Snacking contributes close to one-third of all of the calories that adult Americans consume every day, so it’s important to make sure those calories are as nutrient-dense as possible. But the unfortunate reality is that most snacks (think: potato chips, pretzels, and cheese crackers) are void of any significant amount of vitamins, minerals, or plant compounds, which is why snacks have earned a bad rap for being empty calories that contribute to weight gain.
However, depending on the snack you choose, these mid-day eats can actually be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. If you focus on the right macro balance, you can pick healthy, filling snacks that not only allow you to have a tasty treat in between meals but also help you feel fuller so you can avoid overeating later on.
Studies show that when you opt for whole foods high in protein, fiber, and whole grains for snacks over “empty calorie” options like chips and cookies, it can enhance satiety, promote appetite control, and even possibly reduce obesity.
Peanut Butter and Carrot Sticks
It is always a good idea to try and add more veggies to your diet to provide your body with plant compounds that support our health. But as micronutrient-packed as veggies are, they aren’t a food that many think of that is a stick-to-your-ribs food when enjoyed on their own.
Dipping raw carrot sticks in peanut butter will help make your veggie snack more satisfying, thanks to the healthy fats and protein that peanut butter provides that slow the digestion process and helps you feel full. Be sure to skip the peanut butter options made with added sugar before you schmear! One tablespoon of peanut butter provides 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat, with most of the fat being “healthy” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated choices.
Eat This! Top Pick: Big Spoon Roasters Crunchy Peanut Butter has zero grams of added sugar and is made with two varieties of real peanuts. This nut butter has a touch of added sorghum syrup and sea salt for some extra flavor, and nothing artificial.
Yes, cottage cheese is having a moment in the sun. But it has always been a convenient source of satisfying protein and bone health-supporting calcium, vitamin B12, and potassium. You can enjoy cottage cheese simply as it is, or you can top it with fresh fruit for a more balanced snack. Shoot for eating a maximum of 1/2 cup of cottage cheese at snacktime, which is what is considered to be a standard serving size. This serving size will provide 12 grams of protein and, if choosing a low-fat version, 2.5 grams of fat.
Eat This! Top Pick: Daisy Cottage Cheese is a pure and natural choice made with zero stabilizers, preservatives, or additives. It is a convenient source of protein and bone-building calcium, and has live and active cultures, which is why it’s so creamy and tastes delish!
Protein Chips and Hummus
If you are a chip lover, know that you don’t have to only enjoy the classic potato variety anymore, as there are some fun protein-packed chip options that are popping up on our grocery shelves. While the quintessential snack food is potato chips isn’t a major source of protein, chips made with ingredients like legumes, milk protein isolate, and even chicken can pack in the muscle-building protein that can help keep your tummy full naturally.
Dipping these chips in hummus gives you some energizing carbs and some satiating fiber too (2 tablespoons provide 2 grams of fiber).