The #1 Snack for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian

It's filled with nutrients that are guaranteed to help you feel full and satisfied.

When you are trying to lose weight, snacking can seem like a slippery slope. On the one hand, a balanced, nutritious snack can help you manage between-meal hunger and may even help you eat less overall. On the other, highly processed snacks (cookies, chips and cheese puffs, we're talking to you!) aren't the best options to achieve your weight-loss goals.

If you love to snack (and who doesn't?), here's everything you need to know about choosing the No. 1 snack for weight loss.

Pictured Recipe: Pressure-Cooker Hummus


What to Look for in a Weight-Loss-Friendly Snack

If you've noticed that you are snacking more than ever, you are hardly alone. Whether it's due to stress, boredom, cravings or just plain hunger, more than 90% of the U.S. population consumes two to three snacks daily, according to 2022 data published in Current Developments in Nutrition. That might not sound like much, but on average, snacks may deliver a quarter of your daily calories, making them more like a fourth meal.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. With the right strategy, snacks can be a valuable part of your weight-loss plan. The first part of that strategy is deciding what to eat. Some people like having one or two go-to snacks, while others prefer a longer list that they can rotate. Either way, the best snacks for weight loss are rich in nutrients that help you feel full (more on this soon). That way, you won't be tempted to grab the first thing you can get your hands on. And, of course, they should be convenient and tasty too.

You'll also want to think about timing when planning your snacking strategy. That's because when you snack can play a substantial role in what you snack on. For instance, people who snack early in the day are more likely to choose fruit and dairy. Conversely, according to the International Food Information Council's 2022 Food and Health Survey, evening snackers usually opt for sweet or salty treats.

The Best Snack to Achieve Your Weight-Loss Goals

So, what is the No. 1 snack for weight loss? The answer is hummus. In a 2020 study in The Journal of Nutrition, people who ate an afternoon snack of hummus and pretzels reported less hunger than when they munched on a granola bar (both were 240 calories). The hummus was such a potent appetite suppressant that it even helped the volunteers snack less later in the evening, reducing their overall daily intake by 120 calories compared to when they ate the granola bars.

If you are wondering why hummus is one of the best snacks for weight loss, here's what you need to know.

Contains Fiber

Made from chickpeas, hummus is an easy way to work more slowly digested fiber into your day. According to the USDA, just ¼ cup of this creamy spread delivers nearly 4 grams of fiber. That's as much as you'd get from an entire bowl of oatmeal.

Is Rich in Protein

Did you know that protein is more satiating than fat or carbohydrates? It also takes more energy to digest. A ¼-cup serving of hummus delivers almost 5 grams of this helpful nutrient.

Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Stable

The chickpeas in hummus have a low glycemic index (a mere 28 out of 100, per the 2022 study), which means eating them is unlikely to lead to blood sugar spikes. This may explain why the volunteers in the study had lower blood glucose levels after eating hummus versus a granola bar.

Is High in Water

Research, such as a 2017 article published in Nutrition Bulletin, shows that water-rich foods like soup, salad, fruits and veggies fill you up quicker, helping you eat less overall. Thanks to 59% water, hummus is also a slam-dunk.

Naturally Slows You Down

Messy foods like hummus take a long time to eat. That's a good thing, according to 2023 research out of the journal Appetite, which confirms that the faster you eat, the more food you are likely to consume.

Is Delicious

It doesn't matter how healthy or filling a snack is; if it doesn't taste great, it isn't going to satisfy you. When you're craving something rich, creamy and delicious, hummus checks all the boxes.

Other Things to Consider

Even though hummus has lots of great things going for it, you'll want to pay close attention to what you use to scoop it up. For better satiety and nutrition, go with veggie-based dippers like red pepper strips, sliced cucumbers, baby carrots or radishes and limit the highly processed pita chips. However, if you can't imagine hummus without some bread, slather some on a whole-wheat mini pita.

The Bottom Line

When weight loss is a goal, hummus is an excellent choice. While you can always whip up a batch of Garlic Hummus, Avocado Hummus or Double-Tahini Hummus, there are loads of ready-made flavors you can buy at the grocery store when you're short on time. So, it's an easy way to keep your taste buds happy. Yet, as with any food, portion size still matters. According to a 2022 survey by Study Finds, it's not unusual for people to polish off an entire container of hummus in one sitting. So, stick with 2 to 4 tablespoons and dig in!

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