If you’re looking for a complete guide to healthy, low calorie snacks to support your weight loss goals, you’ve come to the right place.
This post is part of our healthy eating series. See also:
In this post, you’ll find information around what makes certain snacks healthier than others, how to choose the healthiest ones, and plenty of ideas for healthy snacks that fall into various flavor, effort, dietary preference, and even time-of-day categories.
After all, to make healthy snacks a sustainable part of your weight loss journey, they have to align with your personal preferences and lifestyle, as well as your ultimate goals.
So, if you want to know how to choose the healthiest snacks for you, see examples, and start implementing healthy snacks into your weight loss goals, let’s dive right in.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What are Healthy Snacks?
- 22 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss
- Healthy Sweet Snacks
- Healthy Late Night Snacks
- Healthy Easy Snacks
- Healthy Snacks for Diabetics
- Healthy Snacks on the Go
- Healthy Salty Snacks
- Healthy Workout Snacks
- Vegan Healthy Snacks
- Healthy Packaged Snacks
- Healthy Low-Carb Snacks
- The Takeaway
What are Healthy Snacks?
The first question you may be asking is what makes a snack “healthy” to begin with.
This is an important question to answer, as the energy and nutrients that your snacks contribute can quickly add up in your day.
Furthermore, what your snack offers may either help or hinder your weight loss goals.
For the purposes of this article, let’s define “healthy” as follows:
A snack that contains a mix of protein, unsaturated fat, and complex carbohydrates, is low in added sugar and sodium, does not contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors, and contains 200 calories or fewer per serving. If you’re choosing a low calorie snack, it’s important that it’s not also low in nutrition.
Remember also that snacks are not meant to replace meals: instead, they’re intended to help round out your day. They should be incorporated to prevent overeating, promote satiety and help stabilize blood sugar between meals, and fuel your body well for everyday activities, whether this includes exercise, getting through work, or all of the other tasks in your routine.
There are also differences between when snacks are eaten and what they may look like, compared to meals:
- Meals are generally eaten three times a day to help signify morning, mid-day, and evening.
- Snacks fit best between mealtimes, and have a smaller portion size.
Keeping these things in mind as you start thinking about the types of snacks you’d like to add to your routine, let’s move on to some healthy ideas.
22 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss
Weight loss is a process, no matter who you are, what your goals are, or how you choose to approach the journey. While weight loss is often associated with diets and supplements, the truth is that sustainable, healthy weight loss takes time.
Making the right changes that align with your lifestyle, needs, and goals is the only way to achieve healthy and long-standing results.
Healthy snacks can be a crucial part of your success in weight loss. Along with regular physical activity and an overall healthy diet, snacking is an important piece of the weight loss puzzle.
Without further ado, below are some healthy low-calorie snacks for weight loss that are designed to fit all types of diet patterns, preferences, and schedules.
Healthy Sweet Snacks
To help curb a sugar addiction, while still satisfying a craving for sweet foods, try foods that are sweet but don’t contain a bunch of added sugar. Added sugar contains no nutritional value: it adds calories to your day without nutrients that support weight loss or health.
It’s best to minimize or exclude added sugar as much as possible.
Below are a couple of sweet snacks you may enjoy.
1. Fresh fruit: Fruit is a great source of sugars plus nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that benefit overall health. Prepare a bowl of fresh grapes and berries, pears and apples, or bananas with orange segments.
Fresh fruit is low in calories and high in fiber, which will help you feel fuller. For example, one cup of fresh blueberries contains 85 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber. Pair fresh fruit with a source of fat and protein, like a small handful of mixed unsalted nuts, to help round out your snack.
2. Stuffed dates: Medjool dates are easy to find and subtly sweet. To prepare stuffed dates, slice them open, remove the pit, and stuff them with nut butter or cottage cheese. You can even sprinkle them with seeds for additional fiber and protein.
Keep in mind that they do tend to be higher in calories. One pitted date with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter stuffed inside will run you approximately 150 calories.
Healthy Late Night Snacks
You may have heard that eating late into the night isn’t generally recommended. One reason behind this is because eating too close up to your bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep. Getting adequate sleep is an important component of successful weight loss.
Instead, it may help to stop eating approximately two hours before bed. If you’re finding yourself hungry late at night, this may indicate that you need to add a little more to dinner.
If you find that you need a late-night snack, here are a couple of ideas.
3. Milk and pistachios: A glass of milk can help fill your tummy while also providing some protein. Plus, milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which can help boost melatonin production in your brain and help you fall asleep easier.
Pair this with pistachios, which are a source of melatonin. They may even help promote weight loss, by offering fiber and helping displace sugar cravings for some people.
4. Cereal with berries: A mug of cereal is a popular evening snack for many people. This can work for a weight loss diet as well. Look for cereals that don’t contain a ton of added sugar and are a good source of fiber. For instance, look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
To make it even healthier, combine it with some fortified non-dairy milk and berries.
5. Banana boats: Bananas are high in fiber and offer around 100 calories each. To make a satiating night-time snack, slice a banana lengthwise, smear it with a thin layer of nut butter, and sprinkle with ground flax seeds.
The sugars in the banana may help curb late-day sweet cravings, while the healthy fats and protein from the nut butter and seeds can help meet hunger needs before bed.
Healthy Easy Snacks
One of the most requested traits of healthy snacks for weight loss is that they require minimal effort to prepare. This makes sense given today’s busy lifestyles, paired with a desire to achieve our best health.
Here are a few healthy snack ideas that can be put together quickly.
6. Avocado toast: To make this is as easy as it sounds. Just toast some bread, mash ½ a ripe avocado on it, and top with things like pepitas, fresh sprouts, sliced tomatoes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
The fiber from the bread and veggies, paired with the healthy fats from the avocado, help keep you satisfied between meals.
7. PB&J: America’s favorite sandwiches aren’t just for kids! A simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be a great source of nutrients, like healthy fats, fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Prepare it with whole-grain bread, peanut butter, and no-sugar-added jelly.
You might even make your own jam at home, using chia seeds, thawed frozen strawberries, and lemon juice. Making a PB&J may be one of the least time-consuming things in the kitchen.
8. Overnight oats: As the name implies, this one technically can’t wait to be made until right before you eat it. However, if you throw the ingredients together in a jar the night before, all you have to do the next day is take it out of the refrigerator.
Using a 2:1 ratio of liquid to oats, combine milk and rolled oats with whatever ingredients you choose and gently combine. This could include things like berries and chia seeds, diced peaches and walnuts, chopped apples and cinnamon, or almond butter and sliced bananas.
Healthy Snacks for Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you already know how important it is to choose meals and snacks that won’t have dramatic impacts on your blood sugar levels. This means avoiding foods that are high in simple carbohydrates that are digested quickly and opting instead for complex carbohydrates that are more slowly broken down.
High-fiber foods that contain some protein and fats are great healthy snacks for diabetic control and weight loss.
9. Chicken salad with crackers: One of the best ways to help maintain steady blood sugar is to focus on a combination of fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates in your snacks.
Making chicken or tuna salad, with a side of whole-grain crackers, is a perfect mix of these nutrients. To make this plant-based instead, use canned chickpeas and prepare the same way.
10. Chia seed pudding: While store-bought puddings are tasty, they tend to be high in added sugar and low in nutrition. Instead, try an easy homemade pudding using ¼ cup chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk and whatever fruit you like.
Chia seeds are a great source of protein and fiber, while soy milk is rich in calcium, protein, and unsaturated fat.
Healthy Snacks On the Go
We often envision on-the-go snacks as a crinkly package to take on the way out the door. But they can also be things we make in preparation for busy days ahead. This way, you have control over what ingredients they contain. You can even divide them up in containers in advance, to help save your future self time.
Some examples are below.
11. Homemade trail mix: There’s no short supply of trail mix at the store, but most are pretty full of added sugar and salt. After all, a traditional “trail mix” for most of us looks like the peanuts and M&M bags we took on road trips as a kid.
Make a healthier version using unsalted mixed nuts, shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds, raisins or other dried fruit, and dark chocolate pieces. This cuts down on added sugar and salt while creating a flavorful mix of fiber and antioxidants.
12. Homemade granola bars: Many granola bars, unfortunately, aren’t exactly low in added sugar and may not even be a great source of fiber or other nutrients. Making your own batch at home is a great way to make sure you have a healthy on-the-go option when needed, and you can even freeze some for later.
Try a recipe that combines rolled oats with a variety of nuts and seeds, and just a small amount of a sweetener like maple syrup or honey to help hold it together.
Healthy Salty Snacks
Eating a lot of sodium isn’t super helpful for weight loss because it can actually promote water weight gain and fluid retention. However, salt cravings are normal and some healthier ways to respond to them are listed below.
13. Dried seaweed: Seaweed may not be a popular food in general in western cultures, but many people flock to dried seaweed snacks. Ocean veggies are salty, and dried seaweed is also a good source of iodine, an essential mineral for health.
If you’re craving a salty snack, dried seaweed is low in calories but high in nutrients.
14. Air-popped popcorn: Instead of buttery bagged popcorn, try popping your own kernels at home. For a little more flavor, you can add a small amount of melted butter and a pinch of iodized salt to help satiate a salty craving.
Healthy Workout Snacks
Staying active is a critical element for weight loss. It’s important to make sure you’re fueling your workouts adequately with healthy snacks. This means putting snacks together that are going to offer you the energy to get through a workout, while also helping you recover afterwards.
Protein, for instance, offers these benefits while also staving off hunger and helping you feel satisfied.
15. Beef or seitan jerky: Jerky is a convenient way to get a quick serving of protein. In fact, just one serving can contain 10-12 grams of protein.
If you’re plant-based, there are also jerky options made using ingredients like seitan, which is made with vital wheat gluten.
16. No-bake energy balls: All you need to make high-protein energy balls at home is a food processor. A lightly blended combination of drained chickpeas, rolled oats, peanut butter, raisins, chia seeds, raisins, and maple syrup or honey creates a moldable batter you can roll into balls and refrigerate.
Take these anywhere – including the gym – for a boost of protein and energy.
Vegan Healthy Snacks
The main reason plant foods are so helpful for achieving a healthy weight is that they’re high in fiber, low in calories and fat, and contribute a small amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Here are a couple of vegan ideas.
17. Roasted chickpeas: Chickpeas offer 7 grams of both fiber and protein per ½ cup. You can roast them in the oven to make a healthy, crunchy snack. All you have to do is drain and rinse them, dry them on a paper towel, and lightly coat them with a little olive oil and seasoning before spreading them on a cooking sheet to bake.
Enjoy them on their own or used as croutons for a dinner salad.
18. Smoothies: There are countless ways to make smoothies, which are fantastic vehicles for nutrition that can support healthy weight loss.
To make them vegan, all you have to do is swap dairy products for non-dairy ones, and pack in the produce. For instance, use things like fortified unsweetened soy or pea milk, and blend with mixed frozen fruit, seeds, and even leafy greens.
Healthy Packaged Snacks
Sometimes the best option for a busy day is finding packaged healthy snacks. When choosing one, it’s a good idea to look at the nutrition facts label to assess whether the snack will fit into your regimen.
For example, you may want to make sure there are no more than 200 calories per serving of the snack, and that it’s not particularly high in fat, added sugar, or sodium. Below are a few ideas for healthier packaged snacks that could help support weight loss goals.
19. Guacamole or hummus cups: No longer do you have to buy a giant tub of guacamole or hummus and try to finish it all within a few days. It’s easier to find individually-sized packages of these healthy dips now, which you can pair with whole-grain crackers or fresh veggies, like baby carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, broccoli florets, or sliced bell peppers.
You might even like using them as a spread on a pita or tortilla. Like them both? Guacamole is a great source of healthy fats, and hummus can offer some protein and fiber to help keep you feeling satisfied between meals.
20. Dehydrated snap peas: While some of the veggie stick snacks are better categorized as potato chips, there are some healthier options when it comes to dried vegetable snacks.
Dehydrated snap peas are one option, and some varieties can offer up to 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving. Just look for ones that list green peas as the first ingredient and then don’t contain a long list of unnecessary ingredients thereafter.
Healthy Low Carb Snacks
If part of your weight loss regimen involves following a low-carb diet plan, you may be wondering whether there are healthy low carb snacks that can help fill you up between meals.
These types of snacks will, instead, focus on a balance of protein and fat to help promote satiety. A few healthy low carb snack ideas are suggested below.
21. Turkey and cheese roll-ups: This is like a tortilla wrap, minus the tortilla. Using lunch meat instead, you can create a low-carb snack full of protein to help keep hunger at bay between meals.
You could even add a little more bulk by wrapping everything in a piece of lettuce for more fiber without adding a bunch of carbs or calories.
22. Hard-boiled eggs: A single whole egg only contains around 70 calories but offers 6-7 grams of protein to help keep you satisfied between meals.
If you’re not in the mood for a hard-boiled egg, you could scramble or microwave a whipped egg with some low-carb veggies and cheese.
It can be frustrating to find healthy snacks that you love when there are so many options. In order for a snack to be healthy, it’s important that it not only fuels your body well but is also an enjoyable part of your lifestyle.
Remember that good healthy snacks aren’t just for certain times of the day, either. With a little bit of planning, you can create healthy combinations of fiber, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals that will fit into any activity and help satisfy any type of craving.
Regardless of personal preferences and tastes, it’s possible to make healthy changes that are sustainable. With a little practice, putting together healthy snacks will become second nature. Being able to recognize which foods are good sources of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and paying attention to things like added sugar and sodium on the packaging, are key.
Furthermore, it’s most important to feel good about what you’re nourishing your body with and eating things you enjoy. What are the best healthy snacks for you? Experimenting with different combinations can help you identify what foods you enjoy the most and how to pair nutrients that support your long-term weight loss goals.
Disclaimer: The information on the Leanbean blog does not constitute medical advice and should not be used as such. If you would like to learn more about your dietary requirements and related aspects of your health, speak with a registered medical professional.