Snacks are for diet champions. Those who are most successful at dropping weight—and keeping it off—typically have three meals and several healthy snacks a day, since going too long without eating can slow metabolism and throw blood sugar levels out of whack. But the trick is choosing wisely. What many people consider a "snack"—an energy bar, part of a bag of chips, or a side order at a fast-food restaurant—can actually contain 400 or more calories, making it more like a meal. A true snack, says Melanie Douglass, a registered dietitian and personal trainer based in Salt Lake City, is about 150 to 200 calories. Here are 25 healthful snack suggestions that fit the bill.
1. A cup of high-fiber cereal (like Kashi Heart to Heart) and a small handful of pumpkin seeds.
2. One ounce of nuts, which is about 24 almonds or 15 walnuts. Nuts are nutrient-packed but calorie-dense, so limit consumption to one or two handfuls a day.
3. One cup of bran flakes with half a cup of chocolate milk.
4. One handful of red grapes. Freeze them for five minutes to make them sweet and crisp.
5. Skinny Cow brand ice cream treat.
6. A bit of peanut butter on whole-wheat toast—but be sure it's 100 percent whole-wheat.
7. A piece of fruit paired with one stick of string cheese.
8. One whole-wheat tortilla with a few spoonfuls of canned black beans.
9. A handful of berries tossed into one serving of Greek yogurt.
10. Any fruit or vegetable. For more protein, also eat a serving of nuts, sliced turkey, or a low-fat yogurt with less than 20 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving.
11. One orange sprinkled with cinnamon.
12. Half a cup of sliced banana, half a cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, and some ice blended into a smoothie.
13. Eight ounces of sugar-free lemonade frozen in an ice pop mold.
14. Ten baby carrots and 2 tablespoons of hummus.
15. Ten kalamata olives, which will run you around 90 calories.
16. Half a whole-wheat miniature bagel with 1 ounce of smoked salmon.
17. Two slices of honey-baked ham with 2 teaspoons of honey mustard.
18. Half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese with five strawberries.
19. Four Wheat Thins dipped in 1 teaspoon of Nutella.
20. One ounce of buffalo mozzarella and half a cup of cherry tomatoes.
21. One cup of unshelled edamame.
22. One-quarter of a cup of guacamole with one sliced medium red bell pepper.
23. One packet of plain instant oatmeal, topped with cinnamon and six crushed almonds.
24. A medium pear, coupled with an 8-ounce glass of unsweetened almond milk.
25. One-and-a-half cups of air-popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds.
Updated on 4/4/2012: This previously published article has been updated by Angela Haupt.