Snacking may very well be America’s favorite pastime. According to national dietary surveys, about 9 out of 10 adults snack every day. The wisdom of snacking is heavily dependant on the quality of snacks being consumed: Many of the most popular options are loaded with salt and sugar, so it’s not surprising that increased snacking is associated with weight gain.
There’s plenty of research to suggest that choosing snacks that are high in protein – rather than salt and sugar – can provide tremendous health benefits. According to a study by the INTERMAP Research Group, a higher number of small snacks may contribute to weight loss and a lower body mass index (BMI). Compared to participants with less than four eating occasions in 24 hours, those with six or greater eating occasions during the same time period had a lower mean BMI, and higher Nutrient Rich Food Index.
Here are five smart snacks to help you peel off the pounds:
EPIC Grass-Fed Protein Bar, Bison, 1 bar
Serving size: 1 bar (37 g), Calories: 140, Total Fat: 8 g, Protein: 10 g, Sugars: 9 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sodium: 230 mg
You might not think of bison as a healthy snack, but buffalo is far leaner than other meats, and is an excellent alternative for jerky. Combined with organic spices and dried fruit, it makes for healthy protein bars. Low-sugar, high-protein snacks fuel weight loss by increasing metabolism and limiting hunger.
Serving size: 1 muffin 55 g (2 oz.), Calories: 100, Total Fat: 1.5 – 2 g, Protein: 3 g, Sugars: 10 g, Dietary Fiber: 10 g, Sodium: 105 g
VitaBrownies satisfy your craving for something sweet without destroying your diet. These are natural, whole wheat brownies. A Tufts University study found that participants who ate three or more servings of whole grains each day had 10% lower belly fat than those who consumed the same amount of calories from refined carbs.
Eden Organic Pumpkin Seeds
Serving size: 1/4 cup (33 g), Calories: 200, Total Fat: 16 g, Protein: 10 g, Sugars: 0 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sodium: 100 g
Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein and fiber, and are a wealth of magnesium – a mineral that increases bone health and improves circulation. Just one ounce of these seeds provides ¾ of your daily magnesium requirement – helping to avoid water retention, relax blood vessels, and relieve headaches.
Serving size: 1 cup 8 g, Calories: 39, Total Fat: 2.5 g, Protein: 1.0 g, Sugars: 0 g, Dietary Fiber: 1 g, Sodium: 25 mg
Popcorn is a low-energy-density food. For 90 calories, you could eat 3 cups of air-popped corn, or only 1/4 cup of potato chips. Popcorn fills you up quickly, tricking you into thinking that you’re consuming more calories than you really are.
Wholly Guacamole, 100-calorie pack
Serving size: 1 pouch (57 g), Calories: 100, Total Fat: 8 g, Protein: 1 g, Sugars: 1 g, Dietary Fiber: 4 g, Sodium: 150 mg
Wholly Guacamole contains real avocados, is made with natural ingredients, and is completely gluten-free. Avocados include healthy monounsaturated fats containing oleic acid – helping to satiate your hunger, and keep you full and focused until dinnertime.
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