Even if you’ve followed a strict fitness and diet program for weeks, everyone gets hit with sudden food cravings. Whether you’re a victim of late-night salt urges or post-workout sugar pangs, you don’t have to destroy your progress by giving in. We offer you healthier alternatives to some of your favorite guilty snacks. Remember, moderation is key, but when you need to satisfy your hunger, don’t start shoveling your face with potato chips and cake—try one of these instead.
YOU WANT POTATO CHIPS: Just 1 oz. of kettle cooked potato chips (approximately 15 chips) have 150 calories and 9 grams of fat. A standard bag of chips is 8 oz., so it’s easy to let a chip binge get out of control. TRY INSTEAD:
- Baked potato chips are, in moderation, a decent alternative to fried or kettle-cooked chips. With 120 calories per ounce, the calorie content is comparable, but they only have 4.5 grams of fat.
- 1 oz. of air-popped popcorn kernels, which pops up to over 3 cups, has just 110 calories, 1.3 grams of fat and has 4 grams of fiber.
- While nuts and seeds (almonds, peanuts, soy, sunflower seeds, cashews) are calorie-dense—they contain between 120 and 190 calories per ounce—they’re high in fiber and good fats, and will also make you feel fuller, longer than starchy chips.
- Another way to satisfy a salt craving is with briny foods like olives, low-sodium dill pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, a Korean spicy pickled cabbage dish. Six olives have just 20 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, pickles have zero calories, while sauerkrat and kimchi have under 15 calories per 2-oz. serving.
- Seaweed snacks are a good alternative to chips if you want a crunch without any guilt. A 6-oz. package has just 30 calories.
- Rice snacks have just 38 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per serving.
- Pita chips, while also comparable in calories (110 per ounce), have just 3.5 grams of fat.
YOU WANT FRENCH FRIES or ONION RINGS: One small order of McDonald’s french fries (2.5 oz.) has 230 calories and a whopping 11 grams of fat. A small order of Burger King onion rings (approximately 2 oz.) has 180 calories and 9 grams of fat. TRY INSTEAD:
- One cup of edamame (boil shelled or unshelled for 3–5 mins and sprinkle with sea salt) has 189 calories and 8 grams of fat, but it’s packed with 8 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein.
- Opting for a traditional baked potato (or microwaved: slit potato lengthwise three times and cook on high for 10–15, depending on size) instead of fried, will give you 161 calories, less than a gram of fat and 4 grams of fiber.
- Another option is to snack on multigrain flatbread or pita bread with your choice of hummus or Greek yogurt spread. Both have approximately 25 calories per tablespoon.
YOU WANT HOT DOGS: One hot dog has 150 calories and 14 grams of fat before you even add the bun. They also contain sodium nitrite, a potentially cancer-causing preservative. TRY INSTEAD:
- Smoked salmon has just 99 calories and 4 grams of fat for a 3-oz. serving. Eat it on multi-grain bread with a dollop of yogurt dill dip.
- Deli meat is never an ideal choice because some contain sodium nitrite, but opt for low-sodium or sodium-free deli meat on multi-grain bread with mustard, which contains just 5 calories per serving.
- Make your own shrimp and spinach wrap. Pan fry shrimp for just a few minutes until they turn pink, add to a 100% whole wheat wrap with fresh spinach and cilantro and a dollop of mayonnaise. A 3-oz. serving of shrimp has just 84 calories and 1 gram of fat, but it’s high in cholesterol, so should be eaten in moderation.
YOU WANT RAMEN: A package of ramen contains between 350 to 400 calories and approximately 14 grams of fat. The soup base also contains MSG, a flavor enhancer that has been shown to cause nerve damage. TRY INSTEAD:
- Canned low-sodium minestrone is a better option with just 82 calories per cup and 2.5 grams of fat, but always be sure to make sure it doesn’t have MSG.
- Chicken noodle soup is another healthier choice at 60 calories per cup and 2.3 grams of fat.
- Or make your own miso soup with buckwheat noodles. Add 1/4 cup shiro miso paste (find at any health or Asian food store), 1/4 cup scallions, a cup of cooked buckwheat noodles and a dash of soy sauce. Bring soup to a low simmer—do not boil—until the miso is dissolved. Miso soup has just 45 calories and 1 gram of fat per cup while buckwheat noodles have about 113 calories per cup.
YOU WANT CANDY BARS: One Snickers candy bar contains 280 calories, 14 grams of fat and 35 grams of carbs. TRY INSTEAD:
- Opt for 60% or 70% cacao dark chocolate. One bar of Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate has 190 calories, 14 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber. The antioxidants in purer dark chocolates will also counter free radials created during exercise and daily activities. Dark chocolate contains anti-inflammatory agents as well for heart health, but, like all snacks, eat it in moderation and your waistline and heart will thank you.
- Protein bars will satisfy and satiate. Choose from chocolate, cookies n’ cream, chocolate peanut butter, blueberry, and many more varieties. Worldwide Sports Nutrition’s Pure Protein bar contains 190 calories, 6 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein, which will keep you satisfied longer than a regular candy bar.
YOU WANT ICE CREAM: A half cup of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream has 270 calories and 18 grams of fat. Once you get to more decadent flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, the calorie count goes up to 310 with 20 grams of fat. TRY INSTEAD:
- Almost all sorbet, sherbet, or frozen yogurts are a healthier alternative to ice cream. Most are fat free, but high in sugar, so always in moderation.
- One Kozy Shack rice or tapioca pudding cup contains 130 calories and 3 grams of fat.
- One Yoplait Thick ‘n’ Creamy yogurt in strawberry banana has 180 calories and 2.5 grams of fat.
- Try a berry protein powder shake. One scoop of whey protein isolate powder, 1/2 cup mixed berries, one banana or 1/2 cup fruit yogurt, 12 oz skim milk, handful of ice cubes.
- Make your own cinnamon apples by peeling, coring and slicing two apples, sprinkling the wedges with cinnamon and sugar (or a sugar substitute), and microwaving for 10 minutes. Top with a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
YOU WANT CAKE, DONUTS or BROWNIES: A slice of Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake has 280 calories (before the frosting) while just one Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut has 200 calories and 12 grams of fat. TRY INSTEAD:
- Angelfood cake lives up to its name with just 80 calories per slice and less than a gram of fat, so you can, literally, have your cake and eat it too.
- Chewy granola bars like KIND dark chocolate cherry cashew bars have 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber and contain healthy antioxidents.
- Whole wheat and bran muffins might not sound like a legitimate replacement for cake, but there are several healthy options like this orange poppy muffin that would sate your taste for something cake-like.
YOU WANT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: Just three Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies have 160 calories and 8 grams of fat (and who just eats three?). TRY INSTEAD:
- Fig bars are healthier than homemade chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, gingersnaps, or prepackaged chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar, or shortbread cookies—in that order. Two Deerfield Farms fig bars have 90 calories and 1 gram of fat compared to two homemade chocolate chip cookies at 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
- Granola bars aren’t always less fattening (due to the fat in nuts and amount of oil added in many commercial bars), but they have more fiber and less saturated fat. A Kashi TLC trail mix bar has 140 calories, 5 grams of fat (0.5 saturated) and 4 grams of fiber.
- The real deal: It’s hard to make cookies healthy, but your healthiest bet is to make them at home from a recipe and try substituting healthier ingredients. By whipping up this sweet snack at home, you’ll shave half of the added calories off of your chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, and about 15 to 25% off of your sugar cookie caloric intake, compared with commercially prepared varieties and cookie dough tubes. The simpler the recipe, the better. Tip: For more nutrition in your treat, swap out some of the egg in a recipe for plain/vanilla yogurt, and some of the oil for applesauce to boost nutrients and satisfy you long after the sugar high has passed.
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