How to snack without ruining your diet

Sticking to a diet plan can be hard at times especially when hunger strikes. But you can still enjoy great food including snacks and still lose weight. With the right choices and portion sizes there are a great range of options you can choose without blowing your diet.

Here are some great tips and options whether you fancy something sweet or savoury.

Keeping it Healthy

Firstly there is nothing wrong with snacking particularly if you are working out daily and need a post-workout refuel. When you’re trying to lose fat or change your body composition you may well feel hungry at times. Without proper planning this can lead to mindless eating or bingeing. Planning in 1-2 snacks each day depending on your health goals and workouts can actually help you stick to your plan and be more consistent with your eating patterns. That doesn’t mean you have to snack – it is important to listen to your hunger signals but by being prepared, having a number of healthy options to hand can avoid you reaching for the cookie jar.

Watch the Calories

If you are going to snack make sure it is a snack and not actually a full meal.  Portion sizes have changed drastically over the years – supersizing of everyday snacks has meant it is very easy to consume far more calories than you intended.  Ideally look for snacks with around 150-200 calories.

What about post workout?

It is often a good idea to fit your snacks around your workouts. If you are working hard in the gym then having a small snack may help to refuel your body but it is not essential unless you are working out several times in the same day. If you will be shortly eating a meal then there is no need. However if it has been several hours since you have eaten and you won’t be eating a meal straight away then a small snack may be beneficial.

Savoury choices

If you tend to opt for something salty and savoury then here are a number of great portable snacks to choose from

Rice Cakes – choose the wholegrain, unflavoured rice cakes and pair up with some healthy fats or protein. Examples include mashed avocado, peanut butter, soft cheese, smoked salmon, hummus, tahini.

Example:  1 Kallo rice cake with 1tbsp hummus (15g)  56kcal

Popcorn – I am not referring here to the butterscotch cinema popcorn. Plain popcorn actually provides a lot of fibre and is relatively low in calories. You can pop your own kernels and flavour them with a little sea salt, nutritional yeast flakes or cinnamon.

Example: Small bag of lightly salted propercorn (10g) 44kcal

Pickled Gherkins – This may seem like a strange snack but honestly if you love something punchy and salty these are the ideal low calorie snack.

Example: 100g pickled Gherkins 29kcal

Edamame – You can find bags of frozen edamame beans in most supermakets these days. Not only are they a delicious addition to curries and stir fries but they make an ideal protein rich snack. Sprinkle over a little sea salt and black pepper and serve hot or cold

Example: ½ cup (75g) cooked edamame beans 147kcal

Slices Cooked chicken – For a speedy option packets of sliced cooked chicken breast is a no brainer. Filling and satisfying this is ideal for combating hunger pangs and a great way to make sure you hit your protein target for the day

Example: 100g cooked chicken breast slices 115kcal

Celery and Peanut butter – Sticks of celery make an ideal match for crunchy peanut butter or other nut butters. Choose a brand of nut butter without sugars or sweeteners.

Example: 2 sticks celery with 1tbsp (20g) peanut butter 157kcal

Nuts – Nuts are nutritious but they are also calorie dense if you’re not watching your portions – so buy small bags and watch how many you eat.

Example: Around 20 almonds gives 150kcal

Chive & Onion Cottage Cheese – Delicious straight out of the pot another high protein, low fat option to keep those cravings away.

Example: 1/4 of a pot (75g) Tesco Onion & Chive 0% Fat Cottage Cheese is only 42kcal

Hummus with cucumber – Keep some sliced cucumber prepared in the fridge and buy little tubs of hummus if you are tempted to eat the whole pot.

Example: One small pot hummus (70g) with 100g Cucumber 177kcal

Avocado – Mashed up on its own with sea salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime this is an easy fuss free option

Example: ½ small avocado 115 calories

avocado close and open with pit

Hard Boiled egg – Prepare some eggs in advance and keep them with their shells on in the fridge. Great with salt and pepper.

Example: One hard-boiled egg has 77 calories

Baked Tofu – Tofu takes on the flavour of whatever you add to it, and makes for a good vegan snack. Cube it, drizzle with a little olive oil, soy suace and seasoning and bake until golden brown. You can also use pre-made baked and marinated tofu.

Example: 100g Cauldron tofu has 118kcal

Roasted Nori Sheets – Roasted seaweed or nori sheets have a delicious salty taste without hardly any calories. You can either buy them toasted or you can simply place the sheets on a griddle pan or non stick frying pan (I cut them up into squares) and toast on either side until crisp.

Something Sweet

Dark Chocolate – There is no reason why you have to miss out on chocolate – but choose the dark variety (at least 70% cocoa solids). Dark chocolate is lower in sugar and also provides magnesium and antioxidants.

Example: Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate 70% contains 104kcal per 18g

Plain Yogurt and berries – A delicious creamy option that is great for the gut too. Use 0% Fat TOTAL Greek yogurt and top with a handful of strawberries. Great source of protein, beneficial bacteria and fibre from the berries

Example: 100g TOTAL 0% Fat Greek Yogurt and 4 Strawberries 69kcal

If you are dairy free use Soy or Coconut yogurt

Example: 100g Alpro Plain with coconut yogurt and 4 strawberries 71kcal

Chia Puddings – Filling thanks to their high fibre content chia puddings can be made the night before and used as snacks as well as breakfast options – see our strawberry chia pudding recipe for an example

Chocolate Protein Shake – Simple and perfect for chocolate cravings just blend up your favourite chocolate protein powder with coconut or almond milk

Mug Cakes – Made for one serving these take minutes to make and microwave. Adding some protein powder really helps bulk up the protein too.  Look at the recipes on the website for ideas

Fruit – You can’t go wrong with a piece of fruit for a sweet fix. Here are some ideas to make them special:

Freeze grapes and enjoy cold

Grill pink grapefruits or oranges topped with a little xylitol or stevia

Freeze chunks of bananas and blend to form ice cream

Dip Strawberries in dark chocolate

Blend berries in vanilla yogurt and freeze into lollies / pots

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Easy swaps

If you’re looking for ideas to replace your popular snacks here’s a quick guide to get you started.