Maintaining a healthy diet can be a nightmare, and the hardest part often comes between meals. When preparing a meal you have time to think about what you’re making. You can find a healthy recipe or make something you know fits within the bounds of your preferred diet. However, in the long hours between meals, the temptation to grab a quick bite to eat can be immense. Here are a few low-calorie choices that let you snack without feeling guilty afterward.
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Let’s start with the obvious one: vegetables! Many vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and celery, can be easily thrown into a plastic bag and kept around throughout the day. If plain vegetables aren’t your thing, you can add some salad dressing for a bit of extra flavor – a low-fat chipotle-ranch or spicy French dressing would kick the veggies up a notch! You can also spread peanut butter on your celery sticks to add some protein, just don’t go overboard or you’ll be adding an awful lot of fat.
Fruit has a high natural sugar content, which can make it less than ideal for a low-calorie snack. However, not all fruit is created equal. Apples generally contain around half a calorie per gram, and oranges are even better. Your average apple will only contain about 65 calories, just over half what you’d find in a banana. Berries are another great choice, and a full cup of them is around 65 calories, depending on the kind you prefer.
3. Sugar-Free Popsicles
While not as high in vitamins and minerals as the previous options, sugar-free or low-sugar popsicles have an astonishingly low calorie count. Depending on the brand, they often contain between 15 and 30 calories each. A Popsicle can keep you busy for quite a while, whereas an equivalent glass of juice would be gone in a second.
Because of the significant increase in volume when popped, popcorn makes you feel as if you’re getting a lot more food than you will with regular corn for the same number of calories. Most popcorn brands now sell 100-calorie bags, and if you’ve ever tried other 100-calorie snack options, you’ll be surprised at just how much food popcorn lets you get away with.
5. Baked Sweet Potato Fries
A medium-sized sweet potato only has about 100 calories in it, making it easy to turn into a delicious and healthy snack. Simply cut one into wedges, lightly brush them with olive oil, and bake them for 25 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only are sweet potatoes light on calories, they’re also packed with Vitamin A, which is crucial for maintaining good vision.
6. Beef Jerky
When you need a bit of protein to keep you going, beef jerky is a solid option. Due to the fat content it’s much higher in calories than the previous choices, but a large, individually wrapped piece will generally contain around 80 calories. While you won’t be able to eat as much of it, beef jerky satisfies hunger more effectively due to its high protein content.
Nuts are another high-protein option that can be effective in small doses. Peanuts contain about the same amount of protein as beef jerky, but, unfortunately, they also have about twice as many calories. Pistachios have slightly less protein, but shelling them forces you to slow down and eat them one at a time. That means your snack will last longer, even if it’s the same amount of food. Almonds are another great option. In addition to the protein provided by most nuts, they are also a good source of Vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Because of the higher fat content, 1/8 to 1/4 cup of nuts is generally a good serving size. Depending on the type of nut, that amount will contain roughly 80 to 160 calories.