Smart snacking can help fuel your muscle growth, promote weight loss, and maintain your energy before and after your workouts. Smart snacking has nothing to do with the contents of vending machines, chips, cookies, donuts, crackers, pretzels, ice cream, or just about anything that comes inside something you have to open with your teeth.
Here’s how to refuel in between main meals to keep your brain, body, fat-burners stoked—without the sugar shock.
A half a can of tuna fish has nearly 22 grams of belly-filling, muscle-building protein for no sugar. The pouched varieties are a good tear-and-go option for gym bags.
2. Three hard-boiled eggs
They contain 19 grams protein for 232 calories and zero sugar. Don’t sweat the fat: It’s healthy and filling.
3. Tapas board
Arrange marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and good olives on a platter with a chunk of real Parmesan (or Manchego or Gruyère) and a thin slice of nice ham.
4. Baba ghanoush with pita chips
Love hummus? Then you’ll also like this smooth, creamy dip that’s made from roasted eggplant. Scoop it with a handful of pita chips.
5. Pizza muffins
Cut back on your carbs and still have your pizza fix with these fast-bake mini-pies. Use them to fight off late-night snack attacks. This makes 4 muffin halves, but you can save the leftovers and reheat later.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto on 4 English muffin halves. Divide 4 tablespoons goat cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped green or kalamata olives, and 4 water-packed artichoke hearts (quartered) among the muffins. Place the muffins on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted.
6. Pork rinds
You think they’re bad because these puffy snacks are literally cut from pigskin and then they’re deep-fried. A 1-ounce serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 g of protein, and 9 g fat. That’s nine times the protein and less fat than you’ll find in a serving of carb-packed potato chips. And no sugar!
7. Guac, smoked turkey, and Swiss roll-up
In a rush? Turn to this super-fast, no-carb snack. Spread a dollop of guacamole on a slice of smoked turkey, and then roll the turkey up in a slice of Swiss cheese.
People forget that it’s a whole grain, which means it offers a good source of fiber, which helps fill you up. As long as it’s not the caramel kind, it’s sugarless.
9. Avocado half
These creamy fruits do have a teeny bit of natural sugar, but not enough to matter. Spoon it right out of the skin!
10. Kale chips
Making your own at home is easy. Preheat the oven to 275ºF. In a medium bowl, rub the leaves from one bunch of kale with enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt, to taste. Spread leaves in a single layer on two baking sheets. Try to flatten any folded-over pieces for optimum crispness. Bake until the tips of leaves are slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the leaves over, and continue to roast until the leaves are crisp and slightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes more. Makes 4 servings.
11. Cucumber slices with furikake
Furikake is a Japanese blend of seaweed and seasonings designed to be shaken atop steamed rice. But it also works well as a way to liven up cucumber. Just make sure to select a furikake with no sugar.
12. Smoked salmon on wheat crackers
You’ll take a good dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, along with a little fiber, and nary a sugar gram.
You may not think that a handful of these nuts could fill you up, but they have a built-in failsafe. If you buy the kind in the shell (which you should) then you have to take the time to pull the nuts out of the shell. That work requires you to slow down your snacking, and, in turn, eat less. Mother Nature is a genius!
14. Grilled chicken strips
Think of them as poultry French fries. And you can dip them into some mustard for a no-sugar flavor booster.
15. A glass of water
Drinking fluid can help you fill up, stay alert, and increase your gym performance. Plus, no sugar!