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  • Health and Wellness

    15 Surprising Snacks That Make You Gain Weight

    Are you consistently gaining weight but can’t figure out why? Are you tempted to give up your diet plans?
    You might be surprised to learn the problem could be your snacking habits. Although snacking is a good way to tide you over until your next meal, the wrong snacks can throw you off course when it comes to meeting your weight-loss goals. Here are 15 surprising snacks that are potential weight gain culprits:

    1. Smoothies

    A woman holds a green smoothie while wearing a backpack.

    Just because it’s green, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. | Dirima/iStock/Getty Images Plus

    You might think having a liquid snack, like a smoothie, might be a good way to keep your weight down, but that’s not always the case. Some liquid snacks can be a source of hidden calories

    Jenny Barber, a nutritionist for Slimming World, told The Cheat Sheet some people make the mistake of over-doing it with the liquids.

    “Many smoothies contain almost as many calories as fizzy drinks and because people think they’re being healthy by drinking them, they may consume them in larger amounts,” said Barber.


    2. Cereal

    Bowl of crispy rice cereal on top of a white counter.

    A convenient breakfast for sure, but not very nourishing. | Pamela_d_mcadams/iStock/Getty Images

    Kate Fuss, a blogger at The Healthy Habiteer, said she used to eat cereal as a snack. She realized later on that cereal can be just as bad as some junk foods.

    Despite ‘low-sugar,’ ‘fat-free,’ and ‘whole-wheat’ marketing tactics, cereal can be a culprit in weight gain. The serving sizes are smaller than you realize. The sugar content is typically doubled or tripled based on the servings you consume. Also, the quantity of milk used can add a significant amount of sugar. When consumed out of proportion to the recommended serving size, this snack becomes a sugar bomb.


    3. Trail Mix

    Mix in white bowl and scooper.

    Trail mix is fun, but full of sugar and sodium. | Darryl Brooks/iStock/Getty Images

    Trail mix can be a healthy snack, but it can also cause you to put on unwanted pounds. Riley Thornton, a registered dietician and wellness specialist at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it’s important to be very careful about portion sizes.

    Trail mix can be a great snack and alternative to a large bag of regular chips, but when eating more than the recommended portion size (about ¼ cup) the calories, fat, and sugar can add up. One full cup of trail mix can be almost 700 calories! Reading the nutrition label is important to find out what one serving looks like.


    4. Dried Fruit

    Dried fruit piled together.

    Munching on fresh fruit might be a better alternative. | iStock.com

    Although fruit is part of a healthy diet, too much dried fruit can cause you to gain weight. What you may not know is these tasty snacks can be packed with sugar.

    Registered Dietitian Eliza Whetzel suggests eating regular fruit.

    “Dried fruit such as mango is high in sugar and carbohydrates and it’s easy to overdo the calories and portions. Dried fruit doesn’t have the water associated with regular fruit, so it is not as filling and satiating. I recommend eating real whole fruit, and sticking to one serving size,” said Whetzel, a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition.


    5. Sushi

    Sushi roll maki on a white plate.

    Sushi is loaded with toppings and sauces that add up in calories. | Kamui29/iStock/Getty Images

    You might grab a quick sushi meal for lunch without even thinking about the calories. However, if you’re not careful about the type of sushi you consume, you could negatively impact your diet. Kelly Jones Crawford, a food cravings expert for Hard Boiled Body, warns that not all sushi is the same.

    “Some sushi comes covered in fried dough and calorie-laden sauces. The calories can easily add up. Sushi rice is also prepared with a considerable amount of sugar too. Despite the fish and vegetable components of sushi being healthy, there is very little of it and a sushi roll is mainly made up of sugary rice,” said Crawford.


    6. Rice Cakes

    Rice cakes piled on top of each other and placed on a plaid cloth.

    Rice cakes are found in the healthy snack aisle, but they might not be all they seem. | Nicodape/iStock/Getty Images

    Rice cakes tend to be a low-calorie snack, but they can leave you feeling hungry. Consequently, you’ll be tempted to eat more. This is why Crawford said rice cakes can be bad news for your diet.

    “Instead of being a healthy low-calorie snack, they just end up being additional calories, because you’ll want to eat something in addition to them regardless of how many of them you eat. Also, some rice cakes are packed with sugar,” said Crawford.


    7. Fruit Juice

    Freshly squeezed orange juice.

    Juice isn’t any healthier than soda. | Canovass/iStock/Getty Images

    Just like smoothies, fruit juice can also cause unexpected weight gain. Just because your drink is packed with fruit doesn’t mean it’s good for your waistline. Rebecca Lewis, a registered dietitian at HelloFresh, said dieters should go easy on the juice cleanses.

    If you’re using a juice cleanse to lose weight you’ll most likely end up being disappointed! This is because any weight loss from a juice cleanse happens because the number of calories you’re consuming in the juice is drastically cut from what you’re normally eating. Thus, as soon as the cleanse is over, you’re likely to see the weight come right back on.


    8. Low-Fat Food

    A yogurt and spoon on wooden surface.

    Low-fat foods are often filled with sugar. | ADragan/iStock/Getty Images

    Don’t let a low-fat label fool you. Some foods that are labeled this way have other things added to make them taste better. This means more calories for you, said Lewis.

    While the fat may be reduced or taken out, sugar and sodium are often added to maintain flavor! Be wary of low-fat foods when one of the first three ingredients listed is sugar. Regularly eating too much sugar could lead to high insulin levels in your blood. In the long-run this interferes with proper hormone signaling in the brain — including the signaling of our hunger hormones, which can increase our hunger cravings all day.


    9. Snack Bars

    A bitten protein bar inside a silver wrapper.

    Another snack you might automatically reach for is an energy bar. They’re convenient and taste great, but they’re not always the best choice. Kristin Marquet, an endurance runner as well as creative director and founder of Creative Development Agency, said she gained weight from eating snack bars.

    I gained about five pounds three years ago from eating a very popular snack bar. I had one a day as a snack for a month and packed the weight on. The nuts are what made this snack bar so high in calories. I’d suggest swapping out snack bars for an Oikos yogurt or some other type of non-fat Greek yogurt. Not only is it filling due to the protein count, it’s also very tasty.


    10. Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter scooped on a silver spoon.

    You’re probably eating more peanut butter than you should. | iStock.com

    Peanut butter is a staple in many homes. And although it is delicious, it’s chock-full of calories. The good news is, there are healthy alternatives, said James Goodwillie, owner of One To Multi.

    Only two tablespoons are nearly 200 calories thanks to the heavy fat content in peanut butter. Peanut butter from the grocery store will contain around 16 grams of fat and since fats contain 7 calories per gram, that is about 112 calories just from fat alone. I would suggest something with a smooth texture like a nut butter with far less calories and a lot of nutritional benefits: Hummus.


    11. Granola

    Homemade granola in open glass jar on rustic wooden background.

    Large amounts of honey and sugar are hidden in your granola. | Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images

    Granola might sound healthy, but not all are created equal. Some granola snacks have other ingredients added to them that aren’t good for your body.

    “Granola is good and bad. Store-bought granola may appear healthy, being full of seeds and nuts, but sadly it is often covered in oil and sugar to make it more appealing. Granola does have nutritious properties, unlike rice cakes, but you don’t need to eat much of it to consume 400+ calories. Instead of store bought, make your own,” advised Crawford.


    12. Nuts

    A bag of nuts on a blue surface.

    Aim for the unsalted and unsweetened varieties. | JunAh666/iStock/Getty Images

    If you think you can’t go wrong with nuts, you might be surprised to know this isn’t true. Having nuts as a snack could also cause you to pack on the pounds. The best way to enjoy this snack is as a condiment instead of snacking by the bag-full.

    “All nuts, including almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, are over 90% fat. Fat has nine calories per gram, making nuts very calorie dense. One cup of whole almonds is over 800 calories, which is about half of the calories that many people need for the entire day,” said Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietician nutritionist and owner Health Dynamics LLC.


    13. Sugar-Free Food

    A carton of raspberry ice cream and spoon on wooden tabletop.

    Sugar-free foods are very misleading. | MarieKazPhoto/iStock/Getty Images

    Eating a snack that’s free of sugar might make you think you’re doing something good for your body, but sugar-free foods can be bad for you. Sugar-free foods also might have small amounts of sugar in them. The term sugar-free means there is less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving, according to Federal Department of Agriculture guidelines.

    “These artificial sweeteners interfere with many of the signals in our body — one of which is related to our sense of feeling full. In fact, in long-term studies, those that consume these artificial sweeteners end up gaining weight and belly fat,” said Lewis.


    14. Fat-Free Food

    Toast bread on a brown basket.

    Just enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. | SasaJo/iStock/Getty Images

    Fat-free snacks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They may also contain hidden calories to make up for the lack of fat. Also, fat-free doesn’t necessary mean there is absolutely no fat in the snack you’re eating. Just like with sugar-free foods, fat free really means there is less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, according to the FDA.


    15. Zero-Calorie Foods

    Open and closed cans of soda and drinks.

    Your sugar-free beverage isn’t doing you any favors. | iStock.com

    No calories might sound like a dream, but it really isn’t. Foods labeled zero-calories are often full of sugar and salt. And more sugar means more calories. In addition, zero-calorie drinks made with fat substitutes and artificial sweeteners could cause weight gain because they often trigger a hunger response, reports Eat This Not That. So, don’t make the mistake of loading up on zero-calorie snack foods. You might have some difficulty sticking to your diet.


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    Author: Sheiresa Ngo
    Personal Finance & Lifestyle Writer
    Twitter: @sheiresango

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