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5 Healthy Snacks That Are Actually Bad For You

January 4, 2018

Maybe you pick up a smoothie before work every morning, or you fuel up with a cereal bar after a workout. Did you know these supposedly healthy foods are chockfull of unnecessary calories? Here are 5 popular healthy snacks, why they aren’t great for you and what to eat instead.

1. Cereal Bars

Cereal has long been a breakfast staple. However, our busy lifestyles mean there is often no time to sit and enjoy a bowl of cereal. As such, cereal bars seem like the ideal alternative. Packed with ingredients—cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and even whey protein—and easy to carry, they sound like a perfect meal on the go.

Unfortunately, cereal bars come with a surprising number of additives. They are also often high in sugar and trans fat. Ingredient lists are insidious; they often don’t explicitly list these two. Look out for things like high fructose corn syrup, molasses, and partially hydrogenated oils. Excess sugar and trans fat have been linked with obesity as well as illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Try this instead:

The best option is DIY. There are plenty of recipes online for easy-to-prepare cereal bars, trail mix or granola. Fairly basic ingredients like oats, almond flakes, and dried fruit can be mixed in a bowl with some whey and coconut oil. Refrigerate the mixture, portion it out, and you can enjoy this over several days.

2. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is loaded with vitamins and minerals, has good protein and carbohydrate content, and probiotics that promote intestinal health. Research has even shown that yoghurt can be used for weight loss, post-exercise recovery, and to deal with bloating and diarrhoea.

However, it’s not always so simple. If you see terms such as “fat-free or “fruit added”on the packaging, avoid the product at all costs. These are code words for added sugar, which we all know isn’t great for your health in the long run.

Try this instead:

The best kind of yoghurt is still plain Greek yoghurt. If you’ll like to sweeten the flavour, you can add fruits such as blueberries or strawberries to your yoghurt.

3. Smoothies

Smoothies seem like the perfect meal or meal replacement. Because they come with a variety of ingredients, they are a quick and tasty way to meet your daily nutrient needs. Commercial smoothies are delicious and full flavoured but this is actually a sign that something is amiss.
Most of the smoothies bought from juice bars or retailers come with plenty of added sugar and preservatives. In fact, some store-bought smoothies have so much added sugar that they should be classified as a dessert!

Try this instead:

Again, DIY is the way to go. Some carbs (fresh fruits, oats, vegetables like spinach or kale), protein (whey), and fat (nut butters, almonds) blended with almond milk, water or coconut water makes for a healthy and delicious smoothie.

4. Fruit Juices

Fruits are nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. And the best part is, they taste great. It’s almost a no-brainer to blend a variety of juices to reap its nutritional benefits. However, because some fruits are naturally tart or not as sweet, store-bought juices often come with plenty of sugar to make them more palatable. Additionally, when juices are prepared for commercial purposes, the pulpy fibrous remains are often discarded without being consumed.

Try this instead:

If you need your juice fix, pop your fruits into a juicer and consume everything – pulp and all. And remember, don’t add sugar! If you think juicing is too much work, why not just stick to whole fruits? This way, you’ll still reap the same nutritional benefits minus the work of cutting and juicing.

5. Energy Drinks

Energy drinks can help before an intense workout. Typically they contain taurine, guarana, B vitamins, and caffeine. Taurine is an amino acid found in meat, fish, and dairy; guarana is a plant whose seeds contain caffeine; and B vitamins naturally occur in various food sources.

While excess consumption of the three does not have many side effects, there is no multiplier either. Caffeine gives the greatest energy boost and the rest just mimics its effects. The problem with energy drinks is, again, many of them contain heaps of sugar and all kinds of chemical additives.

Try this instead:

Coffee provides more caffeine than energy drinks and does not come with added chemicals. A regular sized cup half an hour before exercise will give enough energy to fuel the session. Just make sure that it’s taken black without the sugar and milk or cream.

It takes a little adjustment, but with some planning, you can still enjoy your favourite flavours and snacks … without ruining your diet!