Many people who are trying to lose weight are under the impression that all snacking is a no-no, but snacks can actually be a very important part of your diet. They can offer much-need energy when you start to feel fatigued in the middle of the day, or when you’re looking to fuel a workout. Enjoying a nutritious snack between meals can also help to reduce hunger, preventing binges later, or overeating when you do get to sit down for a meal.
The challenge then becomes, which snacks are actually good for you and which aren’t? There are practically an endless array to choose from, and of course, not all are healthy.
What makes a healthy snack?
Nearly every whole food, like nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, can be considered nutritious, though you will have to watch your portion sizes, as calories can still add up, particularly when it comes to nuts and seeds as it’s very easy to end up consuming way more calories than you’d planned.
There are a few other things to consider too, like snacks with some protein and healthy fats will keep you feeling fuller longer. Avoid processed foods as often as you can, as they typically contain a host of unwanted ingredients like additives, preservatives, and many times, high fructose corn syrup. As the body tends to hold onto fat to protect the organs from toxins like these, in addition to the calories you consume, they can do further damage to your waistline and your health.
Look closely at that ingredient list – if sugar is one of the first few ingredients, move on, as ingredients are listed in descending order, which means that snack is loaded with sugar. Naturally sweetened with ingredients like fruit is always a better option than added sugars, which can come in many different forms, like that high fructose corn syrup and terms that in end “ose,” such as fructose and glucose.
To make things a little easier, we’ve come up with these snack ideas to get you started – they include a mix of items you can pick up at the grocery store as well as DIY snacks you can whip up at home. And, of course, all offer the nutrition you need to fuel energy without harming your weight loss efforts or your health.
1. Pressed By Kind
When you’re craving something satisfying and fruity, Pressed By Kind bars are a great option. You’ll get that delicious juicy fruit flavor along with a healthy dose of veggies or chia seeds, depending on the exact bar you choose, like apricot pear carrot beet, mango apple chia or pineapple banana kale spinach. There are no added sugars, just naturally occurring sugar from the fruit. Each bar contains just 130 calories, a half-gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber and a gram of protein.
2. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a fabulous snack that will keep you feeling satisfied for at least several hours, thanks to their healthy fats and protein content – just a half cup offers about 14 grams of protein. You can buy pumpkin seeds, such as these Terrasoul Pumpkin Seeds, but of course, you can make your own too – it’s most convenient around Halloween when you can scrape them out of that pumpkin when carving a Jack o’ lantern. Just wash the seeds, dry and roast them with a sprinkle of sea salt.
3. Hard-cooked eggs
Eggs are one of nature’s most perfect portable foods. They are loaded with protein and antioxidants, satisfying hunger while improving your health too.
4. The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas are one of nature’s true wonder foods. They’re an excellent source of fiber, essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, and a good source of B vitamins, folate, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, zinc and phosphorous. Plus they’re high in protein too.
The Good Bean makes roasted chickpeas in a variety of flavors, from Thai Coconut and Sea Salt to Cracked Pepper and Smoky Chili & Lime. A one ounce serving contains just 130 calories per one ounce serving, along with 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
5. Homemade Yogurt Parfait
Make your own yogurt parfait instead of picking up a calorie and sugar-laden parfait at Starbucks. All you have to do is top about a half cup plain Greek-style yogurt with a handful of fresh or frozen berries. Add a tablespoon of chopped nuts or roasted flaxseed for crunchiness and uber-healthy omega-3s.
6. Carrots and hummus
An easy way to get the fuel you need for a long run or any lengthy workout, simply dip some raw baby carrots into hummus and you’ll infuse your body with a protein-and-good-carb combo that will allow you to keep your endurance up. Plus, carrots are full of beta carotene, which can help protect against skin damage, ideal for an outdoor workout in the afternoon.
7. Larabar Bites
Just about everyone gets to craving chocolate every once in awhile – and it’s okay to indulge occasionally, especially if you choose Larabar Bites. A healthier, lower calorie version of more decadent, truffles, they come in a variety of delicious flavors like double chocolate brownie and cherry chocolate chip. All are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, dairy-free, non-GMO and even made with Fair Trade ingredients.
Each one ounce serving is just 130 calories and provides 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. While they can be difficult to find on store shelves, they are available on Amazon – and, you can always ask your local grocer if the store would be willing to stock them.
8. Golden Valley Jerky
While most jerky brands are highly processed, Golden Valley offers certified organic beef jerky made from cattle raised on organic feed without growth hormones or antibiotics, as well as natural, organic buffalo and turkey jerky. There are no artificial ingredients, preservatives, nitrites or MSG, making it a great high protein snack option. It can be purchased in a variety of flavors, including Sweet N’ Spicy, Bar-B-Que and Teriyaki from this page on Amazon.
9. Almonds and dried dates
If you want a convenient snack to munch on before a workout, or to fuel the rest of your day when energy levels dip, mix up some raw, unsalted almonds with dried dates. The nuts are an excellent source of energy and heart-healthy fats, while the dried dates offer a concentrated source of quick carbs to boost endurance. Plus, they’re loaded with potassium to aid muscle functioning.
10. Wholly Guacamole
Got a craving for Mexican food – dig into these Wholly products that are gluten free, vegan and made with only real ingredients, meaning no additives or preservatives. Wholly Guacamole makes it easy to enjoy the wonderful flavor and nutrition of Hass avocados, which offer even more potassium than bananas, along with healthy fats. Wholly says that it hand scoops the avocado at the height of ripeness to ensure flavor, yet this classic guacamole dip is easy to take on the go – just peel and eat.
Each two tablespoon serving contains just 60 calories, 1 gram of protein and 5 grams of healthy fats to keep you feeling satisfied.
11. Mock deep-fried chickpeas
Remember those super healthy chickpeas? Well, here they are again, only this time you get a great DIY version that you can put together ahead of time to ensure that you’ve got a nutritious snack to turn to when you’re craving something a little spicy and crunch. They’re easy to take on the go and offer 13 grams of protein too.
- 1 19-ounce can organic chickpeas, well drained, rinsed and patted dry
- Extra-virgin, organic olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chickpeas onto a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven, shaking occasionally, until they’re golden brown and crunchy, about 40 minutes. Pour them into a large bowl or container and then add a light coating of extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle on the salt, cayenne, garlic powder and oregano, and then toss it all together to coat evenly.
12. Good Culture Organic Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese that’s portable? Yep, Good Culture makes this convenient, healthy snack in a convenient single-serving container so you can enjoy it like yogurt on-the-go. No matter what you’re craving, you’ll find a flavor you love. Want it simple? Choose plain, or consider savory olive when you’re in the mood to be a bit fancy. There are tasty fruit mix-ins too, like strawberry chia, pineapple and blueberry acai chia.
Each serving contains just 9 grams of sugar and 150 calories, along with 16 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat to satisfy those hunger pangs.
If you’ve got your own containers already, this is a good DIY option too – just top a half cup of organic cottage cheese with a half cup of fruit like melons or sliced banana.
13. Banana Chia Pod
Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on Earth. They’re high in quality protein, loaded with fiber and are very rich in antioxidants. They’re also high in protein, especially compared to most plants, and contain a good balance of essential amino acids too.
Chia Pod combines its sun-ripened chia seeds with coconut or almond milk along with real plant based ingredients to create a nutritious vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, energy promoting snack that’s ideal for eating on the go. They’re also free from preservatives and artificial flavors, offer 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of fat and grams of protein to help keep you full longer throughout the day.
14. Grape and cheese sticks
Another great DIY snack, simply alternate organic cheese (sharp cheddar is an especially tasty option when combined with the sweetness of the fruit) and grapes, placing them onto a toothpick to make them easy to take on the run. An ounce of the cheese offers 8 grams and protein, and you’ll get lots of healthy antioxidants from the grapes.
15. Krave Bars
Krave Bars are another good option when you’re hankering for meat. High in protein and low in sugar, they come in especially creative flavors like cranberry thyme turkey, wild blueberry beef, mango jalapeno pork and chipotle cherry beffs. And, they’re in a portable package that makes them easy to bring on the run. As they include ancient grains like quinoa, Krave Bars are especially good for post-workout recovery.
Each bar contains only 110 calories, 6 grams of sugar and provides a good dose of protein, with 10 grams.
16. Homemade trail mix
Making your own trail mix is generally a lot healthier than store-bought mix. Simply combine some of your favorite raw nuts with dried fruit like raisins, pineapple rings or mango for an incredibly tasty protein packed punch without all those added sugars or sodium.
17. Edamame Poppers
Edamame is fun to snack on – and it’s very high in protein – one cup offers 17 grams. Buy them fresh and steam for about 6 minutes.
18. Mott’s No Sugar Added Healthy Harvest Applesauce
It’s surprising how many food companies seem to ruin a good thing by adding things like high fructose corn syrup, sugar or artificial sweeteners to their applesauce when there really is no need to do so. After all, apples are naturally sweet! Unfortunately, making your own is a time consuming process, but Mott’s makes this fantastic no sugar added version with absolutely no artificial sweeteners – the first ingredient is apples, just like it should be.
While you won’t be getting any healthy fats or protein, this is a great snack when you’re craving a fruity comfort good.
Lentils pack a remarkably powerful punch when it comes to protein in addition to containing fiber, minerals and relatively few calories. One cup contains a whopping 22 grams of protein. Plus, lentils are fairly easy to prepare for a snack as they soak up the flavors of whatever they’re cooked with.
20. Boom Chicka Popcorn
This is a great way to get that salty fix without damaging your health and weight loss efforts. Boom Chicka Pop is 100 percent organic whole-grain popcorn, gluten free and just 60 calories per cup. There are a wide variety of different flavors, so no matter what you’re really craving, you’ll probably find something just right for you, from real butter and cheddar cheese to sweet and salty kettle corn, sweet & spicy and many more.