The bakery aisle is one of the most beloved sections of each Costco warehouse. Some tasty treats are mainstays, while others rotate in and out every season. In true Costco fashion, you can always count on one thing: pretty much everything is huge. We’re not only talking about size but also calorie counts.
If you’re a Costco member who loves sweets, here are four major side effects of eating the warehouse’s bakery items, according to experts. Remember: Slicing these desserts and pastries in half, sharing them with your family or friends, and saving the leftovers for another day are just a few ways to cut back on carbs, fat, and sugar. (And before your next trip to the warehouse, don’t forget to read up on the Costco Foods You Should Always Avoid, According to Nutritionists.)
Carbs don’t deserve the bad rap they have in popular culture, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, healthy carbs actually bolster athletic performance. In case you were wondering, the expert-approved list of healthy carbs from the Mayo Clinic includes foods like brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.
“Carbohydrates are needed for our bodies since they are the main source of energy for our cells,” Ashley White, MPH, RDN, LDN, explains to Eat This, Not That!.
However, if you fuel up with carbs from Costco’s bakery section, the initial jolt of energy that you get won’t last.
“You’ll most likely feel energized immediately after eating it since it’s high in carbs,” White says. “But eventually that energy high will come crashing down since you didn’t consume any healthy fats or protein that are important for keeping your blood sugar levels stabilized.”
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According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells.”
A single slice of Costco’s cherry pie has a whopping 83 grams of carbs. So, what’s a healthier choice?
“To help decrease your risk for insulin resistance, choose a bakery item such as the cranberry walnut bread since the walnuts are rich in healthy fats and protein,” White suggests. “Having healthy fats and protein in the food you’re eating will help keep your blood sugar levels stable.”
This option has 200 calories, 33 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar per serving.
About 34 million Americans (or around 1 in 10) have Type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Someone develops Type 2 diabetes when the cells in their body become insulin resistant. There are various risk factors (like age, family history of diabetes, and smoking) and causes (such as excess weight and physical inactivity) of insulin resistance, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
As mentioned, too many carbs can increase your risk of insulin resistance. While planning your Costco shopping list, remember to include a healthy balance of food items. When it comes to blueberry muffins and similar sweets from the bakery, moderation is key.
“Please know that there aren’t any good or bad foods, but it’s all about how you balance what you eat,” White says. “So eating a blueberry muffin from Costco (which has 580 calories, 68 grams of carbs, and 34 grams of sugar) a couple of times a month wouldn’t be an issue, but consuming it every day is something you’d want to avoid.”
The ultimate downfall of the Costco bakery? The massive sizes of the pastries and other treats.
“Who would think that a blueberry muffin would contain nearly 600 calories!” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and an adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU.
One cookie alone could have more than 300 calories and be full of saturated fat. Eat them often, and the scale could go up.
“When indulging, it’s important to watch your portion size: 1/2 of a cookie is plenty, and even 1/3 of a muffin is a reasonable portion,” she says. “Share or save the rest for another day—there’s always tomorrow.”
To stop temptation in its tracks during your next trip to the warehouse, Young suggests eating a healthy snack like fruit and yogurt before you head out.
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