You've been hitting the gym daily and have become a regular in the healthy food aisle at your local grocery, but still, the scale isn't budging. Why is that?
Kathy Haugen RD, a dietitian at the TriHealth Fitness and Health Pavilion, shares a few tips for recognizing red flag snacks that can ruin your diet, and strategies for healthy snacking.
"I know when 'natural cereal' came out, we were all eating it by the box," Kathy points out.
When it comes to granola and trail mixes, she says it's important to look at fat content and serving size. The serving size for most of these foods is usually about 1/4 cup. Read the label to be sure you aren't getting more calories than you've bargained for.
Between sugar-free, fat-free and low-carb yogurt varieties, it's tricky to pick the healthiest version. Kathy says to aim for a yogurt that has 5 grams of fat or less per serving.
What about Greek yogurt? "The Greek yogurts are fine, but all Greek yogurt really is, is yogurt that has been drained - that's why you get twice the protein. But, you also get twice the calories, so if it's worth it to you, that's fine," she says.
On the other hand, many flavored yogurts are made with excessive amounts of sugar. If you're watching your sugar or are a diabetic, Kathy suggests aiming for no more than 4 to 8 grams of sugar per serving (4 grams is the equivalent to 1 teaspoon). Purchase plain yogurt and sweeten it naturally with honey, fruit or a dash of cinnamon to combat this.
#3: "100-Calorie" Snacks
While purchasing 100-calorie snack bags is a good idea in theory, these snacks do not have much staying power and may lead to overindulging in multiple bags. Make a bunch of portion bags, put them in a container or shoebox in your pantry, and then you're all set. You save a lot of money," she points out.
Kathy suggests pre-portioning items like almonds, pistachios or walnuts because these snacks are higher in protein and will keep you fuller, longer. The standard serving size for nuts is ½-ounce, which is the equivalent of 12 almonds, 24 pistachios or seven walnut halves.
Snacking Before Bed: What's Kathy's Take?
While many people aim to steer clear of eating right before bed, Kathy says if you typically like to have an evening snack, then do so, just factor it into your daily calorie count. "Otherwise, you're just going to keep wandering around trying not to eat, finally do it, and then go nuts."