Looking to lose some pounds but can’t keep your hands out of the cookie jar? Smart snacking is key to successfully losing weight, because you never want to find yourself so hungry you’re willing to give up on those goals.
“If you're eating three full meals, you want to have two snacks—around 150 to 200 calories—to keep you from getting too hungry between meals. As with meals, it's that mix of protein, fiber-containing carbs, and fat that offer the most satiety and quell hunger for longer for the calories you’re actually getting,” says Janis Jibrin, R.D., professor of nutrition at American University and author of The Life You Want! Get Motivated, Lose Weight and Be Happy.
Choose from our list of healthy snacks to have on hand when hunger strikes.
Craving something with a satisfying crunch? "Skip the heavy stuff and grab a handful of chickpeas to eat at any time of day, [and] you can easily roast chickpeas to give them a seasonal twist,” says nutritionist Ilyse Schapiro, R.D., author of Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?.
Chickpeas are high in fibre and one cup can provide you with half of your daily intake, not to mention all the minerals they pack, like phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Roast them yourself using some olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper (baked at 450 degrees until crunchy or crispy) or buy pre-packaged.
Protein bars are arguably one of the easiest healthy snacks to stash in your pocket or bag, though be careful you’re not munching on a glorified candy bar and aim for 8 grams of sugar or less, warns Schapiro.
Plus, your bar should contain at least 20 grams of protein from a dairy-based source, like whey, casein, or a combination of both. Aim for 300 calories or fewer with at least 5 grams of fibre and 15 grams of fat or below, according to Men's Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S.
Rich, creamy and a little bit of tart makes Greek yogurt the perfect dairy treat. This nutrition powerhouse fills you up with protein—not with calories or sugar. You'll get a nice boost in calcium, too.
Not all Greek yogurts are alike, however. "Look for the lowest-sugar version you can find without any artificial sweeteners," recommends Melina Jampolis, M.D., an internist and board-certified physician nutrition specialist, and the author of Spice Up, Slim Down. If you need a little more flavour to balance out the sour bite, Jampolis suggests adding a dash of cinnamon or ginger (both which help control blood sugar levels and appetite).
BANANA WITH PEANUT BUTTER
Packing a banana in your bag is a piece of cake, but what you really need is to top this snack off with a little protein, explains Jibrin. Smearing some peanut butter on your banana is a lot easier these days thanks to portion-size packets that make it simple to stash the nutty stuff in your bag. A banana offers quick carbs and a tablespoon of peanut butter gives you the protein for satiety.
SINGLE SERVE CUP OF BEAN SOUP
“If you have access to hot water or a microwave you have access to the most filling and nutritious snack, a hot bean soup. Beans are high in many B vitamins, contain iron, phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds), and are loaded with fibre, and offer some protein,” Jibris says.
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This article originally appeared on Women's Health