Working hard builds up an appetite, and the vending machine can offer a quick fix to satiate any hunger pang. But do you know what the best and worst options are inside that glass box of goodies? We break down the snacks that are excellent, the ones that are so-so, and the ones that are hazardous to your diet and fitness goals.
“A great combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein,” says registered dietitian Lori Zanini, R.D., C.D.F. “This will help keep hunger at bay till you’re able to get to your next meal.” She recommends a single serving of one 2-oz bag.
Excellent: Granola Bars
Many are glorified candy bars, but If you find any by Kashi, Lara, or Kind—which often contain things like fiber-rich chia seeds, protein, and omega-3s—they’re the closest thing your vending machine has to celery and peanut butter.
Good: Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn really isn’t bad for you at all, according to registered dietitian Christy Harrison—in fact, it’s high in fiber and antioxidants. Just steer clear of the buttery stuff, watch the sodium, and avoid the trans fats and you should be fine.
Good: Dry Fruit
“This has lots of fiber and vitamins,” says Harrison, but is also jam-packed with sugar, so you could be priming yourself for a late- day crash (not to mention a calorie surplus). “Just watch the portion size,” she says.
“‘Flavored chips’ translates to ‘added salt,’ ” a double whammy, since chips are already neutron stars of so- dium, Zanini says. “Flavored chips tend to be low in fiber and ultraprocessed, so they may taste great, but they’ll leave you looking for more shortly after.”
Worst: Honey Buns & Co.
Ugh. “Cinnamon rolls, honey buns, Danishes, muffins— some of these have as many calories as you’d get in a whole meal, with very few of the other nutrients a meal would provide,” says Harrison. And by “whole meal” she means one from The Cheesecake Factory.