What you snack on between meals can go a long way toward building your physique—or busting it. Here are our picks for the 26 best healthy snack options. They’re all quick and easy as well!
Like most people, you probably eat your three “squares” daily: a clean protein source, complex carbs, and some healthy fats. That’s not the problem. The problem comes when between-meals munchies arise and you didn’t pack any of your healthy snacks. Look around; there’s the vending machine, weeks’-old food in the fridge that looks like a science experiment, and the cupcakes on your co-worker’s desk.
If only you’d packed some healthy snacks.
Thankfully, we’ve come to the rescue (again!) with our picks for the top 26 healthy snacks. Some are high in protein for building muscle, others are low in carbs for when you’re watching your total calories, and still others are just plain good for you.
Stock up on these healthful staples and you’re less likely to sabotage your buff-to-blubber ratio. When you have the right snacks available, you can curb cravings and provide vital nutrients to support fitness gains.
Now who’s hungry?
1. NUT BUTTER PACKETS
A number of companies like Justin’s and Nuttzo are now supplying on-the-go single-serving packets of nut butters such as almond, hazelnut, or peanut. Simply tear open the portion-controlled packet and suck back the creamy goodness that’s rich in healthy fats, protein, and a number of important minerals. Look for options with the least amount of added sugar.
Need To Know
Forget the reduced-fat versions. All they do is replace the healthy fat with not-so-healthy sugar.
2. IN-SHELL PISTACHIOS
Pistachios have an impressive nutritional resumé: laudable amounts of protein, cholesterol-busting monounsaturated fat, and plenty of fiber and energy-boosting B vitamins. But they’re so tasty that it’s easy to inhale several handfuls, which can quickly send your snack time into calorie overload. After all, a mere ounce delivers about 160 calories. That’s why in-shell pistachios are a near-perfect snack option. Scientists at Eastern Illinois University discovered that the extra work of shelling pistachios caused people to consume an average of 41 percent fewer calories than when they snacked on the nuts that were already shelled for them. The extra work (and tender fingers) of shelling the nuts can put the brakes on mindless overeating.
Need To Know
Pistachios added to common carbohydrate-rich meals, such as rice and pasta, can significantly reduce the post-meal blood sugar spike.
3. MIXED NUTS
Nuts like peanuts, cashews, and almonds make for a crunchy way to add more protein and healthy unsaturated fats to your diet. They pack about 6 grams of protein per 2-ounce serving.
Need To Know
If you’re watching your sodium intake, look for packages labelled “unsalted.”
With only 4 grams of carbs per ounce, walnuts can help you snack your way through a low-carb diet, not to mention their lofty levels of mega-healthy omega-3 fatty acids: another good reason to go nuts for them. When purchasing nuts, opt for salt-free to keep your sodium intake in check.
This crunch bunch also supplies copper, a mineral required for proper energy production in the body.
5. FROZEN GRAPES
These subzero heroes provide a sweet pop in your mouth that helps quell any midday sugar cravings. Unlike strawberries, grapes don’t become rock solid when frozen; they’re firm but still easy to bite into with a creamy consistency, similar to a bite-sized grape Popsicle. Simply spread whole grapes in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until firm, and store in an airtight zip-top bag.
Need To Know
Try using red grapes, which are higher in body-friendly antioxidants than their green brethren.
Edamame is basically an underripe green soybean. It provides a stellar mix of protein, slow-digesting carbs, and fat to keep your energy levels steady so you’re more likely to hit the gym than the couch after work. These verdant gems are also jam-packed with a range of important nutrients like folate, vitamin K, iron, and magnesium. You can find bags of frozen shelled edamame in the freezer section of most supermarkets and prepare them according to package directions.
Need To Know
If you’re concerned about genetically modified foods, splurge for edamame that’s certified organic.
7. DRIED PLUMS
Bathroom jokes aside, dried plums (aka prunes) are an ideal nosh when you need a sweet fix or shot of energy before hitting the weight room. A study in the journal “Appetite” found that subjects who snacked on dried plums experienced a greater degree of satiety than when they ate the same number of calories in the form of low-fat cookies. Why? The researchers discovered that the fiber-rich dried fruit favorably impacts blood sugar and appetite-regulating hormones, compared to the nutritionally lackluster cookie.
Read the rest of the snack ideas