Healthy snacks can contribute important nutrients to the diet. Snacking on low calorie foods may reduce the overall intake of calories if it keeps a person from impulsively opting for high calorie meals.
Reducing the overall intake of calories can be a goal for people looking to lose weight. It may also be a goal for people working to maintain a moderate weight.
Snacking can help promote weight loss, as long as a person chooses their snacks selectively and eats them in moderation.
This article discusses snacking and its relationship to weight. It also provides recipes for 20 tasty low calorie snacks.
People may snack for
- low energy
- emotional reasons, such as to help deal with sadness or stress
- social and environmental reasons
Some of these factors may also influence the type of snack a person chooses. For example, some
Snacking can lead to weight gain or loss, depending on the type of snacks and snacking habits.
Types of snacks
When judging whether a snack is healthy, it is important to distinguish between nutrient-dense and calorie-dense foods.
The latter are high in calories and generally high in sugar and fats. What people call “junk foods” are calorie-dense and tend to have few nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A person should eat these foods infrequently, especially if they have diabetes.
Nutrient-dense foods, meanwhile, tend to be much healthier. Snacking on these may help a person feel fuller for longer and reduce overeating at mealtimes, if this is a concern.
It is important to snack in moderation. Checking food labels to learn about portion sizes and calorie contents can help.
The MyPlate online tool from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a range of nutritious recipes, including many for healthy snacks.
A piece or handful of fruit can be a convenient, healthy snack — most fruits are low in calories and high in fiber. All fruits contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
Some people choose to get more than 70% of their daily calories from raw fruits, mainly, along with some seeds, nuts, and vegetables. But this diet, called a fruitarian diet, excludes many important food groups and generally does not include enough essential nutrients.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend that people consume 2 cups of fruit a day, as part of a balanced diet.
The following healthy snacks each contain 100 calories or fewer and a range of nutrients.
The calorie counts come from
1. A serving or piece of fruit
Snacking on fruit may help curb sugar cravings, boost the daily fiber intake, and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
A person might enjoy:
- a small apple (
- a small banana (
- a large orange (
- two kiwis (
- a medium-sized wedge of watermelon (
- 20 grapes (
- 2 cups of strawberries (
- 1.5 cups of blackberries (
- 1.25 cups of raspberries, (
- 1 cup of blueberries (
2. Apple and peanut butter
3. Raw vegetable sticks and hummus
4. Grilled cheese crispbread
Top 1 crispbread (
Grill the crispbread until the cheese is bubbling and, if desired, top it with some chopped green onion.
5. Green olives
About 17 green olives (
6. Homemade orange popsicles
For a cooling treat, try these homemade orange and pear popsicles. Blend the fruit, pour it into molds, and freeze it overnight. Each fat-free popsicle contains 72 calories.
7. Homemade popcorn
Popcorn can be low in calories if is air-popped or made in a silicone microwave popper. It is also rich in fiber.
Three cups of plain, air-popped popcorn contain just over
- black pepper
- chili powder
- cocoa powder
- garlic powder
- nutritional yeast, at
10 calories per teaspoon (tsp)
- parmesan cheese, grated,
9 calories per tsp
8. Smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-ups
Divide 50 g of smoked salmon (
Sprinkle these with dill, if preferred, then roll up each strip and enjoy.
Nuts can make a filling snack that is easy to eat on the go. They contain protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
The following portions of unroasted, unsalted nuts contain 100 calories or fewer:
- 34 pistachios (
- 14 almonds (
- 11 cashews (
- 9 pecans (
- three Brazil nuts (
10. Almond and chocolate trail mix
11. Sweet potato fries
Air-fryer sweet potato fries topped with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon can be a delicious low calorie snack. Twelve fries contain approximately 84 calories.
Find the recipe here.
12. Celery sticks with almond butter
13. Turkey and avocado roll-ups
14. Tuna lettuce wraps
Take a half-cup of canned tuna chunks packed in water and drained (
Spoon the mixture into 2 lettuce leaves (
15. Poached or boiled egg with asparagus
16. Greek yogurt with blueberries
17. Spiced edamame
Toss one-third of a cup of cooked edamame (
18. Chia seed pudding
Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (
Refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, before eating.
19. Almond milk and banana smoothie
20. Homemade vegetable soup
To make a low calorie soup, add chopped vegetables to a pot of chicken or vegetable stock and cook the mixture until the vegetables are tender. A person can blend the soup until it is smooth, if they prefer.
Healthy snacks can contribute nutrients to the diet, and snacking on healthy foods that are high in fiber, protein, or both and relatively low in calories may help with weight management.
Overall, it is better to limit the intake of snacks that contain refined carbohydrates, added sugar, and harmful fats.