100 Calorie Snack Packs vs. Me

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We’ve all seen the commercials and we’ve all read the magazine ads:

“Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, creamy- what kind of snack are you craving? 100 calorie snack packs come in all your favorites from Oreo to Wheat Thins. Now you can indulge and still know that you’re making a smart choice.”

Hey Jabba the Hut! You’re better off eating the socks that have been in my gym bag for the past month than you are in “indulging” in those 100 calorie snack packs.

Lets take a closer look at one of these so-called smart choices: Oreo Thin Crisps

Oreo Thin Crisps

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size- 23 grams (1 bag)

Servings Per Container- 6

Calories- 100

Total Fat- 2 grams

Total Carbohydrate: 19 grams

Dietary Fiber- 1 gram

Sugars- 8 grams

Protein- 1 gram

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN, {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SUGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, HIGH OLEIC CANOLA OIL, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), CORNSTARCH, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), ARTIFICIAL COLOR, SALT, POWDERED SUGAR, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR.

Wow, that sounds scrumptious. Call me crazy, but I prefer to eat real food.

I can understand the rationale on why people would think this would be a healthy option. I mean what’s 100 calories in the grand scheme of things, right? Well here are my issues with these snack packs.

#1. When we’re discussing burning off body fat, there are essentially three steps to do so: mobilization, transport, and oxidation. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but lets just stick to the mobilization aspect. In order to burn body fat, you must first mobilize it (ie: bodyfat doesn’t just melt away on its own). Bodyfat is essentially stored triglyceride. Mobilizing bodyfat requires that we first break down the triglyceride into free fatty acids. The limiting step in this process is an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL).

There are a number of hormones that effect HSL, but one of the major ones that effect HSL activity is……insulin. In a nutshell, insulin is the main inactivator of HSL. If you’re eating carbohydrates all day, you spike insulin levels to a greater degree, which in turn, inactivates HSL from releasing stored body fat to be burned off as free fatty acids.

I know it’s a bit “sciency,” but the main point to take home here is that insulin ALWAYS wins the battle over fat cell metabolism. If you’re eating carbohydrates all day (in the form of those 100 calorie snack packs), you’re really limiting yourself in the fat loss department.

(For more information on the topic and in case you’re a science geek, check out Alwyn Cosgrove’s Manual or Lyle McDonald’s manual).

#2. Who are we kidding? I don’t know many people who can limit themselves to just one bag per day. That’s like asking Britney Spears to only drink two cans of crazy per day. Not gonna happen. Besides 100 calories is not a lot of volume of food. More often than not, said person will probably be even hungrier later on in the day and OVER-eat once he or she gets home.

Do yourself a favor and stop eating for convenience. No matter how you put it, eating cookies is not a healthy choice and won’t help you get leaner.

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