Keys to Healthy Snacks

Jodi Schaeffer, MPH, RD, LDN

When many people hear the work “snack” they automatically think candy bars and chips, but the truth is that nutrient-rich snacks are an essential part to a healthy eating plan.  Have a snack between meals can help keep you from being as hungry at the next meal, ideally promoting better portion control.  Plus, adding protein to a snack allows you to stay fuller longer because it slows digestion and helps to keep blood sugar steady. Research has shown that protein-rich snacks help diminish cravings and can help with weight loss because they improve satiety. So how do you get a protein-rich snack on the go? Here are some great ideas:

Cottage cheese has 20 grams of protein per 5-ounce serving. (Low or reduced fat options are lower in calories.) Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Hardboiled eggs have 6 grams of protein per egg. They are very easy to prepare ahead of time and  easy to take on the run.

Peanut butter packet has 8 grams of protein per 1.5-ounce pack (2 Tbs.). Grab an individual squeeze pack for portion control and easy travel.

String cheese has 6 to 8 grams of protein per 1 cheese stick (part skim on the label is recommended). Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Protein bars will have between 10 to 15 grams of protein (some up to 20 grams). Some brands have additional fat and sugar added to them, so you want to make sure you read the label and choose ones that contain whole grain and have at least 5 grams of fiber.

Low fat chocolate cow’s milk has 8 grams of protein per 8 oz (1 cup) serving. Chocolate milk is also perfect for a (I removed pre-workout) post workout snack, as it helps repair muscles and aids in re-hydration. Added bonus of a serving of dairy!

Hummus cup has 5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving. You can dip vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, and grape tomatoes for added fiber, vitamins and minerals. Added bonus of a serving of vegetables!

Snacking can be healthy and a great way to get extra nutrients in your day!  Remember to include snacks that contain good sources of protein to help you stay fuller longer throughout the day and less likely to go looking for chocolate or jar of candy!