* Healthy snacking can help maintain healthy weight and energy
* There are many options for healthy on-the-go snacks
* Keep snacks in car, purse, desk, or for plane rides and road trips
Studies suggest that eating smaller meals more frequently (read: 4-6 mini meals) throughout the day, as opposed to three larger-sized meals, may help maintain a healthy weight due to boosting the metabolism and reducing the chance of overeating.
Of course, this doesn’t mean ordering a small french fries mid-morning and a Snickers post-lunch will help you stay svelte. Rather, eating healthy protein-rich and portion-controlled servings to keep your hunger at bay and your metabolism active can not only help you maintain your weight, but also keep your energy levels stable.
While heading to the vending machine everyday for an afternoon snack isn’t the best idea, there are plenty of healthy snack options available that help keep you energized and prevent you from over-eating later.
Here are ten healthy snack options that won’t leave you feeling guilty and that serve a variety of dietary needs and programs. We suggest keeping these nutritious options in your purse, bag, desk, and car to prevent bad decisions at the vending machine or convenience store when hunger strikes.
1. Turkey Jerky
Turkey jerky is an excellent, low-carb and high-protein snack choice that will keep you feeling energized without relying on carbs to fill up. Turkey jerky is also low in fat for those who are watching fat count as well. One thing to watch out for however, is the sodium content and MSG. Jack Link’s Turkey Jerky is MSG free and the company offers a low sodium option for those more sensitive to salt. One serving of turkey jerky offers a whopping 13 grams of protein and just 80 calories per serving. For those who love meat and tend to get sucked into salty snacks, this is a great, diet-friendly option to curb your hunger.
2. Raw Almonds
While many people are concerned about adding high fat snacks into their daily diet, what’s important to consider is the type of fat rather than presence of it as a whole. Monosaturated fat is the “healthy fat,” while saturated is one to avoid. This means our bodies process these fats differently, and some studies have concluded that the healthy fats in almonds, avocados and fish can actually facilitate weight loss.
Almonds are the lowest calorie nut option, weighting in at about 160 calories per serving (about 20-23 almonds), with about 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat. More importantly, almonds possess high fiber content, plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fat), and protein help you feel full and energized. Stick to raw almonds, as recent reports have speculated that roasted almonds may have diminished nutrient content on account of being exposed to the heat process.
3. Vegan Seaweed Snacks
Seaweed snacks are one of your best bets when it comes to calorie cost. These thinly-sliced green treats are crispy and come in a slew of different seasonings to match your taste buds. This vegetable of the sea hosts a mixture of high-content nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and energy-boosting B-12, while averaging at about 50 calories per package. In addition, they also provide potent forms of iodine, potassium, selenium, iron and magnesium–which many land vegetables lack. These snacks are also safe for vegans as well.
4. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a lesser known nutritious snack, packing some pretty impressive nutrition stats in one tiny seed. In addition to an excellent supply of plant-based protein, these chewy-meets-crunch seeds are also loaded with phytosterols (which have been associated with fighting free radicals). One serving of pumpkin seeds contains nearly one half of the recommended serving of magnesium, which is associated with heart function, blood pressure, bone and teeth strength and DNA/RNA synthesis. In addition, these tiny seeds are packed with protein, averaging at about 12 g per serving.
5. Egg White Chips
These all-natural chips source their protein from egg whites, not whey or other artificial forms. With a variety of mock junk food flavors (white cheddar, barbecue and cinnamon) to choose from, these sinful treats actually only add up to 135 calories per serving. And, each bag delivers the same protein content as one whole egg along with all natural, non-GMO, and gluten-free certifications and no artificial flavors or coloring.
6. Nut Butter Packs
These convenient to-go packs can be eaten by themselves or topped on healthy whole-grain rice cakes or your fruit of choice for a well-balanced mid-morning bite. Just like the whole nuts, almond butter also contains ample amounts of the good fat as well, along with having 4-6 grams of protein per serving and a healthy dose of fiber to help keep you full and energized between meals. Almonds have a naturally sweeter flavor also, so almond butter is creamy way to satisfy those with a constant sweet tooth. Plus, it contains a good source of magnesium and potassium–great for muscle and heart health.
7. Dried Apricots
While this isn’t an option for those on low-carb or Paleo diets, dried apricots make a very fibrous and nutrient dense snack that is easy to eat on the go and works well as a dessert replacement when you’re jonsing for a chocolate bar post-lunch. These fibrous fruits are packed with fiber and natural sugar, giving you sustainable energy. Plus, apricots are also known as a nutrition heavyweight as well. In fact, just one serving packs in 12% of vitamin C, 12% of vitamin A and 6% of potassium suggested daily.
Vitamin A is known for its positive benefits with vision and the high content of vitamin C they contain, is not only excellent for helping your immune system stay on track, but also for its skin-enhancing properties. While many dried apricots on the market are preserved with sulfur (leading them to have a bright orange coloring) it’s best to stick to non-sulfur options to prevent consuming unnatural chemicals.
8. Kale Chips
While buying a bag of typical potato or tortilla chips is a high-sodium, high-fat, and nutrient-less choice for a snack, picking up a bag of anti-oxidant rich kale chips will also satisfy a craving for salt and crunch without the bad-for-you chemicals and abundance of saturated fat. While this is not a high-protein option, kale chips on average, pack in 2 milligrams of iron, 447 milligrams of potassium and 769 micromilligrams of vitamin A per serving, which keep your immune system strong and blood oxygenated. This would make a great snack for those who love Doritos chips–they even have the “Kool Ranch” flavor.
9. Single Serving Gluten-Free Quinoa Cups
Quinoa is a unique and well-loved grain option for health nuts–and for good reason. Unlike other grains–even healthy, fiber-rich ones–quinoa actually has a substantial amount of plant protein, which means it will not only keep you feeling full, but it will also give you a natural boost of energy without the dreaded carb-induced crash.
For those avoiding gluten, this will make a great energy-boosting snack, with protein and a healthy plant-based source of grain, fiber and concentrated dose of omega-3. This single-serving packaging is a great option for on-the-go days or for snacks at the office. Plus, the per-packaged serving helps to ensure portion control.
10. RX Protein Bars
While many protein bars are a go-to option when reaching for a “healthy” snack, many actually have the calorie content of a meal replacement bar, in addition to added sugar, saturated fats and other unnatural ingredients. RX Protein bars take a different approach, however, using protein from all-natural food sources like egg whites, nuts and seeds for organic, “no B.S.,” energy that won’t pack on the pounds. RX bars on average have about 200 calories each, with about 12 grams of protein and no added sugars. Plus, the chewy texture and variety of sweet and salty flavors make them a delicious choice for your afternoon pick me up.