When you’re looking to lose weight, it might seem like snacks should get the axe. After all, mid-meal noshing can add high amounts of calories to your daily diet, and sometimes snacking is driven more by habit than hunger. Still, being on a weight loss journey doesn’t have to mean nixing snacks — even tasty ones you’ll enjoy!
By choosing the right healthy low-calorie snacks, you can actually support your efforts to slim down. We’ve rounded up 8 of the best snacks for weight loss.
What makes a snack healthy?
The snack aisle at the grocery store isn’t exactly a bastion of wellness. Often, foods we think of as snacks are formulated for convenience, not health. Many are loaded with saturated fat, added sugars, and artificial colors and flavors.
To make a better choice, keep a few parameters in mind. For starters, it’s best to select snacks that are minimally processed (as in, those that don’t contain high amounts of unhealthy fats, sugars and additives). Another measure of a snack’s healthfulness: its content of fiber, protein, and healthy fats — aka mono- and polyunsaturated ones. All of these nutrients help keep you full, minimizing cravings throughout the day. Check nutrition labels to snag snacks high in any (or all) of these components.
Finally, take a glance at how many calories a snack food contains. While each person’s weight loss journey is unique, 200 calories or less tends to be a good target for weight loss-friendly snacking. Pro tip: try to avoid empty-calorie snack foods like candy and sugary soda drinks.
Where does snacking fit in a weight loss plan?
Believe it or not, snacking has several benefits for achieving a healthy weight. Nibbling here and there prevents you from getting ravenous and accidentally overeating at mealtimes. Mid-day munchies also stabilize your blood sugar and provide energy, fueling everything from your workday to your workout.
Additionally, snacks can contribute to your total nutrition. If you find it hard to fit in enough fiber, for example, reach for a high-fiber Recharge Bar mid-morning or fruit smoothie in the afternoon. Or if you’re feeling the need for more protein, a handful of nuts or a few strips of jerky can fill in the gaps.
When should I snack?
The simple answer to when you should snack: When you’re hungry! Contrary to folk wisdom about not spoiling your dinner, there’s no perfect time to nibble on something small. You have the freedom to snack whenever you choose, without the need for a rigid schedule.
On the other hand, there’s definitely a logic to timing your snacks about mid-way between meals. Eating somewhere between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner helps you feel satiated and keeps your energy levels going strong.
Healthy sweet snacks
Ready to add some sweetness to your day? Try these four healthy low-calorie snacks.
Apples and peanut butter
It’s a classic for a reason! The combo of sweet-tart apples and creamy peanut butter is craveable any time of day — and it doesn’t get much easier than tossing a piece of fruit and a jar of PB into your purse or gym bag. Apples’ fiber (5 grams  in a medium Granny Smith) boosts feelings of fullness, while its water content (a whopping 86%) helps you stay hydrated. Peanut butter, meanwhile, comes packed with filling protein and healthy unsaturated fats.
Photo by: MelissaAnneGalleries on iStock
Greek yogurt is famous among weight loss snacks for its ample protein and gut-friendly probiotics. And sure, you can always whip up a yogurt parfait for healthy snacking. But for a more intriguing way to enjoy this dairy treat, try making frozen yogurt bark. Mix 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and add-ins of your choice (like berries, lemon zest, or chia seeds). Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Break into pieces of “bark” and snack away! This doubles as a family-friendly treat. Get the kids in on decorating the bark.
Photo by: SEE D JAN on iStock
Almonds and dark chocolate
Did someone say chocolate? We’re thrilled to report that everyone’s favorite dessert food can absolutely have a place in a weight loss plan. Choose the dark variety, which is loaded with anti-inflammatory antioxidants.  (An antioxidant-rich diet  might play a role in reducing the risk of obesity.)
Take your healthy snack a step further by pairing dark chocolate with almonds. You’ll get even more antioxidants, plus fiber, protein, and healthy fats. To keep this snack low-calorie, just make sure portion sizes are moderate. A small handful of nuts and 1 ounce of dark chocolate should be enough to tide you over between meals.
Simple energy balls
It’s easy to see why energy balls are so popular these days — they’re chewy, pop-able, and have just the right hint of sweetness. Besides their tasty flavor, they’re both simple to tote and easy to portion. And with ingredients like rolled oats and peanut butter for fiber, protein, and good-for-you fats, they’re weight loss gems.
Here’s how to whip up your own DIY energy balls:
1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup old-fashioned oats, ¼ cup ground flaxseed, ¼ cup honey or maple syrup, ½ cup creamy peanut butter, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Form into balls 1 inch in diameter.
2. Refrigerate until set and keep refrigerated or frozen.
Enjoy 1-2 per serving.
Healthy salty snacks
Some like it sweet, some like it salty. If you lean toward the savory side, you’ll love these healthy snacks for weight loss.
Savory snacks just seem more fun when they’ve got a bit of crunch. That’s where crispy baked chickpeas deliver! These bite-sized beans are the whole package for weight loss, with tons of fiber and protein, plus anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats from a drizzle of olive oil. Make them with this simple recipe:
1. Drain a 15-ounce can of chickpeas well. (You can even towel them off for extra dryness, which makes them crispier.) Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
2. Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes or until browned and crispy.
These are perfect on-the-go snacks. Divvy them up into small containers and take them with you for the week! We suggest a ¼ cup per serving.
Smoked salmon pinwheels
If you’re watching your carbs as well as your calories, smoked salmon pinwheels are an excellent savory choice. In fact, not only is salmon low-carb and packed with nutrients, its anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids might enhance weight loss. One study  found that people who included salmon in their diets three times a week experienced greater weight loss than those who didn’t. (They had lower inflammation levels, too!)
To assemble this quick and easy snack, slice smoked salmon into strips, then spread on a thin layer of low-fat cream cheese, followed by additions of your choice (like spinach leaves, fresh dill, or garlic). Roll into pinwheels and store in the fridge.
Veggies are never a bad choice, but the usual carrots and Ranch on repeat can get old. For an on-the-go snack that’s more novel—and supplies even more fiber and healthy fats — try veggie-guacamole cups.
Spoon a layer of store-bought guac into the bottom of a small cup. (Make it a disposable one for even more convenience). Slice your favorite veggies, such as cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers, into long matchsticks and pack them into the cup.
Keep your guacamole serving to 2 tablespoons if your goals include weight loss.
For protein, edamame makes a great alternative to other, heavier snacks like processed meats or protein bars. One cup of steamed soybeans comes with 18 grams  of this macro to keep you full and build muscle tissue. And with 188 calories per cup, edamame squeaks just under the 200-calorie mark. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on your beans to amplify their natural flavor.
We recommend 1/3 cup per serving if you’re trying to lose weight.
Photo by: Vilanda Pinijapiruk on iStock
The bottom line
Successful weight loss isn’t all restriction, all the time. You’re far more likely to achieve your weight goals when you listen to your body — and heed its call for nourishment between meals. By choosing nutrient-dense, low-calorie snacks, you’ll feel satisfied, not deprived, as you pursue the path toward better health.
Interested in a plan that takes the guesswork out of healthy snacking? Jenny’s got your back. Check out our science-backed weight loss and meal plans.
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.
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