Men, especially active or stressed men, need more than a simple three square meals a day. Throughout your waking hours, a few tasty snacks are in order. Packaged foods are obviously convenient to have on hand, but so many are high in sodium, loaded with empty calories and overly sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. And they're usually low on the good stuff that will sustain your energy and health. Stay clear of the vending machine and corner store impulse purchases. But you also don’t have to go hungry.
Just make sure you really are hungry. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Amy S. Margulies says that when it comes to snacks, we need to make sure we’re not just bored or stressed. She says that physical hunger will come on gradually—it might make your stomach growl. “Head hunger,” however, comes on quick and you might just be craving a specific food. And it’s probably one that will leave you feeling unsatisfied or guilty after.
So what kind of snacks supply your body with the nutrients it needs while still being satisfying? Produce and protein are the big winners. Protein promotes fullness because it signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones and slows digestion while stabilizing your blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, Margulies reminds us that fruits and vegetables are always low in calories but rich in filling fiber and fluids.
Here are six smart options for healthier snacking that will not only fill you up, but meet some of the toughest qualifications for guys looking for quick eats that are low-carb, high-protein or keto/paleo friendly. Some are packaged and ready to go, while others will require a little prep work. But like anything when it comes to your health, a little work now will have a big payoff down the road.
Roasted Baru Seeds
With a taste similar to a mix of peanuts and cashews, Baru seeds are actually legumes native to the Brazilian Savannah. Which means they're 100% nut free. What's more, they're packed with more fiber and highly digestible protein than almonds or walnuts, with fewer calories and fat than other traditional nuts. The crunchy superfood seeds also make for a great source of iron, calcium and Vitamin E.
$14.99 by Natural Traditions
An Apple With Almond Butter
Nut butters like peanut and almond are tasty, versatile desk snacks—perfect for pairing with an apple or banana you brought from home. A medium apple, for example, with a couple tablespoons of almond butter has a whopping 8 grams of belly-filling fiber, plus 7 grams of plant-based protein. You can pre-portion some almond butter into a container or opt for these handy single-serve packs that, in our opinion, were made for squeezing directly into your mouth.
$14 (for a 10-pack) by Justin’s
Have you messed with alternative jerky? If not, you don't know what you're missing. This tender jerky is made from sustainably caught wild Alaskan salmon. It's then smoked with Pacific Northwest Alderwood and flavored with clean, whole food ingredients. The bold flavors range from spicy chili and teriyaki to our favorite, the sweet and smoky original. Each bag offers a whopping 25 grams of protein with the added benefits of Omega-3s (and about half the sugar of the average beef jerky).
$32.99 (for a 3-pack), by Kaimana
Watermelon and Feta Cheese
Consider this easy twofer an instant salad. Plenty sweet with a satisfying salty creaminess, it comes together easily and offers a satisfying and sophisticated snack (or even dessert). The combination is one of Margulies’ favorites. She often adds some kick to it by adding in some spices, like cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. It feels decadent, but you’re looking at just 120 calories for 1/2 cup of watermelon and 1/4 cup of feta, which offers about 4 grams of protein and some filling fiber, too.
These are for the Cheetos crowd, obviously. But they're not merely a healthy alternative. These are plenty tasty and addictive all on their own. That's because the light and crunchy puffs of garbanzo beans boast a fairly pronounceable ingredient list. Our favorite flavors were the "White Cheddar" and the "Nacho Vibes," both of which offer plenty of filling fiber and plant-based protein to fuel you.
$17 (for an 18-pack) by Hippeas
If you're the type to reach for a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, these are for you. These crispy roasted chickpeas from Biena have a similar crunch and savory flavors of the iconic tortilla chips (there's also barbecue and habanero too), but are loaded with five grams of protein and six grams of fiber to keep you feeling full longer. Plus, a handful has 78% less fat than a similar handful of peanuts (and a third of the calories).
$26.94 (for a variety 6-pack) by Biena
* Easy Summer Treat: Rinse some grapes in the sink and then put them in a plastic bag and freeze them. You can pop them individually whenever you want a little something sweet or need something cold and refreshing.