Healthy eating can be a huge challenge when you’re constantly being tempted by sweet or salty unhealthy snacks. Do you know what’s even worse? Indulging in supposedly healthier alternatives that aren’t healthy snacks at all.
How do I define healthy snacks? For a snack to be healthy, it has to be high in nutritional value (i.e. protein, vitamins, mineral, fiber) but low in calories, trans fats, refined sugar and sodium.
I have several different nutrition tips to help you eat a fat-burning diet, but the first one is always to rid your house of all of the unhealthy snacks that you end up binging on in low moments. That also goes for the healthy snacks that really aren’t that healthy at all. They’re the tricky ones that do the most damage.
Let’s take a look at these fake healthy snacks so they don’t sneak their way into your kitchen…
4 Fake Healthy Snacks to Stop Eating
1. Whole Wheat Crackers
Crackers seem pretty harmless, especially the “healthy” ones. Unfortunately, they can be quite deceiving. Most of them don’t truly qualify as healthy snacks.
The main issues with wheat crackers is that the majority of them contain a mixture of bleached or non-bleached refined grains. They also contain gluten.
That’s not all: a close look at their ingredients list would also reveal substances that many people would struggle to pronounce.
Many of the crackers that try to pass themselves off as healthy snacks are actually high in trans-fats and calories. Trans-fats have been linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure because the body struggles to fully break down these ‘man-made’ fats.
The other problem is that you’re likely going to eat to many of them. Most of us will eat them by the handful though the recommended serving sizes are relatively small. In fact, five wheat crackers can equate to one serving of refined grains. (1)
Many manufacturers strip down their crackers all of the good nutrients but leave in the fast-acting starches. What’s more, they add a few doses of unhealthy sugars, artificial sweeteners and sodium.
The other thing to worry about is the high sodium content. Many crackers are salted and can contain as much as 200mg of sodium. High sodium intake can lead to water retention and swelling of the ankles, hands and feet.
As you can see, these healthy snacks are probably best left at the supermarket.
Eat This Instead: Rosemary and Sesame Paleo Crackers via The Healthy Foodie
2. Energy Bars
Energy Bars are the perfect healthy snack, especially if you’re eating for energy and maintain an active lifestyle, right?
I’m sorry to burst that bubble for you, but so many energy bars are packed with fructose corn syrup, sugars, sodium and trans-fats and/or saturated fats. The few healthy ingredients they contain don’t cancel out the bad ones.
Trans-fats are artery clogging fats because the body doesn’t have the tools to metabolize them properly. In addition, the high sugar levels of these “healthy snacks” will send your energy levels through the roof just before you get an unwanted sugar crash.
Some energy bars even contain more than 350 calories which is far more than a snack size for the majority of people. (2)
We have to “set the bar” for healthy energy bars, so always read the labels and check that the nutritional ingredients fall within specific guidelines. They must contain:
- More than 3 grams of protein
- More than 3 grams of fibre
- Carbs from gluten free grains with no more than 10 grams of sugar
- Heart healthy fats such a poly and mono saturated fats.
Eat This Instead: 10 Homemade Protein Bars That Are Actually Good for You
3. Granola Bars
There is a lot evidence to suggest that granola or cereal bars are far from healthy snacks. Why? Because they contain too much unhealthy fats, sugars, sodium and overall calories. (3)
Specifically this research was based on the fruit and nuts varieties and the chocolate and yogurt varieties were excluded. On average out of 100 grams, 15 grams were sugar and these were labeled as the following ingredients:
- Glucose syrup
- Glucose-fructose syrup
- Raw cane syrup
- Barley malt syrup
- Dried Glucose Syrup
- Partially inverted sugar syrup
None of this stuff is good for you.
Many of the manufacturers list these ingredients separately and they are not listed as the sugar content. Therefore, you are being hoodwinked on the actual amount of sugars that each bar contains!
What really annoys me is that several of the best-selling granola bars are targeted at children and advertised by saying that they were ‘good for your lunch box’. This is deeply deceptive advertising and a surefire way to get your kids hooked on the bad stuff.
Eat This Instead: Honey-Sweetened Almond Chocolate Chip Granola Bars via Cookie + Kate
4. Yogurt Covered Snacks
It’s well known that I’m staunchly against dairy products. However, I’m especially against yogurt covered healthy snacks, because in many cases, the yogurt being used barely qualifies as yogurt at all!
This synthetic yogurt is filled with sugar, hydrogenated oils and yoghurt powder, all of which add excessive sugars, saturated fats and trans-fats to your daily nutritional intake.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that yogurt = healthy. It really does not.
Eat This Instead: Protein Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding via PaleOMG
Real Healthy Snacks
Once you’ve dumped all the unhealthy snacks from your house, you’ll begin to look into suitable replacements. Here are a few healthy snack ideas for you…
Healthy Snacks for Kids
Kids love snacks, but try to use snacks for nutritional purposes and not as a distraction when your child is bored, hurt or as reward. Keep the snacks colorful, and low in salt and sugars.
Here are three easy, healthy snacks for their lunch boxes:
1. A fruit salad – Any combination of strawberries, orange, melon, pineapple etc.
2. Hummus dip and carrot sticks – This is high in healthy fats and will help to curb their appetite.
3. Apple slices and organic unsalted peanut butter – If your child doesn’t have a nut allergy, this snack is a superb hunger buster and it is high in healthy fats and sugars.
Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss and Healthy Snacks for Work
Eating a snack between meals can curb your hunger and help to level out your blood sugars. This strategy can also ensure that you don’t overeat on your main meals.
On the other side of the coin, grazing all day on snacks that have poor nutritional values could be a pathway to overeating and weight gain.
Here are a few good healthy snacks:
1. Almonds – They are packed with healthy fats and help with satiety.
2. Grapefruit- This fruit is the ultimate diet food which helps you to balance out your insulin levels and manage your appetite more effectively.
3. Chickpeas – These legumes have a meaty texture, nutty flavour and help to control hunger. They have good protein content which this helps to burn body fat by boosting your metabolism.
Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.