Enjoy grazing throughout the day? You're not alone. Americans are snacking more than ever. As of 2011, snacks accounted for a whopping 580 of our daily calories! With high-calorie, ultra-processed foods available to us everywhere we turn, it's not hard to overdo it at snack time.
Fortunately, if you're working on a weight loss goal, you don't necessarily have to nix the snacks. In fact, as a nutritionist, I'm all for smaller bites throughout the day. Spreading out your caloric intake can help maintain steady blood sugar and keep you from getting ravenous.
But snacks aren't all created equal. For weight loss—especially the pesky belly fat that likes to hang around your middle—it's critical to choose snacks that support, rather than derail your efforts.
My first rule of thumb for a belly fat-friendly snack is to keep calories in mind. Just because most people consume a daily fourth meal through snacks doesn't mean it's a great idea. To budge belly fat (but not get overly hungry), try to stick to around 200 calories or less.
Besides keeping calories in check, you'll want to choose snacks with a nutrient profile that keeps you full between meals. (That's the whole point of snacking, right?) This means reaching for items high in protein and satiating, fiber-rich complex carbs.
Don't just take my word for it—it's science! A 2012 study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that people who ate more high-quality protein had less abdominal fat. Other studies have also associated increased fiber intake with lower amounts of belly fat. Research in the journal Obesity, for example, found that for every 10-gram increase in dietary soluble fiber, subjects had a 3.7% decrease in visceral (aka belly) fat.
So how do you craft a snack that's high in both these nutrients? I like to keep it simple with a combo that many people already have in their home kitchens: deli turkey and whole wheat crackers. This pairing is easily accessible, not too expensive, and comes together in a flash.
For quality meat that's good for you and high in protein, try Applegate Naturals® Oven Roasted Turkey Breast. Its two-slice serving size has 11 grams of protein (22% of the Daily Value) and just 50 calories. (Or, if you have a little extra time, consider heating up one of Applegate's Organics® Turkey Burgers, which provide 20 grams of protein, 150 calories, and 105 grams of sodium.) Both products use no antibiotics ever and are humanely raised with no chemical nitrites or nitrates.
Amp up the flavor even further by layering the turkey atop Triscuit's Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil crackers. Their first ingredient is whole grain wheat, and their flavor comes from all-natural seasonings like black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Plus, with 3 grams of fiber and 120 calories per six crackers, they keep things high-fiber and low-calorie.
Put together, this power couple turkey-cracker snack nets plenty of that all-important protein and fiber for a grand total of 170 calories—and a savory flavor that's just right any time of day. Snacking your way to a flatter belly was never so tasty!