In order for a snack to do its job, be sure it’s balanced–or else you may still be hungry and will have wasted calories on food that didn’t satisfy you, says Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You.
1. Limit a snack to approximately 200 calories maximum.
2. Turn coffee or a tea into a snack by adding a cup of low-fat milk or soy milk.
3. Do not have a carbohydrate alone (such as an apple or a serving of crackers); you will still be hungry. Instead, pair a carb with a lean protein or healthy fat. Have low-fat cheese with your apple, or some peanut butter on your whole grain crackers.
4. It’s okay to have carbs alone before bed (such as a piece of fruit) because it doesn’t need to keep you full — you’re about to go to sleep.
5. Don’t double dip. For instance, don’t do string cheese and nuts, or string cheese and yogurt. Instead, choose one high-fiber carb and one lean protein or healthy fat; otherwise your calories (and fat) can add up.
6. When you eat straight from the bag, box, or can, you’ll consume more. Preportion items like nuts in resealable snack-size bags.
7. Try to keep snacktime to three hours after you have eaten. If you eat it too close to your last meal, it won’t do its job for the next meal.
8. If buying an energy bar, read the label and look for more fiber and protein, less calories and fat.
9. Just because it’s a “100-calorie pack” doesn’t mean it is a healthy snack. Make sure it offers some fiber and protein or healthy fat — and if not, skip it.