Healthy snacks for weight loss

  • Muna HassanBachelor of science in molecular biology and Genetics Üsküdar Üniversitesi

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Losing weight can seem daunting, but having the right snacks on hand can set you up for success. The key is knowing what to snack on between meals to curb hunger, give you energy, and keep your metabolism revved. I’m going to walk you through the best healthy snacks for weight loss, how to incorporate them, and sample portions.

When strategically planned, snacking can keep blood sugar balanced, prevent bingeing at meals, and control portion sizes to create an optimal calorie deficit for shedding pounds. The sweet spot? 100-200 calorie snacks that supply satiating fibre, protein and healthy fats while delivering nutrients. I’ve compiled a list of my top picks in various food categories - fruits and veggies, proteins, dairy, and crunchy carbs - that check all the boxes.

Many popular grab-and-go options like chips, cookies and candy unfortunately create blood sugar spikes and crashes which stimulate hunger. The healthy snacks I’ll recommend help stabilise levels of energy without any subsequent famished feelings. When assembling snacks, play around mixing different items from my best options to find combos that appeal to your preferences and keep you satisfied. Portioned snack bags or containers make carb counting and staying within calorie limits easier for weight loss goals.1

Read on for the full list of my highest recommended snacks for shedding pounds plus tips on how to incorporate them appropriately throughout your day.

Best Fruits and Vegetables for Healthy Snacking

Fruits and veggies should form the foundation of healthy snacks. They supply bulk along with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre to keep you nourished without tons of calories. Some top picks:

  • Bell Pepper Strips - 1 cup red bell pepper strips (about 1 medium pepper). 47 calories.
  • Celery Sticks - 2 cups celery sticks. 16 calories.
  • Strawberries - 1 1⁄4 cup whole strawberries. 80 calories.
  • Apple Slices - 1 medium apple, sliced or chopped. 72 calories.
  • Baby Carrots - 2 cups baby carrots. 60 calories.
  • Sugar Snap Peas - 1 cup sugar snap peas. 67 calories.
  • Grape Tomatoes - 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes. 30 calories.

I recommend pre-washing and cutting veggies ahead to have ready-to-eat portions. Pair with hummus, nut butter or Greek yoghurt dip (2 Tbsp) for extra protein and healthy fats.2

Best Proteins for Healthy Snacking

The right proteins act as the mortar holding snacks together and providing sustained energy. They take longer to digest keeping you satiated and help build/maintain muscle mass boosting metabolism essential for weight loss. Some stellar options include:

  • 1 hard-boiled egg - Sprinkle with Everything Bagel seasoning if desired! (78 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp hummus or bean dip + veggies (70-80 calories)
  • 1 stick part-skim mozzarella cheese (80 calories)
  • 10 Raw almonds or walnut halves (85 calories)
  • 2 slices Natural peanut butter (190 calories)
  • 1⁄4 cup roasted edamame in pods (95 calories)
  • 8 oz Greek yoghourt (100 calories)

I suggest portioning nuts into baggies equating one serving to easily grab-and-go. String cheese and boiled egg sticks also make super portable protein. Dip them into mustard for flavour.3

Best Dairy for Healthy Snacking

When eaten in moderation, dairy can assist in weight loss efforts. The protein naturally found in milk products boosts muscle growth to rev up metabolism. Calcium has even been shown to help the body better break down fat while vitamin D aids healthy inflammation response. Just stick to plain, unsweetened products within the suggested portions:

  • 6 oz Light vanilla Greek yoghurt (100 calories)
  • 1 Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss cheese wedge (35 calories)
  • 1 stick of Light string cheese (50-70 calories)
  • 1⁄2 cup Low-fat cottage cheese (81 calories)

Sprinkle nuts, seeds or dried fruit over Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese for an extra Cronch! Pairing with berries lends balanced sweetness.3,4

Best Crunchy Carbs for Healthy Snacking

When you crave something Crispy or crunchy, refined crackers and salty chips tend to be the default picks. But these deliver empty carbs and calories that don’t satisfy. Instead, choose fibre-rich whole grains that offer wholesome nutrition for the calories. Measure out a single portion when preparing to prevent mindless overeating. My top crunchy carb suggestions include:

  • 22 Goldfish crackers (140 calories)
  • 3 cups Light popcorn, air-popped (100 calories)
  • 10 Multigrain Wheat thins (130 calories)
  • 1⁄2 cup Nature’s Path Qi’a cereal (140 calories)
  • 15 Baked blue corn tortilla chips (140 calories)
  • 1 Quaker rice cake + 1 Tbsp. peanut butter (160 calories)
  • 6 Ak-Mak stoneground crispbread crackers (120 calories)

Don’t be afraid to get creative with vegetable-based Crisps too. Kale chips, zucchini fries and beet straws make tasty lower-carb alternatives!3,4

How to Plan Your Healthy Snacks

Now for the fun part - mapping out your new healthy snack schedule! I suggest keeping a well-stocked snack drawer at home and desk to remove any barriers to grabbing something nutritious over vending machines or coworker treats. Building afternoon snacks into your calendar also helps create intentionality.

As a general guideline, aim for snacks around 200 calories or less delivering satiating macros. Combine one carb, protein and produce serving - hummus with cracker dippers + red pepper supplies all three! For mornings, a Greek yoghurt Cup with berries, nuts and seeds sustains energy. Then schedule another snack 3-4 hours later to prevent energy crashes and attack of the hunger at lunch.

Before intense workouts, fuel up with easily digestible carbs and protein like a banana with peanut butter to power through and support muscle growth/repair. Trail mixes with nuts offer a nutrition powerhouse too.

Finally, mini meals right after exercise help replenish glycogen stores for tired muscles to feel restored rather than deprived. Perhaps a grilled chicken skewer with roasted sweet potato bites plus avocado. Turbocharge recovery and results!

The impact small decisions like choosing a fruit cup and not a frosted doughnut have over time truly adds up to weight loss transformation. By trying my hand-picked healthy and delicious snacks, I know you’ll feel satisfied while steadily improving your wellbeing.

Summary

Losing weight requires consistency, not perfection. By filling your snack draws and schedule with fibre-rich fruits/veggies, clean proteins, calcium-packed dairy and smart whole grain carbs, you set yourself up for nutritious eating any moment cravings strike. Combining balanced macros sustains energy without any blood sugar spikes prompting overindulgence. Portioning snacks into grab-and-go bags streamlines counting calories too. Remember to fuel appropriately before and after sweat sessions as well. Building healthy snacking habits ultimately lets you feel nourished, stabilised and empowered to reach your body goals the right way - through incremental nutrition victories that stack up over time.5

FAQs

What are good sweet snacks for weight loss?

Fruit ultimately provides the best sweetness for minimal calories and maximum nutrients. Berries, green apples, citrus fruits and melons make smart choices. You can always pair with a dollop of Greek yogurt to help provide more bulk, protein and increase satisfaction. Just stick to a 1-2 portion size of fruits.

Aren’t nuts high in fat and calories?

While nuts and seeds are energy-dense foods, they provide the “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats our body needs. The fibre, antioxidants and vitamins like vitamin E also boost heart health. Studies demonstrate people who eat nuts regularly have lower BMIs. The key is controlling portions to an ounce (about 1⁄4 cup) allowing you to reap rewards.

Can I eat unlimited raw vegetables?

Technically you can fill up on crudité platters of raw veggies to satisfy cravings and hunger for very few calories. However, each gram of carbohydrates equals about 4 calories. If weight loss is the goal, I’d suggest sticking to 1-2 cups as a single serving with dips like hummus or Greek yoghurt added for protein. This balances overall macros best for maintaining or losing.

What about diet sodas and sweets?

Artificially sweetened beverages and treats interfere with gut health and can stimulate more sugar cravings leading to overeating. I advise avoiding chemical sweeteners when possible and supplementing naturally sweet foods like fruit as mentioned. Once reaching the target weight, 80/20 practice allows for enjoying modest treats. But minimise reliance daily during the active weight loss phase.

References

  1. Njike VY, Smith TM, Shuval O, Shuval K, Edshteyn I, Kalantari V, et al. Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight. Advances in Nutrition [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2024 Feb 24]; 7(5):866–78. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S2161831322007748.
  2. Fruit and vegetables | nidirect [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Feb 24]. Available from: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/fruit-and-vegetables.
  3. Lillquist S, Ruiz Barnecett G, Flexman N, Mikati N. Recipes for Health: A Community-Based Nutrition and Culinary Intervention. Cureus [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Feb 24]. Available from: https://www.cureus.com/articles/118527-recipes-for-health-a-community-based-nutrition-and-culinary-intervention.
  4. Reicks M, Trofholz AC, Stang JS, Laska MN. Impact of Cooking and Home Food Preparation Interventions Among Adults: Outcomes and Implications for Future Programs. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2024 Feb 24]; 46(4):259–76. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S149940461400058X.
  5. Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Feb 24]; 12(2):334. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/2/334.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Master of Public Health - MPH, University of Birmingham

I’m Dr. Shweta Chaudhary, I am a dentist and a public health professional. I am passionate about spreading awareness about health and wellness through various programmes and publications.

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