The Worst Costco Foods, According to Nutritionists
Costco has it all — including some things that horrify nutrition experts. Along with a bevy of healthy options and fan-favorite items, Costco also houses a lot of (deliciously) fatty, sugar foods that won't do you any favors if you're trying to eat healthy.
While we always support eating whatever you want in moderation, we know Costco makes that a little bit harder with its oversize containers of food. We asked several nutrition experts for their opinion on the worst foods at Costco and this is what they had to say.
For some ideas on what you should eat instead, here are The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Costco's bakery section is a bit of a calorie bomb. Of course, most bakeries are. What can get you into trouble in Costco's bakery is simply how much food you're buying. Amy Davis, RD, LDN, warns against any baked goods but especially the apple strudel.
"Although delicious, these foods are full of white refined carbs and sugar, and offer no real nutrition benefit," she says. "Plus, the portions are so large, you and your family will likely be snacking on these items for much longer than if you were to make them yourself."
Related: To get all the latest Costco news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!
Kirkland Chicken Bakes
Costco may be known for the Kirkland Chicken Bakes in the frozen aisle and the food court, but it doesn't mean they're something you should eat. They're incredibly unhealthy (though delicious, we know), and registered holistic nutritionist Jenni Bourque, who is also a contributor to DNA Lean, wants you to just walk away. "One bake is quite high in calories, fat, and sodium," she notes, and she's not wrong.
Hungry after shopping? Try one of The Best Menu Items at Costco's Food Court instead.
Kirkland Frozen Pepperoni Pizza
Yes, throwing a pizza in the oven is easy, but it's not exactly nutritious. Kirkland's frozen pizzas are deliciously bad for you — especially when you look at the nutrition info. One serving has 10 grams of saturated fat and almost 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
Sarah Morgan, a clinical nutritionist and inventor of wellness company Even, is wary of a lot of things in the freezer section. She points out that foods like the Kirkland pizzas are "nutrient-void foods with bad fats and cheap carbs that set you up for a blood sugar spike, insulin spike, and a surge of inflammation."
Like we said — everything is bigger at Costco, including the muffins. Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific, wants you to walk on by the bakery and not touch a thing, because all those sweet treats are packed with sugar and are way more than one serving size each. She points out that it's easy to eat one muffin in one sitting, but nutritionally speaking, that's a bad idea. "One of these giant muffins is about 4-5 portions!" she said.
Barrel of Pretzels
If you can snack on pretzels in a healthy manner — as in, eat them in a proper portion and not mindlessly — then these aren't horrible. However, while they are low in fat, they're also salty, which can lead to bloating and discomfort and they won't really add a lot of nutrition to your day.
John Fawkes, NSCA-certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor, and managing editor at The Unwinder, cautions against getting one of these tubs because it's just so many pretzels. "Because many are under the impression that pretzels are healthy, they may mindlessly snack on them — especially when they have a barrel-sized bucket of them in their kitchen," he says.
Pierre Signatures Angus Cheeseburgers
There is a lot of fat in these cheeseburgers. There's also a lot of cholesterol and sodium. Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, has a better suggestion than grabbing these frozen cheeseburgers from Costco. "I suggest you enjoy the occasional burger when eating out rather than stocking these in your freezer."
For more on what burgers to eat, here are the 13 Healthiest Fast Food Burgers, Recommended By Nutritionists.
Costco's conventional bananas are much larger than your average banana. And while fruits are generally always a good idea, Dr. Lee wants you to watch out for these bananas if you're tracking your calories or sugar.
Because these are so much bigger than your standard banana, when you eat one, you're consuming more sugar or calories than you might have bargained for, which can throw off your healthy-eating plan if you're not careful. Grab the organic variety instead — these should be regular size.
You might have been tricked into thinking these breakfast bars are healthy, but they're really not. Though they are tasty and do have a bit of fruit, they're also loaded with sugar and refined grains. Ryan Andrews, RD at Precision Nutrition, takes extra care when looking at any protein or nutrition bars at any grocery store — including Costco.
"Some (but not all) of these bars are nothing more than a mix of sugars, oils, and fiber with a sprinkling of protein added for marketing purposes," he says. NutriGrain bars especially have quite a bit of sugar, so not really the best option for a snack.
Kirkland Trail Mix
The biggest issue with the Kirkland Trail Mix is simply that it's such a large bag of a snack that's so easy to overeat. One serving size of the trail mix is very, very small — 1/4 cup. In that tiny serving size, you're getting 10 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar. You're better off either buying a bag of just unsalted almonds or making a trail mix with a healthier selection of items.
Don't worry, there are other options out there. Here are 17 Healthy Alternatives for All Your Cravings.
Kirkland Ice Cream Bars
The Kirkland ice cream bars can be a decent treat if you only have one once in a while, but keep in mind that they contain 21 grams of fat and 12 grams of saturated fat in each bar, which is a lot for one small treat. What you could eat instead is a sugar-free popsicle. If you're craving something more creamy, though, there's always sugar-free pudding or other low-calorie desserts.
Another item you shouldn't get at Costco? Salmon burgers — they're currently being recalled because they could contain small pieces of metal.