If you've been avoiding snacks because you're worried they may cause weight gain, then you might be delighted to find out about a few great "weight-loss friendly" snack ideas.
Ideas that can easily become "grab-and-go" options and are not only healthy but delicious.
What’s my criteria you ask?
They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein and/or fiber, are low in the glycemic load, and without artificial sweeteners and free of preservatives.
1 - Nuts
It’s true - nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!
Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are not the healthy type!
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!
Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag. Keep to 1 (2) serving(s) of a ¼ cup for a woman (man) to manage calories.
2 - Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I'm not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the "satiety factor") but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious "blood sugar spike."
Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) to get a wide range of phytochemicals. Can't do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they're already chopped for you.
Tip: Pair that with a handful of nuts. The fat content in nuts will slow down the digestion of the carbohydrate and therefore will help to control blood sugar.
3 - Chia seeds
This is one of my personal favourites…
Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!
4 - Boiled or poached eggs
Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.
They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.
Yup, you read that right!
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack! Limit to 2 (4) eggs for a woman (man) per serving to manage calories.
5 - Vegetables
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutritional powerhouses.
Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, and you don't need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).
Tip: Use a bit of dip. Hummus is a great option for a dip, as it is a source of fat, protein and carbohydrate all at the same time! Limit to 1 (2) serving(s) of a ¼ cup for a woman (man) to manage calories.
6 - Jerky
Yes, that’s right! Jerky can be a healthy snack option, as long as it is free of preservatives and artificial sweeteners!
Thanks to a few health-conscious brands, like Krave or Oberto, you can now find some real good ones! Choose between beef, turkey, and pork jerky in a variety of mouth-watering flavours. [Note that this is not an exhaustive list, only suggestions.]
Jerky is a source of lean protein, which comes handy considering that most snack options are low in protein.
Tip: Have 1 (2) serving(s) of 1.5 oz for a woman (man) with nuts and a fruit like an apple to have a complete snack on the go!
7- Protein bars
There are too many options of say “protein” or “energy” bars on the market these days. If you pay close attention, the second (and even sometimes the first!?) ingredient is some kind of added sugar: cane sugar, brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, agave nectar, coconut nectar, (grain like barley) malt, corn maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, etc., and simple sugars like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, glucose. I would choose a brand that limits added natural sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc., meaning that it is not in the first third of the ingredient list. Choosing a bar that is sweetened with stevia is a better option.
The bar should be exempt of artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium, sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc.) and free of dies and food colouring, e.g. F&D40.
A good snack bar should contain a complete source of protein. The best sources of protein are animal protein, like whey protein isolate, egg white protein, cricket powder, collagen protein because there are complete and well absorbed. Whey protein isolate is the preferred choice for its digestibility and absorption. A blend of plant-based complementary protein sources like brown rice, yellow pea, and hemp will make a complete protein.
Some healthy bars are, for example, the Quest Nutrition bars with whey protein isolate (choose the stevia-sweetened ones only), RX bars with egg white protein, Exo bars with cricket protein, Rise bars with pea protein isolate or whey protein isolate and Julian Bakery bars with either whey protein isolate or egg white protein or seed protein. [Note that this is not an exhaustive list, only suggestions.]
Tip: Looking at the nutritional values, the bar should contain at least 10g of protein, less than 15g of fat and less than 40g of carbs to be a balanced snack.
8 - Greek yogurt
If you are well-tolerating fermented dairy, then Greek yogurt is a great snack. Not only it tastes great, but yogurt is also a functional food since it is fermented with probiotics, making it a great addition to your diet to ensure a healthy gut.
Choose the full-fat plain version to have a well-rounded food with quality protein, healthy fats, and low-glycemic carbs.
Tip: Mix together the equivalent of 2 (4) tablespoons - for a woman (man) serving - of different nuts and seeds with dark chocolate chips and sprinkle on your yogurt with some berries! Miam miam!
9 - Smoothie
Making a super smoothie to have a quick snack on the go is a great way to get a lot of nutrients in a convenient and timely manner!
A super smoothie is a smoothie that contains a source of quality protein, some healthy fats, and low-glycemic fruits like berries.
To make a super smoothie, use a non-dairy milk as your base, like cashew or coconut milk, then add a scoop of your favourite, clean, protein powder, for example, whey protein isolate or a plant-based blend, complement with a source of fat like 1 tablespoon of MCT oil, ½ an avocado, ¼ a cup of canned coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, etc., and top with a fruit of your choice.
Tip: To add more nutrients to your smoothie, squeeze a few handfuls of spinach or leafy greens into the mix and blend! You won’t even taste it!
10 - Rice cakes
Rice cakes are in slim in total calories and fairly low in carbohydrates, although there are made of rice. Choose the brown rice ones, as they contain more fiber and hence will slow down its digestion.
Use nut or seed butter on the rice cakes to add some fat to blunt the insulin release from this carbohydrate source. Pair with a fruit or some raw veggies.
Tip: Rice cakes are easy to carry in a backpack or a purse with a small bag of nuts for emergency situations. Avoid getting caught off guard by hunger!
Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be "tasteless" or "completely unsatisfying." Trust me.