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higher calorie healthy snack vs lower calorie unhealthy snack

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:57 AM   #1
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Default higher calorie healthy snack vs lower calorie unhealthy snack

This sounds dumb, but I'm just wondering:

Is it less fattening to eat a higher calorie healthy snack or a lower calorie unhealthy snack?

Here's an example.

A 530 calorie fruit and yogurt parfait I made myself with 3 cups of fruit (frozen blueberries, frozen mixed fruit containing mango, pineapple, peaches, and strawberries), roughly 1 cup of 0 % Greek yogurt, and about a serving size of grapenuts sprinkled on top.

Or

A 300 calorie debbie snack cake?

I know my parfait has more calories, but it also has nutritional value, which the sweet doesn't have ... then again, the sweet has less calories, so that's confusing to me.

One more thing, will having such a large parfait cause me to gain weight if I eat it regularly for a snack? (I usually only have 2 cups of fruit in it, but I was really hungry this time). Sorry for the stupid question.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:04 AM   #2
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It's hard to say which is more "fattening." You will gain weight if you eat IN TOTAL throughout the day more calories than your body burns.

So... if you eat 530 cals of your parfait plus a 1000 calorie steak/potato/veggie dinner plus a 200 cal bowl of cereal for breakfast (for a daily total of 1730) and your body only burns 1600 that day, you will gain weight.

If you eat a 300 cal snack pack plus a 1000 cal dinner plus a 200 cal bowl of cereal, for a total of 1500 cals, and your body burns 1600 each day, you won't gain weight.

THAT SAID......

Some people eat a LOT more if they eat empty calories. It is a trigger. So a 300 calorie snack pack turns into a bag of chips which turns into a soda... etc. If they had just eaten the 530 calorie parfait, with all its nutrients and protein and fiber, they would have been full.

So in this scenario, the 300 cal snack pack didn't cause directly the weight gain, it caused the person to binge/overeat on other junk food, which in turn caused them to eat too many calories and gain weight.

So, bottom line. Eating TOO many calories throughout the day causes you to gain weight. Not one particular food.

If it were me, I would choose the Greek yogurt + the fruit. It's FAR more filling, nutrient-dense, and has more protein and fiber than the snack pack.

HOWEVER, I would significantly reduce the amount of fruit I put into it. 3 cups of fruit is a lot and has a lot of sugar. Maybe reduce to 1 or 1.5 cups. Then you have around a 300-cal snack with far fewer carbs and less sugar.

hope that helps
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:13 AM   #3
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Thanks. I felt really, really hungry, and it has completely satisfied me. I believe I would have probably eaten something else had I not gotten so full and satisfied. I will definitely reduce the amount of fruit in it. It's hard to measure the mixed frozen fruit, because the pieces are cut into huge chunks and takes a lot of space in my measuring cup. lol.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:20 AM   #4
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I think you absolutely made the right decision! Food that is delicious + nutritious + completely satisfying/filling is a win-win-win situation. Way to go!

Also, I'm the same way you are with not getting filled up from snacks like little debbie's. It just makes me crave more... and I end up eating more.

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Old 09-20-2011, 03:26 AM   #5
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Yeah. Thankfully my groceries are low at the moment. I'm going to have to stop buying trigger food at the first of the month, though.
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:38 AM   #6
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It is really worth it to buy a food scale. Then you can measure for the grams and get a better reading.

I think the yoghurt/fruit/grapenuts sounds awesome - but I would probably consider it as a meal in itself instead of a snack. And I would CERTAINLY eat that instead of a little debbie cake.

Or you could simply cut all the ingredients in half and eat it as a snack. I know from personal experience that grape nuts is a filling food that is not quickly digested - so you will feel satisfied until your next meal. If you eat the little debbie snack, there will be no satisfaction and you will feel hunger soon after.
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:16 AM   #7
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I agree- 530 calories is more of a meal than a snack for me. I understand wanting a lot of volume of food, though. Do you like veggies? You can generally eat more of them for less calories. For less calories, you could have a HUGE salad with some cottage cheese or something for protein. Also berries are lower-cal than most other fruits.

I agree that eating trigger foods can cause problems, but IMHO, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. If you can stop eating after the snacks you listed, the processed food is less fattening because there are less calories- almost by half. We get caught in the trap of thinking that because foods have high nutritional value, they are good for us and so they can't hurt us to eat them. If you eat 100 oranges a day and nothing else, you will gain weight because that's a lot of calories!

Best of luck!
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DezziePS View Post
IMHO, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. If you can stop eating after the snacks you listed, the processed food is less fattening because there are less calories- almost by half. We get caught in the trap of thinking that because foods have high nutritional value, they are good for us and so they can't hurt us to eat them. If you eat 100 oranges a day and nothing else, you will gain weight because that's a lot of calories!
Which is exactly what I stressed in my post. Bottom line is calories matter. Too many times I see people giving weight loss advice that consists of "eat more veggies!!!!!" Eating MORE of something only helps you lose weight if it's replacing something else, not if it's added to what you're already eating. Similarly, eating one 'healthy' thing versus an 'unhealthy thing' doesn't necessarily help you lose weight if the calories are high.

I still contend there is no such thing as a food that is "more fattening" or "less fattening." I understand this is a common usage, and that it actually means "more calorie-dense." But the food in and of itself doesn't "fatten" you, it's how many calories you eat in total.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:03 AM   #9
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Thanks, everyone. The "snack" actually ended up becoming breakfast since I haven't had anything else.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:05 AM   #10
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It depends on what I was in the mood for. If I had a hankering for Little Debbie snack cakes, I would eat one. I've found that when I crave something junky and try to eat something healthy instead of it, I end up grazing because I'm dissatisfied. It would be better to have eaten the junky food and be done with it. So, sometimes, I eat something that's junky just because I crave it. (I define "crave" as I cannot get that item off my mind for more than one day).
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:59 PM   #11
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I hear ya, lin43, but this was different. It wasn't a super craving, it was just a tiny nagging because I was really hungry. It lasted me so much longer too. I had it around 2 am, and only started to feel hungry around 11 am.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:34 PM   #12
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serval good for you for recognizing the difference between a full-on craving and just simple hunger. The former can sometimes only be satiated by consumption of that ONE THING you are craving. The latter leaves you with several choices you can make and you made a good one!!

lin I do see where you're coming from. I think it depends on the individual whether or not actually eating the Little Debbie is a good idea. For me, for example, a 300 calorie little debbie would be 25% of my daily calories (!!). I can't afford to "spend" my calories on something so nutritionally poor. I wouldn't have enough left over to get in all the other nutrients and proteins I needed for the day.

I think there's also something to be said for developing alternatives for cravings. Being able to train oneself to be satisfied with a small 90-calorie bowl of fat-free chocolate pudding in place of a Little Debbie's is a great step to strive towards.

That said, I totally understand that sometimes a craving is a craving and it needs to be fulfilled. In those cases, it's important for us to remember that just because Little Debbie's packaged the cakes into 300-calorie portions doesn't mean one has to eat the whole 300 calories. Half a cake at 150 may get the job done with little damage
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:55 PM   #13
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The yogurt and fruit is a great combo. I might do much less than a serving of Grape Nuts though. They are quite high in calories so when I use them with yogurt or anything, I just use a TBSP or so. That way I still get the crunch and the whole grain, just not quite so many calories!
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