Most of us don't have time to nip to the kitchen and prepare a delicious and nutritiously balanced snack. In fact, most of us barely have time to reach into our bag and grab something! But if you find yourself battling hunger pangs between meal times, snacks are near on a necessity. Snacking on the go can be a challenge as you probably look to pre-packaged, processed foods that are easily bought and tossed in your bag. But convenient snacking can lead to overconsumption of calories and sugar.
Below we look at a few convenient, seemingly healthy snacks that probably aren't as good for you as you thought!
As tasty as they are, you probably know that crisps are high in fat and salt and calories and don't offer much in the way of nutrition. However, there's a new crisp on the block masquerading as a better choice of snack, and when compared to your standard potato crisp - it might look better as they have very little in the way of protein and fibre whereas a root veg crisp might have a tick more. But keep in mind that vegetable based crisps are still cooked in oil and contain high amounts of fat and salt1!
The theory behind granola or fruit and nuts bars is that they're supposed to be good for you! After all they contain healthy things like granola and nuts and bits of dried fruit. While you'll find your bar contains more fibre and protein than say crisps (though not much more), you'll also find a LOT of sugar. How much, well of course it depends on the brand. But for a 40-45g bar you could be looking at 12-20g of sugar2 - near on as much as in a chocolate bar.
Dried fruit - you'd think just by the inclusion of well, fruit, that it would be a shoo-in as a healthy snack. The problem, however, is that regular fruit has water, and by removing that water you're also removing a lot of volume. So when you pull out a package of dried Apricots, for example, only a few of those small slices would equal 1 apricot. But do you stop there or keep going? Many of us probably keep going - after all those slices aren't that big. Then suddenly you're eating the equivalent of 2 or 3 or 4 apricots. But it's still fruit! You might say. And yes, technically it is, but remember - fruit has sugar and eating lots and lots of dried apricots means you're eating lots and lots of sugar. 100g of regular apricot has just 7g of sugar3 - 100g of dried apricots has 36g4!
Got the elevenses? Or maybe you're in your mid afternoon slump. Either way, before you crack open a protein shake to ease that rumbling in your tummy, ask yourself - what is it you're trying to accomplish with this drink? Are you using it to bridge the gap between meals like a regular snack? If so that then a protein shake might not be the right answer. Many protein shakes are designed to replace whole meals or to be used after intense workouts, and by drinking them as a snack you're probably consuming more sugar than you'd think. In one bottle you could be knocking back nearly 10g of sugar5 or more, depending on your shake of choice.
Another case of beware the sugar content. Not all yoghurts are created equal - you can see that just by looking at the wide variety available on the shop shelves. And while you may think you're making a healthy choice, you could actually be consuming 15g of sugar in a small pot6! However not all yoghurts are bad! Try opting for a plain variety - a thick Greek yoghurt is great as it contains lots of protein - and mixing in some frozen fruit for sweetness!