Amazingly Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss
Finding healthy snacks that actually tastes great is almost an impossible task in today’s world, especially for an athlete. This task becomes even more difficult for the individual hoping to do some healthy snacking for weight loss or to lower their body fat percentage. Life would be great if we could have endless piles of fresh vegetables, fruit, and nuts at our fingertips but unfortunately, that’s not reality for an athlete constantly on the go. Not to mention, sometimes that gets a little boring. Coming from the world of sports nutrition, I understand the struggle you’re going through
Fortunately, through years of research, trial and error, and working with athletes from all levels, I have found a lot of great answers.
Why Healthy Snacks Need to be Clean Snacks
Take a good, hard look around you the next time you grocery shop. There are hundreds of snack type foods to choose from, but if you look closely, most of what you will find is filled with artificial flavor/coloring, chemical preservatives, and artificial sweeteners!
At first glance, the 100 calorie pack of treats appears to be the perfect solution, but when you flip over the label and all you find are foreign ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. Is it really worth it to fuel your body with poison? Nope, sorry. The best athletes run on “premium fuel” and if you are hoping to lose weight in an efficient manner while maintaining overall health and performance, snack time must be taken seriously!
How You Know If You’ve Chosen a High-Quality Snack That Promotes Weight Loss
For starters, a healthy snack should not contain added sugar. This means that the ingredient list will not contain sugar of any form. If you see words such as molasses, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, sucralose, cane sugar, agave syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose/high fructose corn syrup, maltose, nectar, your product contains added sugar. Even if you are able to find the organic forms of these sweeteners, IT IS STILL SUGAR THAT HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE PRODUCT!
Now, for the age-old question: But my apple contains the same amount of sugar as my granola bar, why does it matter which one I eat?
Excellent question. The major difference is that the apple you are eating does not contain added sugar. The fructose in the apple is naturally occurring, it was not created in a factory and injected into the apple. Our bodies digest and metabolize naturally occurring nutrients far better than they do those that are man-made. Plus, when you grow so accustomed to eating foods containing added sugar, it becomes quite a challenge to remove sugar out of your diet completely. Out of the >5,000 individuals, I have coached over the years, I can easily say this is one of the biggest obstacles for the athlete trying to lose weight.
Do Artificial Sweeteners Matter?
Alright, so you’re able to find healthy snacks or sports drinks that don’t contain added sugar, but they taste really sweet. That’s weird, right?
Go back to the ingredient list. Do you notice words like sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, or acesulfame potassium,? Uh oh!
These are artificial sweeteners and over time, research tells us that they may be even more harmful to the human body than regular ole sugar. Studies have linked artificial sweeteners to behavior disorders, changes in healthy gut bacteria and even an increased risk of diabetes. The food industry knows that the athlete trying to lose weight is looking for a low calorie/low sugar snack so most beverages and products geared toward weight loss tend to contain some form of artificial sweetener. At first glance, the nutrition facts label looks great but again, when your eyes jump down to the actual list of ingredients, you may be shocked.
Going forward, always look at the ingredient list before viewing the nutrition facts label.
The ingredient list always, always, always matters more.
OK, Give me the Healthy Snacks!
Now that we’ve tackled the sugar dilemma, let’s focus on our starting line up for the snack game: protein, plant-based fat, and fiber.
In an ideal situation, your snack would include all 3 key players. This magical trifecta is great for blood sugar stabilization and that lovely feeling of satiety. Just remember, when blood sugar is stable throughout the day, meaning that you do not experience an energy roller coaster of highs and lows, your body is able to burn fat more efficiently for fuel. Yes, you heard me. This means you can actually lose weight without feeling hungry or tired! It also means you can lose weight without hindering athletic performance.
Specific recommendations will depend on your sport, size and calorie goals but in general, your snack should contain 5-10 grams of high quality protein, 2-3 grams of fiber, and 3-5 grams of heart healthy, plant-based fat. In other words, large handfuls of crackers or pretzels is not going to do the trick. Neither will fruit snacks, sugary granola bars, or candy- even if the calories are low.
At this point, you might be thinking,
OK well, I understand the need for protein, fat, and fiber but I have zero extra time or desire to spend 3 hours in the grocery store trying to figure this out.
Fear not fellow athletes, let us do the job for you.
Below is a list of snacks that meet the criteria listed above.
I have a little bit of time to snack:
Snack size smoothie:
1 scoop of collagen peptides or collagen gelatin (We love the brand Vital Proteins)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 TBSP unsweetened almond butter
4-6 oz of your favorite unsweetened nut/seed milk or cow’s milk (if tolerated)
1/2-1 cup chopped rainbow carrots dipped in 1/4 cup of your favorite guacamole
1 oz of snap pea crisps dipped in 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite hummus
1 small banana dipped in 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed butter
Pro tip: slice the banana long ways, spread the sunflower seed butter along the middle of one half then place the other half on top. That’s what we at My FSN call a whole food sandwich!
I Have Zero Time for a Snack. I Need a Grab and Go Option!
What do you get when you cross a cracker with flaxseeds? Flackers! These crunchy bites are one of the most nutrient dense crackers on the market. The best part? They are rich in fiber, made from real ingredients and do not contain any form of gluten, dairy or flour. A major plus for those looking to decrease overall inflammation. Eat alone or dip in your favorite salsa or nut butter.
The perfect solution for the athlete who would prefer to down a Reese’s mid-afternoon. One Keto Cup contains 15 grams of plant-based fat, 3 grams of fiber and zero grams of sugar! This snack is perfect for the athlete who dreams of eating dessert to lose weight. Each cup is individually wrapped for your convenience.
Epic Meat Bars & Jerky
We promise they taste better than they sound! Epic makes great quality animal protein bars, ideal for a portable snack that will keep you satisfied. Every bar is seasoned to perfection and made with organic, grass-fed, humanely treated animals. The best part? Epic is the first company in the world to create a jerky without added sugar of any form- even honey, maple, or molasses.
Although most of these items can be found at a typical grocery store, certain items listed can only be found at specialty grocery stores. For the best price and ultimate convenience, we recommend our athletes visit Thrive Market online to purchase these products. Thrive Market is an online specialty grocery store that carries all of your favorite food and household products at a discount! The best part? All of your goods will be delivered right to your doorstep 4-5 days after ordering. Free shipping over $49.
Note: You will notice a small yearly membership fee. Most of My FSN viewers say they make up this difference within 2 months of ordering products from Thrive Market.
More Awesome Related Reading
- Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH (2007) Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698.
- Swithers S. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of indecent metabolic derangements. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013;24(9):431-441.
- Swithers SE. Davidson TL. A role for sweet taste: calorie predictive relations in energy regulation by rats. Behave Neurosci. 2008;122(1):161-173.
- Fagherazzi G. Vilier A, Sartorelli DS, Lajous M, Balkau B, Clavel-Chapelon C. Consumption of artificially and sugar-sweetened beverages and incident type 2 diabetes in the Etude Epidémiologique auprès des femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale–European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;ajcn.050997.
- Ludwig DS. Artificially sweetened beverages: Cause for concern. JAMA. 2009;302(22):2477-2478.
- Ashok I, Sheeladevi R. Biochemical responses and mitochondrial mediated activation of apoptosis on long-term effect of aspartame in rat brain. Redox Biol. 2014;2:820-831.