Grrrrowwwl. What do you when your stomach starts complaining midway through the afternoon or just before bed? Before you visit the vending machine or scour your fridge, you may want to scan the list below.
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We asked our dietitians to name the seven worst snacks for tiding you over between meals. Here’s how they voted:
1. Any baked chips
“They’re highly processed and often so low in fat that you can consume large quantities without ever feeling full! This can increase blood sugar and cause an insulin surge, promoting fat storage,” says Kylene Bogden, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD.
2. Rice cakes
“You think you can eat a lot amount of them since they’re lower in calories,” says Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD. “But rice cakes are often artificially flavored and are really just a carb with little to no nutrition. I recommend a small serving of ½ cup of brown rice instead. It’s much more nutritious and satisfying — and has way less calories, in the end.”
“They are a nutrient “zero” and do nothing but put your insulin and blood sugar on a roller coaster,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD. “This, in turn, makes you more hungry.”
4. Potato chips
“Potato chips lack any significant nutritional value, therefore are empty calories in my book,” says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD. “ They are high in fat, and low in fiber and protein.”
5. Veggie sticks or straws
“They’re like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD. “People think these heavily processed snacks are healthy. But veggie sticks and straws lack fiber and protein, and are practically devoid of nutrients. They may be a bit lower in fat than chips, but why not just eat the real thing — dip raw bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and grape tomatoes in hummus.”
6. Store-bought smoothies
“Home-made smoothies can be power-packed with nutrients,” says Jennifer Willoughby, RD, CSP, LD. “But grab-and-go smoothies, even from your best local smoothie shop or grocery store, are often jam-packed with added sugar (often, from fruit juice) and calories. You can run up 300-700 calories with this quick “snack,” which won’t keep you feeling full like a good snack should!”
7. Granola/cereal bars
“These are often disguised as ‘healthy candy bars’ and can contain large amounts of sugar with very little protein and fiber,” says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD. “Be aware of ingredients, and read the nutrient label.”