The 10 Best Snacks for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian
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 make sure you have healthy options on hand and you are prepared when hunger strikes. Many of these weight-loss snacks are also great on-the-go snack options. Here we tackle some common snacking questions and share 10 healthy snacks for when you want to lose weight.
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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. Think of snacks like carrots and hummus, an apple with almond butter or whole-grain crackers with cheese. Also, if you let yourself get too hungry, you're more likely to overeat at your next meal. So even though we tend to think of chips and candy as "snack" foods, eating snacks can help you from overeating.
You may think calories are the most important thing for snacking when it comes to losing weight. But you can have 100 calories of jelly beans and not be satisfied at all, versus eating 200 calories of nuts and dried fruit. That's not to say calories don't matter at all, but it's also important to choose a snack that delivers nutrition and fills you up. All of our weight-loss meal plans allow for two snacks a day and on the 1,500-calorie meal plans, each snack is around 200 calories per day.
What about evening snacking?
The biggest problem with nighttime snacks is most of us typically 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 favorite 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 nutritious foods, such as including our best dinner foods for weight loss and you're eating enough food. If all you're nibbling on is a lackluster salad, you may legitimately be hungry and need an evening snack.
If you love an evening snack after dinner, serve yourself an appropriate portion onto a plate or bowl, so you're not scooping straight from the container where you're more likely to eat more. Having your own bowl allows you to check in with your body and hunger levels.
Looking for inspiration for nutritious snacks? Read on to find out our top ten smart snack choices to manage weight.
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 manage your weight.
For instance, almonds deliver filling fiber, protein and healthy fats. They help keep hunger at bay, improve your heart health, and may even help you lose belly fat. An one-ounce serving of almonds includes 23 almonds, which provides 172 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. Grab a handful, eat them with some dried fruit and dark chocolate or spread some almond butter on an apple.
Pictured recipe: Brown Sugar Broiled Grapefruit
You don't need to go on a grapefruit diet to reap the health benefits of this ruby fruit. A whole grapefruit has about 130 calories and 5 grams of fiber. 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.
Pictured recipe: Roasted Buffalo Chickpeas
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. Every half cup of chickpeas has about 150 calories, 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Try roasting them or popping them in an air-fryer for a crunchy snack that packs up easily.
Grapes may be high in natural sugar, but you can savor them individually and slowly to satisfying your sweet tooth. With every cup of grapes offering about 100 calories, toss grapes in the freezer for an easy snack or pair them with cheese for an easy to pack snack for work.
Pictured recipe: Mug Brownie
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. But, aiming to be "too good" sets you up to fail and doesn't allow you to fully enjoy your foods.
If you like a glass of wine with dinner, make room for it. Prefer dessert? Skip the drink and go for a small chocolate treat instead. Remember, if you have both—that's OK too. Don't beat yourself up. Just enjoy a healthy breakfast tomorrow.
Learn more: 4 Legit Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Pictured recipe: Lemon-Parm Popcorn
Popcorn is high in fiber and even delivers a little protein. A one-ounce serving (about 3 cups) of air-popped popcorn has 4 grams of fiber, almost 3 grams of protein and clocks in at 110 calories. This combination makes it a snack with staying power. Popcorn is a whole grain and 3 cups is a huge serving—especially when you compare it to other crunchy, salty snacks like chips. Many companies are making bagged popcorn—see our favorite healthy popcorn picks. You can also make your own with our Healthy Popcorn Recipes.
Yogurt is a perfect snack to fill nutritional gaps—it provides calcium and fiber—the two nutrients people often don't eat enough of. Yogurt with fruit delivers calcium and fiber, plus protein and gut-healthy probiotics (learn about what happens in your body when you don't eat enough fiber).
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 nutritious choices, too. Newer research on dairy has debunked the myth that fat-free is healthiest.
Pictured recipe: Double-Tahini Hummus
Planning snacks that provide both complex carbohydrates and protein will help tide you over until dinner. So, skip the vending machine and satisfy the afternoon "munchies" with a nutritious snack you packed from 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, which has close to 2 grams of fiber—satisfy your hunger by pairing hummus with raw vegetables like sliced bell peppers, celery and carrot sticks.
Pictured recipe: Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Walnuts
Oatmeal is a complex carb that helps fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. Plus, it's a good source of fiber and eating more fiber helps people manage their weight. While we think of it typically as a breakfast item, a small bowl of oats also 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 mason jar.
10. Dried Fruit
Pictured recipe: Homemade Trail Mix
Dried fruit is a portable and nutritious snack. Eating fruit helps with weight management because it's packed with filling fiber (and essential vitamins and minerals). Look for dried fruit with no sugar or sweeteners added and pair it with nuts as a snack that offers a balance of healthy carbs and protein. Dried fruit is also a great option to keep at your desk at work.
Snacks can absolutely fit into your diet if you're trying to manage your weight. Having a plan on the types of snacks you pack for work and on-the-go will help diversify your food selection, vary the nutrients you get and keep you from going hangry between meals. Remember, think nutrient-dense (fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals) and your snacks will help you get the nutrition your body needs and keep you full.