How to avoid unsatisfying snacks

Posted Jan. 09, 2012, at 4:23 p.m.

A low-calorie snack can backfire if it doesn’t fill you up, nutritionists say.

Some tips:

Be wary of 100-calorie snack packs. They’re good for controlling portion size but tend to be high in refined carbohydrates and low in fiber. So even those that aren’t inherently “unhealthy” won’t keep hunger at bay for long.

Include protein, fiber and healthy fats. Some good combinations: fresh fruit with reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese or a half-cup of low-fat cottage cheese, vegetables dipped in hummus, air-popped popcorn with a handful of nuts or rice cakes with one or two teaspoons of natural peanut or almond butter.

Avoid most crackers and cookies. They’re generally just empty calories. Two exceptions are Melba toast and reduced fat, whole-grain wheat Triscuit crackers; you can top off either with a thin spread of natural nut butter or hummus.

Go for Greek yogurt. Most brands are high in protein and therefore filling. If you don’t like the texture or taste of Greek brands, mix low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt with plain low-fat yogurt to cut the sugar content.

Choose granola bars carefully. To avoid getting a bunch of sugar, look for a bar that provides at least three grams of fiber and five grams of protein.

Create diet soda alternatives. Add an orange slice or some frozen berries to fruit-flavored sparkling water for a fizzy drink with no artificial sweeteners, which studies have shown can cause cravings for sweet foods.

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