Healthy snacks help you meet your daily nutrient requirements, provide enough energy to get you to your next meal and allow you to focus on your work without worrying about hunger. High-sugar, high-carbohydrate and high-fat snacks are often high-calorie, too, and likely to lead to weight gain, while several high-protein possibilities are more satisfying for their calories. Keep in mind that an overall balanced diet and portion control are best for controlling your weight and staying healthy.
Protein slows digestion so that you feel full for longer and are less hungry for the next meal. Lean proteins for snacks can also help you control your weight because they are low in calories. Choices such as skinless chicken and turkey breast, shrimp and canned tuna in water are low-fat and carbohydrate-free. They provide additional essential nutrients, such as vitamin B-12, iron and zinc. You can eat them on their own or with salad greens, which are low-fat and low-carbohydrate.
Beans, peas and lentils are protein-rich, low-fat and low-carbohydrate options for snacks. They provide potassium, folate, iron and dietary fiber, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Low-sodium canned beans add protein and texture to green salads. Low-sodium bean, pea and lentil soups are satisfying options for a hot snack on a chilly day; adding vegetables increases their fiber and antioxidant content without adding refined sugar or fat. Spread black, pinto or garbanzo bean dips onto whole-grain crackers to increase your snack’s fiber content and protein quality.
Soy protein is high-quality, and low-carbohydrate soy products include roasted soybeans, or soy nuts; green soybeans, or edamame; tofu and miso; and kefir, a fermented soy product with added grains. Soy products are generally low-fat, although some, such as tofu, contain a small amount of mainly healthy fats. Soy cheese, for example, can be a high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack.
Eggs and Dairy
Egg whites contain all of the protein in the entire egg, and they are carbohydrate-free and fat-free. Most supermarkets carry cartons of liquid egg whites so you do not have to purchase the yolks. Cook them in a pan with a small amount of cooking spray for a warm snack. Dairy products are high in protein and calcium. Cheese and plain yogurt contain a small amount of lactose, a natural sugar. Choosing fat-free dairy products instead of full-fat reduces the calories and amount of saturated fat you get from them.
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.