You may either be watching your weight or maintaining where you are. Have you ever wondered why you are not getting the results you expected? You may want to take a look at what are called “Sneaky Calories.” They are the ones you don’t record and you over look because you think they don’t contribute to your overall daily intake of calories. If you stop and take a look you may be really surprised what you consume in day. It may be a funny few extra calories or it may be downright sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Do you allow yourself to snack before or while making dinner? These extra calories can be forgotten sources of extra calories because you are focused on making dinner and not paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth. For example, allowing yourself that one ounce of cheese may start very innocently and then when you cut off just a bit more then you do it a few more times the ounce is now a two or three ounce piece of cheese. Another fun example is the breath mints you have in your car. Do you keep eating them and say they are just a little mint? Do you eat more than one roll per day? It can all add up.
Other examples we tend to disregard and not include in our daily calorie intake:
• A free sample of a burrito at the grocery store: 100 calories
• Crusts cut off while making a child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich: 75 calories
• Six steak fries eaten absentmindedly from friend’s plate over lunch: 120 calories
• Last few spoons of mashed potatoes from dinner (not enough to put away for tomorrow): 110 calories
• Three bites of dough while baking chocolate chip cookies (and who is kidding do you really stop at three bites?) : 150 calories
• Half piece of garlic toast and half cup of spaghetti left on child’s plate: 200 calories
• Few bites of leftover chow mein, eaten while standing up at the sink: 90 calories
Maybe it is that dash of cream in your coffee, the candy you filched from a co-worker’s desk, a few handfuls of your date’s buttered popcorn – it all adds up.
Take a look back over your last few days – have a few extra calories snuck up on you?
Other “Sneaky Calories” to watch out for are beverages. They can really pack on some extra calories during the day and cross over into the zone of excess calories per day. They are often forgotten since they are a beverage after all and are there one minute and gone the next.
· Juice - An eight-ounce cup of fruit juice, like apple or orange, contains more than 100 calories. Healthy alternatives include flavored teas and waters (either store-bought or spruced up with some fresh fruit).
· Soda - An eight-ounce soda contains around 100 calories, not to mention a ton of high-fructose corn syrup. To burn off those calories, you’d have to walk for an extra fifteen minutes at some point in the day.
· Protein Shakes - Even though they’re marketed as weight-loss tools, many are packed with sugar and calories. This makes them great for bodybuilders but dangerous for anyone trying to consume a reasonable amount of calories. All it takes is a browse through the supplement section to see that some of these shakes can pack over 300 calories—before you add the milk to mix them with. Burning off one shake would take about thirty minutes of running on the treadmill.
· Medium Iced Vanilla Latte - This seemingly healthy coffee choice weighs in at 330 calories, plus a whole lot of extra sugar. Going nonfat will save about 50 calories. Better choice? A black coffee with a dash of milk and sugar mixed in.
· Caramel Frappuccino - In the smallest size, this candy-bar-in-a-cup is 380 calories—with fifteen grams of fat. Yikes. Opt for a square or two of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth—you’d have to ride the stationary bike for nearly an hour to burn it off.
· Alcohol - six vodka and cranberry juices every night after work (okay, this person knew he was drinking a few calories… but he couldn’t believe that liquids could add up to 1200 extra calories).
Watch out for the so called "Healthy" snacks
Then there are snacks that we all think of as healthy. We will call them the healthy impostors. Reading the label is really the only way to decide if one of these is a good or bad version of a somewhat healthy snack.
· Popcorn - We all know how dangerous the theater stuff is (it often weighs in at around 1,000 calories), but the corn we pop in the microwave can be just as bad. Many store brands are packed with trans fats, a couple hundred calories, and loads of sodium. Look for 100-calorie pops and brands that are truly fat-free to reap the benefits of the corn’s fiber and light, crunchy taste.
· Crackers - Think you’re playing it safe with those pretzels? They may not deserve their healthy reputation: just one ounce contains over 100 calories. (And who stops at a measly ounce?) Plus, pretzels are all refined carbs and salt, leaving us even hungrier than before we ate them.
· Energy Bars - This is another one of those foods that clever marketing has caused us to equate incorrectly with healthy snacking. Chocolate Special K Bliss bars (half the size of an average bar), for example, are 40 percent sugar and have less than a gram of fiber—which makes them nutritionally similar to a small cookie. Read ingredients and look for raw, all-natural bars. Lärabars are my absolute favorite—they come in a variety of yummy flavors (including chocolate) and are vegan and gluten-free.
A few foods can be valuable nutritional choices. Don’t rule them out, just make sure that you limit yourself to a reasonable serving size. These include nuts, guacamole, hummus and nut butters. But remember, it is all about the serving size. If you over do it with too large of a serving size you are packing on calories and fat and then these options become “sneaky” snacks along with the rest of the list.
It really comes down to making informed choices. Snacks are “sneaky” only if we let them be—after all, the ingredients are listed right there on the back. With a little planning and prep, it’s easy to have healthy foods on hand when hunger strikes. Choose wisely, be mindful of the times you snack between meals and feel satisfied.
Guest blog post by Lori McKnight, B.A., busy mom and wife who enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and has been a health and wellness advocate for many years.