The Calorie Wallet: Snacks
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Snacking can be a healthy habit, or a dieter’s undoing. When you plan your snacks right, they can help you sneak in extra servings of fruits and vegetables, and also pick up some protein to keep your hunger under control in between meals. But many typical snack foods are loaded with fat and sugar, so if you’re not careful, your calorie wallet will be empty in no time. Let’s say you’ve allowed yourself 200 calories for a snack. What could you have?
- Lots of people turn to things like potato chips, but for 200 calories, you only get about 18 chips. You also dump nearly a tablespoon of grease into your system.
- Cheese and crackers add up fast, too. Just five little crackers and an ounce of cheese and your 200 calories are gone. But the 15 grams of fat will stick around on your hips and thighs.
- Regular ice cream has so much fat, it’s almost like eating frozen butter. That’s why your 200 calories will only buy you about 1/3 cup.
- Trail mix sounds healthy, but it’s calorie-dense. The combination of dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips burns through your calories really fast. You’ll only get about 1/3 cup for your 200 calories.
- Cookies add up fast, too. For 200 calories, you couldn’t even eat a single bakery cookie, which tops out at closer to 250.
- On the other hand, the right soup can make a great snack. For 200 calories, you can have 1 1/2 cups of low-fat lentil soup, which also has about 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.
- Cottage cheese and fruit is a great snack, too. For 200 calories you can have 2/3 cup of nonfat cottage cheese and 25 strawberries, and a good shot of protein to keep you going.
- Carrots and hummus dip satisfies the need to crunch, and for 200 calories you could eat 30 baby carrots and 4 tablespoons of hummus. You’ll pick up some protein and about 8 grams of fiber, too.
- Protein shakes make quick, tasty snacks, and you can whip them up with protein powder, milk and a bit of fruit for around 200 calories. You’d need to eat 5 tablespoons of peanut butter to match the protein found in a typical shake – but it would cost you nearly 500 calories.