I visited the Today Show this morning for a segment about why snacking is a savvy strategy for losing weight (watch the segment here). Here are 7 snacks that earn an A+ in my book for both taste and nutrition. Which one best fits your personality?
BEST FOR: Satisfying a sweet tooth without stuffing your fat cells
PICK: Oikos 0% Caramel Pure Pleasure Greek Yogurt
WHY: This creamy treat is sweet but the 10 grams of protein will regulate your
blood sugar and suppress your appetite. And yogurt seems to be a major weight loss weapon – one study compared dieters who ate the same number of calories with or without it. The yogurt eaters lost over 60 percent more fat and 80 percent more belly fat over a three-month period. They also retained more of their metabolism-revving muscle mass.
BEST FOR: A salty, savory fix that keeps sodium in check
PICK: Planters Flavor Grove Almonds, Cracked Pepper with Onion & Garlic
WHY: We need to limit sodium because it causes water retention, which not only means bloating and puffiness, but also a higher blood pressure and extra strain on the heart, which has to work harder to pump the extra fluid. And new research has also linked excess sodium to larger fat cells! Nuts are a nutrient-rich, whole food, so the salt and seasonings are just light coating on outside rather than processed into the food. This product contains just 135 mg of sodium, just 6% of the max recommended per day.
BEST FOR: Slowing down speedy snackers
PICK: Bearitos No Oil, No Salt microwave popcorn
WHY: The only ingredient in this bag is popcorn, which counts as a whole grain, a disease-fighting food group that fewer than 1 in 20 Americans eat the minimum recommended servings of daily. And because it’s so airy it’s super low in calories. This entire bag contains less than 250 calories, the amount in about 20 potato chips. And if you eat one flake at a time (the technical name for a popped kernel) it will take you a long time to get through the bag! It tastes great as is, but if you want to spruce it up just sprinkle on a salt free Italian herb mix or a bit of Parmesan mixed with chipotle seasoning.
BEST FOR: Busy moms who share snacks with their kids
PICK: Diana’s Banana Babies, Dark Chocolate
WHY: For kids these are shear fun – they love anything on a stick. But this is a frozen treat you can feel good about – a whole banana, which is a great source of fiber, potassium and B vitamins, dipped in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. And for adults the stick is like a speed bump – when you see the empty stick it signals your brain to think, “I finished,” unlike ice cream from a pint that technically contains 4 servings but often turns into one!
BEST FOR: Chocolate lovers who require portion control
PICK: Scharffen Bergen 1 oz 70% Bittersweet Chocolate Bar
WHY: Dark chocolate is literally a life saver. One study found that heart-attack survivors who ate dark chocolate just twice a week over a two-year period cut their risk of dying from heart disease threefold. And dark chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral that can help alleviate PMS symptoms, including cramps, water retention, fatigue, and irritability. At just 140 calories this snack can help you reap the benefits without going overboard.
BEST FOR: Dedicated gym-goers who need a pre-workout boost
PICK: 18 Rabbits Belle Bananas Foster Granola Bar
WHY: The first ingredient is granola, made from whole oats sweetened with maple syrup and honey, combined with nuts, seeds, banana and cocoa nibs. It’s a perfect combination of slow-burning carbs, protein and healthy fat to fuel your workout while keeping your blood sugar steady. Plus it’s delicious and doesn’t taste chalky or artificial like many workout bars.
BEST FOR: Those with a ‘tart tooth’ looking for a healthy alternative to hard candy
PICK: Key Lime Pie Larabar
WHY: Research shows that people who enjoy tart or sour foods tend to like brighter colors, be more adventurous eaters and prefer more intense flavors. This snack delivers but it’s also good for you! The only ingredients are dates, cashews, almonds, unsweetened coconut and key lime juice, so this bar is bursting with antioxidants, minerals, good-for-you fat, with no added sugar and a bonus 4 grams of filling fiber.