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    6 scary high-calorie snacks that can stop your weight loss goals (and what to eat instead)

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    Things you’ll learn in this blog

    1. Are calories important? (and should you be counting them)
    2. 6 snacks to avoid (and what to swap them for)
    3. How to keep your snacks low-calorie

    And so the temptation begins again… 

    It’s that time of year when it seems like there is a new holiday every week, with its only tasty snack temptations that go alongside it. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the festive season - but first, we’re kicking things off with the Halloween festivities. 

    When the kids start to head home with candy from trick or treating, you might have your willpower in check. You know not to overeat candy - it’s okay in moderation, but it’s best to limit it if you have ambitious weight loss goals. 

    However, what about those sneaky high-calorie snacks? 

    You know, the ones masquerade as healthy but hide a terrifyingly high-calorie count. Whether it’s Halloween (or any other day of the year), you don’t want to ruin your diet plan with calorie horror snacks. 

    And while we don’t advocate being scared of any food (everything is fine in moderation) - if weight loss is one of the goals, you need to be mindful of those foods that you might think are healthy - but that can sabotage your goals. 

    This Halloween (and beyond), let us help you stick to your “ghouls” (see what we did there) and stay away from the shocking, terrifying, surprise high-calorie snacks that haunt your home. 

    Are calories important (and should you be counting them)?

    First things first. Calories might not be the be-all and end-all, but if you are trying to lose weight, you need to be mindful of the food you consume. And part of this is understanding how many calories are in your food. 

    Calories are the unit used to measure the amount of energy in food. 

    Each person has a set amount of calories they should consume to lose or maintain weight. And, when you eat or drink more calories than are used up, your body will store this energy as fat and, over time, will gain weight. 

    The recommended daily intake is 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men. However, you can calculate a more personalized daily intake using BMR and AMR (which you can find out more about here).

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has previously suggested that people eat around 1000 more calories than they think (or admit to|). 

    This is partly because it’s easy to underestimate the calories you are eating. And this is especially true with sneaky snacks that you think are healthy but pack a whole load of calories. 

    High-Calorie snacks that will frighten you…

    So which are the tricky, super-high calorie snacks to avoid and which treats can you indulge in without feeling too guilty?

    We’ve rounded up some terrifying offenders on Halloween and beyond and given them a scary rating of 🎃.

    1 x 🎃 = not so scary

    5 x 🎃= terrifyingly scary high-calories

    1. Store-bought smoothies…

    Smoothies! Packed with fruit and nutrients - it seems like the healthy choice - especially over sugary drinks or a chocolate bar. 

    An ideal way to fill yourself up and get healthy food in your body without too much effort, right?

    You would think…but premade store-bought smoothies are full of sugar and carbs and high in calories. While you might think you are making a healthy choice, an average store-bought can have up to 800 calories (depending on brand and size). They are fine in a pinch but not something that should form part of your daily food intake. 

    High-Calorie snacks that will frighten you

     

    Scary level: 🎃🎃🎃

    While they add some nutrients to your diet and are arguably better than full-fat, sugary drinks, they are deceivingly high in calories. 

    What should you have instead?

    A homemade smoothie is the way to go.

    Top tip: make most of your smoothie with spinach, celery, cucumber and avocado. Then add a handful of berries or an apple for a little sweetness. This will keep it low in calories and filling - the ideal snack. 

    2. Salted & flavored nuts…

    Eating nuts as part of a balanced diet has many benefits. They contain unsaturated fatty acids (which your body needs) and other nutrients. And they are fairly inexpensive and have a long shelf life, making them ideal for keeping in your house as a snack.

    But, as soon as those nuts are salted or flavored (i.e. BBQ), they tip into the unhealthy category and are very high in calories. Plus, you need to limit portions as even unsalted or unflavored nuts in a high quantity are high-calorie snacks. 

    A portion of around 100g of salted peanuts can be around 600 calories. Which could make up a meal - so it’s a pretty big snack for not a lot of nuts. 

    Scary level: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

    It depends on how many you have, but as we can see, salty peanuts or other nuts can be very high calories. And while they do have some nutrients, they are fatty (which is only one of your macros).

    What should you have instead? 

    A handful of nuts is fine, and certain nuts, such as Brazil nuts, are rich in Selenium which can support thyroid function. However, you should eat nonroasted and salted nuts and keep them to plain nuts. Cashews, Brazil and Walnuts are delicious and can be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. But make sure you only have a few - too many and they will be high calorie. 

    3. Protein bars…

    Protein bars are calorie-dense, which means they pack a lot of calories in quite a small service. It’s a great way to easily get some protein in you if you don’t have time to eat a full meal (not that we recommend that regularly). 

    But many protein bars will have upwards of 350 calories per serving, making them more calorie-dense than some candy bars. And they can be pretty expensive, so they aren’t a great way to snack cheaply if that is something you need. 

    Scary level: 🎃🎃

    Protein bars are an excellent source of protein (one of the essential macros). And some are pretty low-calorie snacks that will help fill you up - so they aren’t super scary. Just be careful which ones you choose. 

    What should you have instead? 

    If you can’t find a low-calorie protein bar you love, you can easily make your no-bake protein bars. Just combine your favorite protein powder with rolled oats, nut butter and a sticky sweetener (e.g., agave).

    4. Chocolate bars…

    You probably knew this one! 

    Chocolate might be one of the most enticing snacks to reach for, but they are also nutritionally sparse and high in calories. They won’t fill you up or provide you with much or anything you need (apart from a bit of joy). 

    There are 220 calories in 1 bar (43 g) of Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar.

    Chocolate bars

     

    Scary level: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

    They are delicious, but they also have very little nutritional value and high calories. Great if you fancy a treat, but not something to be reaching for regularly. 

    What should you have instead? 

    Don’t worry. You can still have chocolate - but swap it out for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. It isn’t too much lower on calories, but you can only have a few squares, so it will set you back much fewer calories overall. 

    5. Dried fruit…

    Fruit!

    The sensible choice, or so it would seem. Fruit is nutritious, and we would never suggest you don’t eat it, but dried fruit is high in sugars, including glucose and fructose. 

    One cup of dried fruit contains just under 500 calories. 

    Scary level: 🎃🎃

    We don’t want to put you off fruit, it’s undoubtedly got LOADS of nutritional value, and you should include it as part of any healthy diet. But eating way more dried fruit than fresh fruit is easy, which can lead to overconsumption.

    What should you have instead? 

    If you want fruit, then go for fresh. Not only will it stop you from over-consuming, but fresh fruit contains water, making it more nutritionally dense and filling you up more. Meaning you’ll naturally eat less and consume fewer calories for a snack. For example, an apple contains just 50 calories, and you are unlikely to need more than one - much better than a handful of dried fruit. 

    6. Store-bought trail mix…

    The trail mix is typically made of dried fruit and nuts (and even sometimes candy). So you might have guessed that it can be extremely high in calories - especially if it’s got candy. 

    A small bag of trail mix contains around 200 calories, but with it being particularly more-ish, it can be easy to eat multiple servings in one sitting. 

    Store-bought trail mix

     

    Scary level: 🎃🎃🎃

    Depending on what the trail mix is made of, it can be pretty high in calories. It does have good nutritional value, so it’s okay in moderation.  

    What should you have instead? 

    Again the best switch for trail mix to keep the calories low is to make your own. Use non-salted or roasted nuts, and add some unsweetened dates, raisins or pomegranate for a low-calorie dried fruit. 

    How to keep your snacks low-calorie

    You might have guessed it already, but the key to staying in control of your calorie intake is making things yourself. 

    If you eat out or buy store-bought, it’s easier to over-consume. Something that seems like a healthy innocuous snack could be hiding a lot of salt, added sugar, and calories. 

    If you make something yourself, you can make sure you love it and know what is going on in it and how many calories it contains. 

    Do you need to avoid these snacks?

    Losing weight is hard enough - and giving up certain foods is a surefire way to make it unsustainable - especially if they are your favorite foods. 

    You can stick to your goals throughout the holiday season by making simple swaps from terrifyingly high-calorie snacks - to lower-calorie (but just as delicious alternatives).

    Be creative in your choice of snacks, add variety and stick to those you know won’t steer you off course. That way, the scary scales won’t seem so frightening the following day.

    Ultimately you shouldn’t be scared of any food - it’s just worth being mindful of the number of calories in each food to ensure you don’t overconsume something you mistakenly think is healthy. 

    If you need any more help with guilt-free healthy snack alternatives, then read more here. 

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