Don't let the free snacks at work sabotage your diet. Here are tips from dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite For Health, on how to snack for weight-loss success.
A client of mine gained 10 pounds since landing a great job at a women's athletic apparel company about a year ago. After reviewing her diet, I found those 10 pounds . . . in the office snack cupboard.
Free food is a "perk" in most offices, but it may come at a cost: pounds gained. In this case, the options were seemingly healthier choices — miniature dark chocolates, yogurt-covered nuts and pretzels, dried fruit, energy bars, and trail mix — but a daily trip or two to the cupboard added up to hundreds of extra calories . . . and 10 extra pounds.
When hunger strikes, instead of bee-lining to the office snack drawer, vending machine, or local Starbucks, opt for one of these six wholesome, natural snacks that have less than 200 calories and are rich in protein and/or fiber.
Medium Apple With 1 Tablespoon Nut Butter
185 calories, 4 grams protein, 6 grams fiber
In one study, eating an apple before a meal was found to slash 187 calories from the meal, compared to meals when no apple was eaten beforehand. An apple on its own is about 100 calories, but to make it even more filling, partner with a nut butter.
1/2 Cup 1.5-2 Percent Low-Fat Cottage Cheese With 1 Cup Strawberries:
150 calories, 12 grams protein, 3.5 grams fiber
Compared to Greek yogurt, plain cottage cheese has less naturally occurring sugar, no added sugars, and more protein. What's more, it's one of the best sources of the BCAA leucine, which is considered the most important EAA for muscle-building and recovery postexercise, according to several studies. Partner with fresh fruit to add filling fiber to your mini meal.
4-6 Sunsweet Ones Prunes
100-150 calories, 4-6 grams fiber
Most offices have a candy bowl, but why not a bowl of naturally sweet prunes? Sunsweet Ones individually wrapped prunes will satisfy cravings for sweet, and they have just 25 calories each and are a good source of fiber, essential nutrients, and beneficial antioxidants.
1 Cup Amy's Organic Lentil Soup:
180 calories, 8 grams protein, 6 grams fiber
Lentils are among the one of the most nutritious, protein-packed foods available. And, according to a recent review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a serving of lentils daily can help tip the scale in the right direction. A cup of this protein- and fiber-packed soup will crush your craving and keep you satisfied for hours.
3 Halos Mandarins
150 calories, 6 grams fiber
Sweet, juicy, and easy-to-peel make mandarin oranges a perfect office snack. Bring a bag of them with you to work on Monday and make sure you've eaten them all by Friday. Loaded with vitamin C, and with just 50 calories and 2 grams of fiber each, they won't blow your daily calorie budget.
1 Cup Baby Carrots (or any fresh-cut veggies) with 2 Tablespoons Dip/Dressing
170 calories, 3.5 grams fiber
Nearly 90 percent of women don't eat at least (the recommended minimum of) three servings of veggies every day. Snacking on fresh-cut veggies and dip will help you reach your produce target. The satisfying crunch of carrots, sugar snap peas, and bell peppers is a great sub for chips. And, studies show, serving fresh veggies with a dressing or dip that contains fat boosts the absorption of the beneficial carotenoids and other antioxidants.