When it comes to weight loss, nothing says "no fun" more clearly than restrictive diets – so why wouldn't you want to liven things up with a snack or two?
The thing is, you don't have to feel like you're falling behind or somehow cheating to enjoy food and still manage your weight – There are plenty of satisfying snacks that can help you do the trick.
Why Healthy Snacks and Weight Loss Might Go Hand in Hand
Most people define snacks to include any food we eat between our main meals, but the consensus doesn't necessarily say all snacking is all bad. According to Harvard Health, a little nosh here and there can help you manage your appetite to avoid overeating later, keep up with your nutrition requirements if you're dealing with illness, and boost your energy.
So what about the healthy weight connection? Most research says that simply snacking between meals won't impact how much you weigh. On the other hand, there are potential downsides to uncontrolled snacking behavior – the type of snacks you choose seems to be a major factor.
9 Top Snacks for Weight Loss
So which healthy mid-meal foods might help you make your goal-oriented dietary experience more rewarding? Here are a few of the best snacks for weight loss to add to your menu.
Popcorn is a whole grain that's high in fiber and low in calories. It also contains antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against disease. Plus, it's an easy snack to make at home. Many store-bought varieties are loaded with unhealthy additives like butter, added sugar, and salt. Also, keep an eye on portion sizes; too much of this tasty treat adds to your calorie count pretty quickly.
Bottom Line: If you're looking for a crunchy snack that won't derail your weight loss goals, opt for air-popped popcorn with minimal added ingredients (or better yet – no added ingredients).
Hummus is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, making it an ideal snack for those looking to stay full between meals. It also contains healthy fats that can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. It comes in many different flavors and goes well with everything from carrots and cucumbers to pitas and bagels, so you won't get bored with your snacking routine! Most store-bought varieties contain added oils or preservatives which add unnecessary calories. Look for brands that contain only natural ingredients and minimal added sodium.
Bottom Line: If you're looking for a savory, satisfying snack option without all the extra fat and added sugar found in other products - give hummus a try! Just make sure to check labels carefully when shopping around for options, and remember: It's really easy to make your own.
3. Cauliflower (Any Way You Like It)
This cruciferous vegetable is low in calories but still packs plenty of nutrition, including vitamins A, B6, C, and K as well as folate. It’s also high in dietary fiber that helps keep digestion regular while providing satiety after eating, helping you feel fuller. While cauliflower does have health benefits when eaten alone - adding sauces can increase its calorie content significantly.
Bottom Line: When enjoyed responsibly (without added sauces or just roasted with dry spices) cauliflower can be an excellent source of nutrition that skips the extra fat found in other snacks! It's super easy to crisp up in your toaster oven too, making it a great base for quickly experimenting with different flavors, such as curry, garam masala, harissa, or barbecue rubs.
4. Kale Chips
You can make these crunchy chips easily from kale leaves – which provide essential nutrients like vitamins A and E plus minerals such as calcium and iron. Kale also contains lots of healthy antioxidants. Many store-bought varieties are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like butter, salt, and oil – so you'll want to check labels before buying any packaged kale chip products. Also, keep an eye on portion sizes since too many of these tasty treats can hinder rather than help your weight loss journey.
Bottom Line: If you want something crispy yet nutritious, opt for homemade baked kale chips with olive oil over pre-packaged ones. DIY recipes usually contain fewer additives than their counterparts, plus, they might just save you some money!
5. Sugar-free Chocolate
This treat offers plenty of antioxidants thanks to cocoa's rich content. Dark chocolate has also been linked with improved heart health due to its flavonoid content. Sugar-free chocolates often come sweetened naturally using alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit for indulgence without extra calories! Some people may find sugar-free chocolate overly bitter compared to traditional versions. Trying out several brands first might be wise before settling on one type long-term. Also, watch portions closely since even though there are no real “added” sugars here—the cocoa itself still contains small naturally occurring amounts.
Bottom Line: Those craving something to satisfy their sweet tooth without the added guilt should consider giving sugar-free dark chocolates a go —just remember moderation is key.
Edamame beans are packed full of protein and fiber, making them the perfect choice when hunger strikes between main meal times throughout the day. Store-bought edamame pods tend to come preloaded with unhealthy additives or flavorings, such as sodium and oil – as always, the nutrition label is your friend.
Bottom Line: For a quick, protein-packed energy boost – sans the guilt trip afterward – definitely consider adding edamame to your healthy snacking regimen. If you don't like any of the flavors in the store, try buying edamame frozen and roasting them with your own fixings!
7. DIY Trail Mix
This snack is easy to customize with your favorite ingredients to satisfy your dietary preferences. Most trail mixes are also high in fiber and protein, which can help you feel fuller for longer. You have to be careful not to add too much sugar, oil, or salt if you want it to remain healthy – otherwise, the calories will start adding up quickly.
Bottom Line: Making DIY trail mix is an enjoyable way to enhance your weight loss plan with a bit more personal flavor. This one is a great diet aid because it keeps your meal plan exciting!
8. Roasted Chickpeas
Roasting chickpeas gives them a crunchy texture that makes them fun to eat – and you'll get your fiber and plant-based proteins too. They're also low in fat, so they won't pack on the pounds easily. If roasted chickpeas are seasoned with too much oil, their calorie count could rise significantly without providing much nutritional value at all.
Bottom Line: Roasted chickpeas are an excellent choice for snacking when done right. If you're having trouble with the added fats, try experimenting with oil alternatives, like sauces that use crushed flax seed or nuts as a base!
9. Mixed Nuts
Mixed nuts contain plenty of essential nutrients like vitamins E and B6, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and iron. This makes them a very nutritious option overall, especially when you go for the salt-free kinds. While nuts do offer health benefits, eating large amounts can send caloric intake levels shooting through the roof due to their high-fat content per serving.
Bottom Line: Eating mixed nuts in moderation is beneficial while dieting. Their small size and high nutrient density make portion planning a must, however, so be careful with flavored varieties.
How Top Nutrition Coaching Can Help
Including healthy snack ideas in your menu plan isn't always easy, particularly when you're trying to achieve broader goals like weight loss – or you're used to eating whatever you like. With so many options to choose from, it can help to have an ally at your side.
With Top Nutrition Coaching, it's simple to build a new meal plan, rethink your relationship with snacks, or just eat healthier in general. We connect you with a specialized registered dietitian who's on the same page as you are, empowering you to achieve your goals in a stress-free way.
Want to find out more? Create a game plan with a dietitian who can help you ditch overly restrictive, cookie-cutter diets for personalized weight loss nutrition. Speak with a matching specialist today to get started.
You don't have to give up snacking to lose weight. Just start thinking more about what you choose. The more you make a habit of trying new things when you feel those hunger pangs before your next meal – and prepping your own snacks instead of buying premade – the easier it'll be to enjoy your weight loss journey. Why not talk to a registered dietitian nutritionist, or registered dietitian to start snacking the smart way?
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the popular questions we get regarding snacking and weight loss.
What should I eat for snacks to lose weight?
For snacks to lose weight, try eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, or whole-grain crackers.
What is the best evening snack for weight loss?
The best evening snack for weight loss is a small portion of lean protein with some complex carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts.
Is popcorn good for weight loss?
Popcorn can be good for weight loss if it's air-popped without added butter or salt.