Who doesn’t love a delicious, indulgent brownie? Talk about your ultimate comfort dessert. It’s easy to get carried away when these bad boys are in the mix however, most of us know they aren’t the best for us. But how often is it okay for us to eat these fudgy treats?
Nutrition in a Regular Brownie
Whether you are choosing a boxed brownie mix or whipping up a homemade batch, the nutrition content is comparable. Typical brownie recipes include sugar, flour, cocoa, and oil which makes them high in carbohydrates, fats, and sugars, and low in protein and fiber. Below is an example of the nutrition information in the popular Betty Crocker Chocolate Chunk Brownie mix.
Betty Crocker Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix
Serving size: 1/16th of the package
- Calories 130
- Total fat 2.5g
- Saturated fat 1.5g
- Sodium 900mg
- Total carbohydrates 26g
- Fiber 1g
- Total sugar 18g
- Added sugar 18g
- Protein 1g
Impact of Regular Brownies on Body Composition
As you can see from the nutrition information above, just one brownie contains a high number of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and added sugars. If you are a regular brownie indulger, you might be surprised at the way it’s impacting your body.
Foods like brownies are known for their high added sugar content, which can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease if over-consumed .
Because brownies contain little to no fiber or protein, they aren’t filling which makes them very easy to overeat. This can lead to an increase in calorie consumption which can result in weight gain. One small brownie contains about 130 calories. If you are eating 2, 3, or more brownies, you are significantly increasing your caloric intake.
How Brownies Impact Blood Sugar (And Why it Matters)
Because brownies contain a high added sugar content (about 18 grams per 1 small brownie), consuming them can cause big changes in your blood sugar levels.
When you eat high carbohydrate or high added sugar foods, your blood sugar level spikes. To manage this spike, your pancreas releases insulin to help bring these blood sugar levels down.
If you consistently consume these types of foods, especially in large portions, your body stops reacting to insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance and the potential development of type 2 diabetes .
How Many Times a Week Can I Eat a Brownie?
It is recommended to limit your consumption of processed foods and added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 6% of your total calories per day. For women this is about 100 calories per day and for men this is about 150 calories per day .
The amount of calories from added sugars in a standard brownie is around 72, cutting it very close to the recommendation. Remember, there is added sugar in many other foods so even if a brownie alone doesn’t mean that 6% recommendation, you are likely to meet it with other foods you are eating throughout the day.
It is encouraged to consume these foods in moderation. This means it’s okay to indulge in a brownie for a special occasion or treat but you want to avoid reaching for them every day, or even every other day. Instead, limit them to no more than once per week and try to keep the portion size to no more than one brownie if you can.
What are Some Healthier Alternatives?
If you just feel like you can’t live without having brownies in your life all the time, consider a healthier alternative. There are many different ways to do this.
Some popular options include swapping out sugar for bananas or unsweetened applesauce. You can use almond flour to reduce the overall carbohydrate content and even add chocolate protein powder to make your brownies more filling.
Some have even made mock brownies out of oat flour and cocoa powder to enjoy a healthier version of brownies for breakfast. You can also reach for a more nutritious protein brownie mix, such as Naked Nutrition’s Naked Brownie Mix which contains 15 grams of protein and only 9 grams of sugar per serving.
Whether you opt for a healthier option, plan to practice moderation, or want to try both, you don’t have to give up brownies altogether. In fact, it’s important to still allow yourself to enjoy these simple indulgences however, we want to stay mindful of the impact some of these foods have on our bodies.