Bid farewell to the biscuit tin and stay satiated until dinnertime.
By Annie Hayes
If you frequently find yourself feeling hungry between meals, low calorie snacks can bridge the gap without derailing your health. When the 3pm slump strikes, it’s easy to reach for a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps – but they’re unlikely to satiate you, meaning you’re more likely to swing by the biscuit tin for seconds.
What you choose to snack on affects your eating habits for the rest of the day. Healthy snacks that promote a feeling of fullness can actually reduce the amount of food you eat at subsequent meals – and limit your overall food consumption – according to research from the Institute of Food Technologists.
If you’re imagining a future filled with endless rice cakes, take it from us: low calorie snacks don’t have to be dull. Combine the right ingredients and they can be as tasty and filling as their energy-dense counterparts, with the added benefit of important nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Whether you’re a paid-up serial snacker or relatively new to the art of afternoon fridge-raiding, scroll on for 26 low calorie snacks that’ll keep you satiated until dinner:
When air-popped and lightly-seasoned, popcorn is a low-fat, low-calorie snack. As a whole grain, it’s high in gut-filling fibre and contains high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. Avoid pre-filled bags and buy plain kernels to pop at home – each 30g serve contains 113 calories.
If you’re looking for a refreshing sweet treat, try frozen grapes. Simply wash them, add to a ziploc bag and freeze overnight or for at least eight hours. A 150g serve contains 107 calories, and one third of your daily vitamin C and vitamin K intake.
3Avocado on rye crackers
Avocado is incredibly nutritious and immensely satiating – eating half an avocado (161 calories) reduces hunger by 40 per cent for three hours, a study published in Nutrition Journal found. Spread on a rye crispbread (37 calories) for a satisfying crunch. You’ll eat 8 per cent less at your next meal, Swedish scientists found.
4Almond butter celery boats
Slasher 30g almond butter (188 calories) on 100g celery stalks (16 calories) for a healthy, low calorie snack. The celery is high in fibre, while nut butter is a source of filling plant-based protein. To spice up the dish – quite literally – add one teaspoon of allspice to the almond butter first.
5Tuna, olive and feta bowl
To make this simple snack, combine 70g canned tuna, 10g kalamata olives, 15g feta cheese, 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp dried oregano. You’ll benefit from a potent dose of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants including vitamin E, plus calcium and vitamin B12. Total calories? 185.
6Greek yogurt with mixed berries
Not only does Greek yogurt contain twice the protein content of regular yogurts, but it’s packed with gut-healthy probiotic cultures. Add a handful of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to 100g Greek yogurt (125 calories) for a sweet, light snack filled with with fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants.
7Edamame and soy sauce
Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans that are packed with protein, at 11g per 50g serve (and 111 calories). Unlike other plant sources, they contain all nine essential amino acids, along with iron and vitamin K. Rather than sprinkling them with table salt, serve with a small dipping pot of soy sauce – it’s lower in sodium.
8Hummus and veggies
Made from blended chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice, hummus is a protein-rich dip that pairs well with raw veggies like carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and radishes. A 30g serving of hummus contains just 84 calories, while the water-rich veggies promote a feeling of fullness.
To make nuts more satisfying and flavoursome, try roasting them. Combine unsalted almonds in a bowl with a few dashes of tamari sauce, and then bake at 180°C for 10 minutes or until toasted. Enjoy a small handful – as a guide, there are 140 calories in 20 almonds – and store the rest in an airtight container.
10Hard boiled egg
Low in calories and nutrient-dense, eggs are sometimes called nature’s multivitamin, and for good reason. They’re packed with protein, B vitamins, choline, zinc, calcium, and a bevy of important nutrients and antioxidants. As well as being cheap and easy to prepare, each egg contains just 71 calories.
11Salmon, cottage cheese and cucumber rounds
These bite-size nibbles take seconds to assemble, and contain a mix of healthy fats and protein that’ll keep you satiated until dinnertime. Combine 60g salmon, 30g cottage cheese and 50g cucumber to make a snack totalling 145 calories.
12Banana and peanut butter
The ultimate combo for the 3pm slump. The fast-acting carbohydrates in banana will give you a burst of energy, and the protein in the peanut butter stabilises your blood sugar, avoiding a crash. One banana with 20g peanut butter clocks up 218 calories.
Depending on the ingredients, a smoothie can be a full-blown meal replacement – with banana, nut butter and all the trimmings – or it can be simple, low calorie snack. For a pared-down affair, try blending one kiwi, 250ml unsweetened almond milk and 60g spinach for a 91-calorie smoothie.
14Dark chocolate and apple
Apple skins contain inflammation-fighting quercetin, while dark chocolate‘s catechins reduce blood pressure. Better yet, the choc satisfies a sweet tooth, while the fibre in the apple will keep you full. A sliced apple served with 20g of dark choc totals 194 calories.
As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria – particularly the probiotic A. oryzae, which supports digestion. One 250ml serving contains 87 calories, along with 6g of protein and 11 per cent of your daily iron recommendation.
Don’t be fooled by their size – chia seeds are loaded with nutrients, especially manganese, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Soak two tablespoons (approx 20g) in 120ml of unsweetened coconut milk overnight and enjoy a 90-calorie snack the next morning. Top with cacao nibs and fruit for a sweet treat.
The combination of mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil makes for a healthy, filling snack. Mozzarella is lower in salt and calories than other cheeses, and is packed with probiotics and calcium. Slice 40g mozzarella, 50g tomatoes and drizzle with 1tsp olive oil and 1tsp balsamic vinegar for a 169-calorie snack.
Energy balls don’t have to be complicated. Add 200g pitted dates, 50g desiccated coconut and 15ml coconut oil to a food processor and blend. Divide the mixture into eight balls, coat with a little extra desiccated coconut and refrigerate for an hour – each will contain roughly 125 calories.
If you’re partial to a crunchy savoury snack, look no further than roasted chickpeas. Combine them with a teaspoon of olive oil, fresh or dried herbs of your choice – we like paprika, cumin and coriander – and bake in the oven at 180°C for 25 minutes or until golden brown. One 50g serving of chickpeas contains 82 calories.
20Vegetable soup with peas
A warming mug of vegetable soup can make a filling low calorie snack. You could make your own and freeze it ahead of time, or portion out a shop-bought version. To bulk up pureed soup without racking up calories, add 20g fibre-rich green peas to the bowl in exchange for an additional 18 calories.
With their soft texture, caramel-like flavour and rich antioxidant profile, dates make the perfect healthy treat. Slice them open and add a small scoop of nut butter for a sweet protein hit. Alternatively, try ricotta – this thick, creamy Italian cheese is packed with muscle-building whey.
22Goat’s cheese and pear
Slice a pear in half and place it on a baking tray. Top with 30g goat’s cheese and bake in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve immediately as a 183-calorie snack, or drizzle a touch of honey over the top to make it more indulgent.
These savoury bites are high in protein, packed with nutrients, and immensely flavourful from the seasonings. To make them, combine beaten eggs with chopped, cooked veggies, grated cheese, and herbs and spices. Bake in a muffin tin at 180°C for 25 to 30 minutes.
Who says a protein shake has to taste dull? Inject a bit of life into your post-workout shake with a few healthful additions, such as frozen fruit, flaxseed, cacao powder, maca, hazlenuts, or sunflower seeds. You could try a plant-based milk, such as oat, cashew, or almond. Blitz in a blender with ice before serving.
If you’re craving carbs, toast a slice of whole grain bread and top with 40g lentils, 50g tomato, 25g red onion and fresh basil. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving. Tuck in for just 208 calories.
26Falafel with yogurt dip
Whether shop-bought or home-made, falafel make a quick, easy-to-assemble snack at just 57 calories each – and they’re a reliable source of fibre and plant-based protein. To make the dip, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper.