30 Low-Calorie Snacks That Are Filling & Tasty
The key to finding foods that are filling, delicious, and energizing all while not breaking the bank in the caloric intake department is to strike the right balance between macro- and micronutrients across your meal. Avoiding the temptation to indulge in empty calories that ultimately don't serve your body well also plays a role in this—but this component is a piece of cake when you have an assortment of nutritious, low-calorie snacks that are equally as delicious at your disposal.
"Many people snack on junk food or empty calories that are often high in sugar and saturated fat. While they might be satisfying in the moment, they typically crave another snack shortly after," explains Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Expert Board. "Choosing snacks that are low to moderate in calories and contain fiber and protein will help you feel more satisfied and help keep you fuller longer."
To help you make the smartest snacking choices while putting the kibosh on any potential lingering cravings via long-term fullness between meals, we sought the insight of a handful of nutrition experts. Keep reading to learn how to choose low-calorie snacks that can satisfy your tastebuds while still prioritizing your health. And for more, don't miss these 16 High-Protein Snacks To Keep You Full Between Meals.
The benefits of snacking
When you choose the right foods, snacking has many benefits.
- You can add a serving of fruits or vegetables to your day: "Snacks can be a great way to add nutrients to your day by incorporating a fruit or veggie," says Goodson.
- You may be less hungry at your next meal: Many people snack on junk food or empty calories that are often high in sugar and saturated fat. While they might be satisfying in the moment, they typically crave another snack shortly after. "Choosing snacks that are low to moderate in calories and contain fiber and protein will help you feel more satisfied and help keep you fuller longer," says Goodson.
- You may make better food choices later in the day: "Nutrient-rich snacking between meals can help keep you from being as hungry the next time you eat. This can help people manage portion sizes and often make better selections because—let's face it—when you feel really hungry, you never crave the healthiest foods," explains Goodson.
- Better blood sugar balance means more energy: "Snacks with protein and fiber can also help keep blood sugar stable, which helps keep your energy levels stable as well," Goodson continues.
The 30 best low-calorie snacks
Now that you understand why snacking can be a healthy habit and have a general sense of how to make smart snack choices, you're probably still wondering which particular satiating low-calorie snacks are highly recommended by experts in the nutrition space. Well, we've got you covered!
Check out this roundup of 30 low-calorie snacks that are as delicious as they are filling—and for more tips to help you make smart snacking choices, be sure to also read 6 Healthy Snack Ideas To Slow Aging.
"There is something nostalgic for me about a turkey rollup as a snack!" says Caroline Thomason, RD, LDN, CDCES. "It is a great source of lean protein and helps me create more stable energy levels between meals when I am short on time."
"Compared to rice or wheat crackers, buckwheat crisps have more protein and comparable fiber content," explains Thomason. "I love Maine Crisps Co.," Thomason recommends. For added flavor that will still keep this snack in the low-cal zone, top with a bit of Swiss or goat's milk cheese when craving something savory or drizzle with a dash of honey to craft a sweet treat.
"Plain Greek yogurt provides 15–17 grams of high-quality protein per 6-ounce serving, depending on the brand," says Goodson.
The protein will help you stay fuller longer, and when paired with fiber from berries, you have a nutrient-rich, satisfying snack for under 150 calories."
Can't decide if you're craving something tart or sweet to nosh on? Grab a handful of raspberries! This low-calorie snack yields a little over 60 calories per cup while also providing a whopping 8 grams of satiating fiber.
Toasted Coconut Chips
Sure, piña coladas may be off the table while pursuing a low-calorie snack. But another way you can still scratch that same tropical itch is to satisfy this craving with some delicious toasted coconut chips. A quarter-cup of this sweet treat will fuel your body with about 13 grams of quality carbs, in addition to providing 4% of your daily value for protein and fiber, respectively.
Snap out of your afternoon slump with this healthy, low-calorie snack that can take your tastebuds on a trip to the Mediterranean.
"High in filling fiber and healthy fat, I love to use raw bell peppers as a natural scoop for my hummus in the afternoon," says Thomason. "This is great as a low-calorie snack option that will tide you over between meals."
"String cheese has 7 grams of protein per serving," says Goodson. "Paired with fiber-rich carrots, this snack comes in at just about 150 calories."
Thomason's go-to string cheese pick is Horizon Organic Mozzarella String Cheese because she claims it's "ready to unwrap any time […] and is a good source of calcium in every stick." That's 15% of the recommended daily value for calcium, which research shows is incredibly beneficial to bone health.
In addition to complementing string cheese for a well-balanced snack per Goodson's advice, carrots are a versatile low-calorie snack you can dunk in protein-rich hummus or any number of nut butters. Additionally, they can stand alone as a nutrient-dense munchie you can crunch on guilt-free in between meals.
Comprised of over 95% water, cucumbers are an uber-hydrating, nutrient-dense, low-calorie snack that research suggests can help fortify your bones with the power of vitamin K, lower your blood pressure, and can even help you to avoid bloating. Feeling especially famished? Top your cucumber slices with a lean protein, like hummus, chicken salad, or a little bit of light tuna to feel extra satiated. Just remember to leave the skin on your cucumbers to retain this veggie's high nutritional value.
If you're all hummus'd out but still want to capitalize on the health benefits of chickpeas, try roasting them in the oven!
"For a crunchy and hearty snack, roast Westbrae Natural chickpeas in the oven with savory spices like paprika, salt, pepper, and turmeric," suggests Haley Bishoff, RDN, owner of Rūtsu Nutrition, LLC, in Las Vegas.
If nature's candy is what you're after, grab yourself a cup of sweet pitted cherries. This snack is loaded with antioxidants and over 3 grams of fiber per cup, allowing you to fill up with very few calories. Research has also linked cherry consumption to decreased oxidative stress, inflammation, less muscle soreness post-workout, and even can aid in regulating your blood pressure.
Savory snackers who struggle to eat their greens may want to consider opting for kale chips. As a leafy green, this low-calorie snack packs a nutrient-dense punch while simultaneously mirroring the crunchy sensation of traditional chips. This is also a healthy snack that can really hit the spot; you can get 14% of your daily value of protein from just a single ounce of kale chips. Best of all, kale chips are super easy to prepare, too. Simply toss your kale in a little olive oil, season to taste, throw this on a baking sheet, pop that into the oven, and you're good to go!
Sometimes the best things really do come in small packages—at least, that seems to be the case with hard-boiled eggs. Both nutritious and delicious, this low-calorie snack is packed with over 6 grams of protein plus 25 milligrams of calcium, 63 milligrams of potassium, and an abundance of other vitamins and nutrients that offer a wealth of healthy benefits. For instance, the implications of recent research suggest that eating about one egg per day may actually help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A fiber-rich citrus fruit, eating a whole grapefruit fills you up with a little over 14% of the recommended daily value of fiber at nearly 4 grams per fruit. If you're also trying to watch your weight, grapefruit can be an excellent snack, as research indicates a correlation between weight loss and the consumption of this tart and tasty treat.
Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
"If you want to feel full faster, try cottage cheese! With 14 grams of protein for a half cup, it is sure to keep you satisfied," suggests Goodson. "Paired with apple slices, which are in fiber, this is a win for a low-calorie, nutrient-rich snack!"
A relatively new snack on the block, Thomason suggests chowing down on protein chips when craving a savory snack alternative to classic potato chips.
"This trend is growing," says Thomason. "I love Wilde's Chicken Chips for a fun spin on my favorite salt and vinegar potato chip! Made from chicken breast, you'll receive a lean source of protein to boot."
"Walnuts are one of my favorite nuts to recommend because they're filled with satiating fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats," explains Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian and owner of Plant Based with Amy. "Two tablespoons of walnuts contain less than 100 calories!"
"Plus, they can help you age gracefully. In a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people in their 60s and 70s who regularly ate walnuts achieved a significant reduction in inflammation, which is connected with a lower risk of heart disease," adds Gorin.
Cheese Quesadilla (With an Egg White Wrap)
Calories per serving: <150
If you love feasting on Mexican fare but are also trying not to overdo it on the calorie front at snack time, Amy Goodson offers a clever ingredient swap idea that will enable you to enjoy a yummy quesadilla sans the excessive caloric spend. Instead of opting for the usual flour or corn tortillas—which can range between 85–150 calories per tortilla depending on the type or brand before even adding cheese—try this new food trend: egg white wraps.
"Made with egg whites, egg wraps are a new nutrition trend low in calories. Typically about 5 grams of protein a wrap, these provide a protein punch at snack time," says Goodson. "Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of 2% cheese, and you literally have a snack quesadilla loaded with protein for under 150 calories!"
Ants on a Log
Calories per stalk (85 grams): <121
Ants on a log, or celery topped with a dollop of peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins, is a classic, refreshing low-calorie snack that likely strikes a nostalgic chord harkening back to childhood snacktimes with friends. But Goodson claims that you can take the calorie count of this nutritious nibble even further by opting for peanut butter powder in lieu of the traditional nut-based spread.
"While peanut butter contains healthy fat, it is a little higher in calories," explains Goodson. "However, peanut butter powder mixed with water or Greek yogurt brings the calories down and amps the protein up!"
"Two tablespoons of peanut butter powder provide you with approximately 7 grams of protein," she continues. "Mixed with water, it stays really low-calorie. But to up the satisfaction factor, try mixing it with Greek yogurt or pureed cottage cheese for an extra protein punch! Paired with low-calorie, high water-content, crunchy celery, the snack is satisfying and comes in much lower than traditional snacks on the calorie chart."
Compared to the rest of the snacks mentioned here, nearly 160 calories per serving of pistachios may seem a bit high. However, when you take into account that the average serving size of pistachio nuts is about 49 kernels, that's actually quite a lot to a lot to nosh on with marginal caloric impact. Consumption of this nutrient-dense tree nut has also been scientifically linked to weight loss, which is excellent news for those looking to comfortably shed a few pounds while still appeasing their appetite for tasty snacks.
Like cucumbers, watermelon is a fruit with high water, reportedly exceeding over 90%. So, in addition to being an incredibly hydrating snack, this summer staple is a snack that can sate your appetite and mitigate the occurrence of pesky hunger pangs. Chowing down on juicy, sweet watermelon can also be a great approach to weight loss, as research shows that eating it can potentially lead to an increase in l-arginine, an amino acid that aids in building protein for your body, reducing oxidative stress, and attacking belly fat.
If you're a savory snacker who wants to lose weight but is unsure of how to compensate for those salty potato chip cravings, consider grabbing a handful (or two) of popcorn instead. According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, "Popcorn exerted a stronger effect on short-term satiety than did potato chips as measured by subjective ratings and energy intake at a subsequent meal." Additionally, the study notes that whole-grain popcorn, in particular, was found to be an effective means to "reduce feelings of hunger while managing energy intake and ultimately, body weight."
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Nutritious and simple to make in the oven, a 1/4 cup serving of roasted pumpkin seeds yields a whopping 9 grams of satiating protein while still coming in at under 150 calories. Additionally, they are an excellent source of antioxidants, and research suggests that the act of roasting them can help enhance the beneficial properties of pumpkin seeds' protein,
Whether you wish to sprinkle them on top of salads, use them as a garnish for a nutritious smoothie, or just eat them by the fistful, sunflower seeds are a nutritious low-calorie snack that can be as gratifying as they are delicious. Tiny as they are mighty, a 3/4 cup serving of sunflower seeds provides you with 7 grams of protein (14% DV) and 3 grams of fiber (12% DV).
Comprised of soluble fiber able to absorb water in ways that enable the expansion of the chia seeds in your belly, chia pudding is an inherently filling snack. In fact, these teeny seeds can help provide your body with nearly 25% of your DV of fiber in just one serving! Best of all, the neutral palate provided by chia seeds gives you the creative freedom to dress up your pudding with various other tasty and nutritious toppers like berries, almonds, and even cacao nibs.
Unsure of how to DIY your own chia pudding at home? Try our recipe for Blackberry Cashew Chia Pudding.
For those who want to capitalize on the many nutritional benefits of eating bananas but aren't a fan of their texture or super sweet taste while still in raw form, opt to crunch on a handful of banana chips instead. Coming in at less than 150 calories per one-ounce serving, you can fill up on over 2 grams of fiber per serving, in addition to fueling your body with over 20 milligrams of magnesium, 152 milligrams of potassium, and nearly 2 milligrams of vitamin C.
A half cup of edamame contains 7 grams of satiating protein while still being a snack you can enjoy for less than 100 calories. Best of all, this savory soy snack is an excellent plant-based munchie that research suggests can aid in regulating blood sugars, making it an especially great snack option for those with type 2 diabetes.
According to Thomason, fruit pouches are a great low-calorie snack that's perfect "for kids and kids at heart!" For the ideal "take-anywhere, no-mess way to get fruit and veggies on the go," she recommends Happy Kid Organics' Apple, Kale & Mango Pouch.
One ounce of savory and satisfying beef jerky is not only low in calories, but also you're getting a hefty dose of nearly 10 grams of protein, which will surely tide you over between meals. It's also high in B vitamins, providing you with a boost of energy that can help combat those pesky midday slumps. Just one serving of beef jerky accounts for nearly 12% of your recommended DV of vitamin B12 and 3% of your DV for vitamin B6.
On their own, red lentils are a nutrient-dense legume rich in potassium, fiber, and protein. At the same time, they're not the most portable or convenient of choices when you just need something quick and easy to nosh on. But when these protein-powered puppies are baked into a crispy chip, you get a satisfying low-calorie snack.
"Harvest Snaps Crunchy Loops is one of my favorite filling and delicious snacks to recommend," suggests Gorin. "They have a base of farm-picked red lentils, and the snack uses the whole legume, which is milled in-house for maximum nutrition. In the Sour Cream & Onion loops, you get 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber—both of which help keep you fuller for longer—for just 130 calories per serving."
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