The key to smart snacking is finding foods with a balance of complex carbohydrates, heart-healthy fat, and protein. This combination gives you long-lasting energy and prevents a spike in blood sugar that will leave you hungry in a few hours. Here are a few foods that will curb hunger and keep you feeling full.
Avocados are loaded with heart-healthy fats that help to sustain your energy levels. Research shows that they also help the body absorb valuable antioxidants. Mash up half an avocado and spread it over a piece of whole-grain bread for a mid-morning snack.
Beans pack a punch of nutrition with protein and fiber. Combine a few of your favorite cooked beans with basil or cilantro, minced onion, and bell pepper. Drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil to add healthy fats.
This garbanzo bean and sesame-based spread provides protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Use it as a dip for fresh vegetables or spread it over whole wheat pita bread for a healthy afternoon snack.
Natural Nut Butters
Store shelves are now lined with a variety of nut butters, including peanuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, and even macadamia nuts. All of these spreads contain the same quality protein and heart-healthy fat as whole nuts. Just be sure to read the label closely and select those that are unsweetened and low in sodium.
Research shows that people who eat peanuts maintain a lower BMI and waist circumference when compared to those who don't consume nuts. Peanuts help reduce hunger due to their high protein and fiber content which stabilizes blood sugar. They also provide monounsaturated fatty acids.
Not only do pistachios provide protein, fat, and fiber, but they are also one of the lowest calorie nuts. Taking the time to remove the shell will also slow your snacking, helping you to practice mindful eating.
Also called pepitas, a one-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds has nine grams of proteins and provides both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Snack on a few when hunger hits in the afternoon, and you will make it to dinner without giving in to an unhealthy option.
Yogurt contains fewer healthy fats than other snacks on this list, but it is packed with protein. Choose Greek yogurt for an even greater protein boost. Pay attention to nutrient and ingredient labels. Buy plain yogurt and add fruit to control the amount of sugar and calories in each serving.