If you’ve ever snacked your way through a jar of peanut butter in a day, you’re probably pretty damn convinced that snacking is your worst enemy when it comes to weight loss.
But yeah, no. Snacks (you know, the healthy, well-portioned kind) can help ensure you don’t get so damn hungry you just say “screw it!” and give up on your whole diet.
Still, whipping up your own perfectly portioned snack is way easier said than done. (Honestly, who knew a serving or peanut butter was only two measly tablespoons?!)
Make things a whole lot easier on yourself and whip up these nutritionist-approved best healthy snacks for weight-loss snacks instead.
1. Trail mix
“My ideal healthy snack combines a little of each of the macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fats,” says Kath Younger, R.D. “I love to rely on the combination of nuts and fruits, either fresh fruit or dried fruit for a longer shelf life. A small handful of trail mix is one of my favorite snacks that won’t spoil my appetite for my next meal.”
Make it: Combine equal parts unsweetened dried fruit and unsalted roasted nuts (sorry, no M&Ms this time). Reach for a quarter cup of the mixture when you need a boost.
Per serving: 163 calories, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 13 g sugar, 3 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.
2. Yogurt with nuts and berries
Younger adds a sprinkle of nuts to protein-rich fat-free yogurt for some satiating healthy fats. A small handful of berries or another chopped fruit will add texture and sweetness, plus filling fiber. It might sound basic, but it’s a classic snack for a reason.
Make it: Combine 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped nuts, and 1/2 cup berries in a bowl.
Per serving: 205 calories, 11 g fat (0 g saturated), 13 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 43 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 16 g protein.
3. Sliced tomato with a sprinkle of feta and olive oil
This savory dish will make your taste buds happy. Tomatoes pack umami flavor, while feta adds tang and a little bit of salt.
Make it: Slice 1 medium tomato (or slice up 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes), and top with 1 ounce feta and 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Per serving: 133 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated), 5 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 265 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein.
4. Shrimp and cocktail sauce
Shrimp are a great source of lean protein, and it’s easy to find them pre-cooked in any supermarket. (Plus, it makes snack time feel way fancier!)
Make it: Combine eight cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp with 1/4 cup cocktail sauce for dipping.
Per serving: 126 calories, 1 g fat (5 g saturated), 16 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 432 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 14 g protein.
5. Baby carrots with ‘everything’ hummus
Carrots and hummus are a great snack as-is, but adding a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning (like this version from Trader Joe’s!) will make your taste buds extra happy.
Make it: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of everything bagel seasoning on top of 1/4 cup of regular hummus. Eat with 1 cup of baby carrots.
Per serving: 236 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 12 g sugar, 416 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 6 g protein.
6. ‘Banana split’
Robin Plotkin, R.D., suggests a healthy version of the classic dessert by halving a banana, then topping it with yogurt and nuts. It’s a delicious combo of carbs, protein, and healthy fat—more importantly, it’s super-fun to eat.
Make it: Slice a small banana in half vertically. Top the open banana face with 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.
Per serving: 242 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 33 g carbs, 18 g sugar, 23 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 10 g protein.
7. Egg on toast
This healthy snack is great for breakfast lovers—it’s as satisfying as a meal, but the slightly smaller portion size won’t weigh you down. Plotkin recommends using hard-boiled eggs for convenience, which you can make ahead or buy. If you have access to a stove, you can also opt for a scrambled or fried egg.
Make it: Toast a slice of whole-grain toast. Top with one egg, cooked to your preference.
Per serving: 182 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 221 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein.
8. Chocolate milk
This might seem like just something for kids, but it legit is a pretty great snack—especially for replenishing post-workout thanks to the simple carbs from the chocolate and the milk’s lactose.
Make it: Stir 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup into 1 cup 2 percent milk.
Per serving: 174 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated), 25 g carbs, 21 g sugar, 134 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein.
9. White beans and olive tapenade
“Lately, I’ve been obsessed with kalamata olive tapenade,” says Kendra Tolbert, R.D. “It’s a great combo of fiber, fat, protein, and resistant starch that’ll keep you full and satisfied.” Tolbert eats it by the spoonful, but you can also scoop it up with a few whole-grain pita chips or cucumber slices.
Make it: Mix 1 teaspoon canned tapenade (such as Divinia) with 1/2 cup canned white beans (drained and rinsed).
Per serving: 126 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 121 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 6 g protein.
10. Dates and pistachios
“It’s the usual fruit and nuts combo, but a little more sophisticated,” says Tolbert. Dates have a honey-like sweetness, which combines with the strong flavor of pistachios into a snack that feels like dessert.
Make it: Combine 2 pitted dates with 2 tablespoons pistachios.
Per serving: 213 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 40 g carbs, 33 g sugar, 35 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.
11. Edamame with sea salt
Plotkin loves sprinkling edamame, in its shell or out, with a bit of sea salt. In addition to plant-based protein, you get fiber and a good dose of potassium.
Make it: Drizzle 1/2 cup shelled edamame with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
Per serving: 140 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 481 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein.
12. PB-chocolate apple ‘nachos’
This sounds crazy-indulgent, but it’s actually a well-balanced snack, says Plotkin. You’ll get protein and lots of fiber, which will help slow the digestion of the little bit of added sugar from dark chocolate (preventing a mid-afternoon crash).
Make it: Thinly slice a medium apple, then drizzle them with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 1/2 ounce melted dark chocolate.
Per serving: 253 calories, 13 g fat (4 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 25 g sugar, 74 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 4 g protein.
13. Microwave egg taco
Get creative with your microwave and make a tasty snack with enough protein to carry you to your next meal.
Make it: “Crack one egg into a microwave-safe mug and cook for 90 seconds,” says Plotkin. Immediately stir in 1/2 ounce shredded cheddar, then serve inside a small whole-wheat tortilla.
Per serving: 182 calories, 10 g fat (5 g saturated), 11 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 360 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein.
14. Roasted chickpeas
“If you’re craving something salty and crunchy, roasted beans are a much better option than chips thanks to their combo of protein and fiber, says Jessica Levinson, R.D.
Make it: Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, then toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever spice you want. Roast at 400° F for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then eat. One batch makes three servings.
Per serving: 160 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 17 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 292 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein.
15. Almond butter crackers
“Peanut butter crackers serve as a quick option for people on the run, but the pre-packaged snack can have many hidden ingredients and calories,” says Shamera Robinson, R.D. DIY it instead.
Make it: Spread 1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut or seed butter) between 1 ounce whole grain crackers.
Per serving: 233 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 227 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 8 g protein.
16. Homemade popcorn
“Popcorn is a great snack to fill up on,” says Robinson, thanks to all the fiber. And you don’t have to stick with the plain stuff, either. “Try sprinkling garlic powder and dried rosemary (or Italian seasoning) for extra flavor,” suggests Robinson.
Make it: Pop 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in 1/2 Tbsp canola oil in a large saucepan on the stove. Top with your favorite herbs or spices.
Per serving: 161 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 28 g carbs, 0 g sugar, 15 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 4 g protein.
17. DIY ranch dip with veggies
“Greek yogurt it a great high-protein snack that is usually sweet. However, you can easily turn that into a savory snack by adding ranch-dip seasoning mix,” says Kamaria Mason, R.D.
Make it: Stir 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix (such as Hidden Valley) into 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt. Use 1 cup carrot or cucumber sticks for dipping.
Per serving: 142 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 18 g carbs, 9 g sugar, 395 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein.
18. Cottage cheese with almonds and honey
“This creamy-crunchy-sweet combo is second to none,” says Robinson. The cottage cheese is rich in protein, while almonds add crunch and healthy fats. And a hint of honey makes things sweet without going overboard on added sugar.
Make it: Top 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons slivered almonds and 1 teaspoon honey.
Per serving: 196 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 12 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 363 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 17 g protein.
19. Jicama sticks and guacamole
“Guacamole usually tops the list of favorite dips, but tortilla chips aren’t the only crunchy thing you can pair with it,” says Robinson. “Try dipping a fresh veggie!” Jicama is sweet and crunchy, and can be a nice alternative to the usual carrot or cucumber sticks.
Make it: Slice up jicama to get 1 cup of matchstick slices, and dip into 1/4 cup guacamole.
Per serving: 137 calories, 8 g fat (0 g saturated), 16 g carbs, 2 g sugar, 91 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 2 g protein.
20. Beef or turkey jerky with raisins
“The ideal snack is portable and packed with satisfying lean protein,” says Nicole Rodriguez, R.D. Beef jerky fits the bill, and most brands pack at least 12 grams of protein for less than 100 calories. Look for jerky with less than 400 mg sodium per ounce. Pair with raisins for some energizing carbs and filling fiber.
Make it: Combine 1 ounce of jerky with 2 tablespoons raisins.
Per serving: 147 calories, 1 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 390 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 15 g protein.
21. Pear and string cheese
If you love fancy cheese plates for their combination of sweet, salty, and creamy flavors, you’ll love this less-fussy snack. Pears have natural sugar and lots of fiber, while string cheese is an easy way to get some satiating fat and protein in on the go.
Make it: Slice one medium pear. Eat with one low-fat string cheese (such as Sargento).
Per serving: 182 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated), 27 g carbs, 17 g sugar, 172 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 8 g protein.
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