Since it's wise to eat something small at least every 3 hours, having a snack isn't an indulgence; it's an important part of your diet. Eating small snacks can help prevent you from becoming ravenous throughout the day and into the night.
Carb-only snacks raise your blood sugar quickly then cause it to drop below normal. When that happens, you tend to eat anything you can get your hands on. However, what you choose as a snack can make a big difference on your energy and your mood. And often what most people choose is too high in calories and fat. Sure it is easy to get a bag of chips from the vending machine, a muffin from the deli, or a refreshing smoothie from Jamba Juice, but these snacks can have well over 300 calories and leave you hungry soon after.
The snacks below contain no more than 150 calories, which is just enough to satisfy you without sabotaging your diet. They should also be a combination of fiber and protein, since fiber and protein are the two nutrients that take the longest to digest and keep you full and satisfied on fewer calories. According to the American Dietetic Association, the average American should be receiving 20-35 grams of fiber daily, but currently, most of us only receive between 9-11 grams. So in order to keep your energy levels high, snacks are an essential part of the day.
1. 8 Dried Apricot Halves with 1 oz. PistachiosNot only are pistachios a great source of both fiber and protein, but they also contain antioxidants and vitamin B6. Although nuts do contain healthy fats which are believed to lower cholesterol, eating straight from the bowl can easily lead you to munch through 1000 calories. Shelled pistachios contain the least calories because the shells take up most of the volume of 1 cup. Cracking them open allows you to be conscious of what you are doing and therefore slow down consumption time, which can enable one to curb their caloric intake dramatically. Pair this salty crunch with a chewy fruit, like dried apricots which also contain fiber, while promoting good vision through vitamin A.
2. 1/2 Cup Fiber One Cereal with Fage 0% Total Greek Yogurt and Splenda with FiberOne of the most popular snacks is a granola yogurt parfait. Although it is often thought of as a healthy fiber-rich food, granola only contains a measly 2 grams of fiber, and is usually loaded with calories and excess sugar. Swapping granola for Fiber One will not only save you over 100 calories, but provide you with a whopping 14 grams of fiber in 1/2 cup. Mixing this cereal into Fage Yogurt, which contains 18 grams of protein, will fill you up without filling you out. For an extra boost of fiber, flavor it with Splenda with Fiber, a no-calorie sweetener that provides you with one gram of fiber and a sweet bite.
3. 1 Individual Size Jell-O Mint Chocolate Fudge Sugar-Free Pudding Snack with 1 Cup Strawberries and a Dollop of Whipped Cream How many of us are guilty in indulging in ice cream sundaes? A haagen- daaz mint chip dazzler contains 1,270 calories, that's as many calories as some may eat in a day. For the same amount of calories you can have 10 of these fudgy low- cal treats. Many people don't realize that pudding is a great source of calcium. Paired with strawberries, which are a great source of fiber, this treat is sure to curb any craving in addition to curbing your hungry. And you can never go wrong with a creamy dollop of whipped cream.
4. Starbucks Tall Skim Cappuccino with 1 Quaker Chewy 90 Calorie Granola Bar Dark Chocolate CherryNever drink your calories! By ordering non-fat milk in your coffee beverages you will instantly "skim" your calories and fat while still receiving the same benefits of protein and calcium. You may think a muffin is the perfect compliment to any warm beverage, but be wary that a store bought muffin contains over 400 calories causing havoc on your diet. Instead, pair your creamy cappuccino with a Dark Chocolate Cherry granola bar. Not only is this piece of chewy goodness 90 calories, but contains heart-healthy antioxidants in every bite.
5. Gnu Flavor and Fiber BarThank goodness for energy bars - convenient, pre-packed, pre-portioned meals that are simple, mess free and portable! With so many different brands on the supermarket shelves, grabbing one while on the run is a simple way to satisfy your hunger ... NOT SO FAST!!! Many of these "energy bars" although marketed as "healthy" are simply glorified candy bars. Gnu flavor and fiber bars are your best options. Gnu bars have less than 150 calories and 3 grams of fat, but contain 12 grams of fiber nearly half of the daily recommendation. These high-fiber, low-fat bars are a savior when you're in a car, at the office or the gym. Choose from any of their five tasty flavors including cinnamon raisin, chocolate brownie, peanut butter, banana walnut and orange cranberry.
6. 1 Bag 100 Calorie Popcorn with Parmesan CheeseMicrowave popcorn such as Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop mini bags or Jolly Time Healthy Pop minis are about 100 calories for the entire bag, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. That is a savings of almost 400 calories from getting a small bag of buttered popcorn. Popcorn contains an amino acid known as serotonin, which has been said to boost feelings of happiness and calmness - so pop on in the microwave, for those times your feeling blue. For bold and sharp flavor, sprinkle parmesan cheese which is low in calories and adds a boost of protein.
7. 4 GG Bran Crispbread High-Fiber Crackers with 1 Wedge Laughing Cow Cheese, and 1 Ounce Smoked Salmon This is a deliciously satisfying healthy alternative to the classic bagel and lox. One cracker contains 12 calories and 5 grams of fiber, and gives you a satisfying crunch, as opposed to a high calorically-dense bagel. Instead of using artery-clogging full-fat cream cheese, spread with a lighter and tastier Laughing Cow wedge. To really complete this snack, top with 1 ounce of smoked salmon - this contains heart healthy omega-3s. Not only will this snack allow you to feel full on few calories, but studies show omega-3 fatty acids can also better your appearance by making skin glow and hair shine. How's that for a girl's best snack?
8. Thomas' High-Fiber English Muffin 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter and Sugar-Free JellyThere's nothing like a good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. However, your childhood favorite prepared on white bread contains excess calories and very few nutrients. Choosing half of a Thomas' Light English Muffin, which is filled with hearty whole grains, fiber and protein will instantly provide you with more essential nutrients and cut the calories in half. Peanut butter is a great source of monounsaturated fat which not only lowers cholesterol, but also slows down digestion to help keep you feeling satisfied. Just be wary that although peanut butter is a healthy fat it still is fat, and calories can quickly add up, so only spread 1 tablespoon full. Top with any flavor sugar-free jelly for a healthy twist on this classic sandwich.
9. 1 Cup Baby Carrots with 1/4 Cup HummusThe crunchy texture and sugary taste of carrots makes for a great snack. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and many other beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Carrots have a reputation of helping one see better and reduce risks for many diseases; but carrots are also erotic stimulants because of their phallic resemblance. Hummus is made from chickpeas which have poly- and monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial to your health. Plus, you get the added boost of fiber. So start dipping!!
10. 15 Baked Tostitos Scoops (1 oz.) with 2 Tablespoons Bean DipThis is a great snack to serve at a party. The usual choice of potato chips and onion dip is a combination of greasy, fried carbohydrates and trans fat. Instead, try serving Baked Tostitos scoops, which will satisfy your craving with a fraction of the fat that potato chips have, and the bean dip is loaded with fiber and protein, making it a figure-friendly combination with every scoop you take.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of Skinnyandthecity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto