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Building Balanced Snacks - The Easy Way

by Lindsay Allen November 01, 2022 0 Comments

woman eating healthy snack

The goal is to think of a balanced snack like a mini meal. It should contain a mix of carbs, proteins, and fat to keep you going all day long – for bonus points adding fiber will help fill you up and slow digestion leaving you feeling fuller longer. Keep reading to learn why it’s essential to choose healthy snacks, how to choose nutritious options, and tips to remember when it comes to snack time.

Why Balanced Snacks are So Important

Planning healthy and balanced snacks ahead of time can be a game changer when it comes to weight loss. Being mindful of your choices can ensure you keep your energy steady throughout the day and prevent any inconvenient sugar crashes. Get started today with these tips for kick-starting your daily snacks.

Building a Balanced Snack

To create a balanced snack, you need to combine healthy fats, protein, and carbs with fiber. Here is an easy guide to help you build a healthy snack. Choose one food from each category:

PROTEINS CARBS HEALTHY FATS VEGGIES
Lean Meats (Chicken and Turkey) Veggies Nuts & Seeds Broccoli
Fish & Seafood Fresh or Dried Fruit Nut & Seed Butter Cucumbers
Tofu & Tempeh 100% Whole Grain Bread, Crackers, Pita & Wraps Olives Carrots
Cottage Cheese Beans & Lentils Avocado Bell Peppers
Plain Greek Yogurt Whole Grain Rice & Quinoa Plant Oils (Olive, Avocado, Coconut) Green Beans
Milk Oatmeal or Granola Cheese Cucumbers
Eggs Natural Popcorn Coconut Snap Peas
Nuts & Seeds Whole Grain Bagels & Muffins Leafy Greens (Spinach & Kale)
Nut & Seed Butter Herbs
Unsweetened Protein Powder and MANY more!

    Other Balanced Snack Ideas

    Here are a few great options utilizing the guide above. All include a combination of protein, carbs, and fat for a healthy snack option. Try one today!

    • Apple butter ( P, F) with apples ( C) or celery sticks ( V)
    • Veggie sticks ( V) and hummus ( P, F, C)
    • String cheese ( P, F) and a piece of fruit ( C)
    • Plain Greek yogurt ( P), berries ( C), and a few nuts or seeds ( P, F)
    • Hard-boiled egg ( P, F) and sliced fruits ( C) or veggies ( V)
    • Low fat cottage cheese ( P, F) and fruit ( C)
    • Tuna pouch ( P), a slice of cheese ( F), and whole grain crackers ( C)
    • Air-popped popcorn ( C) and string cheese ( P, F)
    • Whole grain toast or rice cake ( C) and nut butter ( P, F)
    • Smoothies – pick your favorite variety ( P, F, C, V)
    • Trail mix ( P, F, C)
    • Half of the peanut butter ( P, F) and banana ( C) sandwich on whole-grain bread ( C)
    • Whole grain toast or English muffin ( C) with spinach ( V) and egg ( P, F)

    P F C V
    Protein Healthy Fat Healthy Carb Extra Credit for Veggies

    Tips for Choosing a Snack

    If a snack is generally nutrient-dense and will fit into your total daily intake (meaning it doesn’t make you go over your total daily calories), then you should plan to incorporate snacks into your daily plan. Use these helpful tips for making healthier choices:

    • Choose less processed foods and more ‘whole’ foods (foods that look more like their natural state) like fruits and veggies.

    • Choose foods you enjoy helping you stick with the plan longer!

    • Choose some go-to options that can be quickly thrown together or can be stored at work for a last-minute snack.

      • This saves time, money, and calories.

      • Some options include hard-boiled eggs, veggie sticks, hummus, whole grain crackers and pretzels, and trail mix.

      • Choose things like nuts and seeds that contain both fats and proteins. 

      • Choose whole grains instead of white, refined flours.

    Ways to Snack Healthy

    Healthy snacks can help bridge the gap between meals, so you aren’t finding yourself hungry all day long. They will help you maintain your energy levels and reduce overeating later in the day. Use these clever tips for more healthy snack prep ideas.

    • Meal prep several hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week for use throughout the week.
    • Make a healthier flavored yogurt. Mix thawed frozen berries into a plain Greek yogurt - instant berry-flavored yogurt without all the extra sugar. 
    • Make a homemade trail mix. Visit the bulk bins at your grocery store and make your trail mix with nuts, seeds, a small amount of dried fruit, a few dark chocolate chips, and coconut flakes.
    • Smoothies are a great option if you’re looking for a quick, refreshing snack that can be eaten on the go. You can switch up the flavors depending on what you like and add some veggies or healthy fats from the list above. 
    • If you need to buy bars for easy on-the-go snacking, look for ones with 3-5 grams of fiber, at least 8 grams of protein, and less than 10 grams of sugar. 
    • Make sure you focus on your drinks throughout the day as well. Choose water (flavored with fruits or veggies like lemon, lime, and cucumber for taste), black coffee, herbal/green tea, and non-fat or dairy-free milk.

    Staying Balanced & Energized

    Re-thinking what types of foods we classify as snacks are important. Snacks don’t always have to leave you feeling sluggish or hungry again in a few minutes. Well-balanced snacks that incorporate carbs, proteins, and healthy fats should leave you feeling satisfied, energized, and full. A perfect balance will also help you stabilize your blood sugar. Skip the chips and plan on fueling your body with balanced snacks to keep the feared ‘hangry’ away! 

    Lindsay Allen
    Lindsay Allen

    For over 20 years, Lindsay has worked as a passionate and dedicated professional seeking to advocate health & well-being in the community and beyond. She has worked with various hospitals & health departments to plan, implement & evaluate educational programs on healthy lifestyle topics including nutrition, physical activity, and cancer prevention. She completed her degree & internship in Dietetics from Virginia Tech and holds certifications in CDC Diabetes Prevention Program along with effective writing and cultural competency to assist clients in the best personal goal setting & habits. In her spare time, Lindsay loves working out, watching sports, and spending time with her husband, 3 children & dogs.



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