It’s no secret that losing weight isn’t easy; in fact, it can be downright frustrating. Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not just about exercising vigorously or eating a diet of solely fruits and vegetables. Whether it’s because they speed up your metabolism or because they keep you feeling full, there are some foods that can help you lose weight, despite not being considered “healthy.”
String cheese is the perfect quick snack for any time of day – its small packaging allows for easy storage in your purse or briefcase. String cheese is naturally low in calories, does not contain carbohydrates and is a lean protein, so you will feel full without having consumed too many calories. From a nutritional perspective, string cheese provides valuable amounts of calcium and vitamin A. Please be cautious, however, as string cheese often contains higher levels of sodium, it may not be appropriate for those on low-sodium diets. To help reduce the sodium content, soak it in water before eating.
Apples and pears are low in calories, yet packed with fiber, which can help you feel full and control your appetite. Furthermore, the high pectin levels in apples can help slow digestion and create a feeling of fullness. Pears contain 12 percent of your daily suggested intake of vitamin C, which research suggests can help maintain a low body fat percentage. When choosing pears and apples, aim to eat organic – they’ve been shown to contain less pesticide residues.
All-natural peanut butter is loaded with protein and fiber. Together, they help you feel full and maintain this feeling longer, so naturally, you’ll eat less. Research has shown that people who added 500 calories of peanuts to their regular diet consumed less at meals and increased their resting metabolism by 11 percent. Be cautious when choosing your peanut butter: Read the ingredients and nutrition facts to ensure that it does not contain too much added sugar.
Black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which recent research has shown may increase energy expenditure and may prevent the formation of new fat cells. Before you begin sprinkling this spice on all your meals, know that this research has not been carried out in humans – more research is needed before confirming pepper’s effects on weight loss. Still, other peppers, such as jalapenos or chili peppers, have been shown to have modest effects on metabolism because of the compound which gives them their infamous heat, capsaicin.
Air-popped popcorn, in stark contrast to its cousin movie theatre popcorn, contains few calories and is full of fiber, which will help you keep you feeling full. The hull of popcorn contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that may also have disease-fighting properties. When preparing popcorn, don’t add tons of butter and salt. Instead, choose sodium-free seasonings or herbs to keep it healthy. Pesky popcorn hull, which often lodges itself between your gums and teeth, can also get caught in the stomach and intestines of those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or who have diverticulitis, so this food may not be appropriate for this population.
As a general rule, moderation is key when it comes to weight loss: moderate exercise, moderate calorie-cutting, etc. It’s best to not make very drastic changes in your lifestyle; you want to be able to maintain your exercise regimen and healthful eating habits for the long term.
- Cheerios: A Good Choice For a Healthy Snack?
- 15 Actually Healthier Cereals (and How to Pick ’Em)
- 1. Barbara’s Original Puffins
- 2. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins
- 3. Seven Sundays Wild & Free Blueberry Chia Muesli
- 4. Bear Naked Vanilla Almond Fit Granola
- 5. Cascadian Farm Hearty Morning
- 6. Cascadian Farm Multi Grain Squares
- 7. Cascadian Farm Purely O’s
- 8. General Mills Total
- 9. General Mills Wheaties
- 10. Kashi Go Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
- 11. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Organic Whole Wheat Biscuits
- 12. Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
- 13. Lydia’s Kind Foods Berry Good Cereal
- 14. Post Foods Grape-Nuts
- 15. Quaker Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares
- How to Pick a Better Cereal
- 87 Healthy Low-Calorie Snacks That Fill You Up
- 35. Cucumber salad
- 36. Pistachios
- 37. Cheese and crackers
- 38. Spicy egg
- 39. Cheesy breaded tomatoes
- 40. Curried sweet potato
- 41. “Cheesy” popcorn
- 42. Guacamole-stuffed egg whites
- 43. Grilled spinach and feta polenta
- 44. Soy edamame
- 45. Greek tomatoes
- 46. Shrimp cocktail
- 47. Smoked beef jerky
- 48. Cheddar and tomato soup
- 49. Sweet potato fries
- 50. Cucumber sandwich
- 51. Turkey roll-ups
- 52. Antipasto plate
- 53. Choco-soy nuts
- 54. Mixed olives
- 55. Balsamic peppers
- 56. Cheesy roasted asparagus
- 57. Carrots and hummus
- 58. Spinach and feta scramble
- 59. Crunchy kale salad
- 60. Chickpea salad
- 61. Grilled garlic corn on the cob
- 62. Bacon brussels salad
- 63. Rosemary potatoes
- 64. Spicy black beans
- 65. Caprese salad
- 66. Mini ham sandwich
- 67. Lox bagel
- What 100 Calories Really Looks Like for 25 Foods
- McDonald’s Cheeseburger
- Peanut Butter
- Potato Chips
- Cheddar Cheese
- 2% Greek Yogurt
- Baby Spinach
- Domino’s Pizza
- Grilled Chicken
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
- Ice Cream
- 100-Calorie Snacks That Actually Keep You Full and Satisfied
- 1. Pumpkin Yogurt
- 2. DIY Chunky Apple Sauce
- 3. Cottage Cheese and Cantaloupe
- 4. Egg Whites and Toast
- 5. Red Pepper and Goat Cheese
- 6. Jicama and Honey Mustard Dip
- 7. Carrots and Hummus
- 8. Cukes and Cream Cheese
- 9. Broccoli and Tzatziki Sauce
- 10. Baby Corn and Soy Sauce
- 11. Open Faced Turkey Sammie
- 12. Apples and Cheese
- 13. 14 Almonds
- 14. Rice Cake and Almond Butter
- 15. 22 Pistachios
- 16. Cheesy Popcorn
- 17. Kettle Corn
- 18. Avocado Rice Cake
- 19. Hard Boiled Egg Whites and Mustard
- 20. Watermelon Salad
- 21. Mexican Potato
- 22. White Bean Salad
- 24. Baked Apple
- 25. Frozen Grapes
- 26. Strawberries and Goat Cheese
- 28. English Muffin and Fruit Butter
- 29. Protein Shake
- 30. Enlightened Bars
- 31. Dark Chocolate
- Originally published February 2014. Updated February 2015.
- What about homemade snacks?
- 5 easy homemade snacks for kids
Cheerios: A Good Choice For a Healthy Snack?
Snack Girl has spent A LOT of time in the cereal aisle looking for a great choice for Snack Girl readers. It isn’t easy to find a cereal that passes the Candy or Breakfast? Evaluate Your Cereal test.
This YELLOW box with the heart on it called out to me from the shelf. And, my friend Katherine, asked me what I thought of this icon of American cereal.
How does Cheerios do?
Healthy or Crappy Cereal Test
1. Is the first ingredient whole grain? Cheerios passes with whole grain oats as its first ingredient.
2. Is sugar, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, honey the second ingredient? Cheerios passes again with sugar being the third ingredient.
3. One serving must provides at least 4 grams of fiber. You can remember this one with Four Fiber. Cheerios fails – but by just one gram. It has 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
So, Cheerios fares pretty well. It tastes a bit like cardboard to me, and it is a processed food and that means that it might not be the best for your blood sugar after you eat it.
Will you get a sugar spike from eating them?
Cheerios has a glycemic index (GI) rating of 74 versus old fashioned rolled oats, which have a GI of 46. A Lower GI rating indicate that a food has less impact on blood sugar levels.
(To review my definition of Glycemic Index see Multigrain Tostitos)
Basically, the more processed a food is by the food manufacturer – the more “digested” it is before it hits your blood stream.
Overnight Oatmeal is a better choice, and it is cheaper per serving. But, we don’t always want to eat oatmeal. Personally, I like oatmeal better than Cheerios, but I don’t always have the time to make oatmeal.
My suggestion is to treat Cheerios like Toast. Use it as a medium for other good stuff like strawberries. Add a little peanut butter with your milk anda banana.
Pump up the nutrition of the Cheerios with other lower GI foods and I think you have a healthy breakfast. All on its own with just milk (which is filled with sugar), it is not so great.
What is your favorite healthy packaged cereal and with what do you serve it?
Want to read about snacks?
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3 Reasons to Avoid Ritz Crackers
Sneezing Your Way Through Spring? Try This Sweet Cure
15 Actually Healthier Cereals (and How to Pick ’Em)
When you’re racing to get up and out the door every morning (no judgment — we’re right there with you), the last thing you have time for is a leisurely gourmet breakfast.
Don’t get us wrong: If you can whip up a world-class meal in the a.m., more power to you. (We’ve even got some lists to help! Try frittata recipes with just four ingredients or these super-smart meal-prep ideas.)
But for most of us mere mortals, healthier cereal is probably the most realistic option.
To be honest, it’s not shocking that cereal often gets a bad rap for being packed with sugar, low in protein, and generally lacking in nutritional value. (Hint: If it has marshmallows in it, it probably isn’t good for you. Sorry, leprechauns.)
It’s true that even the healthiest of packaged cereals are still processed foods, which we’d all do well to minimize in our diets.
But some healthier cereal options are hiding behind Toucan Sam. While these cereals might not have prizes in their boxes and most contain added sugar, they’ll fuel you up with some actual nutrients.
When we think it’s helpful, editors sometimes add links to products. Greatist may get a small commission if you buy something this way.
1. Barbara’s Original Puffins
This cereal has a lot going for it, and we’re not just talking about the adorable puffin on the box. Crunchy, only lightly sweetened, and relatively high in fiber, it’s a solid morning option. Plus, Original Puffins are dairy- and wheat-free, so they’re a great choice for those with food sensitivities.
2. Barbara’s Cinnamon Puffins
With a little more sweetness than the Original Puffins, these cinnamony corn pillows are a good option if you have a sweet tooth but you’re still trying to watch your sugar intake. They’ve got 6 grams each of fiber and sugar, so they taste great while keeping you full.
3. Seven Sundays Wild & Free Blueberry Chia Muesli
This tasty muesli lets you try out interesting grains like sorghum and buckwheat, along with chia seeds, all in the familiar form of breakfast cereal. Big win: It’s sweetened only with honey and fruit — blueberries and apples (OK, and a bit of apple juice).
It’s a pretty darn healthy choice with 6 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein.
4. Bear Naked Vanilla Almond Fit Granola
Ready to keep riding the granola train? This crunchy mix of oats, almonds, and brown rice also contains flaxseeds, which are full of healthy omega-3 fats. A ½-cup serving delivers 5 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.
Serve with almond milk for a nice flavor boost.
5. Cascadian Farm Hearty Morning
Wheat bran and other whole grains pack this cereal with 10 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving, which should keep you full straight through to lunch. Top with your favorite fruits or nuts for extra flavor.
6. Cascadian Farm Multi Grain Squares
Whole wheat, rice, and corn — oh, my! These little squares are high in fiber and relatively high in protein, so they’re a smart choice for a morning meal.
7. Cascadian Farm Purely O’s
Extremely similar to another brand (*cough* Cheerios *cough*), this version boasts mainly organic ingredients for a slightly different spin on an old-school favorite. A nice large serving size (1½ cups) with just 1 gram of sugar means you can enjoy even more of them at a time.
8. General Mills Total
This cereal is a workhorse of whole-grain flaky goodness — and it’s packed with vitamins to boot. Bonus: Crush this cereal and use it in place of breadcrumbs in your favorite recipes.
9. General Mills Wheaties
Breakfast of champions? You bet. With just 4 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber, these whole-grain wheat flakes will certainly make you feel like a champ, even if your face has never graced a Wheaties box.
10. Kashi Go Peanut Butter Crunch Cereal
This peanut-buttery soy-based cereal packs a double whammy of craveable flavor and a hefty 10 grams of plant-based protein. You’ll also get nearly a quarter of your daily fiber needs in a ¾-cup serving.
11. Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Organic Whole Wheat Biscuits
Though it’s made with only four ingredients, this cereal packs a punch. The crunchy biscuits are made from whole-grain wheat and are loaded with 7 grams of fiber per serving.
With 7 grams of protein per serving, too, a bowl of this in the morning can reduce hunger long after breakfast is over.
12. Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
Kashi has done it again. This good-for-you cereal gets its 4 grams of fiber (per ¾-cup serving) from whole oat flour and cornmeal. It has 5 grams of sugar and a few of protein, too, so it’s a decent choice for your morning crunch.
13. Lydia’s Kind Foods Berry Good Cereal
A healthy gluten-free option, this cereal is a fruit lover’s dream come true, thanks to a whole lot of berries. It also provides a huge protein punch — 11 grams per serving — and healthy fats in the form of sunflower seeds.
14. Post Foods Grape-Nuts
The story goes that Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to reach Mount Everest’s summit, munched on Grape-Nuts during the trek to fuel himself to the top.
Even if you’re not climbing mountains, one serving of this whole-grain cereal will provide 7 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein to help you conquer whatever the day has in store.
15. Quaker Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares
With a slightly sweet honey flavor and a crunchiness that won’t quit (even after you add milk), this cereal gives you a dose of protein and serves as a good base for your favorite fruit and nuts. It’s also a great addition to a trail mix.
How to Pick a Better Cereal
Ready to tackle the cereal aisle? According to Tina Gowin, RD, CDN, three key factors go into selecting a cereal that will offer the best nutritional bang for your buck: sugar, fiber, and whole grains. And don’t forget about portion sizes.
Tips to keep in mind:
Anything with 10 grams or more of added sugar pretty much turns breakfast into dessert. This is particularly important if you want to avoid a blood sugar crash later — and the shakiness, irritability, and anxiety that can come with it (as if you needed something else to worry about!). Eckert-Norton M, et al. (2013). Non-diabetic hypoglycemia. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2013-v98i10.39A
To feel fuller longer, look for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, preferably more. A diet high in fiber will help with digestion, keeping your body regular — not to mention a whole slew of other health benefits.
Fiber can also reduce your cholesterol levels, keep those tricky blood sugar levels steady, and even improve physical performance. Wu I-C, et al. (2013). Association between dietary fiber intake and physical performance in older adults: A nationwide study in Taiwan. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080209
Don’t skip over the ingredient list
The first ingredient should be a whole grain, whether it’s whole wheat, whole oats, or whole barley. Grains with the word “whole” in front of them may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Aune D, et al. (2016). Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: Systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i2716
Also look for ingredients you recognize and can pronounce, rather than mysterious processed ones. One exception: the “tocopherols” you’ll often see on cereal labels. This is just a form of vitamin E that’s widely considered safe.
Power up with protein
If you want to load up on protein during breakfast, which can help curb overeating later, look for cereals with more than 5 grams of protein per serving.
Does your favorite cereal fall short? Pair it with an egg or yogurt to round out your morning meal.
Keep portion sizes in mind
It’s easy to forget that cereals have a suggested serving size — and it can be a lot smaller than what we’re pouring straight from the box. Gowin suggests measuring out the serving as a start to see what it actually looks like and whether more is really necessary.
Bulking up cereal with chopped nuts or fruit, like a sliced banana or a handful of berries, is an easy way to make your bowl more filling if that one serving isn’t cutting it.
And there you have it: Your guide to navigating the boxed breakfast aisle. Happy munching!
87 Healthy Low-Calorie Snacks That Fill You Up
35. Cucumber salad
1 large cucumber, sliced, tossed with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
37. Cheese and crackers
5 Kashi Original 7 Grain crackers with 1 part-skim mozzarella cheese stick
38. Spicy egg
1 hard-boiled egg drizzled with 1 teaspoon sriracha
39. Cheesy breaded tomatoes
2 roasted plum tomatoes, sliced, topped with 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese
40. Curried sweet potato
1 small sweet potato microwaved for 6 minutes and mashed with 1 teaspoon curry and salt and pepper to taste
41. “Cheesy” popcorn
2 cups air-popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
42. Guacamole-stuffed egg whites
1 halved hard-boiled egg, yolk removed, stuffed with 2 tablespoons guacamole
43. Grilled spinach and feta polenta
2 slices precooked polenta (look for the tubes in the grocery store) topped with 1 teaspoon feta cheese and 1 handful spinach
44. Soy edamame
1/3 cup boiled shelled edamame with 1 teaspoon soy sauce
45. Greek tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped and mixed with 2 tablespoons feta and 1 squeeze lemon juice
46. Shrimp cocktail
8 large shrimp with 2 tablespoons classic cocktail sauce
47. Smoked beef jerky
48. Cheddar and tomato soup
1/2 cup tomato soup with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese
49. Sweet potato fries
1 light bulb-size sweet potato, sliced, tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil, and baked at 400°F (about 200°C) for 10 minutes
50. Cucumber sandwich
1/2 English muffin with 2 tablespoons cottage cheese and 3 slices cucumber
51. Turkey roll-ups
2 slices smoked turkey, rolled up and dipped in 2 teaspoons honey mustard
52. Antipasto plate
3 pepperoncini, 1 (1/2-inch) cube cheddar cheese, 2 slices pepperoni, and 2 extra-large olives
53. Choco-soy nuts
3 tablespoons soy nuts with 1 teaspoon cocoa nibs
54. Mixed olives
8 large olives
55. Balsamic peppers
3 cups raw peppers, sliced, dipped in 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction
56. Cheesy roasted asparagus
6 spears, spritzed with olive oil spray, sprinkled with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and baked at 400°F (about 200°C) for 10 minutes
57. Carrots and hummus
12 medium baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus
58. Spinach and feta scramble
1 scrambled egg mixed with 1/2 cup raw spinach and 1 tablespoon feta cheese
59. Crunchy kale salad
2 cups chopped kale leaves tossed with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon honey
60. Chickpea salad
1/3 cup chickpeas tossed with 1/4 cup diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, and 1 squeeze lemon juice
61. Grilled garlic corn on the cob
1 small cob of corn, brushed with 1 teaspoon sautéed minced garlic and 1 teaspoon olive oil and grilled until tender
62. Bacon brussels salad
7 thinly sliced brussels sprouts mixed with 1 crumbled piece turkey bacon
63. Rosemary potatoes
1/3 cup thinly sliced cooked potato tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
64. Spicy black beans
1/3 cup black beans with 1 tablespoon salsa and 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
65. Caprese salad
1 ounce (about the size of a hockey puck) fresh mozzarella with 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
66. Mini ham sandwich
2 slices honey-baked ham with 2 teaspoons honey mustard, rolled in 1 lettuce leaf
67. Lox bagel
1/2 whole-wheat mini bagel with 1 ounce (2 thin slices) lox
What 100 Calories Really Looks Like for 25 Foods
You know calories count when it comes to weight loss, but a growing body of nutrition research is showing that where you get those calories could matter more than the number alone. For example, The Satiety Index study shows that the number of calories participants consumed was not able to predict how full the participants felt after snacking. For example, even though a square of chocolate has more calories than a couple cups of popcorn, studies show that participants report feeling more satisfied after eating the popcorn.
Here’s another way to think about it: Would you feel like you got more fuel for your body from 26 pistachios or a mere 3 bites of ice cream? Both snacks are equivalent to 100 calories, but according to research, you’ll likely feel more satiated after eating the handful of nuts.
So, don’t be tricked into thinking you’re doing your body a favor by choosing the 100-calorie bag of Oreos. Instead, turn to whole foods that are naturally high in hunger-quelling macronutrients—protein, fiber, and healthy fats—as well as hydrating water. You can also benefit from eliminating foods and beverages that provoke your cravings, like these foods that make you hungrier. To help you see how 100 calories differ between foods, we compiled a visual list below. Some will surprise you!
100 calories = ⅓ McDonald’s Original Cheeseburger
You’d only get through a few bites into your McDonald’s cheeseburger before you hit the 100-calorie mark. Despite being fast food, this order isn’t a deal breaker. Made with a good balance of protein, fat, and carbs, you’d be better off with this pick over a McCafe shake.
100 calories = 25 Strawberries
An entire pint from the supermarket may not even be 100 calories! Feel free to stock up and fill up on this fiber-rich fruit.
100 calories = 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
Thanks to their high fat content, nuts are one of the most calorie-dense foods you can eat. (Hence why a single tablespoon will set you back 100 calories.) If you’re looking for a great nut-based source of protein, check out our exclusive list of top peanut butters—ranked!
100 calories = 9 Lay’s chips or about ⅔ bag
The most disappointing part of learning that you won’t even be able to finish an entire bag of Lay’s before you reach 100 calories; it’s that most of those calories come from the added vegetable oils the potatoes are deep fried in.
100 calories = 0.88 oz, a little over 3 cubes or about 1/9 block Tillamook Sharp Cheddar
Although you’re only eating a little over 3 cubes of cheese, that serving size will also fill you up with 9 grams of healthy fats and 6 grams of muscle-building protein.
2% Greek Yogurt
100 calories = 4.6 oz 2% Greek Yogurt or ⅔ container Fage
Greek yogurt is one of our favorite weight-loss foods for a good reason. For just 100 calories, you’ll consume a whopping 13 grams of protein, the metabolism-stoking macronutrient. Fage’s containers are, on average, bigger than what you’ll usually find on supermarket shelves, so feel free to get their larger container and dole out a few scoops to your liking.
100 calories = about 23 pieces M&M Candies or 42 percent of one 1.69-oz bag
If we had our pick of candies, we’d likely tell you to go with M&Ms. Why? You’d get to eat 23 pieces for the same number of calories as a single Twix bar.
100 calories = 3 cups Air-Popped Popcorn
According to the Satiety Index, low-calorie, high-volume snacks like popcorn will make you feel more satisfied after snacking than if you reached for a higher-calorie, smaller snack, such as chocolate.
100 calories = 8 fl oz Coca-Cola or ¾ standard 12 oz can
Sure, you get pretty close to being able to drink an entire can of soda for 100 calories, but those calories are entirely made up of sugar—the insulin-spiking nutrient that causes your body to store fat instead of burning it.
100 calories = 1 16-oz package of Earthbound Farm Baby Spinach
That’s right. An entire 16-ounce package of baby spinach is a mere 100 calories. Not only is the leafy green low in calories, but it’s one of the richest sources of the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which neutralize the free radicals that can damage cells and cause inflammation.
100 calories = 1 medium banana
Some pretty amazing things happen to your body when you eat bananas. And this tropical fruit is one of our favorite picks for weight loss because you can eat the entire thing for only 100 calories!
100 calories = 1 ⅞ Oreo Cookies
You may know that one of our best weight loss tips is to always leave a bite behind, but leaving an eighth of an Oreo behind to only eat 100 calories? That’s just cruel.
100 calories = 1 Tablespoon Butter
Make those calories count by picking up a grass-fed butter brand like Kerrygold. Made with dairy from grass-fed cows, this type of butter is full of fatty acids—like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)—that crank up your body’s calorie-burning centers.
100 calories = 4 fl oz, or ⅘ standard 5-oz glass of wine
You won’t have to miss much when pouring a 100-calorie glass of wine—just cut out an ounce, which is less than a standard shot glass. Keep your waistline in mind as you’re sipping by choosing one of these best wines for weight loss.
100 calories = ⅓ of 1 slice Domino’s Hand Tossed Large, 14″ Cheese Pizza (cut into 8 slices)
Everyone loves pizza. No one loves eating a third of a slice of pizza. This has to be one of the most disappointing 100-calorie servings on our list.
100 calories = 2 ⅓ oz or ⅓ average piece chicken breast
Even a lean cut of meat like chicken is still calorie dense. A third of an average breast will get you to 100 calories. On the plus side, those calories also come packed with 20 muscle-building, metabolism-revving grams of protein. Talk about bang for your buck.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100 calories = 2½ teaspoons or ⅘ tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
We typically don’t think twice about adding EVOO to recipes since studies have connected the olive oil to a healthy heart. However, keep in mind that the key to using oil while continuing to lose weight is moderation—especially since a tablespoon is around 120 calories. Cut 50+ calories by breaking out a spritzer, such as a Misto. This tool makes it easy to mist your favorite oil on an entire dish without overdoing it.
100 calories = 5 teaspoons, a little over 3 tablespoons, or ⅕ 8-oz container Cedar’s Hommus
Good news, hummus lovers! You can add another tablespoon to your standard serving and hit 100 calories. Made from a great protein source, chickpeas, hummus is also full of healthy fats and fiber.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
100 calories = 91 percent of 1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
You can’t even eat an entire peanut butter cup if you’re sticking to a 100 calorie maximum. Boo.
100 calories = 1¼ cups or 129 blueberries
For the same number of calories as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, you could (try to) eat a staggering 129 blueberries! The antioxidant-rich fruit is one powerful inflammation fighter, thanks to the presence of anthocyanins, which is a class of flavonoids that effectively turn off inflammatory genes.
100 calories = ⅓ Avocado
For just 100 calories, you’ll also be getting 10 grams of healthy monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid, which can actually help quiet feelings of hunger. That’s not all: The same serving comes packed with 5 grams of digestion-slowing fiber! Here’s a tip: Adding fatty avocado to your salad will help your body absorb more health-promoting micronutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
100 calories = 1 medium apple
Apples are not only an easily portable snack, but they’re also powerful fat fighters. Their high fiber content—4.4 grams per medium apple—will help to slow blood sugar spikes and keep energy levels stable. Oh, and make sure you leave the skin on! Peeling it off means you’ll only consume 2.1 grams of dietary fiber for the same sized apple.
100 calories = under ¼ cup uncooked elbow macaroni
Go with a smaller cut of pasta, such as elbow macaroni, if you’re planning to keep your serving to 100 calories. A larger cut—like ziti or penne—will make it appear like you’re eating a lot less.
100 calories = 25 baby carrots
At 4 calories a pop, baby carrots are a great pick when it comes to some of the best snacks for weight loss and better health. Not only are they low in calories, but they’re also packed with 7 grams of fiber and 215 grams of water—nearly as much as an 8-ounce glass!
100 calories = 8 teaspoons, under 3 tablespoons (think: spoonful), or 1/12 pint Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream
Although fans go bananas for this Ben & Jerry’s flavor, you’d be nutty to eat more than a 300-calorie serving (which is just half a cup!). If you’re trying to stick to 100 calories, you’d only be able to dig your spoon in three times. Luckily, you won’t have to deprive yourself of all ice creams since this is one of the most calorie-dense frozen treats from the Vermont duo.
Get the New Book!
Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!
100-Calorie Snacks That Actually Keep You Full and Satisfied
Healthy eating isn’t all about calorie counting. Nutritious foods are key, but sometimes it’s nice to know you can grab a quick snack that doesn’t deliver an entire meal’s worth of calories. The next time hunger creeps up when it’s least convenient (like 30 minutes before a dinner reservation), turn to this list for a small and satisfying bite that won’t ruin a healthy day.
1. Pumpkin Yogurt
Combine 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek Yogurt with 1/4 cup pumpkin purée. Sweeten with stevia, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice blend (or cinnamon). Pumpkin is a low fat way to increase this snack’s fiber and flavor profile.
2. DIY Chunky Apple Sauce
Dice up half a tennis-ball sized apple and add it to 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce. (So much apple!) You’ll get the spoonability of apple sauce, but with an added fresh crunch—not like that store-bought mushy stuff. Sprinkle with some cinnamon for an extra flavor kick.
3. Cottage Cheese and Cantaloupe
Top 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of diced cantaloupe. That 1/2 cup of cantaloupe delivers 50 percent of the daily recommended values of vitamins A and C—two vitamins that may help promote clear skin.
4. Egg Whites and Toast
Toast one slice whole-wheat bread and top with two scrambled egg whites. Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and paprika.
5. Red Pepper and Goat Cheese
Slice up one medium red pepper and enjoy with 2 tablespoons soft goat cheese. Goat cheese is tangy and flavorful, has about one third fewer calories and one third the fat per ounce compared to cow’s milk cheese.
6. Jicama and Honey Mustard Dip
Hicka-what? Jicama (pronounced, hic-kuh-muh) is a root veggie that touts six grams of fiber per cup. Peel and slice 1 1/2 cups, and dip into a mixture of 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon mustard, and 1 teaspoon honey.
7. Carrots and Hummus
Chow down on 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons hummus. Jazz it up with fresh herbs like dill or parsley.
8. Cukes and Cream Cheese
Cut one medium cucumber into long strips. Combine 2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper, 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the strips. Cucumbers are made up of mostly water, which makes them a healthy low-calorie dipper.
9. Broccoli and Tzatziki Sauce
Whip up a quick tzatziki-like sauce by combining 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon minced cucumber. Dip six florets into the sauce. The healthy bonus here is that eating broccoli raw may help maintain the green veggie’s cancer-fighting nutrients.
10. Baby Corn and Soy Sauce
For a super quick snack, dip 20 baby corns into low-sodium soy sauce. Baby corn is high in folate, a B-vitamin that helps produce and maintain new cells.
11. Open Faced Turkey Sammie
Toast one slice whole-wheat bread and spread with 1 teaspoon honey mustard. Top with two slices of deli turkey.
12. Apples and Cheese
Pair a Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Light cheese wheel with half a baseball-sized apple, sliced. The cheese has six grams of protein and 20 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium.
13. 14 Almonds
Almonds don’t need any extras to be a satisfying snack. Added bonus: They’re the most nutritionally dense nut (which means they have the highest concentration of nutrients per calorie). Try eight of our cocoa dusted almonds for a sweeter version.
14. Rice Cake and Almond Butter
Top a rice cake with 2 teaspoons almond butter. While it’s not nearly as popular as peanut butter, almond butter is a better choice when it comes to fiber, iron and especially vitamin E.
15. 22 Pistachios
These little guys are the biggest bang for your calorie buck. Pistachios rank higher in protein and lower in saturated fat compared to most other nuts. Pick the in-shell variety if you can. One study found people consume up to 41 percent more calories from pistachios when they don’t have to crack the shell to work for itIn-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts. Honselman, C.S., Painter, J.E., Kennedy-Hagan, K.J., et al. Family and Consumer Sciences, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL. Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):414-7..
16. Cheesy Popcorn
Toss 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper with 2 cups of freshly popped popcorn. Choose a low-fat, low-sodium pre-packaged variety or pop kernels in a small paper bag in the microwave. Grated parm can have a lot of salt, but one tablespoon has only three percent of the daily recommended value, and only 22 calories for a whole lot of added flavor.
17. Kettle Corn
Toss 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon stevia with 2 cups freshly popped popcorn. Try shaking it all up in a paper bag or a container with a lid on it for even topping distribution. Not a fan of stevia? Swap it for 1 teaspoon honey plus 1 teaspoon water microwaved for 20 seconds to thin it out.
18. Avocado Rice Cake
Top a rice cake (we like the unsalted brown rice variety) with a fourth of an avocado, mashed. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and paprika. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat (the kind that can help improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease)Reducing saturated fat intake is associated with increased LDL receptors on mononuclear cells in healthy men and women. Mustad, V.A., Etherton, T.D., Cooper, A.D. Graduate Program in Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University. Journal of Lipid Research, 1997 Mar;38(3):459-68.Dietary fat and heart failure: moving from lipotoxicity to lipoprotection. Stanley, WC, Dabkowski, ER, Ribeiro, RF JR., et al. Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, University of Maryland. Circulation Research, 2012 Mar 2;110(5):764-76..
19. Hard Boiled Egg Whites and Mustard
Boil four eggs for 12 to 15 minutes. Let them cool, de-shell, slice in half, and remove the yolks with a spoon. Sprinkle with pepper and dip in 1 tablespoon mustard. The really yellow mustards get their color from turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice. Pro tip: If you add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the water, the eggs will be a cinch to peel!
20. Watermelon Salad
Top 1 cup raw spinach with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup diced watermelon. Spinach has a ton of vitamin K (which helps blood clot properly when you get cut) and vitamin A (which is good for your eyes).
21. Mexican Potato
There’s always the option to bake a potato, but for a quick snack version turn to the microwave. Pierce a medium potato (about the size of a computer mouse) a few times with a fork, and microwave on high for about five minutes, or until soft (you should be able to remove a knife without any resistance). Top half of the potato with 1 tablespoon salsa and 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (a great stand in for sour cream). Save the other half in the fridge for the next time you’re in need of a quick snack!
22. White Bean Salad
Combine 1/3 cup white beans with 1 tablespoon sliced scallions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup diced tomatoes. White beans are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and iron.
23. Chili-Lime Shrimp
Toss 10 large boiled shrimp in 1 tablespoon lime juice. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Here’s the kicker: This little snack has over 10 grams of protein! Shrimp also have a high concentration of the antioxidant astaxanthin, known to reduce inflammationAstaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Park, J.S., Chyun, J.H., Kim, Y.K. School of Food Science, Washington State University. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2010 Mar 5;7:18..
24. Baked Apple
Baked applescan get all dressed up and filled with oats, nuts, and other tasty stuff. But for a simple low-cal version, core a tennis-ball sized apple, dust it with cinnamon, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (or until tender, but not mushy).
25. Frozen Grapes
Grapes make a great snack fresh or frozen, but if you opt for the chilly state, they last way longer. Nosh on 1 cup (about 28 grapes). Feeling fancy? Use them as fruity ice cubes in a tall glass of water to stay hydrated while snacking.
26. Strawberries and Goat Cheese
Pair 10 large strawberries with 1 tablespoon soft goat cheese. This serving of strawberries has over 100 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
27. Kiwi and Coconut
Slice one large kiwi and top with 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut. One kiwi has all the vitamin C to meet the daily recommended value.
28. English Muffin and Fruit Butter
Toast half a whole-wheat English muffin. Top with 2 teaspoons pumpkin butter or apple butter. Choosing these spreads over conventional jams can save about 20 calories per serving.
29. Protein Shake
Shake up one scoop vanilla whey protein with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. This one’s perfect for post-workout snacking too—whey protein has been shown to help rebuild muscles after exercise. (We’re also big fans of turning this into dessert).
30. Enlightened Bars
These healthier ice cream bars aren’t just low in calories — they actually have some impressive nutritional stats: Eight grams of protein, no artificial sweeteners, only three grams of sugar, and five grams of fiber per bar. (We’re partial to the coffee flavor at Greatist HQ—surprise, surprise.)
31. Dark Chocolate
Let’s be honest, this snack doesn’t need any friends. Enjoy three squares or five dark chocolate kisses. A bit of the dark stuff can help regulate levels of the stress hormone cortisolDifferential effect of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate on biomarkers of glucose metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy, overweight and obese subjects: a randomized clinical trial. Almoosawi, S., Tsang, C., Ostertag, L.M. MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory. Food & Function, 2012 Oct;3(10):1035-43..
Originally published February 2014. Updated February 2015.
Advice from the NHS to limit children’s shop-bought snacks to a maximum of two a day, each under 100 calories, is designed to make our lives easier – helping parents to make quick, healthier decisions when buying food at the supermarket.
To ensure a balanced diet, it’s important to choose healthy snacks for kids. Figures from Public Health England show that the average primary school child could be consuming a whopping three times more added sugar than recommended daily limits, with the average child eating at least three sugar-laden items a day – often in the form of snacks or sugary drinks. In response, the NHS’s Change4Life campaign encourages parents to make healthier choices when out and about, or doing the weekly shop.
The Change4Life food scanner app is another useful resource which shows parents how much sugar, salt and saturated fat is in a packaged product.
What about homemade snacks?
The current advice relates to shop-bought snacks only – this means that homemade snacks for kids are excluded from the two a day, 100 calorie limit. This is because making your own recipe puts you in control of the ingredients and therefore they are likely to be lower in sugar, salt, saturated fat and additives. It’s worth remembering that fruit and vegetables are not limited and are always the best choice for childrens in-between meals.
5 easy homemade snacks for kids
1. Fruity sundae
This pot of yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries and topped with mixed berries packs a punch for presentation and nutrition. Pack in Tupperware or a recycled screw-top jar and you’ll be cutting down on plastic waste, too. (8g sugars)
2. Sweet potato crisps
With just two ingredients – a sweet potato and olive oil – these baked crisps couldn’t be simpler. Why spend money on processed packets of crisps when you can make your own in half an hour? (6g sugars)
Sweet potato crisps
3. Rainbow fruit skewers
Full of colour and nothing but fresh fruit, these vitamin-packed skewers lend lunchboxes a bit of rainbow cheer. Kids like helping assemble them, and you can vary the colours and fruit varieties. (12g sugars)
Rainbow fruit skewers
4. Cheese wheatmeal biscuits
Our quick-cook biscuits combine wholemeal flour with oatmeal and cheddar for a savoury bite, perfect for lunchboxes. Cut into your kids’ favourite shapes or just roll into balls and flatten. (0.2g sugars)
Cheese wheatmeal biscuits
5. Choco-dipped tangerines
We all crave chocolate sometimes and presenting it as a tempting shell for something fruity is a great way to satisfy the tastebuds. Perfect for kids and adults. (12g sugars)
Discover more ideas for children’s snacks
After school snacks for kids
Healthy food kids will love
Top 5 healthy snacks for kids
Our best snacks for kids recipes
Or try these healthy eating guides:
How much sugar should children have?
Top sugar swaps for your family
Healthy eating: what schoolchildren need
Top 5 vegetables your child should eat
This article was last reviewed on 10 January 2020 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
What are your kids’ favourite snacks? Leave a comment below…