Believe it or not, snacks can be the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. The snack aisle is full of chips and sugary desserts that offer plenty of calories with little to no nutritional payoff, but the right kind of snack can help provide key nutrients.
Abby Sauer, RD, MPH, registered dietitian with Abbott, shares healthy snacking tips to add more energy boosting snacks to your diet.
1. Plan Your Snack Hour
Schedule your snacks to fall between meals, ideally at a time when you're no longer full, but don't yet feel ravenous. Eating too much too close to a meal might disrupt your appetite while waiting too long to eat can lead to overeating. Aim to alternate smaller meals with energy-boosting snacks every three to four hours.
2. Be Mindful of Portion Size
It's important to remember that a snack is not a meal. In general, snacks should be roughly between 100 and 300 calories. Eating much more than that can weigh you down and drain your energy, and anything less may not satisfy your hunger.
3. Prioritize Protein
Protein is your best weapon in satisfying hunger. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eating a less energy-dense, high-protein yogurt snack can help control your hunger better than eating a high-fat snack such as chocolate.
4. Opt For Whole Grains
One of the best sources of fiber is whole grains. Snacks made from refined wheat will leave you wanting more, so look for whole grain options that will provide long-lasting energy.
5. Don't Forget Fat
Fiber and protein are great ways to enhance satiety, but unsaturated fats can also be a great add to snack time. Some research suggests that unsaturated fats are more satiating than other types of fat, so adding foods like walnuts can help satisfy your hunger without weighing you down.
Smart Snacking Ideas
DIY Trail Mix
Instead of buying pre-made trail mixes, make your own using a few simple ingredients. Combine unsalted almonds, walnuts, and unsweetened dried fruit with additions like unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, dates and seeds. A small handful is full of flavor, less expensive and healthier than many store-bought options.
Protein Bars and Shakes
Options like the ZonePerfect protein bars or shakes feature satisfying protein, vitamins and minerals, and a variety of flavors. Keep a bar or shake in your bag to thwart hunger whenever it strikes.
Avocado Egg Toast
This brunch favorite is easy to make at home for a quick and healthy snack. Top a piece of whole grain toast with one-third of an avocado, a poached egg, and a drizzle of lemon or lime juice for a delicious snack.
Cheese Stick and Fresh Veggies
String cheese isn't just for kids. With 5 to 7 grams of protein and only 100 calories, cheese sticks are a great on-the-go snack option. Pair with some fresh veggies to get more fiber, vitamins and minerals into your diet.
Hard Boiled Egg with Whole Wheat Crackers
Set yourself up for snacking success by prepping a batch of hard boiled eggs at the beginning of the week. Large eggs have 6 grams of protein, and they pair perfectly with whole wheat crackers and a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce.