A major challenge of dieting is to lower your caloric intake while increasing your energy expenditure. While burning off calories is a crucial step to achieving any fitness goal, it can also leave you hungry. Here are 10 low-fat snacks that will help stave off hunger while keeping you on track with your diet, particularly when those late-night munchies hit.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., contributor to the “Healthy Eats” column on Foodnetwork.com, recommends a cup of broth-based or minestrone soup. Avoid cream-based soups, however, since these tend to be higher in calories and saturated fat.
Erica Kannall with Livestrong.com suggests popcorn as a crunchy, low-calorie snack before bed. It has only 31 calories per cup, without butter. Opt for black pepper, garlic powder or other dried seasonings to add flavor while keeping the calorie count low.
For a perfect bedtime snack that is satisfying as well as sleep-inducing, Holley Johnson Grainger with CookingLight.com recommends oats. This healthy food item contains melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate your sleep cycle.
For a cold, sweet dessert, it might be tempting to dig into a pint of ice cream. For a low-calorie alternative, frozen fruits are a rewarding snack. Alexa Erickson, contributor to Gethealthyu.com, recommends bananas and berries.
Refreshingly tart, cherries are another great option for a nighttime snack. Erickson points out that this fruit is also high in melatonin.
Foods high in protein will help you feel full without packing on the pounds. To this end, nuts are a great option. Grainger recommends almonds, which are high in magnesium and tryptophan to help your muscles relax and help your body feel sleepy.
Whole-wheat toast is an easy snack to make late at night. Erickson suggests avocado toast. Mash half an avocado, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Spread on the toast and enjoy.
For a snack that requires little to no preparation, go with vegetables. Kannall recommends selecting ones that are high in water and fiber, such as cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, peas and broccoli. Avoid pairing them with ranch dressing or another high-calorie dip; instead, try hummus for a filling but healthy option.
While some snacks claim to be healthy but are high in sugar, Greek yogurt is an exception. Erickson advises buying plain yogurt — rather than a flavored version — and adding topping such as honey, fruit and chocolate chips to lend sweetness while avoiding unhealthy additives such as corn syrup.
Cereal and milk
Amidor recommends milk and cereal as a great late-night snack. Choose whole-grain cereal paired with fat-free or low-fat milk to curb calories.
With a little forethought and preparation, you can easily incorporate low-calorie snacks into your diet. Make sure you have one or more of these items on hand for your next late-night food craving.