30 Healthy Snacks That Can Help You Lose Weight
Spoiler alert: Cookies aren't off limits!
The science is clear:
Eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day is a helpful way to curb cravings, limit hunger, and avoid overeating come meal time. The key is to try to keep snacks to 125 calories or less. As you’ll see, we’re not banning chocolate or potato chips. But you’ll find that the healthier the food, the more you can eat. For example, an entire cucumber is a mere 45 calories. It takes just five potato chips to get you to that threshold! After asking the food experts and doing some research on our own, we came up with the 30 best healthy snacks that are yummy, easily available, and deliver just the right number of calories (125 or under) and nutrients to keep hunger away until your next meal. If you recognize any of your trigger foods in the list, skip them and go for one of the other alternatives. You know yourself best.
Packed with protein, one boiled egg is about 78 calories! If you need a little more to nosh, supplement with cut-up vegetables or another source of lean protein. “The combination of texture and protein can make this feel like a far more substantial snack than many other options and for fewer calories,” says Lisa Garcia, RDN, of Food Coach For Me in Laconia, NH. Just be mindful of how frequently you are consuming eggs, meat, and cheese during the day as it’s easy to consume too much saturated fat in a day.
“Oh, how I love peanut butter!” says registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. “You not only get filling protein and fiber from the nut butter, you also get healthy fat. This combo helps to keep you fuller for longer.” However, be mindful of what kind you purchase. She says it’s best to buy natural peanut butter which ideally, has only peanuts, oil, and perhaps a little salt. And be aware of reduced-fat kinds, too. “Reduced-fat peanut butters end up compensating for the reduction in fat with adding sugar and other filler ingredients,” she warns. “Try dipping carrot and celery sticks into a tablespoon of peanut butter, which is just 90 calories.”
English muffin pizza
Nope, we’re not kidding. Spread half a muffin with a tablespoon of pasta sauce and 2 tablespoons of low-fat grated cheese and bake at 350°F until bubbly. “Opt for a whole-grain English muffin for additional fiber, which is not only good for helping to keep you full but can also help your cholesterol levels,” says Gorin. “For additional low-calorie nutrition, top your cooked ‘pizza’ with fresh arugula.”
OK, we admit it. Even we’re suckers for this old favorite—which is why we’re excited to list it as one of the best healthy snacks for weight loss! Just don’t make them your every day snack choice, and don’t overdo it when you do eat them. Stick to twelve chips. Twelve average-sized chips will come in at roughly 100 calories, which means that yes, you can still enjoy that fulfilling crunch. Try these healthy homemade baked chips to get more bang for your calorie buck.
Have 3 cupfuls of this healthy snack, and you’ll be good to go for hours. It’s ideal if you don’t want to microwave popcorn; some people are concerned over chemicals in both artificial microwave popcorn flavoring as well as the bags they’re popped in. Consider this option for a fiber-rich snack.
Hummus and pita
Low in fat and calories, hummus provides a wallop of protein, flavor, and fiber. Spread 2 tablespoons on half a pita and call it a lifesaver. “Hummus is one of my favorite snacks because it provides satiating protein and fiber,” says Gorin. “In just two tablespoons, you get about 2 grams each of protein and fiber.”
These favorites aren’t just for Easter anymore. A handful (about 25) comes in at around 125 calories. Just as you should with other candies, be mindful of their high sugar content though. Try not to eat candy snacks like jelly beans too often. When you do have them, eat slowly to savor the flavor and don’t let distractions get the best of you. Otherwise, you may be inclined to eat more.
Choose light or low-fat versions, and you can eat up to 3 cups. Eat the full-fat buttery version, and have no more than 1 cup. You decide which healthy snacks for weight loss are worth it. A review of studies published in a 2016 issue of Advances in Nutrition notes that fiber-rich snack foods like popcorn play a role in increasing feelings of fullness. If you feel full longer, you’ll be more likely to not give in to other tempting foods.
“You can’t beat a snack that’s just 47 calories for a medium fruit,” says Gorin. “For very little calories, you get 1.6 grams of fiber and almost a gram of protein, both nutrients that help to keep you full.” She recommends pairing tangerines with a small handful of nuts or some olives so you get healthy fats to help you stay full. Check out these healthy Whole30 snacks you’ll actually want to eat.
They’re sweet, healthy, and packed with vitamins and nutrients. Enjoy about 3 tablespoons (roughly 75 raisins) to stay within the 125 calorie range. While Garcia says she doesn’t recommend these by themselves because of their higher sugar content (which increases the likelihood of overeating them), she does suggest making a better snack by pairing them with some nuts.
One 2-inch square fills the bill, believe it or not! Of course, resist the urge to overeat. This way you can stay on track; you can enjoy the chocolaty taste without feeling as though you’ve sabotaged your weight loss efforts. Just make sure that 2-inch square really is a 2-inch square. Extra calories here and there can really add up.
Craving M&Ms but feel guilty at the thought of having some? Don’t fret. A portion of 30 of them falls into our 125 calorie range, assuming you don’t go back for another handful. “If you’re craving chocolate, M&Ms can be a good treat to encourage mindful eating,” says Gorin. “Eat one at a time, really savoring the crunchy taste of the shell as well as how the chocolate melts in your mouth. And don’t multi-task so that you can fully enjoy that chocolate taste!” Garcia, who typically doesn’t recommend candy as a snack because it can be challenging to stay within a small portion limit and also because of its higher sugar content, says that if you do opt for candy, make sure it is something that will truly satisfy your hunger. In other words, be sure you don’t snack on candy out of habit or emotional needs like boredom. She too, says to eat tiny pieces at a time and focus on taste and texture while eating.
One-half cup of a fruity sorbet on a steamy, hot afternoon will cool you down…and at just 120 calories, it will keep you nicely satisfied until dinner. Gorin says that it’s a lighter choice than ice cream. Even better, she suggests making your own chocolate nice cream with bananas and unsweetened cocoa powder—and absolutely no added sugar! Plus, you’ll get fiber from the bananas to boot.
Reach into that bowl and grab 30 of these delectable nuts since they definitly count as healthy snacks for weight loss—they’re one of the 5 healthiest nuts you can eat. Make them unsalted if you possibly can. “If you watch your portions, these can be a satisfying snack due to their combination of sweet taste and their natural fat,” says Garcia, who recommends selecting pistachios in the shell. Breaking them open, she explains, slows down the urge to eat them quickly, reducing your chances of overindulging. “One pistachio kernel has 4 calories according to the USDA nutrient database, so take your time and savor each one,” she adds.
“Want a cookie? A fig bar can be a good choice,” Gorin says. “Even though the cookie contains added sugar, you’re still getting some fruit.” She recommends a whole-grain one, such as the ones from Nature’s Bakery. If the added sugar and fats concerns you though, Garcia says to try snacking on fresh or dried figs instead.
Spread one half of a small avocado on a rice cake, and watch your hunger pangs disappear. Gorin says you can also try topping avocado slice with a little bit of fresh black pepper and salt for a delicious snack. Plus, she says that avocados “provide heart-healthy fats that help to keep you from getting hangry.” She suggests eating only a third of an avocado for your serving.
Small baked potato
Potatoes? Yes! “Potatoes have gotten a bad reputation in the past, but this may be changing,” says Garcia. “They contain important micronutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, and iron and research into the beneficial effects of resistant starch on the gut microbiome may change how the potato is perceived. Potatoes aren’t bad!” Just be cautious not to eat so many of them that you don’t include other vegetables in your diet. Be mindful too, of your portion, and try not to fill them with high-calorie additions or cooking methods, Garcia says.
Chocolate chip cookie
Have two regular-sized cookies and remember your after-school days. Just be aware of these “healthy” snacks that are secretly destroying your body. Too much may be too much. Give yourself permission to indulge in your favorite treats—in small doses and only on occasion—being sure to savor the taste and texture.
Bake an apple to give it warm, slightly sweeter flavor that you wouldn’t otherwise have from grabbing in on the go. Top it with 1 tablespoon low-fat yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and you’ll be surprised at how delicious calorie counting can be.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire are a sure way to quell hunger pangs before dinner. They have a rich, almost smoky flavor and a hearty texture that can help satisfy your cravings for dense foods. Peel and eat five whole chestnuts for roughly 120 calories worth of pleasure.
Lean roast beef
If you love meat, there’s no reason why you can’t have it can’t be one of the healthy snacks for weight loss, just in smaller portions. “Sliced deli meat can be a good snack option because if you eat two or three slices, you feel like you got a lot of meat—while a few slices is typically only a couple of ounces,” says Gorin. Plus, she adds that you’re not sacrificing protein; three slices of lean roast beef provides 10 grams of protein for just 70 calories. However, she suggests selecting low-sodium meats when possible, because deli meats can pack in a high amount of sodium. On the flip side, Garcia encourages people to think twice when it comes to meat snacks…even lean ones. She points to potential detrimental effects on heart health, the gut, and the environment, recommending that instead, people opt for plant-based protein snacks. That may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer, which has been linked to processed meat.
These babies are so low in calories that you can practically eat as many as you want. Go ahead: Put a pint on your desk and nosh away! Or, try one of Garcia’s ideas: put cherry tomatoes on a bamboo skewer. Second, grill them without oil just until the skins start to pop. Finally, sprinkle a little bit of good quality parmesan and enjoy! She says they’re a good choice that provides a rich, satisfying flavor.
Have one cup of cereal with a quarter cup of low-fat milk, and enjoy this breakfast treat as a snack anytime. Use these healthy cereal hacks to make it even better.
Grilled tomato slices
Place two slices on aluminum foil, sprinkle with a tablespoon each of parmesan cheese, and run them under the broiler. Yummy! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that eating for a healthy weight includes incorporating a range of foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and eggs. They say that eating fruits (tomato is a fruit!) and veggies fresh, frozen, and canned is healthy. Just watch out for canned items as they’re often much higher in sugar or sodium than fresh or frozen options.
In truth, the average dill pickle is only 34 calories, making them great healthy snacks for weight loss. If you’re worried about eating too much salt, stick to just one because even though they’re delicious, their sodium count is super high. These are the best snacks for low sodium diets.
Soybeans are packed to the brim with flavor, protein, and tons of fiber. Eat about ½ cup of beans for a 120-calorie snack (that’s a little over a full cup of pods, if you prefer to buy them unshelled). “For a snack, in-shell edamame is fun because it takes longer to eat, which can help you eat more mindfully eat,” Gorin says. But more than anything, she points out that it’s a complete vegetarian protein and a terrific source of fiber and protein.
Fresh fruit salad
Take advantage of beautiful, seasonal fresh fruit, and gobble two to three cups of a blend of cut-up pieces and berries to your heart’s delight for some healthy snacks for weight loss. “Brightly colored fruits contain a range of phytonutrients that are beneficial to us in so many ways,” Garcia says. “Having a fresh fruit salad with at least four different fruits helps you get this variety as well as delighting your eyes and taste buds!”
Spread one with a tablespoon of hummus and top with sliced, raw red bell pepper. This crisp and creamy combo will keep you feeling fuller for fewer calories than peanut butter crackers, says Garcia. “Look for whole grain rye crackers whenever possible as they contain the most fiber and B vitamins,” she says.
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- Lisa Garcia, RDN, Food Coach For Me, Laconia, NH.
- Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, New York City area.
- Advances in Nutrition: "Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight."
- International Agency for Research on Cancer: "ARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat."
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight."