1. Energy Bars
Energy bars usually contain protein and fiber but also may be loaded with calories. That’s fine if you occasionally make one a meal, but most of us eat them as snacks. You might as well enjoy a Snickers, which at 280 calories is in the same range as many energy bars.
Lesson learned: If you need something to tide you over until dinner, look for a calorie-controlled bar with about 5 grams of protein (e.g., Balance 100-calorie bar, Promax 70-calorie bar).
Granola sounds healthy but it’s often high in fat, sugar and calories. Don’t be fooled by a seemingly reasonable calorie count; portion sizes are usually a skimpy 1⁄4 or 1⁄2 cup. Lowfat versions often just swap sugar for fat and pack as many calories as regular versions.
Lesson learned: Read granola labels carefully and stick with recommended portion sizes or use as a topping on fruit or yogurt.
Most of us could use more vegetables, so what’s not to love? In a word, toppings. The pecans and Gorgonzola cheese on Panera Bread’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad (580 calories, 30 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat) propel it into double-cheeseburger territory. A McDonald’s double cheeseburger has 440 calories, 23 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat.
Lesson learned: Before ordering a salad, check its nutrition information plus that of the dressing and all add-ons (often, they’re listed separately).
Smoothies may seem like a tasty way to help get your recommended fruit servings—but studies show that beverages are less filling per calorie than solid foods. And added sugars can make some the equivalent of drinking a fruit pie filling: the smallest (16-ounce) serving of Jamba Juice’s Orange Dream Machine weighs in at 340 calories, with 69 grams of sugars that don’t all come from orange juice. You’re better off with orange juice (110 calories per cup).
Lesson learned: Some smoothies pack as many calories as a milkshake. Look for those made with whole fruit, lowfat yogurt and no added sugars.
Yogurt is a great way to meet your calcium needs, but not all are created equally. Some premium whole-milk yogurts can give you a hefty dose of saturated fat. Shop around: many lowfat versions of these products are every bit as creamy. Enjoy a fruit-flavored lowfat yogurt, but understand that the “fruit” is really jam (i.e., mostly sugar). Or opt for lowfat plain and stir in fresh fruit or other sweetener to suit your taste; you’ll probably use less. Try sweetening lowfat plain yogurt with a tablespoon of maple syrup (52 calories).
Lesson learned: Although yogurt is a good source of calcium, some yogurts can be more of a dessert than a healthy snack. Don’t let fat and added sugars spoil a good thing.
6. Sushi Rolls
There is a wide variety of sushi rolls out there and in some, the fried tidbits and mayonnaise can really pack in the calories. The Southern Tsunami sushi bar company, which supplies sushi to supermarkets and restaurants, reports its 12-piece Dragon Roll (eel, crunchy cucumbers, avocado and special eel sauce) has almost 500 calories and 16 grams of fat.
Lesson learned: Signature sushi rolls often come with a creamy “special sauce”. You should ask what’s in it or just order something simple like a 12-piece California roll (imitation crabmeat, avocado and cucumber) or a vegetarian roll with cucumbers, carrots and avocado (supplies around 350 calories and 6 or 7 grams of fat).
Related Article: Warning: So-Called Health Drinks May Sabotage Your Diet
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Great post and tips! Thanks for sharing! :)
Great eye-opening post. Always good to always read nutritional information...always!
I Miss My Hair
Well the only one in there that my dietician said I should be eating is the yogurt, but she approves of the brand I eat.
ouch! i love all these, will just have to take them in moderation. thanks for the tip :)
Ruthie, Mike, Liza, and Sassy - I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by!
I was shocked the first time I looked at an energy bar and saw that it had so much sugar!
Yogurt too is another one you have to be careful of - it's got to be unsweetened & you add your own fresh fruit or it is way too much sugar too!
I first got hooked on the meal replacement bars when I was on the LA Weightloss diet. I switched over to the Luna and Balance bars instead of buying the LAWL products. I found that they were a little more nutritionally sound too. They do work great as part of a structured plan, but if you're looking for a snack above and beyond your regular caloric consumption, you might as well enjoy the real thing.
Chelle - I agree. You might as well eat a Snickers than a high-sugar energy bar. I didn't realize yogurt was sweetened with jam - I thought it had real fruit in there. So I learned something new.
Heidi - I agree. It works great if you use the energy bar as a meal replacement. Unfortunately, I tend to eat them as a snack and that's where I get in trouble.
Fat and cholesterol are the two most misunderstood words in the dictionaries of nutrition. Neither are bad for you, but have become the unnecessary villains in our fight for a healthier diet.
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