10 Best Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss, According to a Dietitian
Medically Reviewed by Natalie Olsen, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-EP
Published on May 10, 2022
Snacking when trying to lose weight doesn’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of simple, whole foods with plenty of nutrition to help you feel full and energized during your weight-loss journey and beyond.
One of the biggest obstacles to weight loss is the feeling of hunger. Fortunately, some snacks can help satisfy your appetite while still supporting weight loss goals.
The best snacks for weight loss are nutrient-dense — meaning they offer plenty of nutritional bang for your buck.
Skip the empty calories from fried or sugary snacks by considering new snack ideas that improve the quality of your diet and encourage healthy weight loss.
Nuts are high in calories, so you might be surprised to see them on a weight loss list. However, studies show that the nutrients in nuts are filling. Nuts help control appetite, which can lead to weight loss. (1)
In a 24-week randomized controlled trial, 95 participants were given 1.5 ounces of mixed nuts or pretzels as part of a low-calorie meal plan.
Both groups lost weight and reduced their blood pressure during the initial 12 weeks. But the group receiving mixed nuts reported higher levels of satiety. (1)
Once the two groups were moved into a weight maintenance phase — during the second 12 weeks of the trial — those given pretzels for a snack started regaining some of the weight they had lost.
However, the mixed nuts group was successful in maintaining their weight loss. (1)
It’s worth noting that mixed nuts for a snack were provided as a 1.5-ounce portion. Because nuts are calorie-dense, they add up quickly.
Measuring out your portion or buying pre-portioned snack packs can help you stick to the right amount of nuts to keep you full without derailing your weight loss efforts.
Berries are rich in beneficial compounds called flavanols — which are associated with weight control. (2)
Flavanols are antioxidants responsible for some of the vibrant colors in strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.
Although berries taste sweet, they’re generally a low-sugar, high-fiber fruit — making them ideal for weight loss.
Both frozen and fresh berries are nutritious choices.
If you’re craving a dessert, berries with a bit of dark chocolate or whipped cream can help tame your sweet tooth.
Avocadoes are rich in a type of healthy fat called monounsaturated fats. Studies show that monounsaturated fats prevent unhealthy weight gain and may even boost weight loss results.
Scientists suspect that eating avocados affects the levels of certain appetite hormones. Avocadoes may help you eat less and ultimately lose weight by improving satiety. (5)
Compared to people who don’t eat avocadoes, those who regularly consume them are less likely to be overweight. (5)
You can include more avocadoes in your diet by making your own guacamole dip:
- Simply mash up an avocado and sprinkle in a dash of salt.
- If desired, you can add chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, black pepper, and fresh lemon or lime juice for a fancier version that’s suited to your tastes.
To keep your guacamole from turning brown in the fridge, squeeze some lemon or lime juice on the top and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. The citrus helps prevent oxidation — which is why avocadoes turn brown after being exposed to the air.
Guacamole doesn’t need to be reserved for parties. This festive dip is the perfect opportunity to make snack time worth celebrating.
Instead of chips or crackers, pair guacamole with crunchy raw veggies. Colorful bell peppers are a good option, or you can spread guacamole on cucumber slices, carrot sticks, celery stalks, or jicama slices.
Popcorn is so much more than a movie snack. It’s a whole grain that easily fits into a meal plan for weight loss.
In addition, popcorn is a high-volume food. That means it takes up space and looks like more food than it is. (7)
If you’re feeling deprived or weary of small portions, popcorn can make your weight loss plan seem less limiting. You can take your time eating a large bowl and not worry about overdoing it.
It’s important to keep in mind that although popcorn is a light and healthy snack, the way you prepare it matters.
Adding extra butter to popcorn can quickly transform it into a high-calorie and saturated fat trap. Try replacing butter with a drizzle of olive oil as an unsaturated fat option.
For a healthier popcorn snack, go for plain popcorn and flavor it with salt and other seasonings — like garlic powder, black pepper, or a little parmesan cheese.
Chickpeas — also known as garbanzo beans — are a great source of fiber and protein.
The popularity of hummus has helped grow excitement over chickpeas in the US, but many people don’t think to eat them on their own. (8)
Roasting chickpeas is a fun and easy way to get creative with your snack options.
All you need to do is:
- Rinse canned chickpeas under running water.
- Pat them dry with a paper towel and dump them into a mixing bowl.
- Drizzle on some olive oil and spices of your choice. You can add garlic powder, black pepper, curry powder, Cajun spices, or Italian seasoning for flavor.
- Once they’re seasoned, spread the chickpeas flat on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until they start to get brown and crispy.
- After they cool, you can divide the roasted chickpeas into little bags for a convenient snack to bring on your next outing.
Studies show that people who consume chickpeas are 53% less likely to be obese than non-chickpea eaters. They also tend to have a lower BMI and smaller waist circumference. (8)
Although these correlations can’t prove that chickpeas cause weight loss, most people are likely to benefit from the added nutrition — especially fiber and potassium — chickpeas have to offer.
Protein shakes are traditionally associated with “bulking up.” But it turns out that whey protein can play a valuable role in weight loss.
Whey protein increases satiety — or the feeling of fullness — by boosting certain hormone levels. Specifically, the hormones GLP-1 and PPY — which suppress hunger — go up after whey protein is consumed. (9)
Not to mention, whey protein is an easy way to fuel your muscles.
Ingredients matter, so be sure to look for whey protein options without a lot of added chemicals and sweeteners.
You can blend plain whey protein into a fruit and vegetable smoothie or add it to other recipes to make protein muffins or your own protein bars.
Related: Whey Protein 101
Chia seeds are small but mighty.
Chia seeds also contain several health-promoting antioxidants and have been shown to help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. (10)
By giving chia seeds time to soak, they’ll form a gel that thickens any liquid and helps fill your stomach.
There are tons of different recipes for chia pudding you can experiment with for a snack.
To make chia seed pudding:
- Pour 1 cup of your favorite milk or milk alternative (almond or oat milk work well).
- Mix in three tablespoons of chia seeds.
- Add flavor with things like cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and orange zest.
- You can also mix some fruit, such as berries or sliced bananas.
- Cover the mixture and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
You can make chia pudding in individual cups that are easy to grab when you get home after a long day.
You can make a “chia egg” in any recipe by using 1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water to replace one egg in any recipe.
Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables is one of the most effective ways to manage body weight. (11)
Unlike foods you may be trying to cut back on, fruits and vegetables are a weight-loss-friendly category worth increasing.
Studies show that only 12% of adults meet their recommended fruit intake, and just 9% get enough vegetables. (11)
But a review of several studies found consistent proof that increased fruit and vegetable intake is a “chief contributor to successful weight loss in women.” (11)
A green smoothie is the perfect package of leafy greens and fresh fruit to help support your weight loss goals.
To make a green smoothie:
- Grab a handful of fresh or frozen baby spinach.
- Add it to the blender with your favorite fruit (a ripe banana, frozen pineapple, mango, or berries are some easy options).
- Pour in plenty of water and blend until smooth.
Spinach is a common choice for smoothies because it has a pretty mild taste that’s easily overpowered by fruit.
However, if you’re a regular smoothie drinker, it’s not a bad idea to vary your greens. You can get different nutrients by subbing in kale, arugula, romaine lettuce, or other vegetables in your smoothie.
For instance, raw carrots or canned pumpkins carry a vibrant dose of vitamin A and can give you a break from greens.
If you make a large batch of green smoothies, divide them into bottles and store them in the refrigerator for use within 2–3 days.
Keeping green smoothies on hand is a clever strategy to help you develop healthier habits during your weight loss journey.
A nutritious smoothie between meals can help stave off unhealthy food cravings, boost hydration, and contribute to your total daily intake of fruits and veggies.
Experiment with different produce selections — like carrots, kiwis, melons, and more — to vary the nutrients and flavor.
The reputation of eggs has gone through some ups and downs over the years. But recent studies suggest that eggs can fit into a heart-healthy, weight-loss diet.
In one study, 50 healthy adults between 18 to 30 were recruited to participate in an 11-week randomized crossover trial.
For four weeks, they were given either two eggs for breakfast or a packet of oatmeal. Then, after a three-week washout period, the groups were switched.
Egg consumption was associated with higher levels of good (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). But the cholesterol ratio — and heart health risk — wasn’t negatively affected.
In addition, levels of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) were reduced after eating eggs — meaning eggs were better at blunting appetite than oatmeal. (12)
Although this was a small study on a group of healthy participants, eggs can be a part of a healthy diet. If you have cardiovascular disease, speak to your healthcare provider about the amount of eggs to consume weekly.
Hard-boiled eggs are a convenient snack — aside from their smell. To make hard-boiled eggs:
- Put whole eggs in a saucepan and cover them with water.
- Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop.
- Once it starts boiling, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.
- Let the eggs continue to cook in the hot water for 15 minutes.
- Remove each egg using a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl of ice-cold water to chill. (13)
Once the eggs cool off, you can dry them off and store them in the refrigerator or peel them and eat them right away.
If you’re prepping them for the future, just be sure to consume your hard-boiled eggs within one week.
While it’s best to avoid eggs beyond their expiration date, choosing “older eggs” rather than fresher ones will make them easier to peel after boiling.
Slightly older eggs have a larger air cell between the egg and shell, so they don’t stick as tightly to the shell after boiling. (13)
If there’s a carton of eggs in your fridge that you haven’t had a chance to cook, making some boiled eggs for snack is a smart way to keep them from going to waste.
It’s true — green tea is a beverage and not a food.
But sometimes, having a hot cup of tea to sip on in between meals is a suitable substitute for a regular snack — especially if you’re not particularly hungry.
Green tea is also an excellent complement to a solid-food snack.
There are several ways green tea is believed to encourage weight loss. (9)
Compounds in green tea have been shown to block the activity of digestive enzymes — including pancreatic lipase, glucosidase, and amylase.
Since pancreatic lipase helps our body absorb fat from food, blocking this enzyme helps reduce fat absorption. In fact, the weight loss drug orlistat also works by inhibiting pancreatic lipase. (9)
Glucosidase and amylase are enzymes that help digest and absorb carbohydrates. Again, blocking these enzymes can lower the amount of energy our bodies take in from carbohydrate foods.
Furthermore, undigested carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal tract help feed “healthy bacteria” in the gut — potentially promoting a healthier body weight. (9)
Be sure to limit your caffeine intake before bedtime if you’re sensitive to its effects.
It’s possible to lose weight while still enjoying tasty snacks. The key is to focus on filling, nutritious ingredients with plenty of fiber and a dose of healthy fat and protein to help you feel full.
Snacks are an opportunity to boost your daily nutrition. Get an extra helping of vitamins and minerals from natural, whole foods as you select the perfect snack to hold you over until your next meal.
When in doubt, a fresh piece of fruit or a helping of crunchy veggies is always a good choice. (11)
At WellnessVerge, we only use primary references for our articles, including peer reviewed medical journals or well-respected academic institutions.
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- Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years | The BMJ:
- The Season for Strawberries - eatright/Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
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- How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet - eatright/Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- Weight loss: Feel full on fewer calories - Mayo Clinic:
- The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus - PMC:
- Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Current Evidence to Propose Different Food Supplements for Weight Loss: A Comprehensive Review | HTML:
- The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge - PMC:
- Nutrients | Free Full-Text | A Comprehensive Critical Assessment of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Weight Loss in Women | HTML:
- Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Consuming Two Eggs per Day, as Compared to an Oatmeal Breakfast, Decreases Plasma Ghrelin while Maintaining the LDL/HDL Ratio | HTML:
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