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Best Snacks to Lose Weight
By Michelle Campion, MS, RD, LDN, CLT

When trying to cut calories for weight loss, snacks are sometimes the first foods to go. However, eating nutritious snacks between meals can be beneficial and exhibit many benefits, including boosting your metabolism, keeping your mood stable, providing extra nutrients your body needs, and preventing you from over-indulging at the next meal.

Since the purpose of a snack is to help hold you over until the next meal while not making you too full (ideally 3-4 hours after the previous meal and 1-2 hours before the next), an ideal snack should be between 100-200 calories and contain protein, fiber, and healthy fat. Thus, always watch portion size, especially with higher fat items (for example, nuts, nut butter, and cheese).

When choosing a healthy snack, think “protein plus produce.” Protein foods are beneficial, because they require more calories during digestion to break down and help you feel more satisfied after eating. Produce (vegetables and fruit) are high in water and fiber to help you feel full and provide necessary nutrients for your body to function properly. Try to avoid foods high in sugar, salt, and fat as snacks (for example, candy bars, chips, and snack cakes). These foods typically don’t hold you over as well as a healthy snack, may result in unstable moods, and fail to provide the body with any nutritional benefit.

Here are a few examples of “protein plus produce” snack options—including some spice additions to add flavor but no calories!

1 Tbsp. peanut butter with 1/2 banana and cinnamon
1 oz. string cheese with 1 cup grapes
1 cup plain Greek yogurt with berries and cinnamon
1/2 cup cottage cheese with pineapple and cinnamon
2 Tbsp. hummus (many fun varieties available!) with raw carrots
2 oz. tuna pouch with cucumber slices and vinegar (balsamic, red wine, apple cider, etc.)
1 hard-boiled egg with sliced broccoli and vinegar

If you are looking for a non-produce snack, choose a satisfying high fiber option, for example, a whole grain cracker (like Triscuits) with 1 oz. low-fat cheese or air-popped popcorn.

Plan ahead and pack your own healthy snacks for trips, movie outings, and work. Knowing you have a healthy, satisfying snack can help prevent the temptation of unhealthy and less filling options in a vending machine or concession stand.

Be sure to drink water throughout the day to curb your appetite and stay hydrated. Sometimes (especially in the mid-afternoon) your body feels it needs to eat something, when you’re actually just thirsty. By sipping on water or other naturally calorie-free beverages, like unsweetened green tea, throughout the day, you stay hydrated and aren’t as tempted to overeat. So remember: “protein plus produce,” plan ahead, stay hydrated, and happy snacking!

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Michelle Campion, Registered Dietitian, Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center, can be reached at (724) 250-6244 or mcampion@whs.org.

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