Snack Attack? The Healthy Way To Handle One

Aug. 29, 2002 -- It's a burning question that unfortunately doesn't burn off calories: Can you snack and still stay healthy?

In the fourth part of Good Morning America's "Summer's End to Fat" series, fitness expert Jim Karas, author of The Business Plan for the Body,, shares some of the do's and don'ts of snacking.

There are weight loss secrets that experts know, but do not share, he said.

"Many of the fad diets play with your water weight," Karas said. "In many of the liquid based diets that offer 'lose 10 pounds over a weekend' you are losing water weight which is the weight you want to keep because the body is about two-thirds water. Water is necessary. Even worse are diets that play around with the loss of muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat."

Snack With Caution

Snack foods have gotten a bad rap over the years, but snack foods can actually be healthy, Karas said.

"Our bodies actually do better with small, mini-meals through the day," Karas said. Look for snacks that contain anywhere from 100 to 200 calories. Women should aim for lower calorie snacks, while men should aim toward the top of the range, at 200 calories.

When snacking, the problem may not be what you eat. It could be what you drink.

"Sports drinks, soda and fruit juices are packed with calories," Karas said. "If you're thirsty, drink water!"

One little juice box can contain as many as 90 calories, but does very little to fill you up.

"Why spend 90 calories on something that's not going to make you feel full?" Karas asked.

The Steer-Clear List

Food snacks to avoid include obvious ones like potato chips and ice cream, but also Power Bars or Balance Bars, muffins, big bagels and Fig Newtons.

"Those energy bars have from 170 to 300 calories," Karas said. "It's a fat food, in healthy food clothing."

Muffins and bagels and even the supposedly healthy cookies, Fig Newtons are packed with calories too. Fat-Free Fig Newtons actually have higher calories than the regular variety.

Savvy Snacking

Here are some healthy, nutritious snacks that Karas suggests as low-calorie options:

Carrots and Salsa: Instead of eating chips with salsa (just about nine chips equals 150 calories), try baby carrots with salsa. Graham Crackers: A whole sheet of graham crackers is just 80 calories. Yogurt: Dannon Lite and Fit Yogurt (regular, not frozen) contains 120 calories and comes in dozens of flavors. Healthy Choice or Breyer's Light Ice Cream Baked Lay's Chips Rold Gold Pretzels Fresh Fruit Two Percent Low-Fat Cottage Cheese Turkey Breast with Dijon Mustard

Karas also did an appraisal of how well the Good Morning America team was doing snack-wise.

Anchor Diane Sawyer snacks on popcorn, rice thin crackers and low-fat yogurt. He said the yogurt, in particular, was a good snack.

Anchor Charlie Gibson snacks on fruit salad, also a good snack, Karas said.

Lifestyle Editor Rebecca Kolls munches on dried fruit, fresh fruit and smoothies. Karas advised her to be careful about the dried fruit, because drying fruit concentrates the sugar, making it more caloric. She should select fresh fruit, instead, whenever possible. Smoothies can be dangerous, because they contain both juice and fruit, and the calorie count can be "400 before you know it," Karas said.

ABCNEWS Correspondent Bob Woodruff munches on raisins, bananas and yogurt —good choices, Karas said.

Fitness expert Jim Karas is providing his expertise in a five-part fitness series airing this week on Good Morning America.

Day One: Preparation and Motivation

Day Two: A Food Plan

Day Three: Strength and Resistance Exercises

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