Hidden Calories in ‘Healthy’ Foods


Reviewed by: Erica Grandjean, APD, BNutr&Diet

Let’s be honest, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of which foods contain a lot of ‘healthy’ calories – and which don’t.

A bag of heavily-seasoned corn chips, for example, isn’t a great idea if you’re watching your calorie intake. Same goes for soft drinks, lollies and deep-fried foods (delicious as they may be!).

However, there are some foods popularly considered healthy that pack a massive calorie punch. While they’re nutritionally sound, too much can push your limit over the edge if you’e not careful.

Here are 5 healthy foods that should be enjoyed in moderation if you’re watching your calories:

1. Protein or ‘bliss’ balls

Protein balls are dense, naturally-sweetened and great for giving you a burst of energy. They’re designed to be carbohydrate free, meaning you get longer-lasting energy from the protein.

They are, however, very calorific. The average store-bought protein ball contains around 170 calories.

How to enjoy: Protein balls are great for on-the-go energy, so try and limit consumption to one or two a week before the gym (or straight after). Make sure you balance out the rest of your day with lost of fibre and fresh vegetables.

Also read: Top 10 Snacks to Have in Your Desk Drawer

2. Peanut butter

We all know peanut butter is rich, but there are good – and not so good – choices when it comes to brand and recipe.

Two tablespoons of a popular supermarket brand contains just under 200 calories, however there’s a lot of salt and sugar added.

How to enjoy: Look for a sugar-free, low-salt variety and enjoy the full flavour of natural peanut butter!

3. Fruit smoothies

By now, we should all know that fruit smoothies can contain a lot of sugar. These mainly come from the additions of ice cream, sugary yoghurts and honey.

A large ‘Skinny Dip’ smoothie from Boost Juice contains 377 calories.

How to enjoy: Unless you’re enjoying these as an occasional treat, opt for a small cold-pressed juice. These don’t contain any additional calories from ice cream or yoghurt, and are considered nutritionally better.

4. Paleo banana bread

You’ve probably seen slices of this at your local coffee shop and wondered how it differed to normal banana bread. Paleo means it’s free from grains, refined sugar and dairy, but rich in fats and protein.

For those following a paleo diet it’s a great breakfast, however it is high in calories from the fats. A small slice contains over 250 calories.

How to enjoy: If you’re on a calorie-controlled diet, have a slice for breakfast rather than as a morning tea or afternoon treat.

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are incredibly popular at the moment. They’re sprinkled over muesli, yoghurt and salads with abandon – however a single tablespoon contains 70 calories.

How to enjoy: These protein and fibre-rich seeds are great for adding crunch to salads and breakfasts. Just stick to a small teaspoon if you’re conscious of calories.

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