Today I came upon a couple of treats that could easily torpedo a low-carb diet. Many people following a low-carb diet would grab these and throw them down without even thinking about it. I know it’s true because I’ve done it myself.
The photo at the top of this post is of a small sack of dried fruit and mixed nuts sold at Starbucks stores everywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve popped in to a Starbucks to grab an Americano and walked out with one of these. You can see from the size of the sack relative to my hand that these aren’t very big.
If you take a look at the Nutrition Facts on the back, however, you can see that this little sack holds 2.5 servings and that each serving provides 160 calories. Since no one eats a single serving as defined (everyone eats the entire sack), this little treat adds 400 calories to the day’s total. I know that each serving contains 17 g of carb as per the label, making the entire bag sport 42.5 g of carb. But I also know that most people (myself included) won’t look at that number and will simply throw one of these back thinking, hey, these are just nuts with a little dried fruit. How bad can it be? Then wonder why the weight isn’t coming off. I’m using this example to show just how easy it is to run afoul of the carbs and calories in seemingly ‘healthful’ little snacks like this one.
Above you see a photo of an actual small bag of mixed nuts I pulled from our own pantry. I love nuts, and I snack on them all the time. But they are full of calories and have to be treated with care if you’re trying to lose weight.
As you can see from the nutritional label to the left, each serving of these nuts provides 190 calories, which doesn’t sound all that bad. At least not until you look a little more closely and realize that there are seven servings in this little bag. It’s easy, easy, easy (and I speak from personal experience) to eat an entire bag – that’s seven servings – at a sitting. I can go through one of these puppies while watching a movie without thinking twice about it. And eating a bag of these nuts means that you’ve downed 1330 calories. If you’re on a low-carb diet and are creating a caloric deficit of a couple of hundred calories per day, eating even a serving of these nuts will do your weight loss in. But who can eat just one serving? Each serving contains 4 g of effective carbohydrate (6 total minus 2 of fiber), so the entire bag contains only about 28 g carb. I know purists who read every label and stick religiously to a low-carb diet would avoid eating this entire bag because it would provide too many carbs. But far too many of us simply figure that nuts are a low-carb snack food and go for it. And take in 1330 calories in the process.
The purpose of this post isn’t to hector everyone about noshing, but is to let you know how easy it is to succumb to the lure of these kinds of snacks without really giving it much thought. And then wonder why the weight isn’t coming off. Now you know.
It takes a fair amount of diligence and care to lose all the weight you want to lose on a low-carb diet, and it can seem like a real pain. But it’s a whole lot less of a pain than losing on any other kind of diet. When I hear people complain about the difficulty of following a low-carb diet, I think of Winston Churchill’s great quote about the democratic form of government:
Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
It’s the same with a low-carb diet: it’s the worst diet available except all those other diets that have been tried from time to time.
In the next post I will bring you some good news to offset the bad news of these last couple of posts. I’ll show you how you can reach the point in low-carb dieting that allows you to snack on cheese, nuts and other low-carb, high-caloric-density treats without paying the price. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if any of you have your own favorite snacks that are caloric torpedoes you would like to share with the group, please post them as a comment.