Prior to that time in my own life, “snacking” was a frowned upon practice assigned to closet potato-chip eaters who couldn’t make it a few hours between meals, or those after-dinner-noshers camped out in front of the television with bowls of ice cream balanced on their bellies! (Not that I would have any experience with that)! 😉
Then came the Healthy Eating and Exercise Movement and snacks became relegated to things like dehydrated pieces of fruit whose serving size could fit in your closed fist, weird-sounding items like Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) or Acai (Portugese: Ah-sa-ee) that half of us STILL can’t pronounce, until the epitome of all that is bland and tasteless in the snack world burst onto the scene: The rice-cake!
Yes, if it could be bland, unsatisfying and taste like “cardboard”, it had to be “good for you” right? And we all know that tasteless food almost guarantees weight-loss (if it doesn’t bore you to death first)!
The thing is, snacks aren’t just for kids whose metabolisms never seem to get the best of them and they aren’t just for super-elite athletes either!
Snacks can help:
- Fuel your body throughout the day
- Cut down on cravings and the tendency to binge eat
- Help you achieve your weight loss goals.
What’s more, you can actually enjoy weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious for you, they actually taste great!
This isn’t the part where I get all “Pinterest Recipe Ninja” on you and show you the beautiful photos of my perfectly clean kitchen with the pin-worthy mandolin-cut sweet potato chips, baked to perfection, with just a hint of salt from the Dead Sea (though I’m totally craving chips right now)! Hahaha. I’m talking about nutrient-dense, whole foods, that contain a healthy dose of muscle-building proteins, energy-fueling carbohydrates, heart-and-brain-healthy fats and digestive-boosting fiber!
So what do I consider weight-loss friendly snacks? While the list of items may not surprise you, the benefits of them might! I’ve included my top five below, but don’t despair if this list doesn’t have you drooling over your laptop! I saved that list (along with a Bakers Dozen of healthier-for-you Sweets and Treats that you can pick up to round out your own list)!
5 Weight-loss Friendly Snacks
It’s true – nuts do contain calories and fat, but nuts themselves are NOT fattening! That is, RAW or DRY-ROASTED Nuts aren’t fattening. “Caramelized”, “Candied” or “Honey-Roasted”, on the other hand, definitely are.
Studies consistently show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner for a variety of reasons.
Nuts contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount goes a long way! Not only do nuts fill you up, they are chock full of vitamins and minerals per one ounce serving size.
Although almonds have been shown to help with weight loss (at least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body) and are certainly the most well-known of the top 10 healthiest nuts, they’re not the only ones to make the cut!
- Macademia Nuts (200 cal): Highest concentration of heart-healthy fats which helps reduce cholesterol. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B, and contain minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Macademias are also poisonous to dogs, so be careful around your fur-babies!
- Walnuts (180 cal): Highest concentration of anti-oxidants found in any nut! They also contain ALA, Omega-3’s and plant sterols as well as zinc and folate which help fight stress and increase your serotonin levels. Sertonin is responsible for making you feel happy and alleviates symptoms of depression.
- Hazel Nuts (176 cal): An excellent source of vitamin E and are also a source of folate, which is great for pregnant women and the developing fetus. Folate also helps to reduce the symptoms of depression.
- Pine Nuts (191 cal): Highest levels of Vitamin K–more than any other nut–which helps strengthen bones and arteries and aids in clotting.
- Almonds (163 cal): High in Vitamin E and Folic Acid, both which protect against heart disease. Almonds are also rich in magnesium, protein, potassium, calcium and zinc, making them one of the most nutrient-dense nuts out there!
- Pistachios (160 cal): Aka the “Skinny Nut” at 3 calories per nut they are lowest in fat and high in fiber!
- Cashews (157 cal): Great source of Magnesium and Iron, cashews contain twice as much iron as ground beef! Cashew Trees also come from the same family as Poison Ivy, so if you’re allergic, you’re likely to be allergic to these too.
- Pecans (196 cal): High in B3 which gives us energy, protects against Alzheimer’s and lowers cholesterol. *Lately I have been craving these!
- Peanuts (150 cal): Help stabilize blood sugar. Research from the University of Florida (my Alma Mater! Woohooo! Goooo Gators) shows that peanuts are rich in antioxidants, which means that they have cancer-fighting properties!
- Brazil Nuts (186 cal): Crucial for thyroid health and contain the highest levels on Selenium of all the nuts! In fact, a single day’s dose of Selenium is contained in ONE single nut! Brazil Nuts have also been reported to help with prostate and breast cancers, skin disorders, anxiety and asthma.
Fitness MOMents® Healthy Tip: If you don’t have a food scale at home, use your thumb to approximate a serving size of unsalted, unsweetened nuts into a small container to take with you when you’re on-the-go!
In our house, fresh, whole, seasonal fruit, is often referred to as “Nature’s Candy”! If you’ve ever wondered why you crave sweet foods, you can (in part), thank Mother Nature. While the “real” reason goes much deeper than this post will touch on, there are powerful forces at play. The concept that your body can become habituated from eating too much added sugar hiding in your (processed) foods, can be just one of many factors including: Fluctuations in your hormones; vitamin, mineral or nutrient deficiencies —->check out my post on Why Your Body Needs Carbohydrates, or something even more pervasive, like sugar addiction.
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. Not surprised are you?
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain water and fiber; not to mention vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, fresh fruit is low in calories! *Did you know a whole navel orange has only about 80 calories compared to 110 calories in an 8 oz. glass of Orange Juice.
The fiber found in the fruits we consume not only help fill us up (this is known as the “satiety factor”), but also helps slow the release of the fruit sugars into the bloodstream, which reduces the notorious “blood sugar spikes” that bring on the sensation of “crashing”.
When choosing a snack to take on-the-go, pick from a variety of fruits (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair it with a handful of nuts. My favorites are bananas paired with almonds or apple slices paired with pecans. Yummmmm!
Choosing fruit in season increases the “bio-availability” of naturally occurring “phyto-nutrients” (plant nutrients) since the time between when it’s picked and when you eat it, is shorter. Better yet, buy local at your grocery store, from a Farmer’s Market or “You Pick” farm, or if you grow your own, invite me over!!!
Fitness MOMents® Healthy Tip: In a hurry or can’t get to your local farmer’s market? Try frozen fruits! The process of freezing allows fruit to retain most of its nutrients! Peaches and mangoes are on the top of my list!
This is one of my personal favorites…
Chia Seeds are not only high in fiber (and I mean HIGH in fiber), they also contain protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. Remember, Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for maintaining brain health throughout your lifespan.
- High in nutrients, low in calories (only 137 calories in one ounce)!
- High in antioxidants.
- Almost all of the carbs contained in them are fiber and fiber doesn’t raise blood sugar!
- Because of all the fiber, Chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water! This means they’re great for keeping you feeling fuller, longer.
- Chia seeds are an excellent source of Calcium for people who don’t consume dairy.
- Chia seeds can be eaten raw, added to puddings, smoothies or baked goods and can be used as a thickener
- Because of the way they are grown, Chia seeds are usually organic, non-GMO and gluten free which makes them the perfect snack for those with gluten intolerance/sensitivities.
Fitness MOMents® Healthy Tip: Women, on average, need to consume about 25g of fiber per day, while men need to consume anywhere from 30g-38g of fiber per day. Try adding a Tablespoon of Chia seeds to your Smoothie the next time you make one or as a topping on your salad or Greek yogurt. If using it in your smoothie or yogurt, let it sit for a few minutes to absorb the extra moisture, making the texture ceamy and giving you an extra boost of Fiber!!!
Nutrition Facts: Chia Seeds
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5g of which are Omega-3’s)
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
- They also contain Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
Hard-boiled eggs are the perfect portable snack since eggs are packed with high-quality protein, most of which is contained in the yolk!
Believe it or not, despite the bad rap that eggs have gotten over the years, our bodies need Cholesterol. Where people run into problems is two-fold: 1) Some people consume higher-than-needed amounts of animal fats and don’t include enough variety of other foods and 2) Some people are genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than their bodies need. That’s right, their own livers (which naturally produce cholesterol) overproduce cholesterol.
So what does cholesterol actually do?
According to Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell
- Cholesterol is vital for balanced hormones and the manufacture of those that deal with the stress of everyday living. These hormones also are protective against heart disease and cancer.
- Cholesterol is needed by the body to make all the sex hormones including androgen, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA.
- Cholesterol is necessary for the body to properly use Vitamin D, which is critical for all body systems including the bones, nerves, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, fertility, and strong immunity.
- Bile salts made by the liver require cholesterol. Bile is critical to the digestive process and absorption of dietary fats.
- Cholesterol functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body and is protective of free radical damage to tissues.
- Cholesterol is vital for proper functioning of the brain. Cholesterol is used by serotonin receptors .. serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical. No wonder low cholesterol levels have been associated with aggressive and violent tendencies, depression and suicide.
- Breast milk is ideally rich in cholesterol and contains a special enzyme for the baby to properly utilize it. Babies and children need cholesterol for proper growth and development of the brain, nervous system, and immune function.
- Cholesterol is necessary for proper functioning of the intestines and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall. Low cholesterol diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems.
- Cholesterol is critical to repair of damaged cells. This is why cholesterol levels naturally rise as we age and are beneficial to the elderly. Women with the highest cholesterol actually live the longest! Dr. Meyer Texon, MD, a respected pathologist practicing at New York University Medical Center, observes that accusing saturated fat and cholesterol for hardening of the arteries is like accusing white blood cells of causing infection, rather than helping the immune system address it.
Fitness MOMents® Healthy Tip: Eating an average of 2-3 eggs per day is safe for people who are trying to eat healthy, however, you should combine these with fresh fruits or vegetables and whole grains as part of a well-balanced meal. Also, if you don’t do so already, have your blood work checked yearly if high cholesterol is an issue for you.
I know I don’t need to tell you how great veggies are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutritious powerhouses!
Like nuts, fruits and seeds, veggies also contain plenty of fiber and water to help fill you up, fuel you with nutrients–all with minimal caloric impact!
While I typically advise my Clients NOT to drink their calories, including veggies, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bottle of Kombucha or letting someone else create a delicious green drink for you!
Veggies by themselves can get boring, so check out my Homemade Organic Ranch Dip to jazz things up. With 15g Protein, 5g Carbs and NO FAT, it’s the definition of “having your dip and eating it too!”
I prefer to make my green drinks at home because I can control the ingredients that go in them, PLUS, I use my Vitamix instead of a traditional juicer, which means that my green drinks retain their skins and along with it, good-for-me nutrients and fiber! If you’ve been toying with the idea of investing in a mixer, Amazon offers “Certified Refurbished” mixers that are about 25% off the traditional price. That’s a pretty good deal considering Vitamix is like Apple (they never go on SALE)! I use mine not only to make smoothies and juices, but purees as well. It also functions well as a food processor. Click on the image below to see how much you’ll save when you buy from my shop!
Fitness MOMents® Healthy Tip: Not a fan of veggies without dip but acutely aware of how easily you can down a container of dip without help, thank you very much?! Try this awesome Fitness MOMents approved hack! Instead of buying premade French Onion or Ranch Dip, make your own using Greek Yogurt! My favorite yogurt is Siggis, 2% fat, but you can make it with 4% fat if it’s creaminess you desire! Simply by a container and mix in a packet of your favorite Brand of Ranch Dip! Whole Foods carries Simply Organic Brand, but you can also make your own using Siggis, Bob’s Redmill Buttermilk Powder, fresh herbs/spices!
By incorporating these five healthy snacks into your routine, you’re not only providing your body with a variety of nutritious options, you’re maximizing your opportunities to lose or maintain weight loss!
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Founder and Creator of Fitness MOMents® LLC
Trish Marmo is on a one woman mission to help Moms everywhere get their bodies back after babies! If you like what you’ve read here, be sure to share on Social Media! Comments and feedback are always welcome! <3