So if like me you are a bit of a grazer, you know its all about the snacks. Sometimes when a big meal comes along I can’t get that excited, but when there are snacks around the house you know they are getting eaten! Snack alternatives can make a big difference as to whether these snacks affect our weight loss or gain!
Snacking and dieting
However the snack is one of those things that has been unfairly demonised by various diet plans and ‘ways of life’. All too often the snack is painted as the provider of all excess calories and often said to be stuffed full of sugar and unhealth fats.
This of course is true of any food that has that profile. An orange is stuffed full of sugar but painted in a very different light to a kit-kat, and rightly so, but in basic terms, they both contain sugar, but one is deemed a healthier snack than the other.
So if you are fond of reaching into the snack draw, or raiding the fridge for something small but tasty, what are the best types of snacks to have for your overall health, without compromising on taste and desirability?
This all depends of course on your lifestyle, what you like to eat, what your calorie goals are (if any) and how often you are taking food in. I believe that everyone has a slightly different requirement nutritionally, and I’m no expert, just an enthusiast who likes to keep in shape and look for alternatives to common narratives.
My favourite snack alternatives
Popcorn instead of crisps
So this is no trade secret, but most popcorn comes in at around 100 calories per small bag. I’m not suggesting getting the cinema bucket, and it would be better to have salted rather than sweet, or any other flavour that has a lot of sugar frankly. Popcorn is full of fibre, can be quite filling and is a decent source of carbs. It is low fat if you are trying to take in fewer calories and generally has fewer additives and long sounding chemicals in than most standard crisps.
Crackers instead of bread
So this one is a bit controversial, but instead of reaching for the bread and putting on two bits of toast, why not reach for a high fibre cracker instead. I love the Jacobs wholemeal as they are wonderfully salty and taste amazing just with some butter. They are roughly half the calories of bread and are pretty high in fibre. My other recommendations are Ruksen’s Matzos, which are just awesome and pretty large too, so one can do or if you are in the mood, get stuck into a second one.
Olive Oil instead of Butter
This one may seem a bit left field as if we are looking at calories, they are pretty close. However decent olive oil is very good for you, as is butter, but I think it sits better on the palette and has a variety of uses. I think for example if you have a decent baguette and can’t get your fix from crackers, a slice or two dipped in olive oil with some salt and pepper is a great snack, and the fats will certainly keep you full longer.
Yes they divide opinion, and many are not very low calorie, but if you need a chocolate fix, I think these are better than reaching for the Mars or Twix! I like Grenade bars and did a review on all the flavours, but be mindful that they are not low in calories, but are low in sugars. I know to reach for these when I want something sweet, but feel better afterwards than with a Snickers! I also use these snacks post-workout too as they have a solid amount of protein.
Finally, I personally eat meat and I enjoy meat snacks as they help me get to my protein requirement. I like M-EAT biltong, and I have a subscription for some packs to come each month. There are a lot of these at the moment, and I reviewed a Jack Links Beef bar recently as well, which was pretty good once I warmed up to it. I tend to favour the protein snacks as I sometimes struggle to get enough of that in with my meals, unlike carbs which seem to be easy to come by.
I hope these give you some suggestions and spark a thought or two in your head regarding swapping or adjusting your snacks. I could write all day about this and of course, we all know about carrots and celery etc, but it isn’t very realistic.
Just swapping a couple of bits of bread for crackers each day is about 50 calories, which over a month could add up to nearly a whole days food intake in calorie savings for some people. Snack alternatives is a cumulative thing, not a one-day solution.
What are your favourite snack alternatives? Are there any I have missed? Do comment and let me know below!
Oli Harris is a slave to a 4-year-old boy and a 4-year-old dog, and when he is not serving them, he publishes content on his website, The Sporting Blog. He is a sports enthusiast and has been trying to balance food, fun and fitness for a long time!
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