A low-calorie snack can backfire if it doesn’t fill you up, nutritionists say. “It’s more important to choose something that will satisfy longer than to go for a snack simply because it may be lower in calories, which could leave a person looking for another snack an hour later,” says Crystal Witte, a registered dietitian with the Riverside Wellness & Fitness Center in Newport News, Va. Some tips:
Be wary of 100-calorie snack packs. They’re good for controlling portion size but tend to be high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber. So even those that aren’t inherently “unhealthy” won’t keep hunger at bay for long.
Include protein, fiber and healthy fats. Some good combinations: fresh fruit with reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese or a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese, vegetables dipped in hummus, air-popped popcorn with a handful of nuts, or rice cakes with one or two teaspoons of natural peanut or almond butter.
Avoid most crackers and cookies. They’re generally just empty calories. Two exceptions are Melba toast and reduced fat, whole-grain wheat Triscuit crackers; you can top off either with a thin spread of natural nut butter or hummus.
Go for Greek yogurt. Most brands are high in protein, and therefore filling. If you don’t like the texture or taste of Greek brands, mix low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt with plain low-fat yogurt to cut the sugar content.
Choose granola bars carefully. To avoid getting a bunch of sugar without much else, look for a bar that provides at least three grams of fiber and five grams of protein.
Create diet soda alternatives. Add an orange slice or some frozen berries to fruit-flavored sparkling water for a fizzy drink with no artificial sweeteners, which studies have shown can cause cravings for sweet foods.