I am a huge fan of the snack! Even the word is fun to say and makes me smile. For some, snacking, when done properly, can help support a healthy diet and weight loss plan by decreasing the time between meals, without which for some means overeating later on. And many people feel more alert and have an improved mood as a result. As I reflect over my career as a professional fitness trainer, I think the number one question that I am asked on a consistent basis is, “What are some healthy snack ideas that I can eat and still lose weight?”
Despite what we read in our popular magazines or hear about the latest fad diets our favorite actors are currently doing, there are no magic diets or magic foods. There are no “5 magic foods” to help us lose that belly fat in 5 days or no secret food combinations to help us drop 3 sizes in 3 weeks.
The bottom line is that weight loss is not magic. It is calories in, calories out. You burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. Nothing more, nothing less. No magic.
Every snack choice you make can make a difference when it comes to losing weight. Learning the skill to choose a snack or portion size that reduces your caloric intake by 50 to 100 calories several times a week can result in significant weight loss over time.
Here are some things to keep in mind about snacking from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Think of snacks as mini-meals that contribute nutrient-rich foods. You can fit snack calories into your personal healthy eating plan without over-spending your day’s calorie budget.
- Snack only when you’re hungry. Skip the urge to nibble when you’re bored, frustrated or stressed. Feed the urge to do something by walking the dog or working in the garden.
- Keep portion control in mind. Have a single-serve container of yogurt or put a small serving of nuts in a bowl. Eating directly from a multiple-serving package can lead to overeating.
- Plan snacks ahead of time. Keep a variety of nutritious ready-to-eat supplies on hand, such as whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese.
Here are some snack options that are less than 200 calories.
- 1 6-inch corn tortilla or mini whole-wheat roll, 1 slice of low fat cheese, 1 slice turkey
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, slices of 1 medium apple
- 6 oz fat-free yogurt,1 medium banana
- 3 cups air-popped popcorn sprinkled with 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- Tri-color veggie snack: 6 baby carrots, 10 sugar snap peas (or green pepper strips), 6 cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons reduced-fat ranch dressing for dipping
- 6 whole-wheat crackers and 1 slice low-fat cheese
- Fruit smoothie: Blend 1 cup fat-free milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries and ½ banana
- 1 6-inch flour tortilla with ¼ cup black beans and 2 tablespoons fresh salsa
For those requiring a few more calories from their snack try these options that are between 200 and 300 calories:
- Whole wheat pita cut into wedges with 2 tablespoons hummus for a dip
- 6 ounces fat-free yogurt, ½ cup berries and ¼ cup granola
- Trail mix: Mix 20 almonds, miniature box of raisins, and ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- Instant oatmeal made with fat-free milk with 1 tablespoon honey, ½ cup sliced peaches and dash of cinnamon
As you can see, all of these are easy to make and easy to carry with you. I recommend preparing snacks ahead of time, so you can grab and go! One of the keys to weight loss is to be prepared and have a plan.
I really believe that the right snacks can be helpful in your weight loss journey. Keep this list, so the next time hunger strikes you will be prepared for the Snack Attack!