Skip to content

The 30 Unhealthiest Snacks on the Planet

For a satisfying snack break, dietitians suggest avoiding these unhealthy snacks choices.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Anyone who has told you that snacking is "bad" is seriously mistaken. Eating a healthy snack between meals that is full of protein, fiber, and helpful vitamins and antioxidants can be an amazing way to satisfy cravings and keep you from overeating on the unhealthy stuff. However, it's the unhealthy snacks that are highly processed and full of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat that can leave you feeling hungrier than before and can potentially derail your health goals.

The purpose of snacking is to satisfy your hunger in between meals, giving your body a nutrient-dense pick-me-up during the morning or afternoon hours. Eating protein-heavy snacks can reduce hunger levels and appetite, and those that are heavy on fiber can fill you up by slowing down the rate of digestion. When you opt for snack items that don't come with enough fiber or protein, more often than not,  you're left hungry and unsatisfied, which not only defeats the purpose of snacking in the first place but can also ultimately trigger overeating. In addition to lacking fiber and protein, many unhealthy snacks may also contain lots of sodium and added sugars, which we all know can be a disservice to your body, especially when consumed in excess. But what are some of the unhealthiest snacks you'd commonly find at the grocery store and are better off avoiding?

Ensuring your snack breaks leave you satisfied and with a full, happy belly means also knowing how to identify and weed out the unhealthiest ones that you'll want to limit if not completely avoid. Read on to find out which unhealthy snacks we believe aren't worth your time or digestive energy—then, for some healthier snack inspiration, check out 50 Healthiest Weight Loss Snacks on Grocery Shelves.

Cheetos Flamin' Hot Tangy Chili Fusion

bag of Cheetos Flamin' Hot on a white background
Nutrition (Per 21 chips): 170 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

In looking at the nutrition information, these Cheetos Flamin' Hot Tangy Chili Fusion snacks may not seem all that bad at first, but after a closer look at their ingredients list, you'll see that this cheesy snack uses Red 40 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, two dyes that have been linked to adverse health outcomes.

Not to mention that even without these artificial colorings, you're still consuming a snack that has barely any fiber or protein, which just won't cut it when it comes to finding a satiating, filling snack.

 The Best New Grocery Products of 2024

Ritz Bits Cheese Sandwich Crackers

box of Ritz crackers on a white background
Nutrition (Per 13 sandwiches): 160 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 2 g protein

"These little sandwich snacks barely contain any protein and are lacking fiber," says Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board. "This makes it a very low-protein and low-fiber snack while being high in fat." In other words, it won't fill you up or leave you genuinely satisfied.

 16 Healthy Store-Bought Crackers, According to Dietitians

Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces

Snyder's pretzel pieces
Nutrition (Per 1/3 cup): 140 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you're craving a salty pretzel snack, you may want to steer clear of Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces. "Choosing this snack would be the opposite of choosing a nutrient-dense one," says Young. "These are very low in protein and fiber, which helps to keep you full and satiated for longer periods. Moreover, these pretzel bites are also relatively high in fat, with 3 grams being from the saturated kind."

Kellogg's Frosted Strawberry Poptarts

strawberry pop tarts
Nutrition (Per 2 pastries): 370 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 70 g carbs (1 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 3 g protein

"Pop-Tarts have been around for a while and are a popular breakfast choice for individuals who are short on time," says Young. "However, this is one of the worst snack choices you can make in terms of your health." Not only is this snack high in sodium and low in fiber and protein, but Young adds that "Kellogg's Pop-Tarts contain ultra-processed ingredients such as soybean oil and refined flour, and contain three different types of sugar: refined white sugar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup."

 I Tried 7 Toaster Pastry Brands & the Best Is Filled With Nostalgia

Doritos Nacho Cheese

Nutrition (Per 12 chips): 150 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 1 g protein

A classic favorite among many, Doritos Nachos Cheese chips are better eaten in moderation, as they'll fill you up on sodium and little to no nutrients at all. "Doritos are typically high in calories, fat, and sodium, and the Nacho Cheese flavor specifically contains artificial flavors and preservatives," says Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD.

Fritos Chili Cheese Corn Chips

fritos chili cheese
Nutrition (Per 31 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

You guessed it, only 2 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber puts this snack on our list of unhealthy, non-filling snacks. Beyond just the lack of nutrients, Fritos Chili Cheese Corn Chips also lists maltodextrin as one of its first few ingredients. This additive can be found in many ultra-processed foods and has been linked to negatively altering your gut microbiome.

 9 Healthiest Snacks You Can Buy at Costco Right Now


yellow box of Gushers on a white background
Nutrition (Per 1 pouch): 80 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 0 g protein

Although Gushers will quickly satisfy a sweet tooth, this nostalgic treat has 10 grams of added sugar and zero grams of fiber or protein, meaning it won't fill you up in the slightest.

This snack food also uses artificial dyes like Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellow 5 & 6. These dyes have been linked to neurobehavioral complications in children, and long-term consumption of Red 40 has recently been linked to ulcerative colitis—chronic inflammation of the colon. In other words, it's best to stay away from these artificial dyes when you can.

Little Debbie Double Decker Oatmeal Creme Pies

package of Little Debbie oatmeal creme pie on a white background
Little Debbie
Nutrition (Per 1 cookie): 500 calories, 19 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (2 g fiber, 40 g sugar), 4 g protein

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies are already infamous for being a delicious snack loaded with sugar, but their "Double Decker" Oatmeal Creme Pies are even worse. Loaded with a massive 40 grams of added sugar and only 2 grams of fiber to help slow digestion, this snack can quickly spike your blood sugar and leave you still feeling hungry.

Another thing to consider with this handheld sweet treat is that it's fairly high in saturated fat at 9 grams per serving. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your consumption to around 13 grams for better heart health, but snacks like these get you close to your limit without factoring in the rest of the food you'll eat during the day.

Hot Pockets

hot pockets
Nutrition (Per sandwich): 320 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 660 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 11 g protein

"Hot Pockets are convenient, but [they] typically contain processed meats, refined grains, high levels of sodium, and unhealthy fats," says Sabat.

Even though these items are often enjoyed as a midday snack, they are loaded with saturated fat and 660 milligrams of sodium, which is almost 30% of your recommended sodium limit for an entire day.

 12 Frozen Pizzas With the Lowest Quality Ingredients

Hostess Twinkies

hostess twinkies
Nutrition (Per 2 cakes): 280 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 2 g protein

No one should be surprised to see Twinkies on our list, as these sugar bombs are a notoriously unhealthy snack choice.

"Twinkies contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats, and they lack nutritional value," says Sabat.

These processed cakes also come with a whopping 32 grams of added sugar and absolutely no fiber to help slow down your body's absorption of the sugar. This can cause spikes in your blood sugar, and the lack of protein will leave you feeling hungry and craving more.

Little Debbie Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

box of Little Debbie Mini Muffins on a white background
Nutrition (Per 1 package): 190 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (1 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 2 g protein

As we mentioned previously, snacks that are lacking in fiber and protein won't keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal, and these Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins from Little Debbie are the perfect example of this. Of course, this sweet treat will taste delicious, but you'll still feel hungry after snacking on it.

 5 Healthiest Muffins at the Grocery Store—and 6 To Avoid

Lay's Sour Cream & Onion Chips

Lay's Sour Cream & Onion
Nutrition (Per 17 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

Another tempting snack to munch on for those who love a savory midafternoon break, but these Lay's Sour Cream & Onion Chips just won't do the job of providing a healthy snack. With only 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein, you'll be left wanting more every time.

 The Unhealthiest Chips, According to Dietitians

Grandma's Chocolate Brownie Cookies

bag of Grandma's Chocolate Cookies on a white background
Nutrition (Per cookie): 190 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (2 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

A classic vending machine snack that many of us remember from childhood, Grandma's Chocolate Brownie Cookies provide a hefty amount of calories and added sugar. Another tricky characteristic of this snack is that a serving size is only one cookie but each package comes with two, making it significantly harder to stick to a serving.

Entenmenn's Plain Glazed Donut Holes

box of Entenmenn's donut holes on a white background
Nutrition (Per 4 pieces): 240 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you prefer a sweet snack over savory, you may love the sound of a few donut holes to satisfy the sugar cravings. When the sweet tooth hits, however, we suggest steering clear of snacks like Entenmenn's Plain Glazed Donut Holes. In just one serving of four donut holes you're getting 18 grams of sugar and zero grams of fiber, so this snack is likely to spike your blood sugar. It also doesn't contain enough fiber or protein to help it stick, so you'll be left just as hungry as before.

 Every Dunkin' Drink—Ranked by Sugar Content

Snack Pack Chocolate Vanilla Pudding

snack pack chocolate pudding
Nutrition (Per pudding cup): 180 calories, 3.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 2 g protein

"The Snack Pack Pudding is definitely a snack to leave in the grocery store and avoid bringing home, as it contains a plethora of unclean and highly processed ingredients," says Young. "This item is also a very low-protein, low-fiber, and high-sugar snack, and foods that don't have a lot of protein or fiber contribute to hunger, as they don't contain many—if any nutrients at all." Young also adds that "this pudding snack contains processed oils such as palm oil, which is 50% saturated fat."


Nutrition (Per tablespoon): 200 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 15 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (0 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 2 g protein

Most everyone loves a spoonful (or three) of Nutella, but this is considered one of the most unhealthy snacks due to its extremely high sugar content in such a small serving size. "This chocolate hazelnut spread is made mostly with sugar and palm oil, which is extremely processed," says Young. "A one-tablespoon serving of Nutella is about 21 grams of sugar, and the protein and fiber content is very low, which is the opposite of a fulfilling snack." The problem with Nutella is that because it's tasty yet devoid of significant nutritional value is because it's difficult to limit yourself to a serving size—before long, the whole jar is gone.


Nutrition (Per 3 cookies): 160 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 1 g protein

"Each Oreo cookie contains a significant amount of refined sugar, contributing to potential health issues such as weight gain, diabetes, and tooth decay," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "Additionally, Oreos are made with partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats known to increase the risk of heart disease, and high-fructose corn syrup, an artificial sweetener that has been linked to various health problems when consumed in excess."

 20 Chocolate Brands That Use the Highest Quality Ingredients


cheetos puffs
Nutrition (Per 13 pieces): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Another popular snack to be wary of is classic Cheetos Puffs, an item full of cheesy flavor—yet incredibly low in fiber and protein.

"Cheetos are considered one of the most unhealthy snacks primarily due to their unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives," says Best. Unfortunately, regularly eating snacks high in sodium can elevate your daily sodium intake, which in turn can lead to "increased blood pressure and increased risk of heart problems," she adds.

Chips Ahoy! Original Chocolate Chip Cookies

chips ahoy
Snack Works
Nutrition (Per 3 cookies): 160 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 1 g protein

A classic chocolate chip cookie is certainly a comforting snack, but you're better off ditching this sugary item that will ultimately leave you feeling hungrier and with more cravings.

"Chips Ahoy! Chocolate Chip Cookies are considered an unhealthy snack, largely due to their high sugar and unhealthy fat content, as well as their ingredient list, which includes partially hydrogenated oils—a source of trans fats," says Best. "Ultimately, consuming these cookies in moderation is recommended to minimize the negative health effects associated with their ingredients."

Crunchy Cheetos

Small bag of Cheetos
Nutrition (Per 21 pieces): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Similar to the puffy kind, Cheetos Crunchy Cheese-Flavored Snacks also make the list of unhealthy snacks because they're high in sodium and very low in fiber and protein.

"They're also high in calories and artificial additives, which have been associated with adverse health effects," adds Sabat. For instance, they contain Yellow Dye 6, which has been found to potentially contain cancer-causing contaminants.

Lay's Classic Potato Chips

Lay's classic chip
Nutrition (Per 15 chips): 160 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 2 g protein

When you're craving a salty snack, there's nothing like opening a fresh bag of Lay's Classic Potato Chips. Unfortunately, these may not be your best choice, as only 15 chips will give you 10 grams of fat, no fiber, and hardly any protein.

"These chips are also loaded with sodium, which can contribute to high blood pressure and other health issues when consumed in excess," says Sabat.

 6 Healthiest Potato Chips—and 4 To Avoid, According to Dietitians

Hostess HoHos

box of HoHos on a white background
Nutrition (Per 3 cakes): 380 calories, 20 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 52 g carbs (1 g fiber, 40 g sugar), 2 g protein

These nostalgic chocolate cake treats provide the same complications as the Little Debbie snacks. Hostess HoHos have 40 grams of sugar per serving with hardly any fiber or protein to back them up, as well as your daily limit of saturated fat in one snack.

Hostess Apple Pie

box of Hostess Apple Pie on a white background
Nutrition (Per 4 pies): 410 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (1 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 3 g protein

You can probably spot the pattern by now: ultra-processed sweet treats like the ones from Little Debbie or Hostess are more often than not going to be considered "unhealthy snacks" because of their high added sugar content and low levels of protein and fiber. Snacks like these Hostess Apple Pie fit the bill and won't satisfy your hunger and cravings in the way a healthy, nutrient-dense snack can.

 10 Unhealthiest Store-Bought Cookie Doughs To Avoid

Lay's Barbecue Potato Chips

lay's bbq chips
Nutrition (Per 15 chips): 150 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

If you're a fan of the Barbecue flavor of Lay's potato chips, be warned that although this snack is delicious, it won't do anything for your health goals. For a small serving size of only 15 chips, it still packs in 150 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, and 150 milligrams of sodium. With a tiny amount of fiber and protein, it definitely won't leave you feeling satisfied, meaning you'll either eat far beyond the portion size or grab an additional snack anyway.

Keebler E.L. Fudge Elfwich

e.l. fudge keebler
Nutrition (Per 2 cookies): 180 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (1 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 2 g protein

Whether it's crackers or sweet treats, the Keebler elves are known for delivering delicious snacks. However, these elves won't help you in terms of nutrition, especially with the E.L. Fudge Elfwiches. At first glance, the nutrition facts may not seem all that terrible, but the serving size only includes two small cookies, and how can that possibly be a satisfying snack? Most people will end up eating a few serving sizes of this snack, which will cause them to rack up their added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium content.

Orville Redenbacher's Pour Over Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

orville redenbacher's pour over popcorn
Orville Redenbacher's
Nutrition (Per serving): 180 calories, 14 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, 15 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein

Popcorn is an obvious choice for movie night snacks, especially the microwavable kind that can be ready in seconds. However, some options are worse than others when it comes to nutritional value (or lack thereof), and Orville Redenbacher's Pour Over Movie Theater Butter is one of the worst. Popcorn has the potential to be a healthy snack, but this particular item comes packed with 330 milligrams of sodium and 4.5 grams of saturated fat, leaving you no wiggle room to overindulge.

11 Healthiest Microwave Popcorn Brands—and 7 You Should Avoid

Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie

chocolate brownie clif bar
Clif Bar
Nutrition (Per bar): 150 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (5 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 10 g protein

The tricky thing about Clif Bars is that they're advertised as protein bars you can eat as a snack, but since they're loaded up with sugar, they're really only helpful if you're going to have an intense workout. But if you're just looking for a protein-heavy snack for your midday work break, you'll want to choose something much lower in sugar and sodium.

 10 Unhealthiest Protein Bars To Avoid

Starburst Gummies

starburst gummies
Nutrition (Per 7 pieces): 90 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (0 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 1 g protein

Those in the mood for a sweet snack they can pop in their mouth may be tempted by Starburst Gummies, but with a teeny tiny serving size of only 7 pieces, you're still loading your body up with 18 grams of sugar and only a single gram of protein, meaning you'll be hungrier and have even more cravings than when before you started.

Nutrigrain Strawberry

nutrigrain strawberry
Nutrition (Per 1 bar):
Calories: 130
Fat: 3.5 g (Saturated Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 140 mg
Carbs: 25 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 2 g

Nutrigrain Bars can be a bit of a disappointment because they're often marketed as a tasty granola bar you can enjoy as a snack. But with 12 grams of sugar, along with only one gram of fiber and two grams of protein, nothing about this bar will leave you feeling satiated, not to mention the epic novel-length ingredient list, which includes preservatives, corn syrup, and other additives.

 The Best & Worst Granola Bars in America—Ranked!

Little Debbie Nutty Buddy Snack Bar

Nutty buddy
Little Debbie

We had to throw one Little Debbie snack on this list, although most of their items could certainly be placed under the label of unhealthy snacks. The Nutty Buddy bars come with a whopping 9 grams of saturated fat and 22 grams of sugar, and even though these bars are filed under "snack bars" on the Little Debbie website, these nutrition facts scream nothing but a glorified dessert on the go.

Nutrition (Per 1 cookie):
Calories: 330
Fat: 20 g (Saturated Fat: 9 g)
Sodium: 125 mg
Carbs: 34 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 4 g

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copyedits, and to remove outdated information.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source:
  2. Source:
  3. Source:
  4. Source:
  5. Source:
  6. Source:
  7. Source:
  8. Source:
  9. Source:
  10. Source:
  11. Source:
  12. Source:
  13. Source:
  14. Source: