While snacking is generally discouraged for those trying to lose weight or cut down on calories, many people find it impossible to get through the day without snacks between meals. In fact, some studies show that it’s healthier to eat small meals throughout the day rather than a few large ones. This works well for those who are naturally “grazers,” people who tend to eat small amounts frequently rather than saving all of the calories for a few key meals. Snacking can be very important in keeping you from getting too hungry since most people are less discerning about what they eat once they’re extremely hungry.
However, those who are trying to lose weight or watching calories might still be hesitant about snacking too much, since this is yet another avenue to adding unwanted calories to your diet if you’re not careful about it. Fortunately, with the right snacks, you can stay energized without worrying about calories.
According to Certified Nutritionist Specialist Elizabeth Quinn (MS, CNS, FMCHC), this is all about the amount of fiber a mid-day snack contains. “Snacks that contain a lot of fiber will make you feel fuller and satisfied for longer periods of time,” she explains. “Fiber slows down the digestive process and keeps foods in the stomach for longer.” Other healthy foods that you may think to snack on–such as smoothies–typically make you hungry more quickly, because they contain almost no fiber at all.
Some of the most fiber-rich foods also happen to be low-calorie, making it easy to stay satiated without ruining your diet plan. With a little research and planning ahead, it’s not hard to keep yourself from getting too hungry between meals while staying within the range of calories you’re aiming for.
No, we’re not talking about the butter-and-salt-covered popcorn you get at the movie theater or in a microwavable bag. According to Kevin Daly, Marketing Manager at Zevo Health, home-cooked popcorn can scratch the same itch as potato chips, but at a small fraction of the calories. “Because it’s airy, you may have a large portion without a lot of calories but a high-fiber snack that will make you feel full,” he says.
- Cheese and Crackers
While cheese may not be the first food you think of when you consider it “low-calorie,” according to Registered Dietician Nutritionist Katie Tomaschko, it’s all about the type of cheese you reach for. “When looking for a healthy and satisfying low-calorie snack, the most important aspects to look at are protein and fiber,” Tomaschko says, which low-fat (or string) cheese and whole-grain crackers are full of. String cheese is also a great option because it comes pre-portioned.
- Dried Apricots
This low-calorie snack is as flavorful as it is nutritional, packing a punch with a tangy and sweet taste. Dried apricots are perfectly snackable and will hardly add to your calorie count for the day, along with providing potassium and magnesium, two minerals known for helping with stamina and energy. They’re also full of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system!