Snacks: How they fit into your weight-loss plan
Well-planned, healthy snacks can complement your weight-loss plan. Here are creative and healthy ways to satisfy your hunger.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Your stomach is growling, but lunch is hours away. You could grab a snack, but you think it's best to grit your teeth and wait for lunch. Not so, if weight loss is your goal.
In fact, well-planned weight-loss diets, such as the Mayo Clinic Diet, allow for healthy snacks to help manage hunger and reduce bingeing at mealtime. The key is to eat healthy snacks that satisfy your hunger and keep the calorie count low.
The best snacks are those that fill you up quickly, make you feel full until mealtime and add relatively few calories to your daily total. Fruits and vegetables meet these ideal snack requirements for several reasons:
- Few calories. Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories. Even when you eat a portion that satisfies your hunger, the calorie count is low.
- Lots of water. Most fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, which helps fill you up.
- Lots of fiber. Fiber is the part of plants that you can't absorb and that passes through your digestive system slowly. Fiber fills you up and helps you feel full longer.
- Lots of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables provide healthy vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant chemicals (phytochemicals).
- Little fat. Most high-fat foods are high in calories, but usually low in water content and fiber. In order to feel full with high-fat foods, you need to consume lots of calories. Most fruits and vegetables have very little fat.
A good goal for a between-meal snack is something with fewer than 100 calories. Generous portions of fruits or vegetables can easily help fill you up while staying below that calorie count. All of the following servings have fewer than 100 calories:
- Medium apple: 95 calories
- Small banana: 90 calories
- Two kiwis: 84 calories
- 20 medium baby carrots: 70 calories
- 20 grapes: 68 calories
- Medium orange: 65 calories
- 20 cherry tomatoes: 61 calories
- Medium peach: 58 calories
- Medium red pepper: 37 calories
- 20 pea pods: 28 calories
For comparison, one reduced-fat cheese stick has about 60 calories 100-calorie but it also has 4.5 grams of fat. While the protein and fat may help curb your appetite, a single cheese stick may not be as satisfying as, say, 20 baby carrots, which add up to nearly 10 times the weight of the cheese stick, have 70 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.
March 28, 2015
See more In-depth
- Hensrud DD, et al. The Mayo Clinic Diet. Intercourse, Pa.: Good Books; 2010.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed Feb. 11, 2015.
- Sargento reduced fat natural mild cheddar cheese sticks. Sargento Foods Incorporated. http://www.sargento.com/our-cheese/snacks/reduced-fat/sargento-reduced-fat-natural-mild-cheddar-cheese-sticks. Accessed Feb. 11, 2015.
- In a nutshell. Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/in-a-nutshell. Accessed Feb. 17, 2015.
- Hensrud DD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 15, 2015.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Feb. 11, 2015.