Squash your afternoon cravings with these waistline-friendly bitesBy: Mary Squillace
The next time hunger pangs hit you, resist the urge to dive into a calorie-packed and nutritiously void nosh. “The best snack is 150 to 200 calories, is packed with nutrients, and includes whole grains, fiber, or protein to provide some staying power,” says Heather K. Jones, RD. (Search: How does protein help you lose weight?) “You can get a lot for under 200 calories,” adds Sarah Krieger, a registered dietitian in St. Petersburg, FL.Read on to discover 15 wholesome solutions to your mid-afternoon hankering.
400: your magic number for weight loss. Check out the 400 Calorie Fix to learn more!
128 calories for ½ cup of cucumber and two slices of low-fat cheese
The next time you crave a marathon munching session, reach for cucumber. A half-cup contains only 8 calories, so you’ll feel full before you’d ever have to worry about overdoing it. Pair the veggie with some low-fat cheese (a slice packs about 60 calories) for a snack that feels substantial without sending you into a food coma. (Related:14 Ways to Make Veggies Less Boring)
Drop the fatty foods and try one of these 3 protein-packed salads instead!
163 calories for 1 ounce of nuts and ½ cup of red pepper slices
Pair an ounce of nuts with sliced red pepper. The protein and healthy fats in the nuts will help you feel full, while the red pepper will load you up with vitamins A and C. Feel free to substitute red peppers with the raw vegetable of your choice, such as carrots or snap peas.
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179 calories for 1 cup in the pods
This self-contained snack is nearly perfect. A cup delivers nearly 15 grams of protein, as well as significant amounts of fiber and heart-healthy folate. Sprinkle a little salt on the pods, and you’ll have a satisfying alternative to other sodium-packed bites.
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110 calories per ounce
This Asian-style snack mix will settle your urge for something crunchy and salty without piling on the pounds. Plus, the peas provide a few grams of protein. (More: Just say no to these 8 gut-busting grocery store snacks)
35 calories each
Instead of grabbing crackers—which can pack close to 100 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving—quash your need for crunch with a popcorn cake. At less than 40 calories a pop, you can afford to top them with two slices of low-fat cheese or a tablespoon of peanut butter without exceeding 200 calories.
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149 calories for 5 ounces of cottage cheese and 1 cup of strawberries
Step away from the cheesecake, and opt for this combo instead. The protein and fat from the cottage cheese will quiet your hunger, while the strawberries serve up all the vitamin C you need for the day. Pro tip: Choose an individual container of cottage cheese to help control your portion size and select a low-sodium variety.
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144 calories for ½ cup cherries and 3.5 ounces of chocolate pudding
The next time your sweet tooth tugs you toward something rich, dunk some cherries in chocolate pudding. It doesn’t offer the nutritional benefits of some of these other snacks, but at about 100 calories per cup, it’s a waistline-friendly alternative to other sugary treats. Not to mention the cherries add fiber and vitamin C to the mix.
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159 calories for ½ cup (about 12) red grapes and 1 ounce of pecorino cheese
This sweet-and-salty pairing makes for an elegant afternoon snack and won’t tip the scale. The cheese adds protein, while the grapes offer up traces of vitamins C and K.
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174 calories for a medium-size pear, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, and 1 teaspoon honey
This snack will make you feel like you’re eating dessert. The pear is full of fiber and vitamins, while the walnuts shell out heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Did you know: Pears can help speed weight loss? Check out 5 slimming and nutritious foods
175 calories for 6 ounces of low-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 tablespoons of whole-grain cereal
If you can’t decide whether you’re craving something sweet, crunchy, or creamy, reach for this combo. It’ll hit the spot and quiet your rumbling tummy with protein and fiber. Just make sure you select a cereal that’s low in sugar, high in fiber, and has a whole grain (such as wheat or oats) as one of its first ingredients, such as Cheerios.
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199 calories for 1 medium banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
These two foods go together so well, we like to think of them as the Brangelina of snacking. Not to mention you’ll bolster your health with the banana’s potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C. You’ll also get a dose of heart-healthy fats from the peanut butter.
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170 calories for 2 tablespoons of cashews and ½ cup of pomegranate seeds
Power up with cancer-fighting pomegranate seeds. In addition to the disease-preventing polyphenols, the ruby-red kernels pack a fair amount of vitamins C and K. Meanwhile, the cashews contain iron, protein, and healthy fats.
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106 calories for 2 cups of air-popped popcorn and 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, or 172 calories if you’re using oil-popped popcorn
Low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, popcorn is an ideal snack. Instead of slathering this movie-theater-staple with butter and salt, add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It’ll add flavor without weighing you down.
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189 calories for 1 medium apple and 1 ounce of Brie
Oh la la! This duo will crush your craving for something sweet and also deliver fiber and antioxidants. Even better, the fruit may prevent strokes, according to Dutch research.
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190 calories for 3 crackers, 1 ounce of goat cheese and 1/3 cup blueberries
A nutritional triple threat, this snack serves up 12 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and plenty of cancer-crushing antioxidants.
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