Healthy snacking is a crucial part of weight management and can help boost your energy levels. Having a well-balanced snack of 250 calories can help keep you satisfied throughout the day and prevent you from eating too much. The key to healthy snacking is to combine foods that have an ideal balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Why 250 calories?
The amount of calories in your snacks can vary, but trying to keep your snacks around 250 calories can help you maintain your weight or get you started on a weight-loss program. An active woman who weighs 135 pounds and is 5 foot 3 inches tall should consume a total caloric intake of about 1,700 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These calories can be divided throughout the day to help you stay full and energized. By eating 400 calories for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can then add in two snacks between meals of 250 calories each.
Quick 250-Calorie Snacks
When it comes to snacks, the more natural, the better. By incorporating fruits and vegetables into your snacks, you can simultaneously add vital nutrients to your diet while also satisfying your cravings. Including a dip can help make fruits and vegetables more filling. For example, you can try dipping baby carrots and cherry tomatoes in low-fat ranch dressing or hummus, celery in peanut or almond butter, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt or pita chips in a mixture of salsa and low-fat Greek yogurt. Monitor your portion sizes so you don't end up consuming too much. A half-cup of fruits or vegetables plus 2 tablespoons of dip is a good indicator of approximately 250 calories.
Sweet and Salty
Another easy way to incorporate healthy snacks that contain 250 calories into your diet is to take some of your favorite foods and add a healthy spin to them. Try making a healthy parfait by layering 4 ounces of low-fat vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup of blueberries in a glass and top it off with a tablespoon of granola. This can even serve as a healthy desert for the whole family. If you are looking for something more savory, consider making a mini pizza by taking a "light" whole-wheat English muffin and drizzling it with 2 tablespoons of salsa and a tablespoon of part-skim mozzarella cheese. This can help bridge the gap between lunch and dinner and keep you from overeating later in the day.
Keep a Good Balance
The source of calories in the snack is just as an important as the snack itself. According to the Food and Drug Administration, understanding where your calories are coming from can help you maintain a healthy weight. A half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese plus 2 tablespoons of blueberries is an appropriate balance of calories from fat, at approximately 10 percent. When looking at food labels to prepare your healthy 250-calorie snacks, look for foods that have less than 50 percent of their calories from fat for the indicated portion size.
Catherine Conrad is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness nutrition. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and completed her dietetic residency at Iowa State University. Conrad has written several community nutrition programs. She is also a competitive runner and rower.