One of the biggest myths of healthy eating is that snacks are off the table. But that’s not true at all. Healthy snacks help you to provide your body with energy, vitamins, and minerals to tide you over to your next meal. Snacking a bit now can also help keep your hunger at bay to prevent overeating later — especially crucial if you’re trying to lose weight. And eating a bit before and after your workouts can help boost your performance and recovery.
It’s important to remember that what’s healthy to one person can differ greatly to others depending on their unique nutritional needs. If you have diabetes, for example, you have to be more careful about the carb counts in your snack. And if you have reflux issues, you’re probably going to want to avoid potential triggers like oranges or tomatoes. In general, though, a healthy snack meets the following criteria:
- It’s around 200-300 calories. This will ensure it has enough energy to keep you full in between meals without acting as a second breakfast or lunch.
- It’s rich in protein. Research shows that snacks high in protein can help improve appetite control and satiety (aka feeling full) compared to high-fat snacks. Most experts recommend that adults should eat 0.35 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day (and more if you’re active or trying to bulk up). So make sure that your snack includes a protein source, whether it’s from meat, dairy, or a plant-based source.
- It’s got carbs and fibre, too. No, carbs are not the enemy of health. And if you’re working out, they’re essential to help your muscles restock their energy stores. Fibre, meanwhile, will help you feel full. Adding a piece of fruit or a handful of whole-wheat crackers to your protein food can help round out your snack.
- Watch out for added sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adult men should have no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day. For women that number is 25 grams. So your snack should have little to no added sugar per serving.
- Prioritise whole foods when possible. Most processed foods are okay in moderation, but eating lots of highly-processed foods (such as fast food, soft drinks, and hot dogs) is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, and other serious health issues. Focus on fresh ingredients or processed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, like roasted nuts or canned tuna.
- It tastes good! There’s no point in stocking up on a healthy snack if you hate how it tastes. Not only is it unpleasant, but it might affect how satisfied you feel after eating. So if celery sticks or almond butter aren’t your favorite, don’t eat them because they’re supposed to be healthy. Find something else you love to much on instead!
That’s a lot to remember all at once, so to make things easier, we put together a list of the best healthy snacks to give you an energy boost and tide you over between meals. They all fit the above-mentioned criteria, too! And if you’re truly pressed for time, try keeping our Protein Bites on hand for when the “hanger” pains strike.
1. DIY Trail Mix
Looking for something super easy to munch on the go? Try throwing together your own trail mix. Just combine your favorite nuts and seeds (say, peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds) with dried fruit like banana chips or raisins. Divide into 1/4 cup servings between individual bags for extra ease. You’ll get a decent dose of protein, carbs, and fibre with each bite.
2. Protein-packed smoothie
If you have a blender, making a smoothie can be a great healthy snack idea. Blend some frozen fruit with some veggies, milk or plant milk, and nut butter to make a nutrient-rich snack that will actually fill you up for a few hours. Add a scoop of our Grass-Fed Whey Protein or Plant-Based Protein for an extra protein boost.
3. Fruit and nut butter
Apples, bananas, and co. are among the classic healthy snacks. They contain dietary fibre, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, and readily available energy. Give it more staying power by pairing it with a protein-rich food, like nut butter, cheese, Greek yogurt, pre-cooked chicken, or a hard-boiled egg. Think apples with cheese slices, berries with yogurt, or a banana with peanut butter.
4. Roll ups
Roll-up snacks: wraps, sushi, summer rolls, or savory pancakes. They can all be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them. Be sure to include a variety of vegetables and at least one protein source in your roll-up of choice to ensure it keeps you full. For example, spread hummus on a whole-grain tortilla, then fill it with lettuce, chicken breast strips, tomatoes, and cucumber.
5. Veggies and dip
What makes plain, pre-cut veggies more appetizing? Having something delicious to dunk them in! Slice up a batch of vegetables at the beginning of the week — carrots, celery, bell pepper, broccoli, you name it — and grab a handful when you’re hungry. Pair your veggies with a healthy dip, like salsa, hummus, or tzatziki, and you’ve immediately got a more delicious snack.
6. Roasted chip alternatives
No one can deny that chips are delicious, and sometimes nothing else will scratch that itch. But if you’re mostly hankering for something salty and crunchy, try noshing on some more nutrient-dense alternatives instead, like air-popped popcorn topped with your favorite spices or homemade roasted chickpeas.
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