Perhaps the biggest struggle for those who are trying to lose or manage their weight is to avoid snacking in-between meals.
Going for high-calorie treats (such as cookies and chips) multiple times a day will add excess energy to your diet that may cause you to pack on the pounds over time. However, if you chose healthy snacks instead, you may actually lose or maintain your weight.
A 2007 study published in Physiology & Behavior points out that breakfast and a mid-morning snack can help improve the ability of children to concentrate at school. In fact, the adverse effect of a small breakfast can be reversed by eating a mid-morning snack.
You may consider eating a low-calorie, high-energy mid-morning and afternoon snack at the same time each day, even when you don’t really feel you need a snack. This way, you will not feel too hungry at meal times. Thus, you will be able to control your intake and portion size.
There are a number of healthy snacks that are less than 100 calories for you to choose from. These nutritious foods won’t expand your waistline by adding extra fat and sugar to your diet.
Healthy and Tasty Snacks that Help You Maintain Your Weight
Here are 10 snacks under 100 calories to satisfy your cravings.
1. Eat Air-Popped Popcorn
Perhaps the best place to enjoy popcorn is a movie theatre. However, you may consider indulging in a bowl full of this tasty snack anytime you feel hungry and want something that is filling but not loaded with too many calories.
To enjoy popcorns as a healthy snack, always opt for air-popped popcorn instead of the commercially available buttered version.
One cup of plain, air-popped popcorn contains approximately 30 calories. Being a good source of fiber and free from excess fats and other additives, air-popped popcorn is a great option for those trying to lose some extra pounds.
Air-popped popcorn also contains a small amount of vitamin and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, iron, and copper. This healthy snack can help you lose or maintain your weight, regulate digestion, and lower cholesterol.
2. Prefer Baked Kale Chips
Consider replacing oil-fried potato chips with nutritious kale chips if you are looking for a healthier snack option.
One cup of baked kale chips contains just 50 calories, and a number of people believe that they taste better than potato chips.
Plus, they have no cholesterol or sugar and are very low in sodium. Kale is rich in vitamin K, A, C, and B6 as well as fiber, manganese, copper, calcium, and potassium.
Fiber-rich kale helps in lowering cholesterol and managing diabetes. It is good for your brain, immune system, and bone health and also provides anticancer benefits.
Moreover, unlike its counterpart spinach, kale is a low-oxalate vegetable, which means that the calcium it contains can be absorbed by the digestive system in a much better way.
It is easy to prepare baked kale chips at home. Simply toss chopped kale in some olive oil and bake the pieces in the oven until they are crispy.
3. Try Celery Stalk with Hummus
One large celery stalk contains just 10 calories and is naturally low in carbohydrates, fat, and cholesterol. Celery is rich in fiber and hummus contains protein, and together they make a satisfying snack.
You can eat three or four celery stalks with some homemade hummus and gain less than 100 calories. However, it is recommended to limit your hummus intake to just 1 to 2 tablespoons as it is high in calories (1 tablespoon contains about 25 calories).
As celery mostly comprises water (95 percent), it also helps in keeping the body hydrated. This, in turn, aids in weight loss and keeps your skin and hair healthy.
Plus, celery contains other important nutrients including vitamin A, C, and K and some B vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and potassium.
It also helps improve digestion, lower high blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and improve vision.
When consumed in moderation, hummus is also good for your health and keeps you feeling fuller for longer as it is rich in protein and fiber.
4. Have Baby Carrots with Dip
Raw baby carrots make a wonderful low-calorie snack. These carrots often taste sweeter and juicier than full-size carrots.
A large baby carrot has just calories, whereas a medium-sized one contains only 4 calories. This means you can eat around 10 baby carrots in a day without worrying about putting on extra weight.
If you want to add some more taste to this crunchy snack, you may dip the baby carrots in your favorite hummus or salsa.
Other than being low in calories, baby carrots are high in nutrients, such as vitamin A, B6, and C as well as fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
They can help keep your eyes healthy, prevent upper respiratory infections, aid in digestion, boost immunity, lower cholesterol level, and reduce diabetes risk and may protect against certain types of cancer.
5. Serve Yourself with Olives
You might be familiar with the numerous health benefits of olive oil. But did you know that you can enjoy olives as a low-calorie snack between meals?
Twenty olives roughly equal just 68 calories and can surely satisfy a salty craving.
Olives are a good source of monounsaturated fats and contain important nutrients, including copper, iron, fiber, and vitamin E.
Owing to their high nutritional value, olives can be of great help for people suffering from issues such as arthritis, osteoporosis, constipation, inflammation, and asthma.
6. Consider Low-Fat Greek Yogurt Topped with Berries
Low-fat Greek yogurt is one of the best healthy foods that you can have daily. One container (170 grams) of non-fat Greek yogurt contains 100 calories.
You may consume 1 cup of plain yogurt or ½ cup of yogurt topped with strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries along with a little honey or maple syrup.
This protein-packed snack is full of good bacteria that promotes digestion by adjusting the natural balance of gut bacteria. Furthermore, it is a rich source of calcium and also contains other nutrients, such as B vitamins, folic acid, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Regular intake of Greek yogurt boosts immunity, aids in weight loss, prevents high blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, supports oral health, and is good for your skin.
7. An Apple a Day
An apple is a low-calorie food that you can eat in-between meals. You may carry this hassle-free snack with you to work or when you’re going out.
One apple roughly contains 70 to 80 calories. You can eat a whole apple, raw or baked. If you want to make it tastier, simply sprinkle some cinnamon powder on it.
Rich in soluble fiber, mostly pectin, an apple a day can help lower your cholesterol level. This fruit also contains other vital nutrients, such as B complex vitamins, vitamin C, phytonutrients, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Plus, it will satisfy your craving for sweets without significantly raising your blood sugar levels.
Eating an apple daily is good for your health. It can help manage diabetes, aid in weight loss, strengthen your bones strong, and brighten your teeth.
8. Consume Soaked or Dry-Roasted Almonds
Almonds are another food you can include in your diet if you are trying to lose or manage your weight.
Just 12 to 14 almonds, soaked or dry roasted, make a healthy and tasty snack with only about 90 to 100 calories. They are a rich source of protein and fiber, two nutrients that will satisfy your hunger and help you feel full until your next meal.
According to a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a mid-morning snack consisting of almonds creates satiety resulting in appropriate modification of subsequent food intake in healthy women.
They also contain biotin, healthy fats, vitamin E and B2, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Eating almonds can make your heart healthy, improve your brain power, prevent constipation, strengthen your bones, and promote healthy skin. However, to reap the benefits of almonds, make sure to chew them thoroughly before swallowing.
9. Cottage Cheese with a Slice of Water-Rich Fruit
Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse, which is digested slowly and keeps you feeling full for longer. Enjoy 4 ounces of nonfat, plain cottage cheese for just 82 calories.
You may even have about ½ cup of cottage cheese with a small wedge of any water-based fruit, such as a cantaloupe or cucumber. Fruits with high water content will help keep your body hydrated without adding a lot of calories to your snack.
Along with protein, cottage cheese contains calcium, vitamin A, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
A 2005 study states that young children who consume more dairy products such as milk and cottage cheese are more energetic. Hence, you must consider adding cottage cheese to your child’s diet if you are worried that he or she is lethargic.
Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions including high blood sugar levels. It is a major concern for those who suffer from diabetes.
According to a British study, consuming dairy products such as cottage cheese can be effective in decreasing the chances of metabolic syndrome in men who have diabetes and in those who do not suffer from this disease.
10. Add Boiled Edamame to Your Diet
Edamame (young soybeans) are among the most nutritious snacks you can find. Half a cup of boiled edamame makes a healthy snack with only approximately 95 calories.
It can be easily prepared at home. Alternatively, you may buy ready-to-eat edamame if you want a quick snack on the go.
It is an excellent source of protein and fiber to help keep you feeling full. Other nutrients present in edamame are iron, folate, and calcium as well as vitamin A, B12, and K and trace amounts of vitamin C. In addition, it is naturally gluten-free.
This healthy snack can help lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) level and reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Anne Danahy (Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutritionist)
Are packaged low-calorie snacks as healthy as freshly prepared ones?
Packaged snacks can be a good choice as “emergency foods,” but I always recommend eating whole food items if you have the time to pack or make a snack.
Packaged snacks usually come with extra calories and additives or preservatives that take away from their overall nutritional value. Freshly prepared snacks made from whole ingredients don’t have these additives, and you can usually get more bang for your buck in terms of calories too.
What are the best snacks for late-night munching?
For late night munching – I always encourage people to fill up on a balanced dinner with protein, healthy fats, and fruits/vegetables which will leave no room for post-dinner snacking.
There is considerable positive research highlighting the health benefits of intermittent fasting, which is when you eat for an 8-hour period and fast for the remaining 16 hours.
If you really need something before bed, try a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts.
What are the most filling foods that are also low in calories?
The most filling snacks would be: hard-boiled eggs, one handful of nuts or raw vegetables with hummus.
I always recommend plating up a snack that includes a fruit and/or vegetable; a healthy fat like nuts, nut butter or avocado, and some protein like a hard boiled or deviled egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or turkey breast.
These munching options are a good bet for those who are looking to lose weight as well.
Please provide some additional tips or inputs regarding healthy, low-calorie snacking for the benefit of our readers.
Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet. It’s helpful for most people to eat every 3-4 hours. Most people need a snack in the late afternoon to prevent becoming overly hungry and overeating at dinner time or through the night. Always balance your snacks with several foods: preferably a protein, fat and carbs from fruits and veggies.
About Anne Danahy MS RDN: Anne is a Scottsdale, AZ based registered dietitian and integrative nutritionist who specializes in women’s health and healthy aging.
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