When it comes to weight loss, some people feel the pressure to not eat enough or to avoid snacking in between meals. And yes, snacking on sugary, ultra-processed snacks during meals can pack on extra calories and leave you feeling hungrier, but chowing down on healthy weight loss-friendly snacks during a mid-afternoon slump can give you the boost your body needs and help you reach your goals. When it comes to choosing the healthiest snacks, where should you start?
"The right snack can help support a person's weight loss goal by filling nutrition gaps, promoting satiety, and potentially supporting one's metabolism, depending on what is being consumed," says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility. "Instead of leaning on ultra-processed snacks that have a low nutritional value, opting for whole-food snacks like fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grain options should be your focus."
To learn more about the best snacks you can enjoy to help you achieve your personal goals, we had a handful of experts choose their favorites that you can easily stock up on. Read on, and for more healthy eating advice, check out the 7 Eating Habits That Are Destroying Your Body.
According to Manaker, a healthy (and delicious) snack is a simple handful of pistachios.
"They contain healthy fat and are a good source of fiber, and research suggests that people on a weight loss plan can eat pistachios as a calorie-controlled snack and still lose weight," says Manaker. "Additionally, a cross-sectional study on over 7,000 people found that those who ate more than three servings of nuts per week, including pistachios, had a lower incidence of obesity."
Some people may worry about the higher fat and calorie content of nuts like pistachios. Still, Manaker says that "recent studies have also shown that snacking on pistachios does not lead to weight gain and instead results in an increase in some key nutrient intakes."
Another snack that can provide your body with a dose of healthy fat is sliced avocado. This fruit is high in fat, but almost all of it is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are fatty acids proven to be helpful for your heart. Along with healthy fat, avocados are also high in fiber, aiding in weight loss.
"Fiber slows the speed of digestion, which makes you feel full and can help you eat less and stay satisfied longer," says Manaker. "And, in a study of over 55,000 adult men and women who follow the Seventh Day Adventist lifestyle, researchers found that regularly eating fresh avocados is linked to a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese."
If you're wanting something on the sweeter side for your mid-afternoon snack, Manaker suggests reaching for some watermelon.
"Watermelon is 90% water, making it a sweet snack that can majorly support hydration, and since hydration may be linked to weight loss, snacking on this water-packed food can be a great choice," says Manaker.
The only downside of this snack is that it doesn't have protein or much fiber to help keep you full, so you can always pair it with some nuts or Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt & berries
For those needing a snack that will keep them satiated until their next meal, Jamie Nadeau, RD, recommends trying a certain combination of foods to get the best bang for your buck.
"A combination of protein and fiber or fat is what works best and keeps you most satisfied, so I recommend pairing foods together to get the most satisfying combination possible versus relying on individual foods all the time," says Nadeau. "For example, Greek yogurt paired with berries will keep you way more satisfied than Greek yogurt or berries alone."
For a healthy weight loss snack that is quick, cheap, and easy to take on the go, Dr. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, LDN, FAND, a nutrition professor at Boston University and the host of the nutrition & health podcast SpotOn!, suggests snacking on frozen fruit.
"The temperature of this snack will also force you to slow down your eating due their chilly nature, and snacking on fruit can be helpful because most adults aren't getting enough servings of fruit on a daily basis," explains Dr. Blake.
All fruit can provide you with helpful nutrients, but berries have specifically been found to aid in weight maintenance, as well as helping to improve the health of your gut microbiome—so don't hesitate to pick up a bag of frozen berries next time you're at the store.
Salsa & peppers
Salsa often gets overlooked as a healthy snack option, but what could be better than a bowl of chopped-up veggies and herbs?
"Salsa is spicy way to get low-calorie vegetables in your diet, but rather than eating the salsa with higher-calorie chips, quarter a red pepper and use these as a 'salsa scoops' for a healthy, filling snack," says Dr. Blake.
If you're really craving some tortilla chips with your salsa, opt for something that has fiber and is lower in sodium.
Eggs can be make for a delicious breakfast in the morning, but a hard-boiled egg or two can also be a great snack to have in the afternoon when you need a lean protein boost.
"This snack can supply the body with high-biological value proteins, which are those that contain the essential amino acids needed for different body functions, especially in the growth and repair of muscles," says Catherine Gervacio, RD, and nutrition writer for Living.Fit. "Therefore, supplying the body with amino acids (and if combined with a good workout) can potentially lead to a leaner muscle mass. The more muscle your body has, the higher your metabolic rate would be, which can help contribute to weight loss."
You may mostly associate chickpeas with hummus, but this legume can be roasted and enjoyed on its own as is. "Roasted chickpeas are a great snack because they have a trifecta of nutrients for satisfaction: fiber, protein, and slow-digesting carbs," says Kelsey Sackmann, RD and owner of Kelsey P. RD. "They pack the perfect crunch, curb cravings, and are super customizable. Make it sweet with cinnamon and maple syrup or savory with herbs or spices."
- Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20833992/
- Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30986958/
- Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666319305100?via%3Dihub
- Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26719191/
- Source: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/3/691
- Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442370/