Popular Snacks That Make You Gain Weight Like Crazy

Are you consistently gaining weight but can’t figure out why? Does it tempt you to give up your diet? Unfortunately, the problem may be your snacking habits.

Although snacking is a good way to hold you over until your next meal, the wrong snacks will throw you off course when it comes to meeting your weight-loss goals. Here are 15 popular snacks that make you gain weight like crazy. One liquid treat is full of hidden calories (on page 9).

1. Peanut butter

Peanut butter scooped on a silver spoon.

You probably eat more peanut butter than you should. | iStock.com

Peanut butter is a staple in many homes. Tragically, despite its deliciousness, the creamy treat is chock-full of calories. Two tablespoons equal nearly 200 calories. The good news is healthy alternatives exist, said James Goodwillie, owner of One To Multi.

Peanut butter from the grocery store will contain around 16 grams of fat and since fats contain 7 calories per gram, that is about 112 calories just from fat alone. I would suggest something with a smooth texture like a nut butter with far less calories and a lot of nutritional benefits: Hummus.

Next: Watch your lunch-time snack habits. 

2. Sushi

Sushi roll maki on a white plate.

Lots of sushi is loaded with toppings and sauces. | Kamui29/iStock/Getty Images

You might grab a quick sushi meal for lunch without even thinking about the calories. However, if you’re not careful about the type of sushi you consume, you could negatively impact your diet. Kelly Jones Crawford, a food cravings expert for Hard Boiled Body, warns that not all sushi is the same.

“Some sushi comes covered in fried dough and calorie-laden sauces. The calories can easily add up. Sushi rice is also prepared with a considerable amount of sugar too. Despite the fish and vegetable components of sushi being healthy, there is very little of it and a sushi roll is mainly made up of sugary rice,” said Crawford.

Next: This breakfast item may not make it such a good morning.

3. Cereal

Woman pouring milk onto cereal

It’s delicious but full of calories. | Image_Source_/Getty Images

Kate Fuss, a blogger at The Healthy Habiteer, said she used to eat cereal as a snack. She realized later on that cereal can be just as bad as some junk foods.

Despite “low-sugar,” “fat-free,” and “whole-wheat” marketing tactics, cereal can be a culprit in weight gain. The serving sizes are smaller than you realize. The sugar content is typically doubled or tripled based on the servings you consume.

Also, the quantity of milk used can add a significant amount of sugar. When consumed out of proportion to the recommended serving size, this snack becomes a sugar bomb.

Next: Your waistline will pay for this convenience.

4. Snack bars

A bitten protein bar inside a silver wrapper.

These bars are full of protein — and other stuff. | iStock

Another snack you may automatically reach for is an energy bar. They’re convenient and taste great, but they’re not always the best choice. Kristin Marquet, an endurance runner as well as creative director and founder of Creative Development Agency, said she gained weight from eating snack bars.

I gained about five pounds three years ago from eating a very popular snack bar. I had one a day as a snack for a month and packed the weight on. The nuts are what made this snack bar so high in calories.

I’d suggest swapping out snack bars for an Oikos yogurt or some other type of non-fat Greek yogurt. Not only is it filling due to the protein count, it’s also very tasty.

Next: Not all fruit is good for your physique.

5. Dried fruit

Dried fruit piled together.

Munching on fresh fruit might be a better alternative. | iStock.com

Although fruit is part of a healthy diet, too much dried fruit can cause you to gain weight. What you may not know: Sugar fills these tasty snacks.

Registered Dietitian Eliza Whetzel suggests eating regular fruit. “Dried fruit such as mango is high in sugar and carbohydrates and it’s easy to overdo the calories and portions. Dried fruit doesn’t have the water associated with regular fruit, so it is not as filling and satiating. I recommend eating real whole fruit, and sticking to one serving size,” said Whetzel, a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition.

Next: Watch out for unhealthy versions of this snack. 

6. Granola

Homemade granola in open glass jar on rustic wooden background.

Large amounts of honey and sugar are hidden in your granola. | Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images

Granola might sound healthy, but all the brands aren’t created equal. Some granola snacks have other ingredients added to them that aren’t good for your body. Crawford explains:

Granola is good and bad. Store-bought granola may appear healthy, being full of seeds and nuts, but sadly it is often covered in oil and sugar to make it more appealing. Granola does have nutritious properties, unlike rice cakes, but you don’t need to eat much of it to consume 400+ calories. Instead of store bought, make your own.

Next: There could be lots of hidden calories in just a small bag of this treat. 

7. Nuts

A bag of nuts on a blue surface.

Aim for the unsalted and unsweetened varieties. | JunAh666/iStock/Getty Images

If you think you can’t go wrong with nuts, these salty treats may surprise you. Having nuts as a snack could also cause you to pack on the pounds. The best way to enjoy this snack is as a condiment instead of snacking by the bag-full.

“All nuts, including almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, are over 90% fat. Fat has nine calories per gram, making nuts very calorie dense. One cup of whole almonds is over 800 calories, which is about half of the calories that many people need for the entire day,” said Tina Marinaccio, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and owner Health Dynamics LLC.

Next: Empty calories can spell trouble.

8. Rice cakes

Rice cakes

Snackers love the texture of rice cakes. | Source: iStock

Rice cakes tend to be a low-calorie snack, but they can leave you feeling hungry. Consequently, this crunchy treat can tempt you to eat more of it. This is why Crawford said rice cakes spell bad news for your diet.

“Instead of being a healthy low-calorie snack, they just end up being additional calories, because you’ll want to eat something in addition to them regardless of how many of them you eat. Also, some rice cakes are packed with sugar,” said Crawford.

Next: This liquid treat is full of hidden calories.

9. Smoothies

A woman holds a green smoothie while wearing a backpack.

Just because it’s green, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. | Dirima/iStock/Getty Images Plus

You might think having a liquid snack, like a smoothie, might be a good way to keep your weight down, but that’s not always the case. Some liquid snacks can be a source of hidden calories.

Jenny Barber, a nutritionist for Slimming World, told The Cheat Sheet some people over-do it with the liquids. “Many smoothies contain almost as many calories as fizzy drinks and because people think they’re being healthy by drinking them, they may consume them in larger amounts,” said Barber.

Next: Juice can be a sneaky source of calories.

10. Fruit juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice.

Juice isn’t any healthier than soda. | Canovass/iStock/Getty Images

Just like smoothies, fruit juice can also cause unexpected weight gain. Just because your drink is packed with fruit doesn’t mean it’s good for your waistline. Rebecca Lewis, a registered dietitian at HelloFresh, said dieters should go easy on the juice cleanses.

If you’re using a juice cleanse to lose weight you’ll most likely end up being disappointed! This is because any weight loss from a juice cleanse happens because the number of calories you’re consuming in the juice is drastically cut from what you’re normally eating. Thus, as soon as the cleanse is over, you’re likely to see the weight come right back on.

Next: This popular snack might surprise you.

11. Trail mix

Mix in white bowl and scooper.

This on-the-go mix is fun but full of sugar and sodium. | Darryl Brooks/iStock/Getty Images

Trail mix can be a healthy snack, but it can also cause you to put on unwanted pounds. Riley Thornton, a registered dietitian and wellness specialist at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, said it’s important to be very careful about portion sizes.

Trail mix can be a great snack and alternative to a large bag of regular chips, but when eating more than the recommended portion size (about ¼ cup) the calories, fat, and sugar can add up. One full cup of trail mix can be almost 700 calories! Reading the nutrition label is important to find out what one serving looks like.

Next: Beware of foods that overcompensate with sugar.

12. Zero-calorie foods

Open and closed cans of soda and drinks.

Your sugar-free beverage isn’t doing you any favors. | iStock.com

No calories might sound like a dream, but it really isn’t. Foods labeled zero-calories are often full of sugar and salt. And more sugar means more calories. In addition, zero-calorie drinks made with fat substitutes and artificial sweeteners could cause weight gain because they often trigger a hunger response, reports Eat This Not That.

So, don’t make the mistake of loading up on zero-calorie snack foods. You might have some difficulty sticking to your diet.

Next: Don’t let this label fool you. 

13. Low-fat food

A yogurt and spoon on wooden surface.

Low-fat foods are often filled with sugar. | ADragan/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t let a low-fat label fool you. Some foods that are labeled this way have other things added to make them taste better. This means more calories for you, said Lewis.

While the fat may be reduced or taken out, sugar and sodium are often added to maintain flavor! Be wary of low-fat foods when one of the first three ingredients listed is sugar. Regularly eating too much sugar could lead to high insulin levels in your blood. In the long-run this interferes with proper hormone signaling in the brain — including the signaling of our hunger hormones, which can increase our hunger cravings all day.

Next: Beware of this label. 

14. Sugar-free food

A carton of raspberry ice cream and spoon on wooden tabletop.

Sugar-free foods are very misleading. | MarieKazPhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Eating a snack that’s free of sugar might make you think you’re doing something good for your body, but sugar-free foods can be bad for you. Sugar-free foods also might have small amounts of sugar in them. The term sugar-free means there is less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving, according to Federal Department of Agriculture guidelines.

“These artificial sweeteners interfere with many of the signals in our body — one of which is related to our sense of feeling full. In fact, in long-term studies, those that consume these artificial sweeteners end up gaining weight and belly fat,” said Lewis.

Next: Some snack labels can fool you into eating more.

15. Fat-free food

Toast bread on a brown basket.

Just enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. | SasaJo/iStock/Getty Images

Fat-free snacks aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They may also contain hidden calories to make up for the lack of fat. Also, fat-free doesn’t necessarily mean there is absolutely no fat in the snack you’re eating. Just like with sugar-free foods, fat-free really means there are fewer than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, according to the FDA.


Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!