Though burger-slinging giants like McDonald’s have monopolized the term, not all fast food is greasy, nor does it have to be handed through a drive-thru window. Quick-and-healthy options abound, thanks to health-minded brands such as Kashi and Chobani. Good thing, too: A multitude of studies show that snacking throughout the day keeps your metabolism fired up.
In an ideal world, we’d be able to reach for fresh fruits and vegetables around the clock, but that’s not always realistic. Luckily, a tight schedule doesn’t have to lead to tighter jeans. When time is of the essence, grab these healthy, low-calorie snacks—minimal assembly required.
Justin’s Almond Butter, individual packet
|Saturated Fat||2 g|
Whether you’re a fit-minded mom or a fitness competitor, almonds should be on your list of healthy eats. They’re rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling full, and their stores of magnesium have been found to regulate blood sugar and help control cravings. However, they’re calorie-dense, so portion control is non-negotiable. Luckily, these squeeze packets clock in under 200 calories. They pair nicely with sliced bananas or whole-grain toast, but there’s no shame in eating them straight from the pack.
Small Apple + Sargento Light String Cheese
|Saturated Fat||1.5 g|
“When planning a snack, I recommend pairing a carbohydrate (fruit, vegetable or grain) with a source of protein (dairy, meat, nuts/seeds, legume) to create a perfect balance of nutrients,” says Maria-Paula Carrillo, MS, RDN, LD. These snacks take seconds to grab and provide your body with hours of fuel. Apples are high in belly-filling fiber, and the string cheese offers a hit of protein and calcium, a combo that will keep you from making a mid-afternoon run to the vending machine.
Breakstone’s 100-calorie cottage cheese doubles (with fruit topping)
|Saturated Fat||1 g|
If you’re really hungry, you could eat two of these bad boys without passing the 200-calorie mark. Cottage cheese is a good addition to your diet because it’s high in protein and relatively low in calories. It’s also considered a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly. “You can also pair your own Breakstone’s individual low-fat cottage cheese with a piece of fresh fruit,” suggests Carrillo.
Kashi Honey Almond Flax Chewy Granola bar
Bars are no-brainers when you’re on the move. The tricky part is knowing which one to reach for. Most bars are packed with excess sugar and artificial ingredients, and many contain enough calories to be considered a meal. But not this one. “This delicious bar is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and whole grains,” says Carrillo. Omegas are important to heart health and boost your metabolism, while whole grains are a weight-loss essential: Unlike processed white-flour products, whole grains retain far more fiber and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Oatmega Bar, Brownie Crisp, 1 bar
|Saturated Fat||2 g|
Oatmega bars are such a good balance of carbs, protein and fiber that they don’t need to be paired. They’re made from clean ingredients, are free of GMOs and are packed with healthy fats and protein. A wide range of flavors, from white chocolate raspberry to brownie crisp, has a nearly identical nutrient profile. “This is a balanced bar that offers carbohydrates and a hefty load of protein to keep you satisfied longer. It’s also a great source of omega-3s,” says Carrillo. Omega-3’s not only fight heart disease and promote healthy skin, but research indicates that they help your body burn fat by boosting your metabolism. (Unless your diet is heavy in fish, you may not be getting enough omegas to reap the full benefits.)
Sabra Hummus 2oz singles + Grimmway Farms Baby Carrot 3oz Packs
|Saturated Fat||1.5 g|
Hummus is one of those healthy foods that do it all. Stave off hunger? Check. Balance blood sugar? Check. Lower cholesterol and boost energy? Check, check. However, it can be a little difficult to stick to one serving when you’re scooping from a traditionally sized container. These two-ounce individual packs make life easier—they’re only 150 calories each. Pair them with Grimmway Farms Baby Carrots, and you’ve got a crunchy-creamy combo for less than 200 calories.
Chobani Simply 100 Vanilla, 5.3-ounce container
|Saturated Fat||0 g|
There’s a reason yogurt shows up in most diet plans—it has a lot to offer your body nutritionally. Plain yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, which help regulate the bacteria in your gut and promote healthy digestion, which has been found to aid weight loss. Greek yogurt also packs a heavy dose of protein. For an added boost of antioxidants, top it off with some fresh berries, or if you prefer more crunch, mix in a few spoonfuls of whole-grain cereal. Both will satisfy your cravings and boost the snack’s nutritional profile.
Pictsweet Edamame with sea salt (microwave needed)
You might usually find yourself noshing on edamame while waiting for your sushi entrée, but it’s more than just a healthy restaurant appetizer. “This snack has a great balance of carbohydrate and protein and is an excellent source of fiber,” says Carrillo. The healthy carbs will give you more energy to burn calories, and the protein and fiber will stave off stomach rumbles by stabilizing blood sugar levels and slowing digestion. Edamame is an excellent source of plant-based protein, and adding a little sea salt will help squash any nagging potato-chip cravings. Heat up a half-cup serving in the microwave and toss it into a Tupperware container before you step out the door.