19 Fat-Burning Snacks to Help You Lose Weight
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably taking a close look at your diet. You likely are cutting out fast food. You’ve learned to make healthy choices at the grocery store. And you’re probably doing a lot of reading (or video watching) to get the skinny on different diets and nutritional guidelines you can follow as you try to shed a few pounds and live a healthier lifestyle. (Just be sure to disregard the dieting tips no doctor would follow.) As you’ve done all this research, you’ve probably heard about fat-burning foods. And maybe you’ve wondered: Can these foods really help weight loss?
The answer is yes — and no. Let’s be clear. No foods can actually burn fat. As West Virginia University’s health center notes, some foods with caffeine can temporarily speed up your metabolism. (Your metabolism refers to the way your body uses energy.) However, foods themselves can’t cause weight loss, no matter how many great things you’ve heard about grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup. But choosing the right foods can help you if you’re using other strategies to lose weight.
When you’re trying to shed a few pounds, you probably think carefully about what you’re eating at mealtimes. The foods you choose to snack on between meals are just as important. (Trying to stop snacking is a dieting strategy that just about no doctor or nutritionist would stand behind.) The key is to choose healthy snacks, like the ones ahead, that will help you burn fat and lose weight, not undermine all the hard work you’re doing at the gym or on your daily jog.
According to guidelines from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, healthy snacks for less-active adults should have about 200 calories. Snacks for teens and active adults can range from 200 to 300 calories. You should plan and portion your snacks ahead of time. That way, you’ll reach for something healthy when you’re hungry. Read on to check out some healthy snacks that will help you burn fat, build muscle, and feel healthier.
1. Apple and peanut butter
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers up a variety of suggestions for healthy snacks. (Although these foods might not technically burn fat on their own, they’ll definitely help your daily exercise regimen burn fat and build muscle.) One of the academy’s delicious suggestions is to eat an apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter. As Livestrong notes, it’s a great idea to choose a natural peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter) to avoid added sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
2. Avocado with salsa
For a lower-fat version of guacamole, the academy recommends mashing up an avocado with salsa. You can eat the mixture on low-fat baked tortilla chips or on a whole wheat tortilla. You can even sprinkle it with low-fat cheese before you roll it up. We all know that avocado on toast is a major trend. That’s because avocados are nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and, according to SF Gate, are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.
3. Frozen yogurt
To make a healthy version of frozen yogurt, the academy recommends mixing equal amounts of fat-free plain or flavored yogurt with 100% fruit juice. Then, pour the mixture into paper cups and freeze. If you’ve ever tried freezing a cup of yogurt on its own, you probably found out pretty quickly that it turns into a pretty solid brick. Serious Eats notes you need to add sugar if you want frozen yogurt that you can scoop like ice cream. It turns out the fruit juice does the trick — and makes for a much healthier snack than yogurt packed with white sugar.
4. Fruit kebabs
A great snack when you have fresh fruit but want something else to go with it is to cut up fruit to make into kebabs. Serve the kebabs with low-fat yogurt as a dip. Need some ideas for which fruits go well together? Food.com suggests a combination of strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, and blueberries. Center Cut Cook goes for a rainbow selection of strawberries, oranges, pineapples, kiwis, and grapes. And Weight Watchers suggests the tropical combination of pineapples, mangoes, and bananas.
5. Graham crackers with nut or seed butter and yogurt
If you want a delicious and filling mix of flavors, this is the snack for you. The academy recommends topping graham crackers with your favorite nut or seed butter, and then dunking them in low-fat vanilla yogurt. If you’re serious about making this snack as healthy as possible, make sure your nut or seed butter doesn’t have added sugar or oil. And if you have the time, consider testing your baking skills by making homemade graham crackers.
To make instant oatmeal into a healthy and filling snack, the academy recommends preparing it with fat-free milk and then adding 1 tablespoon maple syrup, a “sprinkle” of cinnamon, and ¼ cup dried fruit. Unsure which kinds of dried fruit will taste best with your oatmeal? That depends on which flavors you like best. But some tried-and-true favorites, according to SF Gate, include raisins, cranberries, blueberries, apricots, prunes, dates, or figs. These dried fruits add a dash of sweetness to your oatmeal without adding the same empty calories you’d get from sugar.
7. Pita and hummus
Pita bread and hummus are a famously healthy snack. The academy has some guidance on how much of this snack you should indulge in if your goal is to limit your caloric intake to the healthy range. The organization’s recommendation is to cut a whole wheat pita into wedges, and eat it with 2 tablespoons of hummus. You can find an array of different hummus types at your grocery store, which is the perfect way to try different flavors. Or, you can spend a little bit of time in the kitchen, and try making your own hummus. A Beautiful Mess has an impressive range of recipes for you to try.
The kind of buttery popcorn you usually grab at the movie theater or make in a microwaveable bag is out of the question if you want to burn fat and build muscle. But the academy recommends air-popped popcorn as a healthy but satisfying alternative. Mix 3 cups of air-popped popcorn with grated cheese or dried spices. If you’re having trouble getting the seasonings to stick to your air-popped popcorn, The Kitchn recommends adding a small amount of olive oil. Or, if you don’t want to add the fat, try SparkPeople’s ideas for healthy popcorn toppings.
Want a healthier version of the quesadilla you order at your favorite Mexican restaurant? You can make one with a whole wheat tortilla, ¼ cup black beans, 1 to 2 tablespoons of low-fat cheese, and 1 ounce of salsa. Assemble it on a plate, and heat it up in the microwave to get the cheese to melt. Your local grocery store probably offers a range of salsas. Or you can try your hand at making your own salsa with one of EatingWell’s healthy salsa recipes.
10. Roasted chickpeas
Even if you aren’t usually a big fan of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, you owe it to yourself to give roasted chickpeas a try. The academy recommends roasting them in the oven and then seasoning with spices. The Kitchn has the lowdown on the basics of roasting chickpeas in the oven with some suggestions for seasonings. A few flavors to try? Chili powder, curry powder, fresh rosemary, and even lemon zest.
Think a salad can’t be a satisfying snack when you’re really hungry mid-afternoon? Think again. The academy suggests dressing up your usual salad with a hard-boiled egg or edamame and perhaps adding a tomato and 2 tablespoons of the reduced-fat dressing of your choice. Of course, the healthiest salads start with the best greens. If you need help choosing, Business Insider has a handy ranking of the healthiest salad greens. After checking it out, you’ll probably be tempted to switch your usual iceberg lettuce for a healthier option, such as kale, romaine, or spinach.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a great way to make a healthy smoothie is to combine 1 cup of fat-free milk with frozen fruit in a blender. Bon Appétit notes that traditional smoothies aren’t so healthy because they’re too high in fat and sugar. But using frozen fruit without added sugar and choosing skim milk fixes both of those problems. If you’ve never shopped for frozen fruit, you might be unsure which to buy. Fortunately, Healthy Vegan has some suggestions for the best frozen fruits for smoothies. Curious about which are the top contenders? Look for frozen berries, pomegranates, peaches, and cherries.
13. Trail mix
The academy recommends making your own trail mix by “combining whole grain cereals, nuts or seeds, and dried fruit.” The organization suggests portioning your trail mix into ¼ cup servings. (That way, you won’t mindlessly consume excess calories when you’re snacking at your desk.) The Healthy Maven offers some additional suggestions on making healthy trail mix. For instance, you should choose raw nuts that aren’t roasted in oil, and pick raw, unsalted seeds. And if you’re adding dried fruit, make sure it isn’t coated in sugar.
14. Tuna apple sandwich
Give the standard tuna sandwich a healthier (and crunchier) twist with the academy’s suggestions for a tuna apple sandwich. Use a 5- to 6-ounce can of tuna packed in water, a small apple that’s been peeled and diced, and 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise. Just spread the ingredients onto two slices of whole wheat bread for a delicious snack. SF Gate notes that canned tuna is a pretty healthy food, thanks to its omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, and vitamin B12. Just keep in mind you should always opt for tuna packed in water.
15. Vegetable chips
Potato chips may be out of the question. (They are very obviously not fat-burning snacks.) But vegetable chips are a delicious alternative. The academy recommends baking veggies, such as kale or beets, into chips. You can follow Rachael Ray’s recipe for chips made from sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery, and beets. Check out Minimalist Baker’s recipe to learn how to make kale chips. Or head to Running to the Kitchen to find out how to make carrot chips, with either sweet or spicy flavoring.
16. Vegetable pizza
Craving pizza? Indulge that urge in a simple but healthy snack you can make in your own kitchen. You can make a mini veggie pizza by topping a whole wheat English muffin or pita with 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce, ½ cup diced fresh vegetables, and 1 ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese. You probably already have the ingredients for this tasty veggie pizza in your kitchen. But you might want to check out Berkeley Wellness’s guidelines for picking the best pasta sauce. Some hints? Watch out for saturated fat, keep the sugar to a minimum, and minimize sodium.
17. Vegetable skewers
Craving the flavor but not the caloric load of one of your favorite Italian dinners? Get some of the same flavors with these vegetable skewers instead. The academy suggests making easy veggie skewers with cherry or grape tomatoes, cubes of low-fat cheese or cooked tortellini, and lean luncheon meat. Want to know which lunch meats can be a part of a healthy diet and which ones you should avoid? Head over to Eat This, Not That to check out the best and worst packaged deli meats.
18. Vegetables and dip
If you love dipping celery sticks or baby carrots into French onion dip, that’s probably a habit you’ve dropped since getting serious about your weight loss efforts. The academy suggests a delicious substitute. Just dip your raw veggies in low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt instead. Need some ideas for which veggies to try? You can go for classics, such as celery sticks and baby carrots. Or, try Kitchn’s recommendations of snap peas, grape or cherry tomatoes, and radishes. Some other options include sliced bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and cucumbers.
19. Yogurt parfait
A yogurt parfait is the perfect healthy snack, especially if you keep the ingredients low-fat. The academy recommends layering 6 ounces of fat-free yogurt with ½ cup of fresh or frozen fruit. Then, sprinkle ¼ cup of low-fat granola on top. You can head to the grocery store (or the health food store) to find low-fat granola. Or you can even make your own. Health.com has some suggestions for healthy granola recipes, which make it easy to steer clear of the sugar and fat in standard store-bought varieties.