Eating snacks with the right ratio of nutrients, with the right calories, will help keep your body energized and help you lose weight. Protein (plus exercise) fuels the growth of lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolic rate and increases calorie burn. Fiber, meanwhile, helps improve digestion and keeps you from binging on fats and sugars. So while there's no food that will literally "burn fat" while you eat it, smart choices with these ingredients will help your body operate at maximum efficiency. Bowerman suggests snacks under 200 calories, with 10 grams of protein and close to 5 grams of fiber. Here are 22 of our favorite healthy snacks.
A mini-meal snack is a good idea when dinner is a long way off. The combo of tomato soup and baby carrots is not just filling; it also gives you lots of body-healthy nutrients, like potassium, cancer-fighting lycopene, and beta-carotene. Try a microwavable soup cup that you can stash in your car's cup holder. (Concerned about sodium? Pour about a quarter of the soup down the drain and dilute the rest with water, says McLachlan.)
Dried fruit is a portable, healthy snack. Eating fruit helps with weight-loss because it's packed with filling fiber (and important vitamins and minerals). Look for fruit with no sugar or sweeteners added and pair dried fruit with nuts for a snack with a balance of healthy carbs and protein. Dried fruit is also a great option to keep at your desk at work.
If you're craving something sweet and sinful, grab this mini pack of jelly beans. With just 4 calories in each bean, they're the slimmest way to enjoy cotton candy, toasted marshmallows, and strawberry shortcake. As an added bonus: Jelly Belly uses real fruit purees to flavor their beans. It's still candy in every sense, but it's certainly the lesser of many sugar-loaded evils.
While chili may seem like a main dish, a small scoop of this keto variety can provide you enough protein (almost 3 grams!) to keep you going. "Use an Instant Pot for great fast cooking," says Suzanne Ryan, author of Beyond Simply Keto. To make it, brown your ground beef and sausage, saving half the fat drippings. Chop one green bell pepper and ½ onion. Pour meat, fat, veggies, canned ingredients and spices into your instant pot, and cook for 40 minutes. (This is also a great keto meal-prep recipe to have on hand.)
Known for being a cheap staple, rice and beans is a classic lazy person’s meal that’s also good for you! Brown rice is packed with hardy nutrients and can be made in large batches to last for a few days worth of meals. If you don’t have the time to cook rice on the stove, opt for using instant. Although the texture will be different, this is still a healthier option for the time-crunched than processed foods and breads. Beans make a killer counterpart to rice as they are incredibly cheap and will keep you full for hours. Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or black-eyed peas are all quality options and are easy because you can buy them in a can. Make sure to rinse them well before using. Check out this White Bean Wild Rice Hash or this Cilantro, Lime and Black Bean Rice for either a side dish or a main course, and see Easy Ways to Spruce Up Classic Rice and Beans for more help to those feeling lackadaisical.
Did I have you at cheesecake? Made with frozen berries and cottage cheese (which IS indeed keto-friendly), you get the cheesecake taste in a glass with this clever recipe from Lindsay Cotter, the woman behind the gluten-free-dedicated blog Cotter Crunch. You can also cut way back on the sugar by using Stevia or xylitol syrup as a sweetener. Simply add berries, almonds, coconut milk, cashew cream or cottage cheese (for the cheesecake part), and a dash of cinnamon to a blender, and blend until smooth. Pour into cups and enjoy!
Eating a snack between meals helps curb your hunger so that you don't inhale your dinner when you finally sit down to eat a meal. Snacking can also help you get in all the nutrients you need. On the flip side, grazing all day-particularly on foods with little nutritional value-may result in eating too much. It's a great idea to shop for snacks at the grocery store and pack them for work so you are prepared when hunger strikes. Many of these are also great on-the-go snack options.
Skip the typical pasta and sauce and make some super Easy Peanut Noodles. You’ll most likely have all the ingredients you need on hand. Peanut noodles taste divine, make fantastic leftovers and are superbly filling. For any peanut butter lover like myself, peanut noodles make an outstanding savory meal and they’re high in protein! Try these Noodles With Peanut-Miso Sauce and feel free to swap out the kelp noodles for noodles of your choice. For the lazy cook, make a large batch of Zucchini Noodles and use them sporadically throughout the week. These raw noodles would taste fresh and zesty with a peanut sauce. For the sauce, make sure to add miso to it as this will provide luxurious tastes and that umami flavor we all crave.
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But first, a bit of definition: "Free foods," in my opinion, are those that have 25 calories or less per reasonable serving. "Almost free foods" have 25 to 60 calories per reasonable serving. Portion control is key here. While 2 cups of popped, 94% fat-free microwave popcorn may contain only 40 calories, if you eat the entire bag you'll end up with closer to 200 calories -- definitely not an "almost free" food situation.
“Crackers do not stave off hunger well,” Culbertson says. Low in fiber and high in sodium, this snack does not provide the energy boost most people are looking for during the afternoon, and you’re not likely to feel satisfied. (However, some crackers are high in fiber and low in sodium; and topping them with low-fat cheese takes them from a bad snack to a healthy one.) And if they’re not single-serving packages, Culbertson says, it's easy to eat too many.