Snacking has a bit of a bad reputation. You’re trying to lose weight or stay on track in your fitness journey, so you think cutting out snacks during the day will help. Fewer snacks = fewer calories = lost weight, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple! We’re here to share some important information for you: Snacking on reasonable portions of healthy foods can actually encourage weight loss. Why? Because snacking helps keep your blood sugar regulated and helps squash hunger that pops up between meals. If you skip a snack after lunch and ignore your body’s hunger cues, you’re more likely to overindulge at dinner. Of course, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, too – sometimes our bodies interpret thirst as hunger! Snacking can also help your body refuel and recover after a hard workout, especially if you’re choosing healthy options like protein shakes. (It’s recommended that you consume around 20 grams of protein after a workout, depending on the duration and type of workout.) Snacking rocks!
Now, there’s no one perfect snack that works for everyone. The key to healthy snacking is picking good-for-you foods and eating them in moderation. A good snack size for most people is between 100-200 calories with a good balance of whole grain carbs, fat, and grams of protein. While granola bars are a snack that we commonly encounter, they aren’t always the healthiest choice. Even granola bars like KIND bars can contain a lot of added sugar and sneaky calories. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy a KIND bar now and then – they’re certainly a healthier choice than many other bars out there – but if you can, it’s nice to pack something that’s healthy and made from whole foods, ahead of time. We promise that your taste buds and your waistline will thank you.
If you’re eating a snack to get energy before a hard workout, focus on carbs that will digest quickly to give you power. And if you want to recover after a workout, grams of protein and fat are your friends! Here are our favorite, easy snack combos that will keep you full, fueled and satisfied.
Grab-and-Go Healthy Snacks
- Carrots and Hummus—A handful of baby carrots (about 10), plus two tablespoons of your favorite hummus gives you a tasty snack that has a nice balance of carbs, fat, and protein. Celery sticks are another healthy option.
- Air-Popped Popcorn—Each cup of air-popped popcorn is only about 30 calories! It’s also a whole grain, gluten-free and fat-free. Munch away.
- Hard-Boiled Egg—Boring? No! Simply breakfast food? We don’t think so. Hard-boiled eggs pack six grams of protein – in just one egg! That makes them the perfect grab and go snack for adults who need to get more protein in their diet. We suggest sprinkling on a little bit of black pepper and garlic salt to add flavor. You can also experiment with your own favorite spices, like paprika. Peel beforehand and pack in a container to save time.
- Peanut Butter-Stuffed Dates—Did you know that you can make your own stuffed dates? It’s easy! Simply fill one large, pitted Medjool date with a teaspoon of all-natural peanut butter. You can also use your favorite nut butter – we like cashew and almond butter. This tastes like a super nourishing dessert, but we promise it’s a healthy choice, especially if you need a boost of energy before a workout. Dates have natural sugar that can help fuel you, as well as a good amount of fiber, to help that energy last. They’re also rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Plus, your taste buds will love this gluten-free treat.
- Avocado Rice Cake—If you’re a healthy snacker, rice cakes might already be one of your favorite gluten-free snacks! They’re typically served with nut butter, and while that’s a delicious combo, we want to help you switch up your rice cake game. Try one brown rice cake topped with 1/4 of a mashed avocado, plus salt and pepper. Sounds delicious? We thought so. This snack provides a great mix of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to help you feel fuller longer. Plus, your snack game will get everyone’s attention! If you’re looking for protein instead of fat, try topping with tuna – tuna pouches travel easily, and can contain up to 20 grams of protein!
- Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit or Berries—A handful of blueberries and sliced strawberries on top of 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt is a great recovery snack—packed with around 15 grams of protein, vitamins and healthy fats! It’s also a delicious breakfast. We also recommend pairing Greek yogurt with apples and cinnamon, bananas and almond butter or bananas and walnuts. You can also top with oats for extra fiber and complex carbs. Just don’t forget to pack a spoon!
- Banana Smoothie—This snack-sized smoothie is easy peasy, and drinking it can help you cool down after a workout. Blend together 1/2 ripe banana, 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, and a handful of ice cubes. The ice cubes help thicken and cool the smoothie, but water is fine in a pinch. Tip: Prep the smoothie ingredients beforehand, and store in your fridge or freezer for a snack that’s truly grab-and-go. If you’re looking to bulk this drink up, you can add almond butter or oatmeal. We also recommend using Greek yogurt for extra grams of protein!
- Almonds—Heart-healthy almonds are a great snack on their own, and one of the healthiest nuts to snack on! 15 almonds will get you a snack right around 100 calories, with 4-5 grams of protein and lots of healthy fat.
- Salted Edamame—You can grab a pouch of frozen, shelled edamame at the grocery store, then defrost them at home and sprinkle with flaky sea salt for a snack that is packed with protein. One half cup of edamame provides around 100 calories and eight grams of protein that’s tasty, lean and plant-based.
- Turkey Jerky—Low-calorie, low-fat, high-protein, and totally delicious, turkey jerky is a great snack option. Try to track down natural versions that contain fewer preservatives and artificial flavorings. You can eat about 2 ounces of turkey jerky for 150 calories, plus 20 grams of protein. That’s a pretty great ratio! The thing we love about turkey jerky is that unlike other protein sources like deli meat, eggs or yogurt, it doesn’t have to be kept in the fridge. It’s a great source of protein with far less sugar than a protein bar, and the perfect snack to keep in your car or purse for those days when you need something filling.
- Chips and Salsa—If you’re looking for a healthier snack than potato chips but don’t want to sacrifice salt and crunch, we’ve got a great option for you. Satisfy your craving for crunchy with an ounce of tortilla chips and a couple tablespoons of salsa. We recommend looking for salsa that has black beans in it so that you can sneak in a few extra grams of protein. You can also look for chips made from black beans or chickpeas! Just keep an eye on the sodium content.
- Peanut Butter-Banana Bites—Here’s a delicious, whole food snack that will make you feel just like you’re at a tea party! A casual, snacking tea party that is. Slice up half a banana and spread a teaspoon of peanut butter on half the slices. Top them with the other banana halves and enjoy your little banana sandwiches. This is a great fun snack for the whole family – kids will love assembling them and eating them! (Just know that there might be kitchen cleanup involved.) We recommend adding a teaspoon of honey if you’re in the mood to treat yourself. Or, if you’re looking for a healthier twist on dessert, dip your banana sandwiches in melted dark chocolate. Store them in the freezer so that the dark chocolate won’t melt, and grab them whenever you’re craving something sweet. Yum!
- Apples and Peanut Butter—Apples and peanut butter have earned their place as a classic snack for a reason. A small apple, sliced and topped with a few teaspoons of peanut butter, is sweet, salty, and has a nice combination of fiber, fat, and protein to help you feel full. If you want to add some crunch, try dipping in pumpkin seeds. However you choose to eat it, this is definitely one of our favorite snacks, and it’s gluten-free!
- Ants on a Log—Your favorite snack that your mom used to make after school is a great choice at any age! Take a few celery sticks, fill them with a tablespoon of cream cheese or nut butter, and dot the top with a couple of raisins. What makes this a healthy snack? Celery is basically water and fiber, and you’ll be getting grams of protein if you choose nut butter. If you want to skip the added sugar from the raisins, you can use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds as your “ants.”
- Cottage Cheese and Pineapple—Sound like an odd combo? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Pairing 1/2 cup cottage cheese with a few chunks of fresh pineapple is an amazing sweet and salty combo. It’s packed with vitamins C, A, B6, E, and K, plus 12 grams of protein from the cottage cheese! Top with oats for a fiber boost.
- Caprese Sticks—These adorable caprese sticks do double duty as either an easy grab-and-go snack or a beloved party appetizer! To make them, put one cherry tomato, one small leaf of basil, and one small ball of mozzarella cheese on a toothpick. Season with salt and pepper and, if you’re at a house party, dip in balsamic vinegar. (It’s a delicious addition, but probably not the best if you’re on the go and eating in your car!) You could also enjoy these as a healthy and filling vegetarian lunch.
- Chocolate-Banana Grahams—How delicious does this sound? You can have two-thirds of a s’more in the middle of the day! Smear one graham cracker with a teaspoon of Nutella (or just top with a square of dark chocolate) and top with a few slices of banana. Marshmallows optional.
- In-Shell Pistachios—Slow down your snacking by making yourself work for it! Since you can’ pop them all in your mouth at one time, pistachios in the shell take longer to eat, which can help you feel more satisfied. A handful is about 100 calories and four grams of protein. Sunflower seeds in the shell are a similar healthy option.
- Nonfat Chocolate Milk—Reward yourself (and your body) after a hard workout with eight ounces of nonfat chocolate milk. It contains eight grams of protein plus naturally occurring sugar to help your muscles recover more quickly. Plus, it’s delicious, so drink up!
- Fruit—Fruit, AKA the original hand-held easy snack, is portable, delicious, healthy and packed full of nutrients that help fuel your body! They’re also a great sweet snack without added sugar. Stock up on fruits like bananas or apples so you can grab one on your way out the door and stash it in your bag or purse. Keep them in a bowl on the kitchen counter to encourage your family to eat healthy on the go.
- Homemade Trail Mix—Trail mix is a snack that deserves all of the attention it gets. However, certain varieties can contain lots of added sugar and chocolate, but few nutrients, healthy fats, and grams of protein. That’s why we love homemade trail mix. You can adjust it to your nutrition needs and diet, such as gluten-free, and add healthy items like nuts, seeds, oats, dried fruit, shredded coconut, dark chocolate nibs and more. Make a big batch, grab a handful on your way out the door, and it will last you for weeks!
- Roasted Chickpeas—Chickpeas are full of protein and fiber. If you’re craving something sweet and crunchy, try this recipe for maple syrup and cinnamon roasted chickpeas! Once you try them, you’ll be hooked on roasted chickpeas for life.
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