Snacks serve many purposes: They can bust you out of a mid-afternoon slump, give you a pre-gym energy boost, or tide you over until lunch. Since snacking can easily add up to a sizeable component of your total food intake each day, it’s smart to find out which seemingly good-for-you options can actually keep you from losing weight. These are the ones Nancy Clark, R.D., a Boston-based sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, recommends steering clear of:
Yogurt with Granola
These two are like the modern-day version of PB&J. They go together so well, but a half-cup of granola (that’s not much!) can add up to 300 calories and 15 grams of fat. Go with regular nonfat or low-fat yogurt with fruit instead, suggests Clark.
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Once you blend in milk or yogurt, plus bananas, strawberries, or other calorie-dense fruits and fruit juices, you’re talking 300-400 calories—and that’s before you add in protein powder, peanut butter, or seeds and nuts, says Clark. Don’t forget how fast liquid calories go down, either…and how unsatisfying they can be. A smoothie can be a fab snack choice, just cut back the calories by going with nonfat milk and just a few fruits—not the whole produce department. You can also help keep yourself from going overboard by sticking with an eight-ounce cup.
Each grape has about 5 calories, so if you can stop at a handful, they can be a great snack, says Clark. Unfortunately, grapes are like the potato chips of the fruit world—very easy to just keep eating and eating. So you can consume more than 200 calories’ worth before you know it—without any of the protein you ideally want to have in a snack.
Tuna Salad and Crackers
These handy snack kits look so weight loss-friendly, but a can of mayo-infused tuna and three to four crackers offers around 300 calories. Tuna is a good source of lean protein, so eat it sans the crackers. Even better, make a DIY version that uses nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt in place of at least some of the mayo.
Hummus Dip and Pita Chips
This snack has a lot going for it: It’s high in satiating protein and has just a little fat, which adds flavor, says Clark. Problem is, pita chips tend to be just as calorie-packed as any kind of greasy chip—and if you don’t limit yourself to a reasonable amount of hummus, this snack can suddenly veer toward the 300-calorie range. Sticking with a couple of tablespoons of hummus plus about 10 small pieces of whole-wheat pita bread (or better yet, crudité) will slash that number.