When trying to lose weight, you may consider nixing snacks from your diet. But reaching for the right snacks can actually aid in your weight loss plan, and they don’t have to be boring. Wholesome nibbles can help you stay satisfied between meals, making you less likely to feel ravenous and overeat or indulge in unhealthy temptations.
A healthy snack can also quell cravings and ward off feelings of deprivation, helping you ignore junk foods’ siren song. The only catch: It’s not always obvious which snacks are actually satisfying and good for you. We all no a nutrient-deficient bag of chips or processed, sugary sweets may not be an ideal snack, so what exactly counts as healthy when it comes to a snack?
Generally, you want to aim for foods with around 200 to 250 calories, around 10 grams of protein, and five grams of fiber, recommends Sarah Pflugradt, R.D., nutrition expert and author of You Get One Body. That amount of calories is enough to fill you up without sending you over your daily budget. Plus, the combo of protein and fiber will help you stay fueled until your next meal.
The good news is that there are a ton of healthy snacks that will curb cravings, satisfy your hunger, and aid in weight loss—all while tasting so delicious. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are the tastiest, expert-backed healthy snacks for weight loss in 2022. We promise they’re not boring and you’ll actually want to eat them!
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Swap your regular chips for a healthy version with kale. The green veggie is loaded with protein, fiber, and antioxidants like beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Kale can aid in weight loss too, a study published in Biomedical Reports found. Results showed that kale helped lower plasma glucose levels, which has been linked with weight loss.
In addition to being packed with protein (around 25 grams per cup), full-fat cottage cheese is rich in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that’s tied to fat loss. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that a higher intake of protein and dairy products like cottage cheese helped overweight and obese premenopausal women loose fat and gain lean muscle. Top with some fresh raspberries for a mega dose of fiber—you’ll get a whopping eight grams from one cup.
Eating a 3/4-cup of legumes, like chickpeas, can help you lose nearly one pound in six weeks without making any other changes to your diet, suggests a March 2016 review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Instead of eating them plain (talk about boring!) try roasting your chickpeas with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and a generous sprinkle of cumin or smoked paprika for a boost of flavor. Yum!
Almonds with pomegranate seeds
Overweight and obese women who ate 1 1/2 ounces of nuts as part of a low-calorie diet for three months lost more weight than women who didn’t eat nuts, found May 2014 study from the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. Try pairing 1/4-cup almonds with 1/2-cup pomegranate seeds. The water and the fiber in the fruit will fill you up even more—not to mention satisfy your sweet tooth, says Pflugradt.
Hummus is just another tasty way to get a daily helping of beans, so dig in. As for your dipper? Go for raw veggies like celery and carrots—they’re rich in carotenoids, polyphenols that research suggests could help improve your insulin sensitivity as well as lower your waist circumference and body mass index.
The small-but-mighty seeds aren’t just loaded with protein and fiber. “They’re great for weight loss,” says nutrition expert Amy Shapiro, RD. “They hold up to 10 times their weight in water, so they expand in your stomach and help keep you full.” Try them in a sweet chia pudding with unsweetened almond milk, chopped walnuts, and dried blueberries. This recipe makes enough for two snacks, Shapiro says.
Apple with peanut butter
Apples are one of the top fruits for weight loss, thanks to their high-fiber content, according to a 2015 study in PLOS Med. Add a shot of protein and healthy fats with two tablespoons of natural peanut butter, and you’ll be set, Pflugradt says. Just be sure to read the labels on peanut butter jars carefully and check for added sugar and unhealthy oils.
Dessert hummus with fruit
Just like savory hummus, the sweeter variety is made with protein- and fiber-rich chickpeas that’ll fill you up for the long haul. Make your own in dessert hummus by pureeing chickpeas with vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, and a touch of maple syrup for some natural sweetness. You can also pick one up at the store as a dip for fresh strawberries. Just be sure to avoid those loaded with sugar–and stick to the serving size.
Good news, guac lovers: Avocado eaters weigh less and have lower body mass indexes compared to people who steer clear of the green fruit, according to sponsored study from Nutrition Journal. Enjoy the dip with jicama instead of the usual chips. A one-cup serving of the sliced veggie has six grams of belly-filling fiber and just 46 calories.
Smoothies are a satisfying way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies, making it a great snack for weight loss. “I like a 50/50 combo of veggies and fruit with a protein add-in and a fiber-add in,” Pflugradt says. Think a handful each of baby spinach and frozen mango with 3/4-cup low-fat milk and one tablespoon ground flaxseeds, or a handful each of kale and frozen berries with 3/4-cup unsweetened almond milk and one tablespoon almond butter.
Swap your usual fruit or granola add-in for roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, chopped olives, or sliced cherry tomatoes, Pflugradt recommends. You’ll still get around 23 grams of appetite-squashing protein per cup of yogurt. Not to mention a shot of probiotics, which could help you shed up to four percent of your body fat in just six weeks, research suggests.
Baked sweet potato with nut or seed butter
Sweet potatoes aren’t just for lunch or dinner. The sweet flavor paired with six grams of fiber make the orange tubers a satisfying snack, too. Add a protein-rich topper for more staying power—like a tablespoon of almond butter or tahini.
Why limit something this good to just breakfast? Research shows that oats are rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that boosts satiety. Pflugradt recommends cooking 1/4-cup rolled or steel-cut oats with 1/2-cup 2% milk for a filling combo of fiber and protein. Top with your favorite fruit plus a sprinkle of cinnamon—studies suggests that the spice could help promote stable blood-sugar levels.
Pears with parmesan cheese
One medium pear packs nearly six grams of fiber. Enjoy it with an ounce of Parmesan cheese, which is protein-packed and makes for a yummy sweet-salty combo, says Shapiro.
Help yourself to a cup of the soybean pods, Shapiro recommends. You’ll get a whopping 18 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber, which will help keep you going until your next meal.
Craving something salty? Try protein- and fiber-rich pistachios. People who snacked on 240 calories’ worth of the green nuts lowered their BMIs by one point in just four weeks, while those who ate a similar amount of pretzels saw no change, according to a June 2010 study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition. Pick in-shell pistachios—they take longer to eat than their shelled counterparts.
It might seem like an odd choice for a snack, but get this: The protein in split peas has been shown to help reduce hunger more than the protein from dairy foods like Greek yogurt, a 2011 study in Nutrition Journal found. In fact, just one cup of split pea soup serves up 10 grams of protein—along with five grams of fiber.
Spread a slice of whole-grain toast with one tablespoon of almond butter and top with mashed blueberries (frozen berries that have been thawed are fine!). You’ll get a combo of protein, healthy fat, and fiber along with an extra boost: Anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound found in blueberries that evidence shows is tied to weight loss.
The grassy brew is rich in catechins, antioxidant-rich compounds that research suggests can boost calorie-burning. Still, store-bought tea lattes tend to be loaded with calories and sugar. Make your own better-for-you version by blending half a cup of brewed green tea with a cup of warm low-fat milk. (Blending gives the latte a rich, frothy texture.) Stir in a teaspoon of honey if you want a hint of sweetness, Shapiro says.
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