Does Popcorn Make You Fat?

Popcorn is an irresistible snack, especially when we go to the movies or watch any series at home, but does popcorn make you fat?

Who doesn’t like popcorn? It’s inevitable to go to the movies and not be able to enjoy them, but this time we have good news. Popcorn is not fattening, but if they are natural popcorn. What fattens are the additives they contain. What’s more, natural popcorn brings multiple benefits to our health. Among other things, they are suitable for digestion, and they provide B vitamins and vitamin E. They have a high fibre content, therefore, prevent constipation by keeping the digestive system healthy.

Natural popcorn regulates cholesterol to some extent. By containing the type of fibre, popcorn can remove excess cholesterol from the walls of blood vessels and arteries. This fact reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Natural popcorn does not make you gain weight

It is necessary to know that popcorn is made from corn grains, a rich source of carbohydrates, fibre and of course, antioxidants. Saturated fats are what makes you fat.

The ideal alternative for eating healthy popcorn without fattening and on top of that we benefit from them is to prepare them at home. And for a little taste, we can add aromatic herbs or spices. The conclusion is that it depends on how the flavours gain, here’s the trick.

How to prepare homemade natural popcorn?

The best way not to fatten is as we have said before, is to eat natural popcorn and for that, we will make them ourselves at home. The best thing about the process is that it’s effortless and it’s not difficult at all. We will need a hot air popcorn machine to use zero additives.

However, even if natural popcorn doesn’t make you fat, it doesn’t mean we can abuse it. The good thing about not fattening is that if we are on a diet or even if we are not, we can sin eating this delicious and crunchy snack. Another of the properties of popcorn is that they are satiating, so if you eat between meals, you will fill up fast.

We must be aware of our diet in general, and not just with popcorn. Everything is fattened if consumed in excess, but if we eat in moderation, our body will not fatten, as is the case of popcorn.

Another example is pure chocolate, does chocolate fatten, depends on what you consume and how. For example, eating an ounce after dinner every night does not fatten, it even brings benefits to our health and our brain. It happens with popcorn, chocolate and a lot of other foods, you must know to what extent and how to eat them. Anyway, by making them natural, they do not lose their essence.

Types of popcorn to avoid

The most fattening popcorn are the ones that have seasoning, and these three are the ones that can fatten you the most:

  • Sweet popcorn: The famous colourful popcorn, so striking for its colour and flavour. The mixture of popcorn and candy is a lethal weapon for our diet or for fattening.
  • Chocolate popcorn: Not so familiar, but you can find them in speciality stores and, for the sweet tooth can be their downfall. The mixture of chocolate with the crunchy popcorn makes this snack irresistible. Therefore, they should be removed from our diet to avoid gaining weight.
  • Popcorn prepared in industrial bags is undoubtedly the most fattening because all the fat remains accumulated inside the package. Also, the number of additives they contain will make us fatten. They have an excess of salt, transgenic fats and a high number of calories.

How many calories does popcorn have?

Before we review how many calories are in each 100 grams, which is not so important, let’s discuss some characteristics of corn and popcorn that are much more important.

Unlike other cereals like wheat, it doesn’t have gluten, which can be problematic. Not being in the form of flour is also an advantage.
Its density in carbohydrates is considerably high (74 %). Perse, it would not necessarily be a problem, but also, in the case of popcorn, due to the process suffered by the corn, we find a high glycaemic index: 70. So, for 100 grams of popcorn, we have a high glycaemic load: 51.80.

The high glycaemic index does not necessarily have to be a problem per se (see cases such as the potato: satiating, nutritious, provides resistant starch, etc.). However, in this case, is also conjugated with a low nutritional density (nutritional density = amount of micronutrients per calorie).

However, compared to any ultra-processed snack, popcorn is much more recommendable and tends to score particularly well when it comes to satiety (study).

Of course, this would always be ONLY popcorn, without any added ingredient (at most, some salt). The ideal is to buy special popcorn and make them yourself. I buy these. But there are many more options; sometimes I buy these too — 100 % popcorn.

100% natural popcorn have less calories

However, in the case of most ultra-processed popcorn you’ll find in cinemas, loaded with refined oils, added sugar, flavour enhancers, etc. It wouldn´t be a very recommendable snack.

If you are already convinced that what is important, rather than obsessing over calories, is to eat real, satiating and nutritious food and eliminate ultra-processed food, we could move on to calorie counting, since, in any case, it can be useful to have a particular reference, especially if you have a specific objective of body composition.

Now, let’s move on to counting:

How many calories have 100 grams of homemade popcorn?

One hundred grams of “standard” homemade popcorn, natural, 100% corn, with no additives, have approximately 375 calories. Unfortunately, this is not their usual form of consumption, and usually accompanied by ingredients such as sugar or industrial oils.

How many calories do popcorn in the cinema have?

These popcorns are rarely loaded with sugar and poor quality fats, as we will see in the following sections.

Although individual variations are depending on the type of popcorn or the cinema, the approximate estimates, depending on the ration we ask for (i.e. the size of the container chosen) would be as follows:

  • Large size: It is equivalent to approximately 20 cups of popcorn. That is, 1200 calories!
  • Medium size: It is about 14 cups, which translates into about 775 calories.
  • Small size: 8 cups = approx. 430 calories.

How many calories are in Sweet popcorn from the movies?

Sweet popcorn or caramelized popcorn (also the “salty sweets”) are an increasingly popular product in all cinemas that is loaded with large amounts of sugar. One hundred grams of sweet popcorn usually have about 400 or 500 calories, depending on brand or cinema. It increases the amount because they also tend to carry unhealthy fats, such as trans fats or vegetable oils from seeds such as sunflower or palm. However, this is not the only bad thing.

The amounts of sugar that this product carries makes everything negative mentioned above is accentuated, becoming a reasonably harmful food.

Such excessive amounts of sugar (added to the already high glycaemic corn) can be cofactors causing obesity, heart problems, diabetes, depression, nervous system malfunction, insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome.

How many calories does popcorn have with butter?

One hundred grams of popcorn with butter, on average, usually have about 480 – 500 calories.

We also recommend that you stay away from them. Apart from the fact that it is not uncommon for them to contain trans fats, they can also include other additives (such as sugar), as well as the dangerous Diacetyl that we will talk about below.

Although, if they are homemade popcorn with real butter made by you, it would undoubtedly be a much better option.

How many calories does a bag of microwave popcorn have?

It depends on the brands, and the sizes of bag, but virtually all resemble: A bag of popcorn to make in the microwave, standard size (75 – 80 grams), usually has about 420 calories. In many cases, they are also full of rubbish. Don’t forget to check the ingredients.

Let’s take a good look at what we can read in the bag: If we look, we see that the amount of 153.7 calories appears. But beware, let’s not get confused; since, if we read it carefully, we know that figure that refers to “Amount per portion”. And in the bag, as indicated above, there are approximately 2.83 servings (30 grams each). Therefore, in the whole bag, we have a total of 84.9 grams (30 x 2.83).

So, doing a little math, we see that a whole bag of “natural popcorn” has 435 calories.

(And 100 grams of natural microwave popcorn have a caloric value of 512 calories)

If we continue reading, we also see that among its ingredients, we have refined palm oil, which is not recommended at all.

In any case, compared to other brands and processed products (especially when it comes to popcorn with butter or sweet popcorn), which add many more flavours, sugar and various toxic products, perhaps this is one of the most “natural”. Although the ideal, without a doubt, are those bags in which we read that the ONLY ingredient that appears is corn. (And the optimal thing would be to elaborate ourselves some excellent and authentic homemade popcorn).

How many calories does a bag of sweet popcorn have?

As we’ve already said, sweet popcorn is probably the most harmful and unhealthy popcorn we can eat. A bag of sweet popcorn (about 90 grams) will average about 390 – 455 calories (depending on the brand or the cinema). However, this per se is almost the least important, as what should worry us are the excessive amounts of sugar they carry, which will not only have a negative impact but will also make it a more addictive food. And the sum of addictive food + high caloric density is already a problem.

And how many calories are in a bag of buttery popcorn?

Bearing in mind that 100 grams of popcorn with butter have 480-500 calories, a bag (about 85 grams) would have 408-425 calories.
Let’s remember what we said before: be very careful with trans fats and vegetable seed oils (palm oil, sunflower oil).

There have been cases in which prolonged exposure to Diacetyl has led to severe respiratory diseases as bronchiolitis obliterans, constructive bronchitis.

So, will popcorn make me fat?

Is popcorn fattening?

If it’s popcorn and ONLY popcorn, with no other ingredients except a little salt, unless you abuse a lot, in principle, it shouldn’t be problematic.

But, as we have seen, if we talk about the ultra-processed popcorn of the cinema, things change, and yes, a frequent consumption can favour obesity and prevent you from losing weight. They are given their high glycaemic load, their high palatability and their low nutritional density (which translates into low satiating power).

Together with the high quantity of added compounds, the ultra-processed popcorn is a food that, in addition to generating unnecessary glucose peaks, negatively impacts on the balance and regulation of our hormones, especially those in charge of controlling our appetite, satiety, and so on.

As it happens with the rest of ultra-processed and addictive, our brain will incite us to eat more calories than we need. Apart from obesity, by eating this type of processed food regularly, we also risk suffering disorders such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, nervous system malfunction, depression, etc.

But, if you only go to the movies occasionally, it shouldn’t be a problem either, if the rest of your eating pattern is based on real food.

In any case, try then, whenever you can, that the popcorn you consume is at least as natural and less processed as possible.

They are 100% corn and nothing else (and the best thing is that they were homemade).