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 fibre. 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. Think of snacks like carrots and hummus, an apple with almond butter or whole-grain crackers with cheese.
What about evening snacking? The biggest problem with night-time snacks is most of us reach for ice cream and chips—not fruit and yogurt. That’s not to say you can’t have a treat after dinner. Some of your favourite evening snacks may even be on this list (chocolate! popcorn!). One thing to note, if you’re always hungry after dinner, make sure your meal is made up of filling and healthy foods and you’re getting enough food. If all you’re nibbling on is a salad you may legitimately be hungry and need an evening snack. If you love an evening snack after dinner, serve yourself a healthy portion onto a plate or bowl so you’re not scooping straight from the container.
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 fibre, protein and healthy fats. A serving of almonds, one ounce or 23 almonds, has 164 calories, 4 grams of fibre and 6 grams of protein.
You don’t need to go on a grapefruit diet to reap the health benefits of this ruby fruit. A whole grapefruit has about 100 calories and 4 grams of fibre. Not to mention, it delivers 100 percent of women’s vitamin C needs for the day. That’s a lot of nutrition packed into this tart citrus fruit. One study found that when people simply ate grapefruit with each meal, they lost up to 3 1/2 pounds over three months. Grapefruit may help manage appetite by lowering insulin levels, say researchers.
Place your grapes in the freezer for an easy snack. Because they’re sweet and you savour them individually and slowly, you’ll get a lot of satisfaction for just a handful of calories. Even though grapes are high in sugar for fruit they are a great way to naturally satisfy your sweet tooth. 1 cup of grapes has about 100 calories.
Popcorn is high in fibre and even delivers a little protein. A 1-ounce serving (about 3 cups) of air-popped popcorn has 4 grams of fibre, 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 snacks like chips. Many companies are making bagged popcorn
Use snacks to fill your nutritional gaps. Choose foods that provide calcium and fibre —two nutrients that people often skimp on. Yogurt with fruit delivers calcium and fibre, plus protein and gut-healthy probiotics. Choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit for natural sweetness and fibre. Flavoured yogurt often delivers lots of added sugar and extra calories. Whole milk and low-fat plain yogurt are healthy choices too. If you’re looking for even more of a protein boost in your yogurt snack, Greek yogurt has almost double the protein compared to regular.
Skip the vending machine and satisfy the afternoon “munchies” with a healthy snack you packed at home. You’ll save money and get a bigger bang for your nutritional buck. Try cut up veggies and some hummus. One serving of hummus is 2 tablespoons. Planning snacks that provide both complex carbohydrates and protein will help tide you over until dinner.
Oatmeal is a complex carb, meaning it helps fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. Plus, it’s a good source of fibre and eating more fibre helps people lose weight and keep it off. While we think of it typically as breakfast, a small bowl of oats makes a hearty, filling and delicious snack. To make this snack more convenient – keep a packet or two of unsweetened instant oatmeal at your desk or make overnight oats in a jar.
Losing weight doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love. Believe it or not, giving yourself little treats may be the secret to losing weight—for good. Aiming to be “too good” sets you up to fail and doesn’t allow you to fully enjoy your foods.
- Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a portable, healthy snack. Eating fruit helps with weight-loss because it’s packed with filling fibre (and important vitamins and minerals). Look for fruit with no sugar or sweeteners added and pair dried fruit with nuts for a snack with a balance of healthy carbs and protein. Dried fruit is also a great option to keep at your desk at work.
Keep chickpeas in the pantry. They have a meaty texture and a nutty flavour along with plenty of satiating fibre 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 fibre.
Snacks can absolutely fit in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Having ideas for healthy snacks to pack for work snacks, grab and go snacks, store-bought snacks and snacks you can make yourself will help vary the nutrients you get and keep you from going hungry between meals. Remember, think nutrient-dense (fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals) and your snacks will help you get the nutrition your body needs and keep you full.