Healthy Filling Snacks
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You may wonder if it’s possible to lose weight while not giving up snacks.
If you choose healthy, whole-food options with a lot of protein and nutrients, snacks can be integral to weight loss. Some can even help keep you full throughout the day and limit your cravings for unhealthy foods.
Here are 29 healthy, weight-loss-friendly snacks to add to your diet.
Nuts are an ideal nutritious snack.
They’re linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may help prevent certain cancers, depression, and other illnesses (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
Despite being relatively high in fat, they are very filling. Several studies suggest that eating nuts in moderation can help you lose weight (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Nuts provide the perfect balance of healthy fat, protein, and fiber. They contain 180 calories in a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, on average.
Because they don’t require refrigeration, they’re perfect for taking on the go.
Red bell peppers are extremely healthy.
Although all bell peppers are nutritious, red varieties are particularly high in antioxidants like beta carotene, capsanthin, and quercetin (6Trusted Source).
They’re are also rich in vitamin C. In fact, 1 large red bell pepper contains over 300% of the daily value (DV) for this nutrient (7).
Pairing 1 large red bell pepper with 3 ounces (85 grams) of guacamole adds healthy fat and fiber while keeping this snack’s calorie count under 200.
Plain Greek yogurt and berries make a delicious, nutrient-dense snack.
In addition to being a great source of calcium and potassium, Greek yogurt is also high in protein (8).
Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants around. Eat a mixture of differently colored berries to get an array of these powerful compounds (9Trusted Source).
Combining 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of plain, full-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup (50 grams) of mixed berries provides about 10 grams of protein and under 150 calories.
Apples and peanut butter taste fantastic together.
Apples are high in fiber and polyphenol antioxidants that improve gut health and reduce heart disease risk (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Peanut butter may have additional benefits for heart health. It has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (12Trusted Source).
That said, peanut butter is fairly high in calories. Although it generally hasn’t been linked to weight gain, it’s best consumed in moderation.
A medium apple with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of natural peanut butter provides a nice balance of sweet flavor with crisp and creamy textures at under 200 calories.
Cottage cheese, flax seeds, and cinnamon each have impressive health benefits. Together, they’re incredibly healthy.
Cottage cheese is high in protein and very filling, and full-fat varieties boast conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid linked to health benefits (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Flax seeds are beneficial for weight loss and blood sugar control. They may also reduce breast cancer risk (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar and may improve gut health (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
Here’s an easy recipe that provides about 15 grams of protein with fewer than 150 calories:
Cinnamon flax seed pudding
For this recipe, mix the following ingredients in a small bowl:
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) of cottage cheese
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of ground flax seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon (5 grams) of cinnamon
- A dash
of stevia or other sweetener, if desired
Celery sticks with cream cheese are a classic low-carb, filling snack.
Celery contains luteolin, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and may help prevent cancer (19Trusted Source).
Five small celery sticks with 2 ounces (60 grams) of cream cheese harbors fewer than 200 calories.
Kale is incredibly healthy, as it’s loaded with fiber and antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol.
These compounds decrease blood pressure and may reduce your risk of colon cancer (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (67-gram) serving of raw kale provides more than 100% of the DV for vitamins A, C, and K (23).
This easy recipe for kale chips provides about 150 calories:
- 1 cup (67 grams) of bite-sized kale leaves
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoons (1.5 grams) of salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place kale pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 10–15 minutes. Watch them closely, as they can easily burn.
Dark chocolate and almonds make a rich, satisfying, and portable snack.
Dark chocolate is loaded with flavanols that may lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk, provided the chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa solids (24).
Almonds are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and have beneficial effects on blood sugar control. Studies also show that they can reduce appetite and help you lose weight (4Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
Both dark chocolate and almonds are high in magnesium. One ounce (30 grams) of each provides about 300 calories in total, depending on cocoa content.
Cucumber and hummus go well together.
Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin E, a compound that may have anticancer effects (27Trusted Source).
Hummus is made from chickpeas, olive oil, and garlic, which reduce inflammation and may improve heart health (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
One cup (52 grams) of sliced cucumbers dipped in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of hummus has about 180 calories.
Healthy snacks don’t need to be complicated. Just a single piece of fruit can be incredibly satisfying.
Portable, easy-to-eat fruits include bananas, apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit, and oranges.
Tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are a flavor match made in heaven — and they’re healthy, too.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Mozzarella is high in protein, calcium and vitamin B12. It may also decrease heart disease risk by raising your levels of HDL (good) cholesterol (33Trusted Source).
One cup (149 grams) of cherry tomatoes paired with 2 ounces (60 grams) of mozzarella cheese has under 200 calories.
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber and can be included in all types of diets, including vegan and ketogenic diets.
They’re also high in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and improve heart health (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
Although they don’t have much flavor, chia seeds do take on an interesting, jelly-like consistency when soaked in liquid. This snack has fewer than 200 calories:
Chia seed pudding
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of chia seeds
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) of water
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of peanut butter
- A pinch
of stevia or other sweetener, if desired
Combine chia seeds and water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Stir in cocoa powder, peanut butter, and sweetener.
Eggs are one of the healthiest and most weight-loss-friendly foods you can eat.
They pack plenty of protein, as well as vitamins K2 and B12.
Eggs are incredibly filling and may reduce the number of calories you eat for many hours, which should help you lose weight (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source).
Although their high cholesterol content gave them a bad reputation for years, more recent studies suggest that moderate egg intake doesn’t have any effect on your risk of heart disease (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
Two large, hard-boiled eggs contain about 140 calories and 13 grams of protein.
Carrots are among the best sources of carotenoids, including beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A.
The carotenoids in carrots may reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and cataracts (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).
It’s a good idea to pair carrots with a creamy salad dressing or dip because fat increases your absorption of carotenoids.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of baby carrots with 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of blue cheese dressing provides about 200 calories.
Cheese is a delicious food that’s filling enough to be a snack on its own.
Although cheese is high in saturated fat, its role in heart disease is unclear. Some studies suggest that saturated fat doesn’t raise your risk of heart disease (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
Additionally, studies show that up to two servings of cheese per day don’t raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, even in people with elevated levels (45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).
A 2-ounce (60-gram) serving of cheese provides about 14 grams of protein and 200 calories.
Beef jerky or beef sticks make great high-protein, portable snacks. That said, it’s important to choose the right type.
Some jerkies are loaded with sugar and preservatives. Beef sticks generally don’t contain sugar, but many are made from low-quality meat and contain other questionable ingredients.
Look for jerky and beef sticks made from grass-fed beef, with as few added ingredients as possible. Grass-fed beef contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef (47Trusted Source).
Most beef jerkies and sticks contain about 7 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams). A wide variety is available online.
A whey protein shake is a good snack when you need something substantial until your next meal.
Studies show that whey protein can help you gain muscle, lose fat, and improve body composition (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
Many great whey protein supplements are available online. Look for types without added sugar.
Here’s a recipe for a shake that contains about 150–200 calories and 20–25 grams of protein, depending on the type of protein powder used.
Whey protein shake
- 8 ounces (225 ml) of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop (30 grams) of whey powder
- A pinch of stevia or other healthy sweetener, if desired
- 1/2 cup
(140 grams) of crushed ice
For this recipe, combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Canned fish is a fantastic, healthy snack that requires no refrigeration.
Salmon and sardines are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids that decrease your risk of heart disease and other health problems (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source).
Fish is also a great source of weight-loss-friendly protein, potassium, and vitamin B12. Many types of fish are also high in magnesium.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon or sardines contains 17–23 grams of protein and 130–180 calories.
Edamame is a dish of steamed unripened soybeans.
It’s a great snack for vegetarians or anyone who enjoys their unique flavor and texture.
Edamame is rich in the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been shown to cause weight loss and lower blood sugar in animal studies (55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).
It is also high in folate and several minerals, including iron, magnesium, and manganese.
One cup (155 grams) of edamame has around 17 grams of protein and 180 calories.
Marinated artichoke hearts are delicious and nutrient-dense.
They’re a good source of fiber, vitamin K1, and folate.
Studies suggest that artichokes help protect the cells lining your arteries and contain prebiotic fibers that nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut (57Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil contains about 190 calories.
Pear slices and ricotta cheese make a satisfying snack with a sweet taste and creamy texture.
Pears, especially the peels, contain polyphenol antioxidants that have strong anti-inflammatory properties (59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source).
Ricotta cheese is rich in protein and calcium. In a 12-week study, older adults who consumed 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta cheese daily experienced improvements in muscle mass and strength (61Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ricotta cheese with 1 small, chopped pear provides about 12 grams of protein and 250 calories.
Dried coconut is tasty, filling, and portable.
It’s high in fat, including medium-chain fats that may increase metabolism, promote weight loss, and improve brain function in people with impaired memory (62Trusted Source, 63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source).
Make sure to get the unsweetened type, since many packaged options harbor sugar. Unsweetened dried coconut packs about 185 calories in 1 ounce (28 grams).
A wide variety of dried, unsweetened coconut is available online.
Turkey roll-ups are delicious and nutritious.
Turkey contains high-quality protein, which helps you feel satisfied, preserves muscle mass, and burns more calories during digestion than fat or carbs (65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source).
The recipe below boasts about 20 grams of protein and 180 calories:
- 4 slices of turkey breast
- 4 teaspoons (20 grams) of cream cheese
pickles or cucumber strips
Place turkey breast slices on a large plate. Spread 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of cream cheese on each slice. Place a pickle or strip of cucumber on each turkey slice and roll up.
Olives are one of the nutritious staples of the Mediterranean diet.
They are very high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and provide powerful antioxidants like oleuropein.
The plant compounds in olives may reduce inflammation, insulin resistance, and cancer risk (68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source).
Depending on their size, 25 green or black olives have 100–175 calories.
Avocados are among the most nutritious and satisfying foods on the planet.
Studies show that they can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, improve symptoms of arthritis, and protect your skin from sun damage, (70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source).
What’s more, avocados are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and monounsaturated fat.
Sprinkle half a medium avocado with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper for a savory, filling snack with around 130 calories.
Ricotta cheese is as versatile as it is healthy.
It can be combined with vegetables and fruits or baked into a casserole or cheesecake. It also works great on its own, with just a touch of added flavor.
Here’s a quick recipe for a satisfying snack with 14 grams of protein and about 200 calories:
Ricotta cheese with cocoa
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) of full-fat ricotta cheese.
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of unsweetened cocoa powder.
- A pinch
of stevia or other sweetener, if desired.
Place ricotta cheese in a small bowl. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and stevia.
Sun-dried tomatoes contain more lycopene than regular tomatoes (73).
What’s more, they are usually packed in olive oil, which helps your body absorb more of their lycopene (74Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil provides 170% of the DV for vitamin C and just over 200 calories.
Cantaloupe is a nutritious, tasty fruit.
It boasts powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation, keep your eyes healthy, and reduce your risk of disease (75Trusted Source, 76Trusted Source).
Very high in vitamins A and C, cantaloupe is also a good source of potassium.
Combining cantaloupe with prosciutto (dry-cured ham) creates a balanced, sweet-and-salty snack for under 200 calories.
Try cutting 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cantaloupe into wedges. Wrap each wedge with 1 slice of prosciutto.
12 Foods That Don’t Cause Weight Gain
One piece of advice often given to dieters is to eat until you reach satiety — that is, until you feel full.
The problem is that different foods can have vastly different effects on hunger and satiety.
For example, 200 calories of chicken breast may make you feel full, but it could take 500 calories of cake to have the same effect.
Thus, weight loss isn’t just about eating until you feel full. It’s about choosing the right foods that make you feel full for the least amount of calories.
Many factors determine a food’s satiety value, or how filling it is relative to its calorie content. The calorie/satiety ratio is measured on a scale called the satiety index (1Trusted Source).
The satiety index also measures a food’s ability to make you feel full, reduce your hunger and lower your calorie intake over the course of the day.
Some foods simply do a better job at satisfying hunger and preventing overeating than others.
Filling foods tend to have the following qualities:
- High volume: Studies indicate that the volume of food consumed strongly influences satiety. When foods contain a lot of water or air, the volume is increased without adding calories (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
- High protein: Studies show protein is more filling than carbs and fat. Diets higher in protein increase satiety and lead to lower overall calorie intake than lower-protein diets do (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
- High fiber: Fiber provides bulk and helps you feel full. It also slows the movement of food through your digestive tract, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer (6Trusted Source).
- Low energy density: This means that a food is low in calories for its weight. Foods with low energy density can help you feel full for fewer calories (7Trusted Source).
So if you eat foods with the above characteristics, then you can usually eat them until fullness without getting in too many calories.
Here are 12 filling foods you can eat a lot of without getting fat.
Due to their higher carb content, many people avoid potatoes when trying to lose weight, but they shouldn’t.
Whole potatoes are loaded with vitamins, fiber and other important nutrients. They also contain a certain type of starch called resistant starch (8, 9Trusted Source).
Resistant starch contains half the calories of regular starch (2 instead of 4 calories per gram). In your digestive system, it acts a lot like soluble fiber, helping you feel full.
Because adding resistant starch to meals helps satisfy hunger, it causes people to eat fewer calories (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Interestingly, cooling potatoes after they’re cooked increases their resistant starch content. In fact, studies show that cooling and reheating potatoes multiple times continues to increase their hunger-suppressing effect (12Trusted Source).
In a study that measured the ability of 38 foods to satisfy hunger, boiled potatoes ranked the highest (1Trusted Source).
While boiled potatoes were the most satisfying food tested, fried potato chips were found to be three times less filling.
BOTTOM LINE:Boiled potatoes, which are highly nutritious, are number one on the satiety index. Fried potato chips are three times less filling and not considered weight loss friendly.
Eggs are another food that has been unfairly demonized in the past. The truth is, eggs are incredibly healthy and high in several important nutrients.
Most of the nutrients, including about half of an egg’s protein, are found in the yolk.
Eggs are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids.
In addition, they’re very filling.
Several studies found that people who ate eggs for breakfast were more satisfied and consumed fewer calories throughout the day than those who had a bagel for breakfast (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
In particular, one study found that people who ate eggs for breakfast lowered their body mass index (BMI) and lost more weight than those who ate a bagel (16Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Eggs are a great source of nutrients, including high-quality protein. They may help you eat less for up to 36 hours after a meal.
Oatmeal is a type of porridge, or hot cereal, that is often consumed for breakfast.
It’s incredibly filling and ranks third on the satiety index (1Trusted Source).
This is mainly due to its high fiber content and ability to soak up water.
Oats are a good source of a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which helps slow down digestion and the absorption of carbs (17Trusted Source).
When compared to ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, oatmeal was better at suppressing appetite, increasing satiety and reducing calorie intake throughout the day (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Oatmeal is high in fiber and soaks up water, which makes it incredibly filling. It is more filling than traditional breakfast cereals and may help you eat less throughout the day.
Liquids are often considered to be less filling than solid foods.
However, research shows soups may be more filling than solid meals with the same ingredients (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
When soup was eaten at the start of a meal in one study, subjects consumed 20% fewer calories at that meal (22Trusted Source).
Several studies found that routinely eating soup can reduce calorie intake, enhance satiety and promote weight loss over time (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Stick to broth-based soups, as they tend to be lower in calories than cream-based varieties.
BOTTOM LINE:Soups are very filling foods. Eating soup at the start of a meal may increase satiety, reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss over time.
Legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, are well known for being good sources of fiber and protein.
This, combined with a relatively low energy density, makes them a filling food that may even promote weight loss (26Trusted Source).
A review of several studies indicates that beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils are 31% more filling than pasta and bread (27Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Legumes are high in protein and fiber, which make them very filling. They are also relatively low in calories, which makes them a weight loss friendly food.
Fruits are an important part of a healthy diet.
Several studies indicate eating fruit is associated with lower calorie intake and can contribute to weight loss over time (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
In particular, apples score very high on the satiety index (1Trusted Source).
Because apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber that naturally slows digestion, they help you feel full (32Trusted Source).
They are also over 85% water, which provides volume and improves satiety without adding calories.
It’s important to note that whole, solid fruit increases satiety more than puréed fruit or juice, both of which are not particularly filling (33Trusted Source).
One study looked at the effects of eating solid apple segments, applesauce or drinking apple juice at the beginning of a meal.
It found that those who ate solid apple segments consumed 91 fewer calories than those eating apple sauce and 150 fewer calories than those drinking apple juice (34Trusted Source).
Eating apple segments also resulted in higher fullness ratings and lower hunger ratings than other forms of fruit.
BOTTOM LINE:Apples are high in water and soluble fiber but low in calories. Eating whole, solid apples may help you consume fewer calories and contribute to weight loss over time.
Similarly to apples, citrus fruits are high in pectin, which can slow digestion and increase satiety.
They also have a high water content. Both oranges and grapefruit contain over 87% water, which means they’re able to fill you up for very few calories.
It has often been suggested that eating grapefruit can promote weight loss.
In one study, obese participants eating grapefruit lost significantly more weight than those given a placebo (35Trusted Source).
In another study, eating half a grapefruit three times daily at mealtimes for six weeks was associated with modest weight loss and a significant reduction in waist circumference (36Trusted Source).
When combined with calorie restriction, consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice before meals resulted in a 7.1% weight loss, a significant reduction in body fat and weight circumference (37Trusted Source).
However, these results may not be exclusive to grapefruit, as drinking water before meals had similar effects.
BOTTOM LINE:Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are also weight loss friendly foods. They’re high in fiber and water, which can help you feel full and consume fewer calories.
Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids may increase satiety in people who are overweight or obese (38Trusted Source).
They’re also loaded with high-quality protein, which is known to be very filling.
In fact, fish scores higher than all other protein-rich foods on the satiety index and ranks second of all foods tested (1Trusted Source).
One study found the effect of fish on satiety was significantly greater than that of chicken and beef (39Trusted Source).
Another study found participants who ate fish consumed 11% fewer calories at their next meal than those who ate beef (40Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Fish is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which may increase satiety. Fish may also be more filling than other types of protein such as chicken and beef.
Lean meats are high in protein and very filling.
In fact, higher-protein diets lead to lower overall calorie intake than lower-protein diets (5Trusted Source).
One study found that people ate 12% less at dinner after eating high-protein meat at lunch, compared to those who had a high-carb lunch (41Trusted Source).
Beef scored second highest of all protein-rich foods on the satiety index, but other lean meats such as chicken and pork are also weight loss friendly (1Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Meat is high in protein and very filling. Eating high-protein lean meat may help you consume fewer calories at subsequent meals.
Cottage cheese is low in calories but very high in protein.
It is also packed with healthy nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.
These characteristics make cottage cheese a weight loss friendly food.
One study found that its effect on fullness is similar to that of eggs (42Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE:Cottage cheese is high in protein and low in calories. Its effect on satiety may be comparable to that of eggs.
Vegetables are low in calories and high in volume.
They’re also packed with all kinds of beneficial nutrients and plant compounds that make them an important part of a healthy diet.
Furthermore, they’re high in water and fiber, both of which help fill you up.
Research shows that salads, in particular, help satisfy hunger, especially when consumed before a meal.
In one study, participants who ate a salad at the start of a meal consumed 7–12% fewer calories at the meal (43Trusted Source).
Another study showed that eating a salad at the start of a meal increased vegetable consumption by 23%, compared to eating it with the main course (44Trusted Source).
In order to keep your salad low in calories, avoid adding high-calorie ingredients and dressings.
BOTTOM LINE:Vegetables are high in water and fiber, which may keep you full for longer. Eating low-calorie salads can help increase your vegetable consumption and decrease your calorie intake.
Popcorn is a whole grain and contains more fiber than many other popular snack foods.
It is also high in volume, so it takes up a lot of space in your stomach, despite being relatively low in calories.
Studies have found that popcorn will fill you up more than other popular snacks such as potato chips (45Trusted Source).
Air-popped popcorn is the healthiest. Commercially-prepared or microwave popcorn can be extremely high in calories and contain unhealthy ingredients.
To keep your popcorn low in calories, avoid adding a lot of fat to it.
BOTTOM LINE:Popcorn is a whole grain that is high in fiber and volume, both of which help you feel full. Studies have found that popcorn is more filling than potato chips.
Filling foods have certain characteristics. They’re high in volume, protein or fiber and low in energy density.
Including more of these foods in your diet may help you lose weight in the long run.
Having some healthy and nutritious options in reach can stave off your appetite and help boost weight loss.