There should be no shame in your snacking game. That’s because a recent study by The NPD Group found that 83 percent of Americans snack, and those with the healthiest lifestyles are also the ones who snack most frequently. Score! Below, we chatted with Jessica Levinson, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Nutritioulicious, a nutrition consulting and counseling practice in New York about the benefits of snacking, especially when it comes to managing your weight.
Why is snacking so important?
This is something I’ve talked to clients for years about. Snacking is what really keeps your metabolism going. Think of the analogy of wood in a fire—the more you put in, the more you burn. The same is true with eating. Skipping meals or waiting too long causes your metabolism to slow down, while also putting you at risk for overeating the next time you do sit down to eat.
Does it matter when you snack?
It is a big nutrition myth that the time of day that you eat impacts your weight. If you have a 1,600 calorie allotment for your diet and lifestyle, then what matters more is if you’ve taken in that many calories or not. Let’s say you’ve consumed 1,400 calories by the time 6:00 p.m. rolls around. Now you only have 200 calories to get you through the rest of the day (taking exercise out of the equation here, which of course gives you some of those calories back). But if you’ve only eaten 1,000 calories by 6:00 p.m. then it doesn’t matter what time you’re eating or having a late-night snack, as long as you don’t go past your daily allotment.
How can you keep your snacking portions controlled?
This is a big issue for most people, because it’s hard to stop once you start! My biggest tip is to portion out in advance at home. For example, if you like almonds portion out an ounce (23 almonds) into 5 brown bags at the beginning of the week. Then you can grab a bag for your snack every day as you walk out the door. Just bring one bag at a time; if you take the whole stash you’ll be more tempted to dig into multiple bags. There are also a ton of companies who make portion controlled snack packs. Justin’s Nut Butter is great for baby carrots or a banana or a bag of 100-calorie air popped popcorn is perfect for salt lovers. And of course, fruit! You can’t really ever overdo it on fruits and veggies. Fruit especially is a good sweet tooth fix while also quenching your thirst and filling you up since so many have a high water content.
Now tell us: What’s your healthy snack go-to?
More from FITNESS: Healthy Food Awards: The Best Snacks from the Store
Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
Listen up, ladies: Triscuit’s new brown rice crackers aren’t your mother’s snack. The brand has developed delicious spins on its classic namesake snack—like sweet potato and sea salt and black pepper—that get two nutritional thumbs up from celeb chef and FITNESS advisory board member Rocco DiSpirito. The bestselling author developed three healthy, easy-to-make recipes centered around the cracker, and after sampling his culinary creations in Times Square (the turkey chili recipe below is OMG good), we chatted with DiSpirito about his cooking inspiration, eating for the season and saving calories with simple ingredient swaps.
Your Triscuit-inspired recipes were delicious! Why did you partner with the brand?
When an established food company like Triscuit/Nabisco decides they’re going to put a lot of money, time and effort to make something better for you, I’m a big fan of that decision. It’s brave because most food companies are like, “Why change it? It’s perfect, we sell a ton of food, we make a gazillion dollars, we have big homes in the Hamptons, we don’t need to do anything.” But this shows recognition that America needs healthier choices, including their snacks, and I’m proud to associate with a company that feels that way because that’s what I do every day: I try to convince Americans to make healthier choices.
What’s your main goal when developing a recipe?
My priority is to make a recipe that people can reproduce at home very easily. So I work backward from what I find in grocery stores. Every time I start a book, I go to the grocery stores and research what’s available, and that changes all the time. From the time I wrote Now Eat This to now, a lot has changed. There are a lot more healthy ingredients available, so that makes my job a little easier and more exciting. The point is to get people to try it and understand that when they cook, they’re in control, and cooking is better than buying from a restaurant. So those are my priorities: to make it super easy for people to make it at home.
How do you “healthify” a recipe?
You want to swap fats, dairy and sugar: those are the ones that are the most calorically dense. One ounce of any of those has more calories than one ounce of vegetables, for example. For dairy, fat-free Greek yogurt is a great swap. For fats, using something like xanthan gum. So let’s say you want to make an ice-cream smoothie, but you don’t want to use any ice cream. Skim milk and xanthan gum is a great way to create that texture that you’d get from cream. And for sugar, my favorite new sweetener is monk fruit extract. It’s an amazing calorie- and sugar-free sweetener.
What are some of your go-to spring produce?
It’s ridiculous what happens in spring! I start with asparagus, which is fresh in early spring. White asparagus is one of my favorite things on the planet. I plant a garden, so I grow several kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, watermelon, cucumbers—I look forward to all of those things. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like cucumbers, you’ve never had a home-grown one. Sometimes I pick off the leaves of squash blossoms and fry the blossoms, or make a squash blossom omelet. There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season.
Click for the mouthwatering chili recipe we sampled, then recreate at home – it’s perfect for a party!
You’re just one month out from the New Year’s Resolutions you set. And if you’re like many people, fat loss was at the top of that resolution list.
But can you guess the average amount of calories an American consumes while snacking during the Superbowl?
About 1,200. This doesn’t include meals or drinks. (!)
So what can you do? Swear off all the wings, guac, chips, and beer while cheering for your favorite team? That’s certainly not realistic…so let’s instead share some options that would be better. Try these snacks this year:
1. In-Shell Pistachios – Yes, pistachios are high in fat, but it’s super-healthy fat. With all the other food options around, in-shell pistachios can help you slow down because it takes time to remove that shell and you won’t be mindlessly munching. Adding to this snack strategy: Keep a bowl in sight that has the shells that were removed – seeing how much you’ve already had might just curb how much you eat during the game. (FYI, we’re personal fans of the Wonderful Pistachio Sweet Chili flavor.)
2. Pizza! Kashi now makes frozen pizzas that are great (and less expensive than what you’d pay from a traditional pizza chain!). The BBQ Recipe Chicken pizza is a really good, unique, and may very well appeal to those guests who would normally crave wings instead.
3. White Bean Dip – A strong-flavored dip is a great trick because it makes you feel satiated, it won’t break the bank in terms of calories, and you can pair it with heathier chips. (We’re partial to the Food Should Taste Good brand.) But back to the dip… here’s a recipe from Food Network’s Giada De Laurentilis that’s a big hit in our house.
-Chris and Kara Mohr, mohrresults.com
Written by Lisa Turner, Editorial Intern
When the New York Knicks need to refuel for a big game, they turn to Heidi Skolnik, M.S., C.D.N., FACSM, and founder and president of Nutrition Conditioning, which oversees the nutrition programs at The Juilliard School, The New York Knicks, School of American Ballet, and Fordham University Athletics. We got Skolnik’s pointers on how to make good-for-you snacks that won’t damage your waistline.
What can I stock in my fridge that I can grab n’ go?
Planning ahead is always the best way to ensure you’re prepared with a healthy snack and don’t face the vending machine dilemma. There’s a lot of easy and simple options to choose from:
- Whole wheat Pita stuffed with peanut butter and banana with a small glass of milk
- Hard boiled egg, small OJ, whole grain crackers
- Fruit parfait: fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, a sprinkle of Grape nuts or muesli and nuts
- Homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruits and a cheese stick
Grab ‘n Go Snacks:
- GoGo squeeZ applesauce
- Kind Nut Bars
- Cheese sticks or rounds
What’s a calorie limit I should shoot for with a snack?
Ultimately, it depends on your meal size and daily caloric needs. If you need 1800 calories in a day and meals are 400-500 calories that leaves two snacks at 150-300 calories.
- Banana and almond butter
- Mango smoothie made with calcium fortified OJ and lactose free whey protein powder
- Quinoa, vegetable and edamame cold salad
- Popcorn –sprinkle with olive oil and herbs of choice
- Hummus with crudités or spread on a corn or rice cake Read more
Ah, the spa lifestyle. Waking up and playing a low-stress tennis match, sneaking off for a massage and wrapping up the day with a nutritious meal. It’s vacation for most, but for spa director Kristina, these are events that she thinks about daily, and she tries to infuse these ideals into her own lifestyle. It’s a treat to follow along on her blog, Spa Bettie, as Kristina lives according to her personal philosophy: “Clean eating and fun movement balanced with the right amount of indulgence.”
So what is Kristina’s favorite way to start her day and how does she make eating clean feel indulgent (besides with these irresistible chocolate peanut butter pancakes)? Read on to find out.
My favorite way to work out: It’s an unappreciated workout—I love my treadmill! I know the value of a good weight workout and I also love tennis and rollerskating!
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: “Brandy” by Looking Glass. Yep, I like the oldies. An upbeat song I can sing to gives me energy and that’s all I need. It’s also my favorite karaoke song…
My fitness mantra: “I never regret a workout.” When I am running, I am chasing that runner’s high. When I am playing tennis, it’s to get that perfect shot. Skiing down a hill, to have fun and go fast! Fitness to me is about motivation. It’s fun and goal-oriented.
There’s not much we love more than a tasty, easy-to-whip-up recipe for any meal of the day. Which is why we love popping over to Clean Eating Chelsey when hunger strikes – we’re always guaranteed to find something as yummy as it is healthy! Pop on over for some inspiration of your own and you might find some fun – we hear there’s a delicious giveaway going on this week.
My favorite way to work out: Running! I’ve had to cut back lately, but running will always be my favorite way to exercise. I have run a few half-marathons, and I hope to continue to compete in races in the future. It’s a great time for me to clear my head and get some “me” time.
On my fit life list: I would love to run a marathon or complete a triathlon some day!
My fave fit snack: Raisins and almonds – I usually eat that combination every day after school (I’m a teacher) to get me through the afternoon until dinner time.
My biggest indulgence: Chocolate – I can’t live without it.
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: I’ve got something even better: during my last half-marathon (Disney Half in January 2012), I sang out loud to Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never.” Apparently that song made me run really fast because I was flying as I was singing it! I figured I would never see those people again or they couldn’t hear me anyway.
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A runner since her teens, Emilia from Run For Your Life knows a thing or two about the sport – and all the ups and downs that come with it. After sitting on the sidelines for a few months due to an injury, she’s back in the game and more than ready to ramp up training for her third go-around at the ING NYC Marathon this fall. We can’t wait to cheer her to the finish line!
My favorite way to work out: Running, of course! I don’t have a gym membership, but I’ll occasionally do something different to mix things up (like racing to the top of the Empire State building last spring). After having to sit out most of the summer due to injury, though, I’m more grateful than ever to be able to run in the mornings again.
On my fit life list: Qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. While I’m definitely proud of my current best times (I broke four hours in this year’s Houston Marathon), I’m the queen of positive splitting right now and have a long way to go to make this goal happen. Maybe by the time I’m 30?
My “I Did It” moment: Finishing my first marathon, the 2010 New York City Marathon, in 4:09 – more than 20 minutes faster than my goal time. It was my long-term goal all throughout college and I was really proud of the training I put into running it one year after graduation. My second NYCM running in 2011 did not go as well, so I’m looking forward to showing the Queensboro bridge who’s boss when I return on November 4!
My fave fit snack: Chobani zero percent strawberry Greek yogurt. I’m not much of a breakfast person, so I eat this with a side of frozen mango pieces as my “morning snack” almost every morning when I get to work.
My biggest indulgence: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. It’s a Texas thing. I rarely go a day without a dessert and this is most often it. I know my flavor choice sounds so, well, “vanilla,” but seriously, it’s the best.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email email@example.com
Working on a film set with writer and director Seth MacFarlane (the creator of Family Guy) must be a great ab workout. Think about how much laughing you would do! We guessed that Laura Vandervoort, who stars in the the new movie Ted alongside Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg and Joel McHale, might have taken it easy with her exercise routine because of the workout her co-stars gave her and because her hectic filming schedule, but she did nothing of the sort.
“I love to take indoor cycling classes, do Bikram yoga, Pilates and hike with my friends whenever possible,” Vandervoort says.
The thing that makes her truly strong though, according to her pals, is her super-human willpower. “My friends dislike that I have such willpower sometimes,” Vandervoort tells us. “But when I can, I love to enjoy my food! I’m a bit of a foodie.”
When she’s “being good,” Vandervoort tries to snack throughout the day. Here are a few of her top picks:
- Quinoa with cinnamon and almond milk over bananas
- Greek yogurt
- Apples with almond butter
- Baked chickpeas with cayenne pepper
- Kale chips
After Ted, which is released this Friday, you can catch Vandervoort in an episode of White Collar airing this July.
Now tell us: What are some of your go-to nutritious snacks?
New snack bars seem to pop up on supermarket shelves nearly every week. With so many options, it’s hard to know which are worth your money—and calories. Recently, readers and staff members chewed and scored for our best bar food awards, and since then a few new items have caught our eye. The FITNESS team did the tasty work of testing out the latest in the Luna Fiber and Kind lines. Read on for their honest feedback!
Luna Fiber Vanilla Blueberry
- “I loved the rich blueberry taste and at 110 calories, it’s a great go-to snack for my 3 p.m. munchies.” — Kathy Green, managing editor
Luna Fiber Chocolate Raspberry
- “For 110 calories, I think you might as well have a real cookie. I really like the crunchy Luna bars, so I was surprised at the over-syrupy, artificial taste.” — Betty Wong, editor in chief
Luna Fiber Peanut Butter Strawberry
- “I immediately noticed the strawberry flavor, then the peanut butter hit my taste buds after. This would be a good on-the-go treat before hitting the gym.” — Samantha Shelton, editorial assistant
Kind Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
- “The first bite was so flavorful and had a lot of depth. It was crunchy and is truly one of the best bars I’ve ever had. I have to buy a crate and keep them in my fridge.” — Lapo Belmestieri, freelance designer
Kind Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan
- “This tasted like French toast drizzled in dark chocolate!” — Colleen Moody, web editor
Kind Cashew & Ginger Spice
- “It’s nice and crunchy, and since it’s mostly nuts, you could tell that it doesn’t have the filler junk that a lot of snack bars do. It wasn’t too sweet, which I like, but it was filling. Even half would be a good post-workout snack!” — Lisa Turner, editorial intern
Now tell us: What are your favorite snack/breakfast/energy bars?
We’re all busy. So when it’s time to whip up a healthy dinner that won’t have us slaving away for hours, where’s a girl to turn? We love hopping over to Emily Bites for a dose of inspiration, where we’re guaranteed a simple recipe that’s going to tickle our taste buds. Heck, even Anderson Cooper loves her stuff! We chatted with the chef in the kitchen to find out more about how she keeps her fit life balanced and which snack she always loves to whip up. Oh, we managed to nab a yummy recipe from her too. You can thank us later.
My favorite way to work out: Definitely Zumba. I love to dance and Zumba is so much fun. If I wasn’t sweating so hard, I’d almost forget I was working out! I always wear my heart rate monitor when I go and at the end of class I get a kick out of seeing how many calories I’ve burned doing an activity I love.
On my fit life list: To run a half-marathon someday, preferably the Disney Princess Half because it looks like a blast (and I really want a race bib that says “Princess Emily” on it). I used to run a few years back, but I got out of it. I’m currently walking and running in intervals, trying to work my way back up to straight running.
My fave fit snack: I love hummus with veggies, particularly the homemade Buffalo Wing Hummus I have on my blog. I almost never buy pre-made hummus now that I know how easy it is to make at home.
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: This is hard because I listen to a lot of embarrassing ’90s music. Maybe “I Wanna Be Bad” by Willa Ford?
Olympic sport I’d love to try: I used to figure skate when I was growing up, so if it’s the winter Olympics, I’d definitely go with skating. As for the summer Olympics, I’ve always wanted to play tennis. I have a racquet and I’ve fooled around with it a little bit, but I would love to be great at it.
Keep reading for a delicious snack straight from Emily’s kitchen!