Including snacks in your diet provides a plethora of pluses. Snacking helps ward off hunger in between meals, keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, provides energy to fuel your daily activities and workouts, and may help you take in fewer calories overall.
However, according to new research, you may be able to satisfy your hunger just as well with a smaller snack than with a more substantial one.
The study involved 104 participants who were given three everyday snacks, including apple pie, potato chips or chocolate, in a variety of portion sizes ranging from very small to very large. The smallest portion size given was approximately 0.4 ounces, which equates to the size of one bite of food. The largest portion size given was roughly seven ounces, which was the amount of two slices of the apple pie. The scientists recorded the participants' levels of hunger and cravings both before they were given the snack and 15 minutes afterwards.
The results of the study showed that hunger and satisfaction ratings after eating the snacks were equal amongst all of the study's participants. The group that consumed the largest snack portion took in 103 more calories, which was 77 percent more. Long-story short: small-sized snacks may control your appetite and satisfy your cravings just as well as larger snacks. This has huge implications in the battle of the bulge because it demonstrates that you can eat a significantly smaller portion of a snack and feel just as satisfied as you would with a big snack, but take in 103 fewer calories in the process.
Downsizing Snack Portions
Shaving off 103 calories every day by eating smaller snacks would lead to a weight loss of 10.7 pounds a year, without making you feel like you're sacrificing. And isn't that what everyone who has struggled with their weight wants--to make small, realistic, simple changes that can be sustained over a lifetime to achieve long-term weight-loss success?
If you want to conduct your own study at home, try eating half of what you normally would eat for a snack and gauge how satisfied you feel afterwards. Ideally, your snack should be both filling and flavorful, simultaneously satisfying both your hunger and your craving.
Suggestions for Small Snacks
Here are a few snacks that clock in around 80 calories or fewer:
- 1/3 cup sherbert (70 calories)
- 1 small apple, 6 oz (80 calories)
- 11 baby carrots with 1 Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge (79 calories)
- 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese (80 calories)
- 20 pistachios (78 calories)
- 3/4 cup Cheerios cereal (75 calories)
- 23 grapes (78 calories)
- 1 cup sliced jicama with 1/4 cup salsa (66 calories)
- 1 sheet Graham crackers (55 calories)
- 1 cup blueberries or blackberries (80 calories)
- 1/2 medium mango (62 calories)
- 1 light string cheese (50-60 calories)
- 2 cucumber "sammies", each made with 2 slices of cucumber, 1 oz deli turkey breast, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard (70 calories)
- 1 large hard boiled egg (78 calories)
- 20 dry roasted peanuts (80 calories)
- 1/4 cup tuna, canned in water, drained, with 1 oz. Greek yogurt and 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish (68 calories)
- 1 cup strawberries with 2 tablespoons light whipped topping (66 calories)
- 2 1/2 cups air-popped popcorn (77 calories)
- 1 medium (5 oz) bell pepper with 1 tablespoon hummus (71 calories)
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.