Eating a snack between meals helps curb your hunger so that you don’t inhale your dinner when you finally sit down to eat a meal. Snacking can also help you get in all the nutrients you need. On the flip side, grazing all day-particularly on foods with little nutritional value-may result in eating too much. It’s a great idea to shop for snacks at the grocery store and pack them for work so you are prepared when hunger strikes. Many of these are also great on-the-go snack options.
Can snacking be a part of a healthy diet? Of course! When you choose a snack, choose one with protein, fat and/or fiber. All of these nutrients take longer to digest, so they fill you up. Snacks are also a great way to add extra nutrition to your day.
Use snacks to fill nutritional gaps. Choose those that provide calcium and fiber-two nutrients that people often skimp on. Yogurt with fruit delivers calcium and fiber, plus protein and gut-healthy probiotics. Choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit for natural sweetness and fiber. Flavored yogurt often delivers lots of added sugar and extra calories. Whole milk and low-fat plain yogurt are healthy choices too. Newer research on dairy has debunked the myth that fat free is healthiest.
Keep chickpeas in the pantry. They have a meaty texture and a nutty flavor along with plenty of satiating fiber and a little protein-perfect when you’re watching your weight. Try roasting them for a crunchy snack that packs up easily. 1/2 cup of chickpeas has about 100 calories, 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Popcorn is high in fiber and even delivers a little protein. A 1-ounce serving (about 3 cups) of air-popped popcorn has 4 grams of fiber, almost 4 grams of protein and clocks in at 110 calories. This combination makes it a snack with staying power. Popcorn is actually a whole grain and 3 cups is a huge serving-especially when you compare it to other crunchy, salty snacks like chips.
Toss grapes in the freezer for an easy snack. Because they’re sweet and you savor them individually and slowly, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction for just a handful of calories. Even though grapes are high in sugar, they are a great way to naturally satisfy your sweet tooth. 1 cup of grapes has about 100 calories.
Nuts are a great healthy snack. And even though they’re high in fat, you don’t need to avoid them if you’re trying to lose weight. One study found that people who chewed almonds thoroughly (up to 40 chews) felt full longer than those who chewed the same amount of nuts fewer times. Plus, almonds deliver filling fiber, protein and healthy fats. A serving of almonds, one ounce or 23 almonds, has 164 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein.