Believe it or not, snacking is actually good for you.
According to a recent article from the Harvard School of Public Health, well-chosen snacks can contribute to a healthy eating plan and keep hunger at bay, ensuring we don’t overeat at meal times (24).
In addition, snacks can provide a burst of energy to get us through long days and power us toward our fitness goals (25).
With an ever-expanding snack market, it’s more important than ever to make smart choices. Should you choose potato chips or popcorn? Granola bars or yogurt-covered pretzels?
In this guide, we’ve ranked the 13 best snacks of 2023 based on nutritional content, taste, and overall health benefits. From protein-packed bites to fiber-rich treats, these snacks will satisfy your cravings while also offering a host of wellness advantages.
So whether you’re looking for a midday energy boost, a post-workout recovery aid, or a late-night nibble, this guide will provide you with some of the best snacks to keep you fueled, satisfied, and healthy throughout the day.
What Is The Most Popular Snack To Eat?
When it comes to the most popular snack to eat, there are a few contenders that consistently rank highly:
These colorful chocolate candies have become a beloved snack for many. With their sweet chocolatey taste and iconic candy coating, M&M’s are a classic favorite.
Known for their distinctive sandwich cookie design, Oreos have captured the hearts (and taste buds) of people across the nation. Whether they’re dunked in milk or enjoyed on their own, these cookies have a dedicated fan base.
These crunchy, cheese-flavored snacks have become a go-to choice for those who crave a savory and satisfying treat. Their addictive crunch and cheesy goodness make them difficult to resist.
With their corn-based crunch and bold flavor, Fritos have become a staple snack in many households. Whether they’re enjoyed plain or paired with salsa or dip, Fritos offer a satisfying snacking experience
Whether you’re a workout beast or just a beginner making your first foray into the world of fitness and dieting – BetterMe has a lot to offer to both newbies and experts! Install the app and experience the versatility first-hand!
The Problem With Popular Snacks
While these snacks are undoubtedly enjoyable and popular, they pose a series of health-related concerns. The primary issue lies in their high levels of processing, in addition to all the sodium and saturated fats.
For example, M&M’s contain approximately 7.5 grams of saturated fat and 30 grams of sugar per serving (12). The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men (10), which means that a single serving of M&M’s almost meets or surpasses that limit.
Similarly, a serving of Oreos contains approximately 14 grams of sugar and 2.3 grams of saturated fat (14). In addition, their lack of any significant micronutrients makes them less than ideal for a healthy diet.
Turning to savory snacks, a single serving of Cheetos has approximately 160 calories, 250 milligrams of sodium, and 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of which is saturated (6). Excessive sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Despite being corn-based, Fritos contain approximately 160 milligrams of sodium per serving and are high in fat, with 10 grams per serving, 1.5 of which is saturated (7).
Before reaching for that bag of chips or cookies, it’s important to remember the health risks that are associated with these popular snacks. Fortunately, there is a wealth of healthier alternatives, and we’ve ranked some of the best healthy and convenient snacks below:
What Snacks Can You Eat When You’re Hungry? (13 Of The Best)
Our snack list kicks off with choices that will not only calm your rumbling stomach, but also offer significant health benefits. These are a far cry from your typical convenience store chips and sweets.
Instead, they’re packed with essential nutrients, carefully selected for their ability to contribute positively to your daily nutritional intake. These snacks are perfect for when you feel peckish and want to eat something delicious yet wholesome.
Here are some of the best healthy snacks you can try:
Almonds are our top pick, partly because they’re among the best snacks for a healthy heart. They’re full of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which makes them an excellent choice for a midday energy boost (22). In addition, they’re convenient to carry and require no preparation. Just be careful not to go nuts with the portion size – a handful should be more than enough to keep you satiated.
Coming in at number two is Greek yogurt. This creamy delight packs a powerful protein punch to keep you full and satisfied. It’s also a great source of probiotics, which keep gut health in check (9). You should remember to choose plain over flavored varieties to avoid added sugars, so you still get the best protein-packed snack. You can add your own flavorings such as seeds, berries, and other fruits, or use it as a dip for fruits or vegetables.
Popcorn takes third spot as one of the best low-calorie snacks. It’s not only a movie treat – popcorn is actually a whole grain, which provides you with fiber and antioxidants (2). Opt for air-popped varieties and keep toppings light to maintain their low-calorie status.
Berries are juicy, delicious, and packed with antioxidants and fiber, which means they rank high on our list of best snacks (3). They’re a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard on calories. Don’t forget, you can also freeze this best antioxidant-rich snack for a cooling treat during the summer.
Hummus and Veggies
Hummus and veggies are a sophisticated, nutrient-dense snack that adults can feel good about. This combination is full of fiber and plant-based protein and will keep hunger at bay and energy levels high (18). If it is done right, this is high on the list of best snacks for adults.
Have you been looking for good sweet snacks to try out? Well, you’re in luck. Dark chocolate is our go-to for when you crave something sweet.
It’s not just a sweet treat and is actually loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids that may help lower blood pressure (8). You should stick to varieties that contain at least 70% cacao to reap the maximum benefits.
String cheese is not just for kids’ lunch boxes. It’s also the best keto snack. Its protein-rich, calcium-packed profile fits perfectly into a low-carb or keto diet (5). You can choose a low-fat version if you’re watching your calorie intake.
Are you craving something late at night? Reach for hard-boiled eggs. They’re the best late-night snack as they offer a balance of protein and fats that will help you feel full without disrupting your sleep (19). They can be washed down with some herbal tea for even better sleep. They are also a great high-protein snack at any other time of the day.
Banana with Peanut Butter
A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter is one of the best snacks you can have before bed. The combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fats will keep you satisfied without causing a spike in blood sugar levels (15). It also easily beats an unhealthy, sugar-laden night-cap.
In 10th place are rice cakes. They are great gluten-free snacks for anyone with a gluten intolerance (16). They’re light, crispy, and can be topped with anything from avocado to nut butter for added flavor and nutrition.
Homemade Nachos with Guacamole
Craving some healthy nachos? Try this version of the healthiest nachos at home. Use whole-grain tortilla chips and top with fresh veggies and a dollop of guacamole for a snack that’s both delicious and nutritious.
Homemade Granola Bars
Homemade granola bars are an easy-to-carry and nutritious option as a healthy snack for the office. You can tailor the recipe to your liking and ensure it’s packed with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits for sustained energy throughout your workday.
Chia Seed Puddings
Rounding off our list is chia seed pudding – one of the top low-carb desserts. It’s simple to whip up, versatile, and works great as a low-carb dessert or snack. In addition, chia seeds are full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and high-quality protein (23).
What Should You Eat When You Feel Hungry But Lazy?
When hunger strikes and you’re on the move or simply feel a bit too lazy to make something from scratch, convenience snacks are the best bet. However, it’s still essential to choose options that are healthy and nutritious. Here are some top picks:
Many grocery stores sell pre-packaged salads that are ready to eat and packed full of vitamins, fiber, and lean proteins (17). Just be sure to check the dressing – opt for light vinaigrettes over creamy dressings to keep the calorie count down.
Nut Butter Single Packs
Single-serving packs of nut butters, such as almond or peanut butter, are great for on-the-go snacking. Pair with an apple or banana for a balanced and satisfying snack.
Pre-Cut Veggies and Dip
Stores often sell pre-cut vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber, and bell peppers, with a small container of hummus or yogurt dip. This will provide a crunchy, high-fiber snack full of protein and healthy fats.
When choosing a protein bar, look for one with a short and simple ingredient list. Aim for bars with at least 10g of protein and less than 10g of sugar.
These can be found in the snack aisle and are a great source of protein and fiber (11). They come in several flavors, which offers variety to your snack routine.
Overnight Oats Single Packs
These are handy for a quick breakfast or snack. Simply add milk or yogurt the night before and wake up to a ready-to-eat, fiber-rich snack.
Single-Serve Greek Yogurt
These are full of protein and probiotics. Choose plain ones to avoid added sugars and top with fresh fruit or a sprinkle of granola for texture.
Even when you feel in need of a quick snack, you can still make choices that are beneficial to your health. Convenience doesn’t need to mean compromising on nutrition.
Which Snacks Are Tasty?
The secret to tasty snacks lies in the balance of the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (4). Here are some examples of snacks that fit each flavor profile:
- Sweet: apples with nut butter, dark chocolate, date balls, banana smoothie.
- Sour: pickled vegetables, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons), yogurt dip with fresh herbs.
- Salty: roasted chickpeas, trail mix, olives.
- Bitter: dark chocolate-covered nuts and seeds, matcha tea latte.
- Umami: miso soup with seaweed and mushrooms, roasted seaweed snacks, parmesan chips.
By combining these different flavors in a single snack, you can create an irresistible treat that will satisfy all your cravings. For example, you could try dark chocolate-covered almonds with sea salt for a sweet and salty combo or a banana smoothie with matcha powder for a sweet and bitter mix.
Dropping pounds by the dozens without putting yourself through the wringer is everyone’s weight loss pipe dream. But what if we told you that the BetterMe app can make that happen? Keep yourself in prime shape with our fat-blasting workouts, delicious budget-sparing recipes, and body-transforming challenges with our app!
What Is The Best Snacking Food?
Now that you know the specific snacks that are good, it’s time to answer the ultimate question: what is the best food for snacking? Ultimately, there’s no single “best” food for snacking. Everyone has different needs and preferences, so finding the perfect snack is a personal endeavor.
However, there are some general guidelines you can follow:
A good snack should be packed with essential nutrients to fuel your body and keep you energized throughout the day. You should look for snacks that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (21).
These can include fruits such as berries, which are loaded with antioxidants, or nuts and seeds that provide a good dose of healthy fats and protein. By choosing nutrient-dense snacks, you will satisfy your cravings but also nourish your body with valuable nutrients.
A healthy snack should provide a balanced mix of macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats (20). This combination will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
For example, a snack that combines whole grain crackers (carbohydrates) with hummus (protein and healthy fats) will provide a perfect balance of nutrients. The carbohydrates give you quick energy, while the protein and fats help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
You should choose snacks that have a good balance of at least 2 macronutrients, but those that have all 3 are ideal.
Low in Added Sugars
Sugar-laden snacks may provide an initial surge of energy, but they will often leave you crashing soon after. You should look for snacks that are low in added sugars and opt for natural sources of sweetness instead.
Fresh fruits, such as apples or bananas, provide natural sugars, in addition to fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Alternatively, you can choose snacks that use more nutritious sweeteners, such as dates or other dried fruit.
Keeping added sugars in check helps prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes while promoting overall well-being.
Even the healthiest snack can become unhealthy if it is eaten in excess. You should pay attention to portion sizes when choosing a snack. Opt for pre-packaged single-serve snacks or portion out larger snacks into smaller containers.
Enjoyable and Satisfying
Finally, a good snack should be enjoyable to eat and leave you feeling satisfied. You should choose snacks you genuinely enjoy that satisfy your cravings. This can vary from person to person – some may prefer savory snacks such as roasted chickpeas or trail mix, whereas others may enjoy a sweet treat such as dark chocolate or yogurt with berries.
It’s important to remember that a snack should nourish your body while also providing you with pleasure and satisfaction.
How Can I Eat Unhealthily and Stay Fit?
Eating unhealthily on a regular basis can make staying fit challenging. However, moderation and portion control can help. You can allow yourself a cheat meal occasionally, but you should ensure that the majority of your diet consists of nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Regular exercise will also help maintain fitness levels.
What Should I Eat If I Am Craving Sweets?
If you crave something sweet, you should opt for healthier alternatives. Fresh fruits, such as berries or apples, can satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing essential nutrients. Dark chocolate is another option that you can enjoy in moderation.
How Do I Stop Snacking When I’m Bored?
To stop snacking when you’re bored, try engaging in activities that keep your hands and mind occupied, such as reading, crafting, or working on a puzzle (1). Drinking water or herbal tea can also help, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.
Will I Gain Muscle If I Eat Junk Food?
Eating junk food will probably not help you gain muscle. Building muscle requires a balanced intake of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, which is generally lacking in junk food (13). Although it’s highly calorific, junk food generally lacks the necessary nutrients that support muscle growth and recovery.
The Bottom Line
The best snacks are those that offer a balance of taste, nutrition, and satisfaction. You should choose snacks that are nutrient-dense, provide a balanced mix of macronutrients, are low in added sugars, and come in portion-controlled sizes.
Above all, you should enjoy the snack you choose – it should bring you pleasure as well as providing nourishment for your body.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 ways to combat boredom eating (2023,hri.org)
- Analysis of Popcorn (Zea Mays L. var. Everta) for Antioxidant Capacity and Total Phenolic Content (2019, nih.gov)
- Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat (2021,harvard.edu)
- Bitter, Sweet, Salty, Sour and Umami Taste Perception Decreases with Age: Sex-Specific Analysis, Modulation by Genetic Variants and Taste-Preference Associations in 18 to 80 Year-Old Subjects (2018,nih.gov)
- Cheese (2023,Harvard.edu)
- Cheetos hot 9.5z by Frito Lay (2023,nutritional value.org)
- Corn chips, plain (Fritos) (2023,nutritional value.org)
- Dark chocolate: An overview of its biological activity, processing, and fortification approaches (2022,nih.gov)
- Greek Yogurt and 12 Weeks of Exercise Training on Strength, Muscle Thickness and Body Composition in Lean, Untrained, University-Aged Males (2019.nih.gov)
- How Too Much Added Sugar Affects Your Health Infographic (2023,heart.org)
- Nutritional quality of roasted and pressure-cooked chickpea compared to raw (Cicer arietinum L.) seeds (2008,researchgate.net)
- Nutrition Facts (2023,Rochester.edu)
- Nutrition Recommendations for Bodybuilders in the Off-Season: A Narrative Review (2019,nih.gov)
- Oreo Cookies (2023,und.edu)
- PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA SANDWICH (2023,unh.edu)
- Rheological, physical, and sensory attributes of gluten-free rice cakes containing resistant starch (2015,nih.gov)
- Salad greens: Getting the most bang for the bite (2023,Harvard.edu)
- The Benefits of Including Hummus and Hummus Ingredients into the American Diet to Promote Diet Quality and Health: A Comprehensive Review (2020,nih.gov)
- The Health Benefits of Egg Protein (2022,nih.gov)
- The macronutrients, appetite and energy intake (2016,nih.gov)
- The Nutrient Density of Snacks (2017,nih.gov)
- The Nutrition Source (2023,Harvard.edu)
- The Nutrition Source (2023,Harvard.edu)
- The Science of Snacking (2021,Harvard.edu)
- What Is a Snack, Why Do We Snack, and How Can We Choose Better Snacks? A Review of the Definitions of Snacking, Motivations to Snack, Contributions to Dietary Intake, and Recommendations for Improvement (2016,nih.gov)