Snacks are a healthy part of any diet, whether you’re trying to bulk up or lose weight. They keep your energy levels up between meals and help stave off cravings that could cause you to stray from your healthy eating plan.
That said, there are many snacks that do more harm than good. We’ll take a look at the 10 worst types of snacks, followed by 10 you should reach for instead.
Top 10 Worst Snacks
One serving of these crispy, greasy snacks contains half of a typical person’s daily recommended intake of fat (and you know how impossible it is to eat just one serving of chips!)
No, they do not count as a serving of vegetables. Even a “small” portion is loaded with saturated and trans fats.
One spoonful isn’t too bad, and will actually give you a shot of calcium. But what most of us consider a “normal” portion of ice cream is filled with a massive amount of sugar and chemical additives.
These snacks masquerade as healthy, but the pre-packaged versions are usually filled with hidden sugars and devoid of the nutrients a healthy snack should have, like protein and fiber.
Don’t let the claim of probiotics fool you—many yogurts (especially the ones with added fruit) are filled with an unnecessary amount of high fructose corn syrup. Yogurt can be a healthy, protein-rich snack, just make sure to read the label and opt for a plain Greek yogurt.
Packaged in convenient wrappers and covered with colorful frosting, snack cakes are in fact some of the absolute worst foods you can eat. Most have virtually no nutritional value; eating them fills you with empty calories and unhealthy preservatives.
Frappuccinos and other coffee-shop drinks
It’s easy to forget that our drinks count as snacks, and these guys can contain the calories, fat and sugar content of a whole meal–or more!
We’ve seen lots of articles floating around lately touting jerky as the “secret” healthy snack. Yes, it may be high in protein, but most jerky is also loaded with sodium and saturated fat, MSG and nitrates (the preservative). Sorry.
We know, they’re so easy to grab from the drive through. Unfortunately, most fast food nuggets are filled with artificial ingredients that do nothing good for your body—and will have you feeling hungry again an hour or two later.
Sugar, sugar, sugar. Eat a piece of real fruit instead.
Want to make a healthy swap for any of the ten items above? Opt for one of these much healthier options instead.
Top 10 Best Snacks
One of the simplest snacks is also one of the best for you. Apples contain a healthy portion of dietary fiber in a low amount of calories to keep you feeling full. Plus they’re filled with nutrients!
Plain Icelandic yogurt
Much better than its artificially sweetened counterparts, a serving of Icelandic yogurt packs a whopping 20 grams of filling protein that’ll cost you just 100 calories!
Almond butter and pear
Almond butter is loaded with healthy fats, and it has a higher nutrient content than its cousin, peanut butter, bringing in twice as much iron and magnesium and quadruple the amount of calcium. Pair it with pear for a nice crisp texture.
Handful of trail mix with nuts, seeds and dark chocolate
Careful—don’t let the packaged versions of trail mix fool you. They’re often filled with sugar and salt. We suggest mixing up your own healthy version containing nuts like almonds and pecans, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries or cherries and a dash of dark chocolate chips.
Hummus and carrots or celery
Made from chickpeas, hummus is a much healthier alternative to fat-filled veggie dressings and dips. This smooth and crispy, protein-rich snack will fill you up fast.
Organic popcorn in olive oil
Opt for organic to avoid many of the chemicals added to the traditional bagged popcorn varieties. Instead of loading it with cheese or salt, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil for flavor.
Sliced bell peppers with guacamole
Brightly-colored bell peppers in red, yellow and green are filled with phytonutrients, while guacamole is a good source of healthy fat your body needs to function at its best.
Avocado on brown rice cake
Slice half an avocado and layer it over a rice cake made from brown rice for a hearty and filling munchie.
Baked sweet potato with salsa and scallions
Sweet potatoes are bona fide superfood, filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, copper and more. Top yours with a yummy tomato salsa and diced scallions for flavor.
Easy peasy, and good for you. Eggs are one of nature’s most perfect snacks, containing around 6 grams of protein in under 100 calories. Plus, they’re super easy to grab and eat on the go.
Want to find out just how many calories your snacks are really costing you? Use the handy calorie calculator here.