Are you sick and tired of that little belly you’re sporting? Or maybe your significant other is starting to point out the fact that you can’t quite squeeze into your old jeans. One quick way to lose some poundage is to eat healthier, lower fat and lower calorie snacks. Yes, your mother might have told you that snacking between meals is a bad idea, but she meant the salty, deep fried, or sugar filled varieties. This article will give you ten great snacks you can munch on; each containing fewer calories than your average can of pop (150). So keep reading, and keep your hands out of the chip bag!
To Snack or Not to Snack – That Is The Temptation!
Let’s face it – most people come out the womb ready for a tasty snack! We are animals after all, and we need food to survive. How the hell are we supposed to know when the next meal is coming? Plus, we live in a world of instant gratification, so our bodies have grown used to the idea of quelling hunger pangs with a handy snack. But snacking is not necessarily a bad habit; rather, it’s usually the kind of snack that determines whether or not you have made a good or bad decision. Current research has even supported the idea of eating throughout the day, rather than loading up on 3 large meals. So hear is a list of some snacks that will help you shed weight, while still solving your hunger pangs.
Morning: Eating in the morning is critical, as you have just come off of the longest period in a day where you haven’t eaten anything. Rather than loading up on a carb and cholesterol heavy breakfast, scale things back and leave room for some of these healthy mid-morning snacks:
1. Fruit. Yes, it’s Mother Nature’s original snack food. Aside from being loaded with water – which you need – fruit also takes longer to digest. This means you will refresh your body, reduce your hunger, and the energy you gain from the sugars will be released more slowly over the digestion period. That way you avoid the ‘sugar-rush’ associated with pop and candy.
2. Low-fat muffins. Coffee shop muffins tend to be one of the highest fat products sold on the open market, but you can create your own low-fat, healthy variety that taste great. Typical low-fat muffins run around 80-100 calories, depending on the ingredients. Compare that to a store bought (your favorite coffee seller) muffin, which checks in between 360-500 calories! That’s enough for an entire meal, and you just loaded up on it during your coffee break.
3. Eggs. Since eggs are the other important breakfast food, we thought we would offer you some suggestions on how to enjoy them without overloading on calories or fat. The average store bought egg bagel contains well over 350 calories, most of which comes from the bagel itself. Replace the bagel with an English muffin, replace butter with vegetable oil cooking spray, add low fat cheese, and use egg whites instead of regular eggs. Now you have a filling meal for fewer than 125 calories.
The post-lunch grumblies can be the worst, especially if you have an early lunch or if you are working late. Most people turn to chocolate bars and chips, but you don’t want to undermine dinner and load up on empty calories; so here are some ideas that will give you some extra energy.
1. Nuts! Unsalted, of course. Nuts are nutritious, super healthy, and full of all the good things your body should have. They can be high in calories, however, so don’t eat a bag of them while at your desk (example: one peanut in the shell = 6 calories).
2. Coffee. A lot of us require that afternoon jolt of java, but the calories in ‘designer’ coffees are frightening (150-500 calories!). If you just want the boost, try the European method of hammering back an espresso or two. Each tiny cup contains as little as 10 calories! Drink away!
3. Fresh cut veggies. Sound boring? Maybe. But this snack is low-fat, low-calories, and full of water. You re-hydrate while you digest, and almost burn off as many calories digesting as you are consuming! (Example: one cup of carrots has around 50 calories.) Watch out for those creamy dips, but a low-fat dressing will only add another 20-30 calories.
Depending on where you live in this wide, wide world, your evening meal may come early or late. Eating later is one strategy to avoiding evening snacking, but eating too late can work against you as your body will not get the opportunity to burn off some of your evening meal. Here are some snacks that won’t pack on the post-dinner punds.
1. Popcorn. If you can get past all the packaged, microwavable varieties, have a look at good, old fashioned hot air popping corn. One cup of air popped popcorn will run you around 30 calories, compared to double that amount if you slather it in butter. Air popped taste fresher than the microwave kind, and you can get creative with your toppings to avoid the fat in butter. Try the new spray on toppings, which are very low in calories – about 1 calorie/spray.
2. Potato Chips. Yes, chips! The catch is you have to make them yourself. If you take a potato, thinly slice it, use vegetable or olive oil, add you favorite seasoning, then bake at 350f for 20-30 minutes – presto! Home made chips that are healthy and delicious. Consider this: a bag of chips contains close to 500 calories, homemade ones check in around 125 – less the transfats and preservatives!
3. Hummus, crackers, and veggies. In order to keep the crunchy snacks going our final suggestion is to either buy or make your own hummus dip. Hummus is made from mashed chick peas and spices, and it is very tasty and spicy. Just add fresh cut veggies (peppers, celery, carrots) and some baked (not fried) crackers or crisp bread, and you have an excellent snack that is healthy, low-cal, and tasty.
Remember – healthy snacks don’t have to be boring and tasteless. Just steer clear of prepared foods, high fat items, and you are on you your way to snacking yourself into a healthier lifestyle.