No human being is immune to hunger pangs and snacking (both unhealthy and healthy snacks included). This includes us at Sports Samurai!
That being said, snacking, once an innocent act used to curb one’s cravings while waiting for lunch or dinner, has turned into an unhealthy habit. Our “snacks” have become more like meals in terms of the number of calories they contain.
For example, 50g of nuts with a protein shake (which are considered healthy snacks) can contain more than 500 calories.
Here’s the thing:
There’s nothing wrong with snacking. In fact, it’s a great way to curb cravings, manage weight, regulate one’s mood, maintain high energy levels throughout the day, and improve overall health. That said, you have to know what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat of it. That’s the only way to keep snacking healthy, especially if your goal is weight loss.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should only grab a snack if you’re hungry between the three meals that you need to eat throughout the day. Listen carefully to your hunger cues; you mustn’t ignore them, but don’t force them either.
Snacking depends on your individual needs. Some people might not need anything in between meals, while others may be totally dependent on healthy snacks to stay functional.
We love snacks at Sports Samurai. And that’s the reason we’ve written this article on 20 Healthy Snacks That You Must Try Today. Trust us, you’re going to love it…
How do you know if you have bad snacking habits?
- Your snacks are as big and calorie-rich as the rest of your meals
- You often mistake thirst for hunger
- Your snacks contain loads of sugar, fat, or salt
- You eat when you’re bored rather than when you’re hungry
- You mainly consume low-fat snacks that won’t fill you up
If you can relate to some (or all) of the above, you may need to reconsider your snacking habits.
Don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll give you a handful of tips that will make snacking great (and healthy) again for you. We’ll also include a list of the best 20 healthy snacks that you can add to your diet.
Healthy Snacks Mastery: Sports Samurai’s Tips and Tricks
Snacks Aren’t Meals. Deal with It.
When grabbing a snack, the first thing to keep in mind is that a snack is not a full meal. It’s easy to eat snack after snack, every time telling yourself that it doesn’t “have a lot of calories” and that “it won’t affect your diet and daily caloric intake.” Sorry to say, but it will.
Pro Tip: When snacking, keep in mind that a snack is nothing more than a small hit to provide a boost of energy and take the edge of your hunger.
The golden rule here is to consume around 150 to 200 calories per snack. However, you may need to go below this if you’re on a diet and trying to manage your weight, and more if you’re active and need a greater boost of energy compared to the average person, or if you’re trying to gain weight.
Listen Carefully to Your Hunger Cues
How many times have you found yourself grabbing the fridge’s door out of boredom or because you felt overwhelmed by stress?
Well, you’re not alone. That’s something we all do, and it’s not healthy.
So, what can you do to solve that?
Simply ask yourself whether you’re truly hungry or not whenever you feel the urge to grab a snack, whether it is healthy or not. Tune in and listen carefully to your hunger cues. Only eat a snack when you’re really hungry, and not because you’re bored, stressed, or tired.
Always Carry Some Healthy Snacks with You
Hunger can strike at any time of the day, and if it does while you’re on the go, it’s easy to head to the nearest supermarket and grab a calorie-packed snack (think chocolate bars or crisps, people!).
So, what can you do to solve that?
It’s simple; carry healthy snacks with you. If you have a healthy snack with you, you’ll eat it. Problem solved.
Processed food, such as biscuits, crisps, ice creams, pastries, and chocolate food, are treats, not snacks, and should be limited.
As for the question “which healthy snack should you have?”, we’ll answer it very shortly!
Fibre and Protein Are Your Friends
Foods that are high in fibre and protein should be your priority when looking for healthy snacks to consume throughout the day.
Snacks high in fibre and protein will keep you feeling full and satisfied the longest, and they’ll help you avoid overeating when you eat one of your main meals.
So, which snacks are high in protein and fibre? Think yoghurt, muesli, whole grain crackers, roasted chickpeas, nuts, veggies, and fruit. We’ll go into more below.
Now… this is what you’ve been waiting for!
What are our 20 healthy snacks that you can enjoy?
Now that you understand when you should be snacking and when you shouldn’t, here are some healthy snacks that can be easily included in any diet:
Who said a healthy snack had to be complicated and fancy? (Hint: nobody!).
If you’re looking for a satisfying snack that can give you a boost of energy without wasting too much time, how about getting a single piece of fruit from the fridge or from your fruit basket?
Examples include apples, bananas, grapes, pears, oranges and many more. When you go shopping, look out for the food in season and add this too for some variety.
Cherry Tomatoes with Mozzarella
Have you ever tried mixing tomatoes and mozzarella cheese? If you haven’t, you’re certainly missing out. It’s a heavenly combination!
Not only is it delicious, but it’s also healthy. Mozzarella is high in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. It’s been proven to decrease heart disease risk by raising HDL cholesterol levels in the blood (HDL being the good variant of cholesterol).
Tomatoes, on the other hand, are high in potassium, vitamin C, and lycopene, which is an antioxidant that’s associated with a lower risk of heart disease as well as cancer.
To prepare an energy-packed snack out of the two, mix one handful of tomatoes with a serving of mozzarella. It should amount to no more than 200 calories.
Chia seeds are high in fibre and can be included in any diet, even ketogenic and vegan diets. Furthermore, they’re rich in antioxidants, which reduce the risk of heart disease as well as inflammation.
Keep in mind that chia seeds don’t have much flavour to offer, though pudding made out of them has a jelly-like consistency that makes them a delicious and healthy snack.
To make chia pudding, you’ll need:
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- ⅓ cup of water
- A pinch of your sweetener of choice (optional)
Here’s how to make this healthy snack:
- Mix chia seeds with water in a small to medium bowl
- Refrigerate the mixture for half an hour.
- Take out of the fridge, then stir in peanut butter, cocoa powder, and the sweetener of choice.
Most weight loss diets include eggs, and for good reason. Not only are they high in protein, vitamin K2, and vitamin B12, they’re pretty filling. This means that they can help you reduce the number of calories you eat in-between meals. As you know, the fewer calories you consume, the more weight you lose (if that’s your goal, of course!).
Keep in mind that eggs are high in cholesterol, which is why you need to consume them moderately. If you need a healthy snack made of eggs, we recommend eating two large, hard-boiled ones, which contain around 140 calories.
Baby Carrots with Blue Cheese Dressing
Carrots are a great source of carotenoids, such as beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A inside the body. Not only are carrots great for improving one’s vision, but they also reduce the risk of developing heart diseases, cancer, and cataracts.
Baby carrots with blue cheese dressing are another one of our favourite healthy snacks because it’s high in carotenoids as well as fats, which, as mentioned earlier, are an excellent way to reduce your daily caloric intake.
To get around 200 calories out of this snack, pair a handful of baby carrots with two tablespoons of blue cheese dressing.
A Piece of Cheese
Cheese is both delicious and filling, which is why it made it to our list of the top 20 healthy snacks you can try.
Although many people try to avoid cheese like the plague because of its high intake in saturated fat, several studies have shown that consuming up to two servings of cheese per day won’t raise LDL cholesterol levels in your blood (LDL being the bad variant of cholesterol). That applies to both healthy adults and those with higher levels of LDL cholesterol.
Two servings of cheese provide 200 calories.
Healthy Beef Jerky or Beef Sticks
Although known for their high intake of protein as well as their ease to eat, beef jerkies and sticks aren’t all sunshine and rainbows.
They come in different types. Some of are full of sugar and preservatives, while others can be made of low-quality meat and ingredients.
Pro Tip: It’s important to pick the right type of beef jerky to consume as a healthy snack. Look for the ones that contain as few added ingredients as possible. Furthermore, grass-fed beef jerky is more healthy than the grain-fed variant.
Whey Protein Shake
Read our articles for more on when you should drink protein shakes!
Canned Salmon or Sardines
Canned salmon or sardines (or any fish, for that matter) are an excellent snack that’s high in healthy omega-3 amino acids, protein, vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium. It doesn’t require refrigeration, making it an excellent choice for those who are constantly on the go.
One can of sardines or salmon contains 100 to 200 calories.
Vegetarian snacks aren’t rare, but many of them lack the element of uniqueness – not edamame, though.
Edamame is a dish made of steamed unripened soybeans, which means that it has a special flavour and texture that’s hard to resist. It’s also nutrient-dense, as it’s high in kaempferol, an antioxidant that can help with weight loss and lower blood sugar, as shown in several animal studies. Edamame is also rich in minerals, such as iron, manganese, and magnesium, as well as folate.
For the caloric intake, one cup of edamame contains around 180 calories.
Why not treat yourself to a new gym bag or backpack?
Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Marinated artichoke hearts are rich in vitamin K1, fibre, and folate, which means that not only are they delicious, but they’re also pretty healthy.
One serving of artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil provides around 190 calories.
Nuts are both nutritious and delicious, and they’re linked to a reduced risk of depression, cancer, heart disease, as well as many other illnesses. Nuts are also high in fat, which means that they can keep you feeling full for several hours. That’s why they’re considered an ideal snack in the dietary world.
The fact that nuts don’t need refrigeration is just the cherry on top, as that makes them an excellent snack to consume on the go.
On average, a small portion of mixed nuts should give you around 200 calories.
Red Bell Pepper with Guacamole
Although all bell peppers are nutritious, red varieties are especially recommended as a snack because of their richness in antioxidants and vitamin C.
To get an ideal nutritious snack out of red bell peppers, pair one of them with one serving of guacamole to add healthy fat and fibre. That should give you a total of no more than 200 calories.
Greek Yogurt with Berries
Anything that begins with “Greek” must be delicious and nutrient-packed, including Greek yoghurt, which is high in protein, potassium, and calcium. Berries are equally nutritious, as they’re a great source of antioxidants. Mix the two, and you’ll get one of Sports Samurai’s most favourite healthy snacks.
To get around 150 calories out of this healthy snack, combine one serving of full-fat Greek yoghurt with half a cup of mixed berries.
Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
This is another heavenly mix that’s hard to resist.
Apples are rich in fibre and polyphenol antioxidants, which can improve gut health and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. Peanut butter, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce triglycerides as well as LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in the blood (HDL being the good variety of cholesterol and LDL being the bad one).
Keep in mind that, due to its high caloric intake, peanut butter can lead to weight gain if it’s consumed excessively (it’s always so difficult to stop, isn’t it?).
To get a healthy snack out of the two, pair a medium-sized apple with one tablespoon of natural peanut butter, which should give you a delicious flavour and a crispy texture without exceeding 200 calories.
Cottage Cheese with Flax Seeds and Cinnamon
Cottage cheese is full of protein and healthy fatty acids. Flax seeds are linked to weight loss and reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Cinnamon can help with lowering blood pressure and improving gut health. When you combine the three, it’s easy to see why we’ve included this snack on our list.
To get 15 grams of protein and around 150 calories out of this snack, mix the following ingredients in a small bowl:
- Half a cup of cottage cheese
- One tablespoon of ground flax seeds
- Half a tablespoon of cinnamon
- A dash of your sweetener of choice
Celery Sticks with Cream Cheese
A classic in low-carb diets, celery sticks with cream cheese is a filling, finger-licking snack that can keep you feeling happy for hours on end.
Celery is loaded with luteolin, which is an antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and the risk of developing heart disease.
Mix five small celery sticks with two servings of cream cheese, and you’ll get a healthy snack with less than 200 calories.
Thanks to its high amounts of fibre and antioxidants, kale is incredibly healthy. It’s known to decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing different types of cancer.
Here’s what you need to get 150 calories out of your kale chips snack:
- One cup of kale leaves (bite-sized)
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- Half a teaspoon of salt
Here’s how to make them:
- Mix all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl
- Place the pieces of kale on a baking sheet
- Heat the oven to 180°C and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes
- Enjoy your healthy snack!
Dark Chocolate with Almonds
This is yet another nutrient-packed, satisfying healthy snack that you can add to your list.
Dark chocolate, when it contains at least 70% cocoa solids, packs loads of flavonoids, which is linked to a lower risk of developing heart diseases as well as overall lower blood pressure. Almonds, on the other hand, are rich in monosaturated fat, which also contributes to a healthier heart. Not only that, but almonds have also been shown to reduce appetite and help you lose weight.
Mix one serving of each, and you’ll get around 300 calories.
Cucumber Slices with Hummus
How about some eastern vibes in your healthy snacks?
Unknown to most people, cucumber and hummus can go hand in hand to make one of the most mouth-watering healthy snacks you can try.
Cucumber is rich in cucurbitacin, which has anti-cancer effects. On the other hand, hummus is made of olive oil, chickpeas, and garlic, all of which can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation.
To get 180 calories out of this healthy snack, dip one cup of sliced cucumbers in one serving of hummus.
Healthy Snacks: How can you control your cravings?
On most days, the healthy snacks listed above will work fine to curb your cravings. However, you’ll get days where you still crave junk food. You’ll want that doughnut or packet of crisps. And we get it.
Don’t worry. Here are some tactics that will help you keep your emotions and cravings in check.
Go for a Walk
Yes. Take a walk. It’s the simplest yet most effective way to stop mindless snacking.
In this study, researchers found that the subjects who took a quick, 15-min walk before eating a chocolatey snack ate less of it than those who didn’t hit the road walking. That’s because stress, boredom, and fatigue can lead to snacking even when you’re not hungry,
Performing any activity, including walking, can combat these factors, and, therefore, reduce the number of unnecessary calories.
Get Enough Sleep at Night
It has long been established that lack of sleep is associated with overeating in general, but recently, several studies have shown that not getting enough shut-eye can lead to over-snacking.
In a recent study at the Centre for Sleep Research, in Adelaide, Australia, researchers found that subjects who slept for no more than four hours at night were more likely to consume more snacks than those who get a fair share of sleep.
That’s due to the fact that inadequate sleep can alter the body’s levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which are responsible for regulating the feelings of fullness and hunger, respectively.
To get everything back to normal, sleep seven to nine hours of sleep per night, which is the recommended duration for normal adults.
It’s Not You; It’s Your Environment (Maybe)
Let’s go over what happens at night… you’ve just eaten dinner, you get up, wash your hands, and hit the sofa to watch some episodes of your favourite TV programmes on Netflix before hitting the sack.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s probably something in the lines of “I should grab something to eat!” You’re not alone.
If you feel the urge to consume a snack at the same place and/ or time every day, you may need to tweak your environment.
According to a research review published in the journal Annual Review of Nutrition in 2004, both temperature and lighting can affect how much you eat. To hack these cues, simply switch on bright overhead lights and keep the thermostat at a warmer temperature, as those are the ideal conditions to avoid overeating.
There you have it… 20 healthy snacks that you can try next time you feel hunger tearing your stomach down in between meals. We hope you’ve enjoyed them.
Pro Tip: Experient with the above, but add in your own ideas to find the healthy snacks that work for you. Once you find them, tell everyone (including us) the recipe!
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and grab something healthy to eat. All this reading must have made you hungry!