery, bell peppers, and others pair well with cheese, a boiled egg, peanut butter or any nuts/seeds.”
Costa also recommends incorporating lean protein into meals. “Protein, a highly satiating macronutrient, plays a crucial role in weight loss,” she says. “It enhances feelings of fullness, reduces hunger levels and aids in preserving muscle mass during calorie-restricted diets. Incorporating lean protein sources like eggs, dairy products (such as yogurt and cheese), legumes, fish, tofu, chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds into your meals can promote satiety and support healthy weight loss.”
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She also suggests opting for foods high in soluble fiber. “While dietary fiber can benefit weight management, soluble fiber offers specific advantages,” Costa says. “When consumed, soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut, which slows digestion and provides a greater feeling of fullness. In addition, it binds with dietary sugar and fats, reducing their absorption and resulting in improved blood sugar levels and decreased calorie intakes.”
All plant foods contain some soluble fiber, she adds, but certain foods are especially rich in it. “These include beans, Brussels sprouts, flax seeds, peas, carrots, avocados, apples, citrus fruits, oats and barley,” Costa says. “Incorporating these into your diet can contribute to overall well-being and weight management.”
While it may be wise to skip the veggie sticks and chips, there are still a lot of solid snack options out there if you want to lose weight. So feel free to download them!
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