Skip to content

7 Snacks That Are Causing You to Gain Weight, According to Science

Time to take a closer look at your snack drawer and get rid of these guilty culprits.

When you're trying to drop those unwanted pounds, you know it's time to start breaking up a sweat more often than you might've been already. Along with having a more regimented workout plan, you want to make sure you're fueling your body the right way as well. Snacks, in particular, are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to holding you back from reaching your goals. While they might seem harmless, in the long-run, there are certain snacks that could actually be part of the reason you're gaining weight instead of losing any, if you happen to choose the wrong snack options.

And especially during this year, when stress eating has been at an all-time high, some people have fallen into not-so-great eating habits.

So which snacks are the worst of the worst, leading you to pack on the pounds? Well, here are the unhealthiest snacks for your health that are most likely causing weight gain, according to science. And while you're making better choices, be sure to stock up on The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Potato Chips

potato chips

There are quite a few reasons why potato chips are rather problematic. Not only are they truly addictive so it's nearly impossible to eat just one, but one Harvard study found that the participants who had potato chips as a part of their diet gained weight every year they were assessed. So perhaps if you're often snacking on this overly salty snack and the pounds are piling on, they could be a big part of the issue.

Chocolate Bars

Chocolate bar

OK, so let us explain a bit here. Having a small square of dark chocolate is actually good for you, as one study in Heart found that eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day can help lower your risk of heart disease and even help you lose weight. But it's not just any chocolate you can eat.

Sorry milk chocolate fans, but snacking on bars of the stuff is only going to cause you to gain weight, as they are often very high in calories and sugar. A study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the one food associated with the highest energy density—which means the most with weight gain—was chocolate bars. So drop them!

(If you're looking for an easy way to stay in the know, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!)

Yogurt Parfaits

Yogurt parfait

Yogurt is good for you, that is true. But it all depends on the type of yogurt you're eating, and premade parfaits are not an innocent snack option.

See, most of the flavored yogurts used are packed with sugar, and then you add in all the toppings, such as granola, and you've just exceeded your sugar intake for the entire day. All of that sugar you're consuming can promote unhealthy gut bacteria and eating too much sugar has been linked to weight gain. Instead, munch of any of these best low-sugar yogurts that are approved by nutritionists when your snack craving hits for a much healthier option.

Sugary Cereal



Think munching on a bowl of your favorite childhood cereal is a much better way to get your sweet fix? Not so fast! Plenty of cereals are loaded with sugar so it's no better than eating a candy bar! And don't even think about starting your day off with some as a light snack either.

According to a study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, those who had oatmeal for breakfast were fuller for longer, less hungry, and consumed fewer calories at lunch compared to those who had a serving of corn flakes. Empty calories are doing nothing for you.



Pretzels on the surface seem like they're a better option than potato chips. Allow us to burst that bubble right now for you! Like potato chips, pretzels are loaded up with salt. Salty foods not only contribute to water weight, but as one study published in the Journal of Nutrition uncovered, salt actually confuses the biological processes that tell you when you're full. So you'll end up eating more, which obviously then leads to weight gain.

Canned Fruit Cocktail

Canned fruit cocktail in bowl

Those little fruit cocktail cups are easy to carry around for an on-the-go snack and it's fruit—what's so bad about that? You've probably gathered by now, this is another deceptive snack. Canned fruit cocktails are often preserved in heavy corn syrups and are just added sugar bombs. And we already know added sugar is not doing your waistline any favors, but it can also drastically affect your mood and mental health. Studies have found that higher sugar consumption has been linked to a higher rate of depression symptoms.

Granola Bars

chocolate granola bars

Granola, as you know, can be a big culprit of sugar on its own, but more often than not, these bars are drizzled or dripped in chocolate. Again, more sugar, and not enough ingredients that will actually keep you full, like protein and fiber. You also want to keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends reducing added sugars, as this will decrease your risk of dying from heart disease. So, it's time to really watch those added sugars!

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer