By Julie Upton, RD
There’s no denying that I could be a world champion snacker, so it’s important that I always have healthy food on hand when a snack attack hits. But my snacks have to taste good and fill me up, or I risk the chance of overeating later. I've tried nearly everything, and here are my five favorite filling snacks:
Greek yogurtGreek-style yogurt, like Fage or Chobani, have about twice as much protein (milk or whey protein) than regular yogurt and can keep me from thinking about my stomach for at least a few hours. At about 100 calories for 6 ounces, they pack up to 20 grams of protein (more than three eggs!).
A small 2009 study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands tested hunger, desire to eat, and resting energy expenditure (a part of your overall metabolism) in adults who ate either protein-enhanced yogurt or yogurt with normal protein content. The results found that the whey-enriched yogurts increased energy expenditure and suppressed hunger better than normal protein yogurts.
Hard-boiled eggsAt 75 calories and 6 grams of protein, a hard-boiled egg is a perfectly portion-controlled snack. It contains complete protein, which is highly absorbable and has all the amino acids humans need.
Plus, eggs are a dieter's best friend: Research shows that eggs will fill you up more than a starchy breakfast, and people who eat eggs at breakfast may eat fewer calories throughout the day. I try to have a bowl of hard-boiled eggs on hand in my refrigerator so I can eat them as a midmorning or afternoon snack.
SoyJoy barsSince I go through a vegan phase each year and eat only plant-based protein, I also have several favorite vegan-friendly snacks. Most forms of whole soybeans (other than edamame) and soy-enriched products contain soy protein isolates that may not have all the health benefits of whole soy. But these bars contain whole soybeans and are rich in complete protein, fiber, and many beneficial phytonutrients. I like the Berry SoyJoy bars because I get 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of complete protein for 130 delicious calories.
SomersaultsThese little snack packs are Crunchy Nuggets With Sunflower Seeds & Toasted Grains. The snacks are made with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and whole-grain flours. A 2-ounce package provides 150 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of sugar. Look for these little gems at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, or find a list of health-foods stores at somersaultsnackco.com.
PistachiosPistachios are referred to as the “skinny nut” because the shells help us subconsciously cut calories without deprivation. How? Studies show that the shell makes the serving size appear larger and fools our brains into thinking we're full. Plus, the used shells act as a visual reminder of how much you’ve eaten.
Nutritionally, 30 pistachios (or 49 nuts per 1-ounce serving) contain 100 calories and have 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. The combination of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats provides enhanced satiety. Get more information at pistachiohealth.com.