Smarter snacking, combined with a daily brisk walking habit, is a great way to stay healthier, lose weight and feel great! How you snack is an important part of any health and fitness routine, because it’s easier to eat back calories than it is to burn them through walking. Snacking the right way helps many people keep up their energy during the day, and can help prevent overeating at meals. Even if you’re hitting 10,000 steps per day, smart snacking can help you achieve the maximum benefits from your walking plan.
In part 1 of our snacking mini-series, we discussed how snacking can go wrong and some general rules on how to snack healthier. Today, we’re focusing on specific snacks that you can use to keep up your energy, feel more full and actually cut calories while enjoying your daily snacks. There’s no magic bullets or “superfoods” that can melt away belly fat, but these low cal snack options can power you through a tough workday or a good hourlong fitness walk!
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Smart Snacking Keys:
- 100 or Fewer Calories
- Correct Portions
Your Snacking Strategy
Before we dive into the snack suggestions, it helps to make a plan. The most important thing to keep your snacking on-track is to prepare your snacks ahead of time. Portion them out the night before or at the beginning of the week. If you do need or want to buy your snacks on the go, come up with a few go-to healthier snacks that you can count on. Count your calories and calculate delicious combinations of flavors not when you’re hungry, but when you’re relaxed at the end of the day. Also, it helps to try to keep unhealthy snacks out of your house, desk, and off your radar.
Prioritize Two Things
- Energizing, balanced snacks
- Making healthy snacks quick and easy (with something healthy, we hope!)
Not only do your snacks need to be healthy and energizing, but they also need to be easy to access and eat when you’re busy in the middle of the day. Otherwise, you might be tempted to reach for those chips instead. A great way to accomplish this is to cook or portion out snacks on the weekends and leave them in small containers so you can grab a snack and go during the week.
For the Week
Be sure to get a variety of healthy snack options and mix them up day-to-day so you don’t get bored with the same things. Once you figure out what you like, start experimenting with other ways to mix-and-match your protein, fiber, and flavors.
Portion Size is Key
An important note is that the “healthiness” of almost any snack (or meal generally) comes down to portion size. 100 calories of potato chips or cookies is still 100 calories, but it’s probably so small and non-filling that you wouldn’t be satisfied with it. Ideally, you either want something packed with useful nutrients or something that isn’t calorically dense (100 calories is fairly big). The former is at least good for your health, and the latter can help keep you full for longer. Make sure to check the serving size of your snacks, not just the calories per serving.
- A handful of mixed nuts (or your favorite kind of nut) can be a delicious and surprisingly filling option for a quick snack.
- Portion: No more than what you can fit in a single handful, with your fingers closed over the top. Be careful with nuts, as 100 calories of nuts is less than you probably think.
A Hard-Boiled Egg
- Hard-boiled eggs are portable, protein-packed, and delicious. You can boil a whole batch then bring one or two to work each day for protein snacking or slicing into a salad. 1 hard-boiled egg is about 72 calories.
- Portion: No more than three eggs per day, or 1.5 eggs per snack. Eggs are high in cholesterol, and though there’s some debate as to how the cholesterol in eggs actually affects your body, the general rule is 3 or fewer eggs per day is fine.
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
- Cottage cheese is incredibly healthy and tastes great. Cottage cheese is not just packed with healthy low-fat protein, but it’s also full of nutrients like selenium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, calcium, and folate.
- Pairs amazingly with canned fruit like pears or pineapple in juice.
- Portion: 1/4 can of fruit and three tablespoons of cottage cheese. Be aware that canned fruit is often served in sugary syrup, but you can just as easily substitute fresh fruit, a bit of honey or spices instead.
Celery Sticks with Cream Cheese or Peanut Butter
- Celery is mostly fiber with very few calories to speak of, which adds healthy bulk and digestion time to a protein source. Fill celery ‘boats’ with whipped cream cheese or your favorite peanut butter for a kick of protein and long-lasting energy.
- Portion: One long stick or two half-sticks of loaded celery. The danger here is the dip – 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 100 calories. Go bigger on the cut veggies and smaller on the dip.
- If you crave cheese, and we all do sometimes, then get a block of high-flavor cheese and cut yourself two small slices to eat with fruit or whole wheat crackers for your snack.
- Portion: Two domino-sized slices of cheese, two whole-wheat crackers or slices of fruit. Be aware that your cheese side dishes like crackers can be high in calories as well.
Whey Protein Shake
- Protein shakes made with just skim milk and flavored whey protein powder are surprisingly effective. They provide energy, kill hunger, and are pretty darn healthy. Most people actually get more than enough protein in their daily diet, so protein shakes are not necessary for most people.
- Portion: One cup skim milk, one scoop of powder (level, not heaped). Mix well, enjoy.
- Tip: Try letting it sit for a few minutes. The milk will get nicely frothy as the flavors blend.
A Piece of Fruit
- Eating just one piece of average-sized fruit can be a delicious and satisfying snack that hearkens back to your hunter-gatherer days. One apple, banana, orange, or pear can be truly satisfying. A banana is about 100 calories, making it perfect for a snack on the go.
- Portion: Once piece of average-sized fruit, or two pieces of small fruit. Certain fruits are higher in calories than others, but if you’re eating whole fruit (not juice) you’re probably ok.
Greek Yogurt with Berries
- Greek yogurt is delicious, high in protein and generally low in calories. You can make it even better with a handful of berries. By adding your own flavors, you can go with no-sugar-added Greek Yogurt for fewer calories and less sugar.
- Portion: Half-cup yogurt, half-cup berries fresh or frozen. Blend into a smoothie if desired.
- Tip: Frozen berries usually taste just as good as fresh ones, last longer and are usually cheaper. You may want to thaw them before serving though!
Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
- There are few things more satisfying than a layer of creamy peanut butter on a pre-sliced apple. Especially if that apple is crisp and tangy. A sprinkle of lemon juice on apple slices can keep them in great condition if you slice them ahead of time. Then pack a little pot of peanut butter (or keep peanut butter in your desk).
- Portion: One apple and one tablespoon of peanut butter. Keep in mind that a tablespoon of peanut butter is about 100 calories, so go light on the PB and go heavier on the delicious apples.
Simple Fruit Salad
- You can make a simple fruit salad from a chopped apple, a sliced banana, and perhaps a handful of grapes or berries. Blend with a splash of orange juice and you have a surprisingly delicious, dessert-like snack.
- Portion: No more than a full cup of chopped and mixed ingredients. Save leftovers for snack #2.
Baked Vegetable Chips
- Baked veggie chips can be bought or made. You’ll want to be careful, as some are just as oily and full of carbs as potato chips, while on the other end of the spectrum you can find dried, baked fruit with no added oil. You can also make your own with no or minimal oil and additives for a healthier option.
- Portion: 1 cup or a handful of chips. You’ll often be tempted to eat more than this, so if your willpower isn’t especially high you may want to skip this one.
- Baby carrots with a light dip of hummus, guacamole, or blue cheese dressing can be a crispy and delicious snack. Not to mention filling.
- Portion: 20 baby carrots lightly dipped. Don’t load on the dip. 20 baby carrots is around 80 calories, and many dips are very calorically dense.
Veggie Slices Dipped in Hummus
- Want a dip-focused snack? Go for the delicious garlicky hummus instead of a traditional salad dressing. Grab crisp veggie slices like bell peppers, carrots, or cucumbers to dip. Or veggie chips if you need that crunchy salty sensation.
- Portion: 1/4 cup hummus, a handful of chips or double-handful of narrow-sliced veggies. A quarter cup of hummus is about 100 calories, so you’re better off focusing on the hummus with veggies for dipping.
Veggie Slices Dipped in Guacamole
- Guacamole is another great healthy veggie-blend dip you can eat in exactly the same way with crisp veggies or vegetable chips. The avocados in guacamole are great for your health as well! You can make your own simple guacamole with avacado, lime juice, tomato and a bit of salt plus whatever else you like to add.
- Portion: 1/4 cup of guacamole and a handful of chips or double-handful of narrow-sliced veggies. A quarter cup of guacamole is usually under 100 calories.
Believe it or not, these are only some suggestions. There are tons of high-protein, high-fiber snacks that might be the perfect solution to your snacking cravings. But just with the options we’ve listed today, you can absolutely build yourself an interesting week to a few months of healthy snacks as you retrain your body to crave fruits and veggies instead of chips and cookies. You’ll find that as you snack smarter, you’ll be less likely to have high-cal snacks in the house and you’ll crave them less and less.
In fact, you’ll probably find yourself eating less at lunch and dinner with the right snacking plan and enjoying every veggie bite. Especially if you’ve been doing some intense walking workouts to work up an appetite for fueling nutrients.
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