It’s the middle of the day—somewhere between lunch and dinner—when all of a sudden you hear your stomach growling. Uh oh! You just ate a few hours ago but it’s too early for dinner so what do you do?? Grab a healthy snack of course! Throughout the course of day—particularly between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner—having a snack is a great way to keep your metabolism (your body’s calorie burning engine) running optimally and curb hunger pains. Hearing your stomach growl or getting hunger pains is not a bad thing—that’s just your body letting you know it needs more fuel to keep performing at a high level. Adding snacks in between your three main meals can also keep your calories lower throughout the day by preventing over eating. The key is to have healthy snacks around so that you avoid the snack machine or grabbing one (or more!) of those free donuts in the office kitchen. Below is my list of top ten healthy snacks. When coming up with this list there were a few guidelines that I used:
Under 200 Calories
Simple and Easy-little to no prep time
Convenient-something that you can keep close by
I did not include vegetables on the list as they generally tend to be low in calories. Normally this is good, but, in it of its own, vegetables do not do an adequate job of curbing your hunger. Adding a stalk of celery or a carrot to each snack is an option if you’re trying to add more vegetables throughout the day. 10. Protein Shake– in the interest of this list, I am referring to the ready-to-drink shakes (RTD)—not the kind you make in a blender or buy at a smoothie store. You can find these in your grocery store and they usually come in vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. Buy a few brands to find out which one you like the best. Nutrition stats: around 180 calories, less than 5 grams of sugar, less than 5 grams of fat and about 20 grams of protein. 9. Protein Bar– although some protein shakes and bars may have weird ingredients that you can’t pronounce, they fit the criteria of my list and are better options than a milk shake or a snickers bar. So if you’re ok with engineered food, keep a few bars at your desk. There is a wide variety of bars including organic (which I’m scared to try!) so pick a few out and find one or two that you like. Nutrition Stats: around 180 calories, 10-20 grams of sugar, around 10 grams of fat and 15-20 grams of protein. 8. Greek Yogurt– there’s been a lot of buzz going on about Greek Yogurt and rightfully so. They have about the same amount of calories as regular yogurt but have less sugar and more protein. Nutrition stats: Around 150 calories, 5-8 grams of sugar (unless you get the fruit flavored variety which is twice as much), about 10 grams of fat and about 15 grams of protein. 7. Celery with Peanut Butter-I don’t know about you but I used to have this as a kid and still do to this day! Although peanut butter is high in fat, it high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat which is considered the “good fat” as they help lower cholesterol. Celery is low calorie (25 per stalk) so it’s a good balance to the higher calorie peanut butter. Nutritional stats (2 stalks): around 200 calories, less than 5 grams of sugar, 15 grams of fat and around 8 grams of protein. 6. String Cheese– most string cheese varieties are mozzarella cheese which is lower in fat that other types of cheeses. If you are on a low carb diet then string cheese is a great option as it has 0 carbohydrates. Nutrition stats (1 stick): 80 calories, 0 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. 5. Hard-Boiled Egg– to qualify for convenient, simple and easy I took into consideration that the eggs were previously hard-boiled. Eggs, like string cheese are a low carb, high protein snack. The one downside to eggs is that, with the yolk, it contains 70% of the daily recommended amount cholesterol. Without the yolk, the calories go down from 77 to 17 and the protein is cut in half from 6 to 3. Do a hard-boiled egg every so often and instead of two, combine it another healthy snack like a string cheese or apple. Nutrition stats: 77 calories, 0 carbs, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. 4. Peanuts– like peanut butter, peanuts are high in good fats but fat is fat, so exercise portion control. Nutrition stats (1oz=28 peanuts): 170 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 15 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. 3. Almonds-almonds receive the nod over peanuts because it has slightly less calories per serving and I like almonds better. It’s my top ten list so I can be biased if I want to! Like peanuts, they are high in (good) fat so don’t overdo it. Nutrition stats (1 oz=24 almonds): 160 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 14 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. 2. Soy Beans-soy beans beat out both peanuts and almonds because they have considerably less fat and twice the protein. Commonly found steamed at sushi restaurants (yes, edamame and soybeans is the same thing!), you can also get them dry roasted similar to peanuts. Nutrition stats (½ cup steamed or ¼ cup roasted): 130 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs, 14 grams of protein. 1. Fruit– under 200 calories, convenient, simple, easy and right off the tree! I really don’t think I need to explain why fruit is my number one healthy snack, and if I do, shame on you! It is also the most versatile snack as it can be combined with just about every other item on the list. Nutrition facts: around 100 calories for 1 serving (serving size varies), 20-30 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat and 0 grams of protein.