Are ‘Healthy Snacks’ ruining your diet?

Have you ever thought that your healthy snacks could be derailing your weight loss goals? If you’re anything like me, then you pretty much know what you should (and should not) be eating. Healthy greens and vegetable with every meal, no packaged foods or foods with added sugar. Healthy, omega 3 rich fats like avocado and ground flaxseed. Protein with every meal to keep you full… (and if you don’t know these things let me know and I’ll give you a quick run down!).

What’s the issue with healthy snacks?

With every meal, I try and get a good balance of everything I’m meant to have. I crowd my plate with the healthy, so there is no room for the bad stuff. Yet every day I fail to be in a calorie deficit, despite exercising and leading an active lifestyle. Am I subconsciously thinking because the snack are healthy, I can eat a bit more?

Calorie Tracking

I am not one to be bothered with detailed calorie and macro tracking, but for the sake of this experiment I decided to try. And the results were eye opening. I was right. My main meals are damn balanced, healthy, generally low calorie meals. But my snacks… well on a few days my snacks totted up more than 1000 calories!! Over half of my daily allowance! And there I was thinking I was being healthy (OK so I knew the cookies weren’t healthy. Or the dairy milk. Or the brownies. But I thought the peanut butter was!!).

I was filling myself with calorie dense, ‘healthy’ snacks, that weren’t actually filling the hunger whole, and instead causing me to eat more.

A Healthy Snack Example:

Here’s one shocker that filled me with over 800 calories (and it took less than 5 minutes to scoff down!):

A healthy snack gone wrong

This combo of slow releasing energy oats, kefir (fermented food = good, no?!), raisins, almond and coconut butter (hello good fats!) and a chopped up Mars Protein Bar (Protein is essential!)  came to 864 calories!! Do you know how long it would take me to run that off?? Let me tell you… here’s how many calories I burned running a moderately fast paced km:

Calories burned running 1km

5”27 and 59 calories total, according to my apple watch, which detects my HR.

This would mean I would have to run at this pace for 78 minutes and 20 seconds, covering over 14km, to burn off my ‘healthy’ snack.

Is the snack worth it?

I mean, it tasted reeeeaaaallllyyy good for the 3 minutes and 45 seconds that I was eating it. Quickly the satisfaction left, and it left me wanting more rather than filling a whole (don’t get me onto sugar and what this does to your satiety…). And it’s just sooo many calories.

Healthy snack alternatives to choose:

If I was really craving the nut butter, I could have had a tablespoon on a celery stick (which is actually yummy) for 130 calories. Got a craving for something cool and yoghurty? I could have had 100g plain natural Greek yoghurt mixed with seeds for 150 calories.

And if I just wanted to taste the caramelly delicousness of the mars bar disguised as a healthy protein bar, I could have had the it for 200 cals, 13g of sugar (22g of total carbs) and 18g of protein. This probably wouldn’t go under my heading of a healthy snack!

A little healthy snack test for you:

Here’s some ingredients for a smoothie, which many of us consider a healthy snack. Can you see how many serving of good fats there are? How much protein and carbs? Would you be happy putting all this into your smoothie? Can you have a stab at a calorie estimation? Leave a comment below and I’ll let you know the answers!

Healthy snack test

My conclusion on healthy snacks

My aim here is just to highlight that sometimes, when you think you are making healthy (or closer to healthy in my case – I know a Mars Protein Bar isn’t the best protein choice!) decisions, you may actually be sabotaging your weight loss efforts by packing in unnecessary calories that will take an age to burn off. Try choosing less calorie dense but more filling, nutritious and satiating options that will keep your total calories down, make you feel full, and help you on your way to achieving your goals… and don’t have more than 2 snacks per day!

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