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As much as we would all like to have perfectly sculpted bodies, it is easier said than done! Very often, when we see our weight loss efforts turning futile, we simply lose the patience and determination. While it is a no-brainer that changing our diet and lifestyle can do the trick, we cannot help but indulge in some seriously unhealthy snack foods when hunger strikes. And it is these snacks that ruin our weight loss efforts!
Fret not. We’ve listed down some healthy snack options that will definitely help satisfy those mid-meal hunger pangs AND also promote weight loss.
15 Smart & Healthy Snacking Ideas for Weight Loss
While the following list includes healthy snack ideas for weight loss, it is important to remember that – no matter how healthy an item is, it must always be consumed in moderation. After all, gluttony is the biggest enemy of fitness!
1. Soaked Almonds and Walnuts
Nuts are a great way to start your day. They’re rich in protein, fibre and plenty of minerals that not only keep you full but also nourish your system. A great idea is to soak them in water overnight and chew down 7-8 of these little powerhouses in the morning with a glass of skimmed milk. So, go nuts!
2. Sprout Salad
Vigna radiata (commonly known as Moong beans) is one of those healthy snack foods that nutritionists swear by. Soak them for about a day, drain the water, and allow them to germinate. Within 24-30 hours, you will have your sprouted beans ready. These can then be steamed with a half a spoon of edible olive oil, and you can add to it pomegranate seeds, finely chopped cucumber, tomato or even pears and apples. This high protein snack will give you the strength that your body requires to ‘go that extra mile’. Literally.
3. Roasted Lentils and Sunflower Seeds
If you’re someone who hardly has the time to cook 2-3 meals on a weekday, let alone preparing snacks for between those meals, then this one is for you. Spare a couple of hours on a weekend and dry roast some lentils and sunflower seeds which you can store and munch on at any hour of the day. The best part is: these can safely be stored until, at least, the next fortnight.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
This healthy snack food is easy to prepare and does not even demand expertise. Hard boil two eggs for 10-12 minutes, peel off, and have them with a glass of skimmed milk. ‘Eggsactly’ what you need to get you started for that hectic day ahead!
On days that you get bored of eating plain boiled eggs, you can try making something creative for yourself and your family, like ‘Chick Eggs’!
5. Veg Sandwich/Salami Sandwich
Grab two slices of whole wheat bread. Fill them up with finely chopped seasonal vegetables or thin slices of lean meat. Grill them and have them with a glass of fresh juice extracted from seasonal fruits.
If you want to make this snack healthier, you can skip the bread, and toss the veggies to make a great salad.
6. Pop Corn
Yes. Pop Corn is a great snack option for weight loss. You can prepare some using very little oil (and just a pinch of salt and ground black peppercorn) and munch on them. Guilt-free. But, like every other recipe, no matter how healthy it is, this should also be eaten in moderation.
7. Porridge with Vegetables
Roast a cup of Dalia in a teaspoon of clarified butter made from cow milk. Add three cups of water and cook it on a medium flame for about 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, sauté some chopped vegetables like carrot, broccoli and green peas along with an onion. Toss these into the vessel containing prepared dalia and cook for a minute or two. Savour it while hot.
8. Fresh Fruits Salad
This one is great when you do not have the time to cook. Chop some seasonal fruits. Sprinkle on them a pinch of salt and dried mango powder. Squeeze a lemon to get that tangy taste.
On days that you are craving for something tastier, give our Honey, Lime, Chocolate Fruit Salad a try – we bet you’ll love it!
9. Strawberry / Guava Smoothie
Who said healthy food needs to be boring? Blend in a few pieces of chopped strawberries or guava with low-fat yogurt and a pinch of cinnamon powder. You can have it as it is or add a spoon of honey to it. Your taste buds are definitely going to thank you for this one.
10. Mixed Vegetable Soup
Soup does not need to be restricted to the category of appetizers. It can be a great snack as well. Include spinach in your soup as it contains a high amount of iron. This will give you that glow even when you are on a diet.
Soups are indeed an underestimated snack item. Not only are they healthy and largely fat-free, but they also provide the body with a good amount of water and help keep it hydrated. Consider the Magic Soup Diet to drop those kilos fast!
Yoghurt has more than just weight loss benefits. It lines your gut with good bacteria that aid the digestion of food. Plus, it keeps your system cool and helps fight acidity. It contains a lot of good fats which keep your bowel movement in check. Finally, it packs a good amount of calcium too, which is important for women’s bone health.
One fun way to have yoghurt is in the form of Fruit Yoghurt Dolly.
Hummus has carved itself a positive niche in the fitness world as a low calorie, healthy and filling snack. It is packed with proteins and good fats in the form of olive oil and sesame seeds. Add yoghurt to the recipe. One cup of hummus can be consumed as a great snack at any time of the day.
What makes quinoa good for weight loss is its high fibre and protein content. Fibre means good bowel movement and high satiety value, and protein means improved muscle strength, better vigour, and vitality. You can make sweet or spicy quinoa; however, for weight loss, we suggest you go for the spicy quinoa.
We recommend our Quinoa Pulao Recipe for first-time tasters.
We all know carrots as one of the best veggies that help maintain eye health. However, two other facts about carrots make them awesome as healthy low-calorie snacks for weight loss. Carrots are full of lutein, an antioxidant which helps the body deal with stress and keeps bloating at bay. And finally, carrots are a super-low-calorie food! With just 41 calories per 100 grams, the body actually utilises more calories to digest carrots than it derives from carrots! Isn’t that awesome?
The best way to eat carrots is raw (make sure you wash them thoroughly) – in the process, they will strengthen your gums and improve oral health too. But on days you want to add some taste to the snack, consider this yummy Carrot Soup.
15. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are metabolism boosters and hence make for a good weight loss snack. But how exactly should you consume chia seeds? The best and most ‘filling’ way to consume chia seeds is in the form of a pudding. Simply soak half-cup chia seeds in 1.5 cups coconut milk (or skimmed milk), and add a good dash of cinnamon (which is also great for weight loss and gives the pudding a great natural ‘sweet’ taste).
How Unhealthy Snack Habits are Responsible for Weight Gain
Anyone who is on their way to losing weight always scrutinises their meals. However, it is not our meals but our snacks that are responsible for weight gain!
This might instinctively make sense to a lot of people. We all eat healthily; it is the between-the-meals snacking where we go wrong. However, it is not enough to just pick healthier snacks. There is a lot more to snacking than just ‘what’ the snack is.
WATCH: 6 Habits That Are Making You Fat
Key Takeaway: In this video, Dr. Sam Robbins explains that while everybody does things to lose weight, we end up negating our efforts by doing wrong things that keep making us gain weight. These things are –
- Eating while distracted
- Eating too quickly
- Not considering calories that are in the different drinks we consume
- Not engaging in enough physical activity
- Skipping meals or taking big breaks between meals
- Not drinking enough water
So, along with following our tips on what to eat, be sure you follow the tips given below on when and how to eat too!
- Practise mindful eating. Do not multi-task while eating.
- Limit snacking to 2 day-time snacks (1 snack between breakfast and lunch, and 1 evening snack between lunch and dinner), and 1 optional nighttime snack (discussed in detail below).
- Chew each morsel of food 30 times. This is important because it improves digestion, and also gives your body time to assess whether its full or needs more food.
- Watch what you drink! Fruit juices are healthy, but not if they have a lot of added sugar! The same goes for tea, coffee, and alcohol too.
- Do not skip meals or go without eating for more than 4 hours at a stretch.
- Always have a glass of water about 20 minutes before having a meal or even a snack. Before a meal, a glass of water aids better digestion, and before a snack, it helps to understand whether you are really hungry or just thirsty! The symptoms or hunger and thirst are the same, so this is very important.
- Whenever you want to eat something, consider the food you are reaching for, and ask yourself – what’s in it for me? Just asking this one question will drastically improve the food choices you make!
Healthy Alternatives for Nighttime Binging
One important aspect of snacking we need to consider is night-time snacking.
Nighttime snacking is a specific concern for people who are night-owls, who like to binge-watch TV-series or movies, or who like to work at night! But before we get to healthy night-time snacks, let’s first understand the urge to binge at night.
Your body, after having spent close to 16 hours wide-awake, wants to wind down and sleep at night. However, when you stay awake at night, your body demands a burst of energy to be able to do so. The fastest sources of energy are carbohydrates, and that is why, when you stay awake at night, you typically crave for a sweet snack (bonus if it’s also fried!).
However, your body demands most of this energy to stay awake, rather than to spend on physical activity. Which is why, what we eat is usually more than what the body is demanding. Our body metabolism is also very slow at night, which is why we have to be extra cautious about what we munch on at night.
WATCH: 3 Best Nighttime Snacks for Weight Loss
Key Takeaway: According to Jess Gouthro of Live Lean TV, a nighttime snack should typically be between 100 and 200 calories. The three best nighttime snacks that fit this criterion are –
- a cup of hot tea (preferably herbal) with one tablespoon of nut-butter (peanut butter, macadamia nut butter, etc.)
- sliced green veggies like zucchini, celery, cucumber with salsa, etc. (especially for salty, crunchy and spicy cravings)
- a water-and-ice protein shake with a dash of cinnamon
Other nighttime snacks you can consider are an apple or pear, hummus, a closed fistful of almonds (they are very rich in fibre and monounsaturated fats), half a cup yoghurt, and carrots.
Healthy Snacks That Are Actually Bad for You!
Surprised? Well, we are about to bust some serious myths about so-called ‘healthy snacks’ that are loaded with calories and are very bad for you!
Key Takeaway: Some of the top ‘healthy foods’ that are bad are –
- Salads at fast-food joints and restaurants (that are lathered in salad dressing)
- Granola bars (because of their added sugar)
- Pre-bottled juices and smoothies (again, because of the added sugar)
- Instant oatmeals (due to preservatives, sugar, and even added artificial colour)
- Veg chips (or even other chip varieties like soy chips, because of the high sodium content)
- Protein bars (which also contain added sugar, carbs, and artificial flavour)
Avoiding processed foods can be a real game-changer if you are trying to lose weight. As a thumb-rule, remember to skip all kinds of food that are easy to consume, easy to cook, and come in packets. So all kinds of bread, instant noodles, heat-and-eat kind of foodstuffs, etc. are best avoided.