Do you find yourself munching on snacks through different times of the day?
Low fat snacks are great to help you feel full longer. Most nutrient-dense foods consumed as snacks also have fiber which slows down digestion. Hence, these mini-meals can leave you feeling satisfied longer and less hungry all the time.
In planning what to eat, it’s important to learn how to listen to your hunger cues throughout the day. Remember that snacks can help you slowly transition from your last meal to the next. Thus, it shouldn’t be as heavy as either your actual lunch or dinner.
Read on to find out Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute’s list of top low-fat snacks. (Note that this might not be for keto dieters as they usually focus more on high fat, high protein food instead.)
The science behind snacking
Snacking seldom gets mixed opinions and we understand where this is coming from.
Kallo, a Dutch organic food maker, conducted a survey and it revealed that women who snack at work gain 100,000 extra calories yearly. When you convert this, this is equivalent to almost 50 more days of additional food intake. The extra 500 calories per day may not be a lot for some but this may contribute to weight gain.
The truth is, snacking can be as healthy as your major meals for the day. After all, it provides the energy your body needs to function optimally. It also curbs your appetite so if you’re one who has the tendency to binge-eat, eating nuts or fresh fruits may do the trick.
However, the usual pitfall lies in the portion frequency of your snacks. This kind of meal still puts calories in your body. When you often eat ultra-processed snacks with excessive fats, sugar and salt, that is where the problem begins.
People have different snacking habits. US market research reveals that the typical snack options are candy, popcorn ice cream, chips, cookies, soft drinks, tea, seeds, yoghurt, crackers and milk. There is also a strong association between snacking and weight gain and maintenance, and lower or high diet quality.
A word of caution on snacking
It is safe to say that the food you choose would determine whether snacking is good or bad for you. The quality and portion of the food you eat are essential and so in this blog, we are listing down the best options you should incorporate into your diet. Here are some of them:
Healthy snacks you can’t go wrong with
Whether you are at work, at home, in school, or outdoors, snacks come in handy. However, it’s easy to grab whatever is convenient in cases like this. Hence, it’s important that you fill your pantry with a healthy selection of treats that can help you feel satisfied.
1. Banana chocolate bites
26 calories per bite
Banana chocolate bites, when taken in the right amount – bites as the name says,can be a healthy treat! This isn’t only pleasing to the tastebuds, but is nutritious as well.
This is a low-calorie snack that you can munch for breakfast too. As a workout snack, it does wonders as well. As a matter of fact, bananas are the best for fitness experts and athletes who are watching their carb intake.
106 calories per 1 oz (28.4 g)
Yes, popcorn is not only for the movies. It can be the perfect snack too. In fact, it is rich in dietary fiber that is low in calories. It serves more fiber than whole bread. No wonder many people don’t feel guilty bringing a giant bucket of this in the theater. But, homemade is different from the flavored ones you buy. Making your own is healthier.
Generally, your popcorn is whole grain. Eating it is often associated with a lower risk of serious diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and other health problems. The Federal dietary guidelines suggest that half of the grains you eat should be whole.
3. Protein bars
200 calories in a 50g bar
How good are protein bars?
Protein bars are a common source of nutrition, especially for bodybuilders. They are enjoyable and suitable for individuals with a busy lifestyle.
There are many protein bars you’ll see on the market, so you have to be careful. They are not created equal. There are healthier versions. How would you know if you’re picking the right one for you?
The usual protein bar has 5 to 10 grams of fat, 5 to 10 grams of fiber, and 25 to 35 grams of carbohydrates as compiled by Healthline. Be mindful of protein bars with added sugar, or the brands that use unhealthy sweeteners. They add extra fructose which may only sabotage your diet. Choose the brand with whole food protein options.
170-200 calories (a handful, depending on the kind)
Nuts, when eaten in the right amount, can be very good for the heart.
It is true that nuts are high in fat (except for chestnuts), but they are the right kind of fats that when taken in the right amount, can be an important contribution to your health, particularly to your heart. Including it in a balanced diet protects your cells from damage for it is rich in antioxidants.
Hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds are also efficient sources of fibre. If you need to regulate your digestion, having nuts for snacks would help you do just that. It comes with polyphenols that promote good bacteria in your gut.
5. Dark chocolate
170-180 calories per ounce
Anybody with a sweet tooth should be fine including dark chocolate on their snacks.
While not to be confused as a health food, dark chocolates are dense with nutrients that may have a positive impact on your health. They originate from the cacao tree which is one of the best sources of antioxidants.
There are studies supporting the effects of dark chocolate in improving a person’s overall health and lowering their risk of heart disease.
With the flavanols that this snack has, you stimulate the lining of the arteries, endothelium, which reduces blood pressure.
When it comes to chocolates, the purest cocoa bean, the better. You wanna stay away from brands that have added sugar. Your portion size also matters! Bites should remain bites. When you eat more than the suggested serving, that’s when you gain extra sugar, fats and calories!
6. Kombucha gummies
11 calories per gummy
There’s enough research backing the effects of traditional, fermented foods in preserving the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In this kind of conversation, Kombucha is always a special mention, and that’s for a favorable reason.
As one of the fermented foods, kombucha is a low-sugar snack option. It’s cheap and it’s simple to make at home. There are also health food stores that offer an alternative with kombucha gummies. The calories would depend upon where you get yours, but roughly they are about 35 cal for each gummy.
7. Hard-boiled egg
155 calories for every 100 grams
Another quick snack to make is hard-boiled eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs are a popular source of high-quality protein. Two large eggs could provide you with at least 13 grams of the said macronutrient. If you are looking for a satisfying yet worthy snack to have on your regular menu.
The benefits of protein in the body are not a secret. First, the body digests them easily compared to carbohydrates. Thus, snacking on them will make you full. Second, they regulate blood sugar that keeps your energy level stable. Then, they have Vitamin D that may suffice for your vitamin D requirement on a daily basis. Lastly, they feature other important nutrients such as choline, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
8. Energy balls
200 calories for every bite
Energy balls feature a satiating mix of healthy fats, carbs and protein. They are also rich in fibre which would offer you at least 100 to 250 calories that vary based on ingredients used.
If you want a go-to snack to match your busy lifestyle, energy balls are suitable for you as they are portable. You can munch them as a post-workout food as they are definitely guilt-free and nutritious!
When eating an energy ball, you are unlikely to crave food which is great if you are losing weight. In the right amount, it could be enough to fuel you with energy that keeps you going for the day. The usual recipes are banana, pumpkin, and chia seeds. You can be as creative as you can for as long as you stay low-calorie.
20 calories for an average size
Dates are convenient snacks and they are delicious and nutritious.
As a Morrocco native, dates used to be royalty that is eaten to fight off fatigue. They are common in warm climates across the globe and they can be an energy-boosting snack that is filled with vitamins and nutrients. Generally, they can contribute to your overall health when eaten in the proper amount.
While it’s true that dates are full of natural sugar, they are not the kind that would do your health harm. In fact, they are excellent snacks provided that you eat them in moderation. This fruit is high in fibre and polyphenols. It can be a great alternative to empty-calorie sweets.
10. Chia seeds
73 calories for every spoon
Chia seeds have emerged among Western diets for the last couple of years. They are so nutrient-dense that they have become a popular addition to healthy food choices.
Known as Mexican chia, or Salba chia, these edible seeds are ideal to include in your oats, drinks, pudding, smoothies, jam, protein bars – the list goes on. They are flexible and you can add them to any food that you like for a snack for some extra fibre.
Though small, chia seeds can be your exceptional source of kaempferol, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin. The antioxidants found in them can also fight off free radicals in the body. These free radicals are the reason for cell damage and oxidative stress. To lower the risk of health issues associated with them, chia seeds can help.
If your goal is to reach your daily allowance of fibre, you just need to have an ounce of chia seeds in your snacks. They efficiently absorb water and increase the satiation in your stomach, which will both cause you to eat less. No wonder they are common among people who are on a diet!
30 calories for every 100 gram
The World Health Organization recommends that you consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily (in five portions) with the exemption of sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other starchy foods. This makes watermelon an amazing part of your snack selection and your health will thank you for it as well!
There are so many creative ways to eat watermelon for a snack – you can mix it with greek yoghurt sprinkled with almonds, you can turn it into a smoothie, you can infuse it with cucumber, or just simply have it as is. You could never go wrong with it cold, fresh and raw.
Since watermelon is 92% water, it will keep you hydrated. It can make you feel full without the extra calorie. This fruit comes with different kinds of nutrients like vitamins A and C, magnesium, and potassium. A cup can give you a boost of antioxidants, cucurbitacin E, and lycopene which are all effective in fighting off free radicals and optimizing heart health.
122 calories for 100 grams
Edamame is more than just a side dish. It goes with frozen and fresh varieties that can give color and texture to your snacks without the extra calories.
As a young soybean, edamame is a plant-based food choice that is gluten-free and low in calories. It doesn’t have cholesterol, and it can be a source of calcium, iron and protein. You’ll conveniently find this in the frozen vegetable section of supermarkets.
Vegans, or those weightlifters and bodybuilders, who seek a high-protein snack can add this to their diets, as a cup of this produces 18.5 grams of protein. Since it is a whole source, it gives amino acids for your body which can be supplementary to your animal protein that is still the top-tier source.
Thus, when consuming edamame as a snack, steam and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. You can find it fresh, although the frozen alternative is the easiest to grab from the store! It’s simple to prepare, and it’s a fun bite! You’ll get a high-protein snack with a nutty flavor on the side which you can eat on its own, or add to your sushi or salad.
Vegetable sticks and dips
158 calories may vary based on the serving
Dips can be quite a tricky inclusion in your diet because that’s when you accidentally sneak in some calories, but if you’ll be intentional and cautious, it can be a fun snack to have together with vegetable sticks!
Vegetable sticks and dips are quick to make. You only need about ten to 15 minutes to put everything together! If you’re still wondering if it’s healthy for you – you just have to select your vegetables wisely. Go for the low-fat vegetables or legumes. Those with reduced dairy components will be your friend.
We hate to break it to you but full-fat cream cheese isn’t the type of dip that we would recommend here. Among the healthy choices are ranch greek yogurt, honey mustard, lemon-herb, peanut butter, garlic avocado, and hummus dip. In the end, portion matters. For as long as you don’t exceed, you’ll be fine.
The veggies you can throw in are carrots, cucumber, zucchini, celery, edamame and chickpeas. You can be as creative as you can here!
Healthy low-calorie snacks for weight loss
We have established that snacking on the wrong food is what causes weight gain, but when it’s done in the right way, it can actually promote the opposite. There are researches that show how snacks can be nutritious most especially when they are rich in fibre and protein.
Hence, if you’re in the middle of a weight loss journey and you want to improve on your diet, snacking can be your savior for it will help you make it from one meal to the other without binge-eating in between your heavy meals.
Have a healthy supply of the following snacks to keep your energy at bay:
– Fresh fruit and nut butter
– Roasted kale chips
– Sweetcorn fritters
– Low-fat Greek yogurt
– Basil radish dip and cucumber
– Crackers with cheese or hummus
– Egg muffins
Debunking the image of snacking
Throughout the years, snacking has gained a bad reputation for derailing a diet. But, that only happens for individuals who are not mindful of what they eat – both in quality and quantity.
Make sure your snack is as raw as it can. If by any chance this is not possible, review the Nutrition Facts label to have more insight on the calories that you take in your body. Consider the low-fat snacks we have listed for you here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute and make snacking fun and healthy!