Best Snacks For Weight Loss
You ask me what’s the best snack for weight loss? Well, you probably should have asked me before you ate your fifth serving of hummus. But I don’t mind. I like hummus — especially garlic mashed. That reminds me, I better get back to work.
Weight loss should be a pleasant, healthy and long lasting process. To achieve these objectives you need to plan your whole day, including food and beverages. The majority of people understand the importance of proper nutrition in weight loss, but often lack the right knowledge to determine what is good for health as well as weight loss.
Who might need to gain weight?
Your registered dietitian (RD) or healthcare provider may have recommended a high-calorie and high-protein diet because your body is currently burning more calories than you are taking in. This can cause you to lose weight. Medical conditions and other causes that make it hard to gain weight include:
- Eating disorders.
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Stress, depression or anxiety.
- Infections including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, parasites and others.
- Celiac disease.
- Genetics (you were born with a high metabolism rate).
- Medicines that cause nausea and vomiting, including chemotherapy.
- Active calorie burner (you burn a lot of calories at your job, are very physically active, frequently workout).
Other circumstances in which weight gain is recommended include:
- You’ve had a long stay in the hospital and have lost weight.
- You’re an athlete and want to gain muscle weight and strength.
How is underweight defined?
You are considered to be underweight if your body mass index (BMI) is below 18.5. (See the reference section for link to easy-to-use BMI calculator.) About 2% of the population is underweight. Women are four times more likely to be underweight than men. Age groups most affected are young people ages 18 to 24 and those over the age of 65.
What are the health risks of being underweight?
While obesity is more frequently in the news as a major health problem, being underweight can also result in health problems. Health risks can include:
- Fertility problems (there may be difficulties in a woman’s ability to conceive if she is underweight).
- Osteoporosis from not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
- Anemia from not getting enough iron in your diet.
- Weakened immune system.
- Thinning hair/hair loss, teeth and gum problems, dry skin.
- General tiredness from lack of energy.
- Delayed growth and development in children.
- Poor wound healing.
- Heart rhythm problems.
- Poor sleep.
What are some general concepts about how to gain weight?
The main concept to gaining weight is that you have to eat more calories than the amount your body burns. Aim to eat 300 to 500 more calories per day if you want to gain weight slowly. It’s better for your body to gain weight slowly than to put on weight quickly. Eating a surplus of 500 calories a day more than you burn results in a new pound of body mass per week. General rules include eating more often (five to six times per day), eat more fat and eat more protein.
What should I NOT do to gain weight?
Don’t eat junk food. Eating chips, sugary sodas, donuts, and candy will add pounds but not be the source of a healthy weight gain. This weight will mostly end up around your belly, which puts you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Instead, eat healthy foods that build muscle, such as protein-rich foods.
What are some popular calorie-rich healthy foods choices?
Examples of calorie-rich foods include:
- Proteins: Red meats, pork, chicken with skin on (roast or broil don’t deep fry for your health), salmon or other oily fish, beans, whole milk, eggs, cheese, full-fat yogurt.
- Carbohydrates: potatoes, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grains, whole grain breads.
- Fats: Nuts and nut butters, olives, avocado, butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise, high-fat cheeses.
What makes a food good for weight loss?
Eating healthful snacks can help a person lose weight.
Some foods are better for weight loss than others.
In general, foods that are high in fiber or protein tend to be more filling. This means a person will feel satiated faster and may eat less at each snack time or meal.
Other considerations are finding foods that are low in calories but high in volume or density. The more space a food takes up in the stomach, the more full a person may feel. Again, this helps a person eat less with each snack.
People may also want to consider foods that help with metabolism and energy. Higher energy can help a person burn more calories, and a better metabolism can help a person more efficiently process the food they eat.
People looking to lose weight should avoid foods that contain large amounts of:
- saturated fat
- simple carbohydrates
Unprocessed foods are good choices because many processed snacks contain high levels of sugar, salt, or both. Snacking between meals can help with weight loss. Snacking on healthful options can help prevent someone from overeating as well as provide vitamins, fiber, and protein.
Here are 9 healthy snack ideas recommended by dieticians.
1. Hummus and vegetables
Hummus is a traditional Mediterranean dish that people make from pureed chickpeas. Due to its growing popularity, there are often several flavor options for premade hummus dips available in stores. People can also make hummus at home.
According to a 2016 studyTrusted Source, hummus offers many potential benefits. Hummus provides a good source of protein and fiber, both of which can help a person feel fuller faster.
When people eat hummus with vegetables, they are getting the benefit of hummus as well as any additional nutrients from the vegetables.
2. Celery sticks and nut butter
Celery is a low-calorie vegetable. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), two large celery stalks count as 1 cup of vegetables of the 2.5 cups necessary per day for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Celery is primarily water, which can help a person feel full. Dipping celery in a nut butter, such as peanut or almond butter, can provide the benefits of healthful fats and protein as well.
3. Fruit and nut butter
Apples and peanut butter is a good diet-friendly snack.
People can get creative with their fruit and nut butter combinations if they desire. According to the USDA, one medium apple provides 20 percent of a person’s dietary fiber, and 1 of the 2 recommended cups of fruit each day.
Dipping an apple slice in peanut or another nut butter also adds protein and good fat to a person’s snack.
4. Low-fat cheese
Low-fat cheese is a source of protein and calcium.
Low-fat cheese products offer many nutrients and lower fat counts than regular cheese.
Some of the benefits include:
- source of protein
- source of calcium
- source of other vitamins and minerals
Low-fat cheese also contains fewer calories than full-fat cheese.
Nuts can be a very healthful and filling snack.
Nuts provide protein and good fats. However, those looking to limit their salt intake should check the label to make sure there is no added salt. Also, a person should avoid nuts cooked with flavors, since the flavors often contain sugar or salt.
People should look for raw or dry-roasted nuts instead. Nuts are relatively high in calories, so a person should only eat a small amount per snack.
6. Hard-boiled eggs
Eggs are an excellent source of protein. In past years, however, many people thought that eggs were not healthful due to concerns about cholesterol.
However, more recent research suggests that eggs do not raise cholesterol levels and contain many essential nutrients.
7. Greek yogurt with berries
Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium and low in fat and calories. A person can safely add fresh fruit or nuts to Greek yogurt to improve its taste and add nutritional value.
The best Greek yogurt for weight loss is the plain variety. Greek yogurts with flavoring will often contain extra sugar, which is not good for weight loss.
Edamame is a legume that a person can eat as a snack. Similar to other legumes, edamame is a source of fiber and protein.
It is also high in potassium, iron, and magnesium. When people eat it between meals, edamame can help a person feel fuller while also providing some essential nutrients.
9. Air-popped popcorn
Popcorn is a popular snack food in the U.S. It often gets a bad reputation due to the additional sugar, fat, or salt that people put on it.
Air-popped popcorn does not contain these extra ingredients. Plain popcorn is a low-calorie whole grain that offers plenty of filling fiber.
How to add them to your diet
A person may find preparing healthful snacks in advance helpful.
The most effective way to add healthful snacks to the diet is to keep a stock of them in easy reach.
For example, a person could prepare a week’s worth of snacks at the beginning of the week. Once prepared, the person can then portion out the snack into individual serving sizes.
For instance, a person can prepare hummus in one large batch at the start of the week by pureeing chickpeas with olive oil, tahini, and seasonings in a food processor.
After preparation, they can put the hummus into small containers and accompany each container with a preportioned bag of carrot sticks.
Those who lack time to prepare their own snacks can look for snack-sized portions sold in grocery stores. Many products come prepacked in snack sizes.
People looking for premade, preportioned snacks should be aware that they are often more expensive. They will also need to look out for added sugars, salt, and fat.
Eating healthful snacks can play an important role in helping a person lose and manage weight.
People should look for snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. They should also seek snacks high in nutrients such as fiber and protein.
Beans, nuts, and raw vegetables and fruits are often good choices that will help a person feel fuller and provide necessary nutrients.