By Dr Laurie Teitelman, ND
Here’s your fun fact of the day: The act of eating actually burns calories – no joke! Five to fifteen percent of your daily energy expenditure is used to digest, absorb and store the food you eat. This is called diet-induced thermogenesis, and it is one of the main reasons why smart snacking throughout the day can actually help you burn fat and lose weight.
Not all snacks are created equal, however. Smart snacking means that you must choose your foods wisely, since snacks can either make or break your diet. Sugary, starchy and trans fat-laden treats are not ideal in any way, shape or form. Instead, let me encourage you to grab snacks that provide some protein and fiber if possible. Unlike carbohydrates, which the body burns quickly for fast fuel, protein and fiber provide slow-burning energy to help you feel full longer.
Healthy, Satisfying, Delicious Snacks
To take the guesswork out of healthy snacking, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorites. Enjoy!
Almonds. Nuts are one of the best snack foods around, especially when they are unsalted and in their raw form. When hunger strikes, try a handful of these delicious gems, as they will fill you up with a nutty crunch and provide you with plenty of heart-healthy magnesium and vitamin E to boot.
Edamame. Just half a cup of these little soybeans, especially if they are non-GMO and organic, whether they be frozen or fresh, provide you with 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Guess what, only 100 calories!
Celery with Nut Butter. A fresh stick of celery, organic when you can, with a tablespoon or so of nut butter (your favorite nut should come in a creamy form, such as cashew, macadamia, hazelnut, peanut, almond and many more…) combines fiber and protein for the perfect snack in between meals.
Cottage Cheese. A quarter cup of organic low-fat cottage cheese made into a Farmer’s Salad that combines chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet onion, cucumber or a little salsa makes a wonderful snack. The cottage cheese provides the lean protein you need to stay satisfied, and adding the veggies helps spice up the dish!
Hard-Boiled Egg. If you’re looking for a low-carb, protein-rich snack, a hard-boiled egg fits the bill. Under 80 calories, this snack will curb your enthusiasm, I mean your appetite and help trim your waistline at the same time.
Snack-Size Protein Shake. A small portion of a meal replacement protein shake can make a terrific snack. Aim for around 7-10 grams of protein and blend your shake with low-glycemic berries for added fiber and antioxidant power, as well as some cinnamon to stabilize your blood sugars. Blend with your favorite milk (I love unsweetened vanilla almond milk) or pure, clean water to cut excess calories.
Reduced Fat Cheese. A one-ounce portion of reduced fat, organic cheese (the size of a pair of dice) yields 6-7 grams of protein and only 80 calories. A good quality string cheese is great as a grab and go snack.
Vegetables With Hummus or Avocado. Cut up some fresh broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, snap peas, bell pepper strips, cauliflower florets, mushrooms and dip them in some hummus or avocado dip. The calorie count of the veggies is low, plus they are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. Two tablespoons of hummus contains only 60 calories.