The weight loss industry is big business, bringing in more than $60 billion annually, according to data by market research firm Marketdata Enterprises. From gym memberships to weight loss programs, it is clear that Americans are constantly searching for both conventional and trendy ways to help lose weight. While exercising is unquestionably important for health in many ways, studies have repeatedly found that eating fewer calories is more effective than physical activity alone to lose weight.
Researchers at Loyola University Health System published some of their findings from studies and clinical trials in the International Journal of Epidemiology, and explained that since increased activity leads to greater appetite, subsequently more calories are taken in. Therefore, calorie control remains the main key to losing or maintaining weight, with or without exercise.
It then makes sense to choose the most nutritionally sound as well as satiating snack options to provide enough energy to fuel the body for workouts and throughout the day, without causing additional calorie consumption from increased appetite. Ideally, snacks should be a balanced mix of energy-providing carbohydrates with lean protein and fiber for fullness. Check out these tasty, easy snack ideas ideal for helping to lose weight.
1. Greek yogurt and raspberries, drizzled with honey
This tasty trio of ingredients feels more like a dessert than a snack, but can be a great pre-workout treat, light breakfast, or mid-morning snack. Its creamy texture blends a sweet flavor with filling nutrition, containing a balanced combination of fiber, healthy fat, and protein. Research from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition noted that the vitamin C in raspberries increases the body's fat-burning ability. Simply combine a single-serving, 6-oz container of plain, nonfat regular Greek yogurt and a cup of raspberries, topped with a half-tablespoon of honey.
2. Fruit and nuts
Perfect for eating on-the-go, the classic combination of fruit and nuts found in many trail mixes offers carbohydrates with fiber, healthy fats, and protein for lasting energy and satiety. Just be sure to keep portion control in check with the nuts, and stick to 1 cup of fruit and a small handful of nuts. Grapes and walnuts pair well together, as do peanuts and raisins. Dried fruit often contains added sugar, so be mindful of ingredients when not eating fresh. Almonds (raw, not roasted) and cranberries are another good combination, as cranberries are naturally tart and usually sweetened with cane sugar. When no fruit is available, choose in-shell pistachios, dubbed the "Skinny Nut". By taking longer to eat, they encourage more mindful, satisfied eating, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Just 1 cup of edamame contains almost one-third of the daily recommended value of fiber and protein. Just be sure to choose Non-GMO Verified edamame since most soybeans are grown with GMOs. By choosing the shelled variety, they take longer to eat. Further, research published in the journal Appetite found that by seeing the remnants of a food (for edamame, the pods), the mind is tricked into thinking it consumed more. Quick and easy, edamame can be cooked on the stove in just 5 minutes, then sprinkled with salt for a little added flavor. It can be eaten warm, or set aside and chilled.
4. Whole wheat crackers and cottage cheese
Sometimes snacking just calls for something with a satisfying crunch. Pretzels have long been a dieter’s snack, but offer little nutritional value. Whole wheat crackers offer complex carbs, while a half-cup serving of cottage cheese contains a quarter of the daily recommended value of protein to stay full until the next meal.
5. Banana with peanut butter
Both portable and tasty, this simple snack can be easily enjoyed at a desk without refrigeration. Smear a tablespoon of peanut butter on a medium-sized banana for mood and energy-boosting carbs along with tasty protein for lasting energy and fullness. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that consuming peanut butter in the morning curbed appetite for the entire day. Choose natural, organic peanut butter to avoid fillers and excess sugar.
6. Fresh veggies and hummus
Chop up some carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower and dip into your favorite hummus. Obviously, the fresh veggies are great for you and full of nutrients and hummus, in moderation, is a healthy snack full of protein and fiber.