Fun fact: Weight Watchers started out in the early 1960s as a weekly get together hosted by the founder, Jean Nidetch, who invited her friends over to her New York home to chat about best weight loss methods. Fast forward a few decades, and the program remains popular thanks to its registered trademarked SmartPoints system—which is based on calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. But (and there is a but!), regardless of some snacks being low-cal or sugar-free, point value isn’t the only thing to look out for when you’re dieting.
Scoping out the ingredient list for sneaky stomach-swelling offenders is a significant step in making the best decisions when it comes to health and taming your tummy’s grumble. That’s why Eat This, Not That! has rounded up a list of which WW-brand snacks you should reach for and which you should skip. Check out our list if you’re considering the diet (or already are enrolled!) and while you’re at it, look out for these 150 Worst Packaged Foods in America.
First, The Worst…
Cranberry Almond Yogurt Breakfast Square
Nutrition per bar: 170 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (5 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein
Ingredients: Almonds, soy protein isolate, white coating (maltitol, fractionated palm kernel oil, milk protein isolate, nonfat dry milk, soy lecithin, distilled monoglycerides, natural flavor, and sucralose), inulin, organic cranberries (organic cranberries, organic cane sugar, organic sunflower oil), cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, organic tapioca starch, sesame seeds, water, peanuts, glycerine, sunflower oil with tocopherols preservative, natural flavor, rice starch, salt, sunflower lecithin, stevia leaf extract. Contains almonds, cashews, soy, milk, peanuts, seeds (sesame, pumpkin).
Cranberries, almonds, and yogurt are all stellar foods for weight loss—but when they’re tossed together and blended with a slew of almost innumerable ingredients to make this seemingly healthful bar—they’re not. Weight Watchers adds fractionated palm kernel oil and distilled monoglycerides. “Mono and diglycerides shouldn’t be consumed […] They are considered to be a type of trans fat that over time can contribute to an unhealthy heart and they don’t currently fall under the labeling laws as trans fats do,” explains Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN. On top of that, this bar is sweetened with sucralose, which has been linked to potential ailments ranging from weight gain to cancer. We’ll pass that up.
Chocolate Caramel Flavored Mini Bar
Ingredients: Chocolate flavored coating (maltitol, fractionated palm kernel oil, polydextrose, cocoa, nonfat milk, natural flavor, soy lecithin, salt, sucralose), oligofructose, soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, maltitol syrup, corn syrup, sugar, water, invert evaporated cane syrup, glycerine, cocoa (processed with alkali), maltodextrin, nonfat milk, natural flavor, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, fructose, soybean oil, soy lecithin, salt, butter (cream, salt, annatto added for color), sodium citrate, cream, carrageenan.
Just one peek at this lengthy ingredient list and you’ll notice the major amount of stuff this mini bar packs in—including the ten types of sweeteners! If your sweet tooth is craving chocolate, succumb to one of these 20 Secretly Healthy Chocolate Recipes instead.
Creamy Chocolate Smoothie
Nutrition (per slim pack): 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein
Ingredients: Protein dairy blend (soy protein isolate and non fat dry milk), cocoa processed with alkali, calcium carbonate, natural and artificial flavor, dipotassium phosphate, maltodextrin, gum arabic, soy lecithin, calcium phosphate, guar gum, cellulose gum, sunflower oil, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, xanthan gum, carrageenan, sodium caseinate (milk derivative), vitamin a palmitate, ferrous sulfate, natural tocopherols preservative, mono- and diglycerides, zinc oxide, cyanocobalamin (vitamin b12), vitamin d, and riboflavin (vitamin b2).
Don’t be fooled by this smoothie’s seemingly decent nutritionals. Although it’s relatively low in sugar and calories and high in protein, it’s injected with fats and one of the worst sweeteners on the planet, acesulfame potassium.
Vanilla Apple Chai Flavored Breakfast Square
Nutrition (per bar): 150 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 7 g protein
Ingredients: Apples, coating (sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, nonfat milk, whole milk, whey powder, palm oil, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), natural flavor), sunflower seed kernels, inulin, soy nuggets (isolated soy protein, rice starch), oats, soy protein isolate, tapioca maltodextrin, water, glycerine, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate), sunflower oil with tocopherols (preservative), natural flavor, maltitol, salt, sunflower lecithin, malic acid, steviol glycosides.
We were so excited to see chai plastered on this bar’s wrapping, but to our dismay, the inflammation-fighting spice blend was missing from the ingredient list. Instead, WW threw in added fats in the form fractionated palm kernel oil—cautioning you to skip this breakfast square both in the AM and PM.
Mini Dijon Pretzel Thins
Nutrition (per pouch): 70 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein
Ingredients: Corn starch, potato starch, rice flour, soybean oil, corn fiber, seasoning [mustard powder mustard (distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, turmeric), maltodextrin, modified food starch, and natural flavor, salt, mustard flour, sugar, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, white distilled vinegar, modified food starch), natural flavors, sodium diacetate , worcestershire sauce powder (maltodextrin, distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), onion and garlic powder, spice, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate], sugar, salt, cellulose gum, sunflower lecithin, yeast extract, baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, inulin.
Here at Eat This, Not That, we’re not fans of nutrient-void pretzels. To taint the already bad rap these crunchy carbs have, WW added caramel color (which the International Agency for Research on Cancer deemed “possibly carcinogenic to humans”) to their recipe. And sodium-wise, you’re better off movie bingeing with a serving of Lay’s Classic chips, which has 100 milligrams less salt than these pretzels.
AND THE #1 WORST WEIGHT WATCHERS SNACK IS… Cheddar Twists
Nutrition (per pouch): 80 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein
Ingredients: Bleached wheat flour enriched (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), soybean oil (soybean oil with tocopherols and bht added to preserve), seasoning (whey, salt, onion powder, natural and artificial flavors, buttermilk, cheddar cheese [pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes], dextrose, yeast extract, sour cream [cream, nonfat milk, cultures], cultured nonfat milk, garlic powder, sunflower oil, disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate, whey protein concentrate, yellow 6 lake, tricalcium phosphate, citric acid, lactic acid, yellow 5 lake, turmeric oleoresin color, yellow 5, yellow 6 and silicon dioxide), oat fiber, yeast, sugar, salt, artificial butter flavor, distilled monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate.
These cheddar twists have got nutrition totally twisted. When you get down to brass tacks, you see that this bleached white flour-based snack does use real cheddar in their formulation, but a lot of that cheesy flavor and appearance comes from yeast extracts, whey protein concentrate, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. With only 80 calories, you may not be breaking your SmartPoints budget, but you will be consuming some of the 23 Worst Food Additives In America.
Now, The Best…
Dark Chocolate Nut Breakfast Square
Nutrition (per bar) 170 calories, 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (5 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 8 g protein
Ingredients: Almonds, peanuts, chocolate flavored coating (palm kernel oil, milk protein concentrate, maltitol, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), dextrose, soy lecithin (emulsifier), natural vanilla extract), inulin, soy protein isolate, pumpkin seeds, cashews, organic tapioca starch, sesame seeds, water, glycerine, sunflower oil with tocopherols preservative, salt, natural flavor, rice starch, sunflower lecithin, stevia leaf extract. Contains almonds, cashews, peanuts, milk, soy, seeds (pumpkin, sesame).
We like that the first two and therefore most abundant ingredients are whole nuts, but we aren’t too enthusiastic about the addition of belly high GI dextrose and maltitol (which the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition have associated with stomach and internal). The takeaway? You can snack on this in moderation for a solid fiber and protein punch.
Popped Salt & Vinegar Potato Crisps
Nutrition (per pouch): 80 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (4 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein
Ingredients: Base (dehydrated potato, rice flour, soluble corn fiber, pea protein isolate, inulin, salt), topical seasoning (maltodextrin, sea salt, vinegar powder, rice flour, citric acid), sunflower oil with tocopherols preservative.
It’s got a bit of fiber and protein, and it’s low in calories, but 350 milligrams of sodium for an 80-calorie snack is definitely excessive. In fact, these chips have more of the salty stuff than 11 Snyder’s pretzel thins! Pair these with an extra glass of H2O.
Popped Barbecue Potato Crisps
Nutrition (per pouch): 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein
Ingredients: Base (dehydrated potato, rice flour, soluble corn fiber, pea protein isolate, inulin, salt), topical seasoning (sugar, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, tomato powder, natural flavors, paprika oleoresin color, spices, citric acid), sunflower oil with tocopherols preservative.
Beat the 2PM slump with this better-for-you popped snack. We like that it contains pea protein and has less salt sprinkled in than the salt and vinegar version.
Popped Sea Salt Hummus Chips
Nutrition (per pouch): 90 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein
Ingredients: Base (chickpea [garbanzo bean] flour, rice flour, salt), sunflower oil, sea salt.
We’re major fans of these healthy hummus chips that pack in protein from the chickpeas; although, we are a bit disheartened to see the fiber count so low since the legume is notorious for packing in a solid amount of the satiating stuff.
Biena Roasted Chickpea Snack, Sour Cream & Onion
Nutrition (per pouch): 120 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (5 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 5 g protein
Ingredients: Chickpeas, sunflower oil, sugar, salt onion powder, sour cream (cultured cream, nonfat milk), gum arabic, dehydrated parsley, yeast extract, citric acid, garlic powder, lactic acid, natural flavors.
Clean ingredients? Check. Five grams of protein? Check. Five grams of fiber? Check. We’re already loving that this crunchy snack is way better than most of these 25 Worst ‘Healthy Snacks’ For Weight Loss.
AND THE #1 BEST WEIGHT WATCHERS SNACK IS… Biena Roasted Chickpea Snack, Sea Salt
Nutrition (per pouch): 120 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (5 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein
Ingredients: Chickpeas, sunflower oil, sea salt.
Shocker—Weight Watchers has a snack that boasts just three all natural ingredients! We love that this high fiber snack is conocted with sunflower oil-roasted chickpeas and just a dash of sea salt to brighten things up. This legume-based pick definitely gets our seal of approval.