You may perceive these snacks to be good for you, but they could be sneakily causing weight gain. You’ve heard of villains disguised as heroes, and leggings disguised as pants. But junk food disguised as healthy snacks? Sigh. It’s more common than you think. Between sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, organic, all-natural, and more, there’s an overwhelming amount of terms that get slapped onto food labels. The confusion around reading these labels makes it easy to mistake something for “healthy,” explains registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It.
1. Rice Cakes.
Rice cakes are an old-school weight loss staple. But the simple carbohydrates rank notoriously high on the glycemic index (GI)—a measure of how quickly blood rises in response to food on a scale of one to 100 (rice cakes come in at 82). High GI foods provide a rush of energy, but can leave you hungry within a few hours. Researchers at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center found high-GI snacks caused excessive hunger and increased activity in craving and reward area of the brain—the perfect storm for overeating and weight gain.