The 6 Worst “Healthy” Snacks for Weight Loss

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Bowl of peanuts

Snacks play an important role in your Nutrisystem weight loss plan. Eating between meals keeps you energized all day, helps to manage your appetite and prevents you from overindulging when you sit down for lunch or dinner. Choosing snack foods that are filling and nourishing keeps you on track with your healthy meal plan.

You probably realize that snacking on high-calorie, high-fat foods such as potato chips, ice cream and cake is not wise if you want to drop pounds. But even some foods that seem to be good snacks really aren’t. Here are six of the worst “healthy” snacks for weight loss that you should avoid, plus smarter alternatives to choose instead!

1.  Smoothies

Several flavors of smoothies

Why not: Smoothies you find at coffee shops, convenience stores and ice cream outlets may include healthy ingredients, such as fresh fruit or peanut butter. However, many tend to be high in calories and added sugar from sweet syrups and other sneaky add-ins. In some cases, they’re not much different than a milkshake.

Try this: Making your own smoothies is easy and offers you lots of options so you can enjoy it just the way you like. You can use Nutrisystem Shake Mix, which comes in both Chocolate Fudge or Sweet Vanilla flavors, as a delicious and nutritious base. To help you get started, we put together a guide to building the perfect smoothie! >

2. Microwave Popcorn

Closeup photo of bagged microwave popcorn

Why not: While microwave popcorn companies were banned from using partially hydrogenated oils (a source of trans fats) in their products, many brands still fill up their popcorn bags with butter, sugar and salt. This can add lots of calories to an otherwise diet-friendly treat.

Try this: Nutrisystem’s Butter Popcorn and White Cheddar Popcorn have the crunch and the flavors you crave in a grab-and-go package. They’re both a good source of fiber and provide five grams of protein per serving with ZERO grams of added sugar. Best of all, the packages are perfectly portioned for weight loss, so you eat just enough to fill you up without overdoing it. Air-popped popcorn is also a better alternative to microwaveable varieties. If you’re popping your own, check out our four fun ideas for giving homemade popcorn a boost of flavor the healthy way! >

3. Veggie Chips

Assortment of veggie chips

Why not: You know potato chips are high in fat and low in nutritional value. Instead, you might be tempted to buy “veggie chips” that claim to be made of beets, parsnips, carrots and other vegetables. In many cases, these “chips” are not made from slices of these vegetables. They’re formed from pulverized vegetable powders and some brands still even include potato. While sodium content is typically lower, they can have as much fat and calories as ordinary potato chips.

Try this: You can make your own REAL crunchy, tasty and wholesome veggie chips with these six veggies that make ridiculously good chips. From sweet potatoes to kale, there are so man tasty combinations to try. Some of them can even count as a serving of non-starchy vegetables.

4. Rice Cakes

Several rice cakes

Why not: Rice cakes are so light and airy that they seem like they would be a good snack for weight loss. Standard varieties, however, have almost no nutritional value, including the fiber you need to keep you feeling full after eating a snack. They are high on the Glycemic Index (GI), with the average rice cake ranking 82. This can cause a spike in blood sugar after eating, which can lead to hunger and weight gain. Flavored types, such as caramel corn, can also be higher in added sugar and sodium. Because rice cakes likely won’t fill you up, you’ll be tempted to eat more than one, adding toppings to improve their taste and fullness factor.

Try this: While brown and multigrain rice cakes can be OK in moderation, it’s much smarter to choose a fiber-rich SmartCarb that’s lower on the Glycemic Index. Whole grain bread is a great choice and is more satisfying, helping to keep you full while you lose weight. You can also still enjoy it with all of your favorite toppings, such as low-fat cheese or peanut butter to make a perfectly balanced snack.

5. Honey Roasted Nuts

Closeup photo of honey roasted nuts

Why not: Nuts are a healthy PowerFuel choice, but steer clear of the honey roasted varieties. They can be loaded with sugar and empty calories. Also beware of any nuts that have been roasted in oil, which dramatically increases the fat and calorie content.

Try this: Choose dry-roasted nuts for quick snacking. Better yet, you can bump up the taste of nuts by seasoning them with spices such as sweet cinnamon or zesty cayenne. Herbs and spices are Free foods, so you can use as much of them as you like. We add both spices to a raw (unroasted) nut mix and infuse the flavors using the handy air fryer. They come out warm, fragrant and extra crisp. Here’s our recipe. >

6. Flavored Yogurt

Closeup of flavored yogurt

Why not: Yogurt has plenty of protein, but try to avoid snacking on the flavored types. That includes vanilla, strawberry and those that come with fruit at the bottom or blended in. The flavorings can be high in added sugars, loading you up with excess calories.

Try this: While flavored yogurts can be enjoyed in moderation as a sweet treat, a lower sugar option is a smarter choice for healthy and weight loss. Choose fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt (standard or Greek) and add your own fruit and flavorings such as cinnamon. Standard yogurt tends to have fewer calories and more calcium than Greek yogurt, which has slightly more protein and is thicker in consistency. Either makes a healthy snack. Make our Spicy Greek Yogurt Dip and enjoy it with a serving of non-starchy vegetables such as bell peppers or carrots.