Snacking is one of life’s great pleasures and any diet plan that bans food in between meals is going to be tough to follow. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all very well, but for true satisfaction from your daily diet a mid-morning and afternoon pick-me-up is nigh on essential.
For some reason, snacking is synonymous with unhealthy foods like biscuits, cakes and crisps – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Snacks can be low in sugar and fat, and actually support your overall healthy diet goals by involving one of your five-a-day or topping up your protein intake to support a packed gym schedule.
To help transform your snacking mentality, we’ve compiled this guide to the best low-calorie bites. Don’t worry – we understand that snacks, like all food, should be enjoyable and that’s why this isn’t just a run-down of six different ways to eat raw celery. These snacks will satisfy and see you through to your next meal.
Our Go-To Low-Calorie Snacks
Transform your office food stash by throwing out the chocolate bars and crisps, and replacing them with these healthy snack staples. Except the yogurt and cheese – keep those in the fridge.
Nut Butter And Fruit
One or two of your five-a-day can come from fruit – but to avoid the fructose hit, pair it with a lower-GI foodstuff. The easy solution? Match your banana with peanut butter, or your apple with almond spread and you’ll add in a hit of protein and a serving of healthy fats. Alternatively, take your protein hit neat – spread it on an unflavoured rice cake or delicious (honest) caramel-flavoured Snack a Jacks rice cake after an intense workout to accelerate your recovery.
Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
While “low-fat” options often aren’t as healthy as they sound (it often also means high-sugar), fat-free Greek yogurt packs more protein in than any other type of the stuff. It’s common to find 10-11g of protein per 100g in the fat-free variety compared with 8-9g in whole milk Greek yogurt and 6-7g in the non-Greek style stuff. To get the best-quality hit, reach for “traditionally fermented and strained” products when choosing the dairy food of the gods.
Berries are a great pick for your daily fruit – they’re high in antioxidants and relatively low in fructose. Combine blueberries, raspberries or blackberries with Greek yogurt and you’ve got a dessert-like dish that also packs a protein wallop and a hit of digestion-friendly probiotics.
It’s a bit like Marmite – some people love its creamy, curdy texture, other people feel like they’re trying to swallow mouthfuls of chunky expired milk. But there’s no doubt cottage cheese is one of the best low-calorie, high-protein snacks available. In a 100g portion you get around 100 calories and a massive 10g of the muscle-building nutrient. Feeling adventurous? Mix it with tuna and stick it on a rice cake for an easy-to-digest post-workout snack that will help your muscles repair and grow.
Nuts (And Legumes)
They might not strictly fit the definition of a low-calorie snack, but nuts pack in so many benefits they’re worth adding to your list of quick bite staples. Brazils, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds and macadamias (plus peanuts, which, yes, are actually legumes and related to peas and lentils – no need to point this out in the comments section) all come with an abundance of healthy benefits. A pack of mixed nuts is one of the best things to keep in your desk drawer – they’re filling and full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, while peanuts rival fruit as a source of antioxidants. Just don’t eat the whole bag in one go – a handful of nuts should see you through to your next meal.
RECOMMENDED: High-Protein Snacks
4 Low-Calorie Snack Ideas
1. Home-Made Trail Mix
Combine pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, walnut pieces and goji berries (50g of each is best). Practice zen-like portion discipline by weighing out 30g bags to take into work each day.
2. Sliced Pear And Cashew Nut Butter
High fibre pears make a delicious mid-afternoon snack with 1tbsp of cashew nut butter.
3. High-Protein Yogurt And Fresh Cherries
Greek, Greek-style or Quark-based pots offer three times more protein than standard yogurts – keeping you full and nourished throughout the day. Combine with cherries to sweeten.
4. Banana And Tahini Balls
Combine two bananas, 90g of oats, 3tbsp of tahini and 1tbsp of sunflower seeds in a food processor. Roll the mixture into small balls in your hands and refrigerate until hard. Take two into work each day as a snack-size serving. Scoff.
If you want to keep the calorie count of your snacks to a bare minimum, all of these ideas clock in at under 100 calories.
- 1 large apple and 5 almonds – 97 calories
- Punnet of blueberries and 1tbsp of fat-free Greek yogurt – 90 calories
- 1 pot of strawberry fromage frais and 6 cherries – 99 calories
- 1 mini pitta bread with reduced-fat cottage cheese – 97 calories
- 1 oatcake with 1tsp of low-fat smooth peanut butter – 96 calories
- 30g low-fat Edam cheese and 5 sticks of celery – 99 calories
- 1 carrot with 28g tzatziki – 97 calories
- 5 dried apricots – 95 calories
- 1 small banana – 90 calories