Relax! Winter is almost over! For most Americans, winter is a dreaded, gloomy time of the year when food becomes a great comfort. Due to the colder temperatures and snow/ice/wintry mixed- covered roads we stay inside and inactive. Fortunately, spring is only a few weeks away and as we step into March and rising temperatures, it’s the perfect time to reassess what we put in our bodies on a daily basis. For some, My Platecontrolling snacking throughout the day is a huge struggle. With vending machines and fast food joints too accessible and convenient during the workweek, it’s definitely worth looking at healthy snacking alternatives to keep your metabolism rolling at high fat-burning levels!

In recent years, our nation has seen a spike in obesity rates. Snacking is a dietary habit that has greatly contributed to the rising obesity rates due to the “empty-calorie” nature of most prepared snack foods. Empty calories provide very little nutritional value, and instead are packed with added sugar and solid fat. According to the USDA, men consume two to three times their limit of sugar and fats and women two to four times their limit!

So what are some snacks that steer clear of empty calories? High-protein snacks are the way to go! Protein allows our bodies to feel full over a longer period of time. If you are filling up with protein during snacking periods, chances are you’re more likely to skip seconds and wait until lunch or dinner to eat again. Here are some protein-filled snacks that are also easy to carry around throughout the day:

  • Nuts! Especially almonds and pistachios, as they have the most protein! Nuts don’t sound appealing? Try mixing a variety of nuts together or combining raisins and dried fruits for a delicious trail mix!
  • Cottage Cheese! Ok, so not everyone is a fan of cottage cheese. But have you tried adding your favorite fruits? Try bananas or strawberries and melon. These fruits are full of flavor and go great with cottage cheese!
  • Jerky! But remain mindful. Make sure you are shopping for low-sodium and lightly flavored beef or turkey jerky. Nine grams of protein is hard to beat in a single serving snack!
  • Hummus! Hummus is also too good to be true. With so many different foods to pair it with and an endless amount of flavors, it’s really hard to go wrong with the delicious dip! Aside from being a great source of protein, hummus can help lower your cholesterol. Try hummus with carrots, cucumbers, celery, or on a piece of toast or pita! The list goes on and on!

Don’t worry; the list of healthy snack alternatives doesn’t stop there. Fruits and veggies also serve as great snacks filled with nutrients. But the best part of protein is that it keeps the body feeling full and satisfied over a longer period of time. Aim for a protein source in every snack you eat, and try to keep portions down to one serving size. Remember, snacking is a habit, and although habits are hard to change, we can make improvements that will keep us healthy and away from obesity!

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