Low-calorie snacks: our pick of the best

Advice Ben Ince
23 Oct 2014
bag of peanuts and peanut butter

Need a pick-me-up between meals? Try these low-calorie snacks and make sure you aren’t destroying all your hard-won gains

You can’t always get the nutrition you need from breakfast, lunch and dinner. Maybe you’re on a muscle-gain plan that demands a ton of calories – or maybe you’re eating on the go and need to avoid a blood sugar crash that’ll send you scurrying to Krispy Kreme. The good news is, there are plenty of snack options that will help, rather than hinder your fitness – and you can keep them handy at all times. Here’s our pick of the best.

Nut butter and fruit

One or two of your five-a-day fruit ‘n’ veg ration can come from fruit – but to avoid the instant rush of a fructose hit, it’s best to pair them with a lower GI foodstuff. The easy solution? Pair your banana with peanut butter, or your apple with almond. You’ll also get a quick hit of protein and a helping of healthy fats.

Greek yoghurt and berries

Berries are a great pick for your daily fruit – they’re high in illness-fighting antioxidants and relatively low in fructose. Twin them with Greek yoghurt and you’ve got a dessert-like dish that also packs a protein wallop and a hit of digestion-friendly probiotics.

Nuts

Semantics first: you should stick with actual nuts rather than legumes, so peanuts are out. With that taken care of, a pack of nuts is one of the best things to keep in your desk drawer – they’re filling, and full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Just keep it to single-digits - it’s easy to go overboard.

Cottage cheese

It’s a bit like marmite – some people love its creamy, curdy texture, other people feel like they’re trying to knock back mouthfuls of vomit. But however you feel about cottage cheese, it’s one of the best low-calorie, high-protein snacks available. 100 grams of the chunky stuff contains just 98 calories and a massive 11.2g of the muscle-building nutrient. Mix it with tuna and stick it on a rice cake for an easy-to-digest post workout snack that will help your muscles repair and grow.

Eggs

Beloved of the bodybuilding set, who are laser-focused on trying to pack on muscle without gaining a load of body fat, a single egg rocks in at a mere 155 calories with a shocking 13g of protein. Eggs are also rich in healthy fats that protect your heart so it’s not just those who train a lot who should be knocking them back in large quantities. Yup, forget what you’ve been told about limiting yourself to a certain number a day - there’s nothing bad in a healthy egg so feel free to pack out your omelettes.

Tofu

Huge in Asia, tofu is coagulated soy milk that’s cut up into blocks and it’s a giant in the low-calorie, high-protein stakes. 100g contains just 70 calories but an impressive 8g of protein. It’s got a fairly bland taste but if you combine it with chicken, ginger and garlic in a water-based soup you get a potent muscle-building snack that’s tasty and won’t deepen the tread of that spare tyre around your midsection.​

Counting calories? Here's a list of tasty snacks that clock in at under 100 calories:

Health hit

1 large apple and 5 almonds - 97 calories
 
1 small banana - 90 calories
 
280g Brussels sprouts - 100 calories
 
2 medium peaches - 76 calories
 
Punnet of blueberries and 1tbsp fat-free Greek yoghurt - 90 calories
 
14 almonds - 98 calories
 
6 figs - 96 calories
 
200g fruit salad - 82 calories
 
1 pot of strawberry fromage frais and 6 cherries - 99 calories
 
5 dried apricots - 95 calories
 
4 dates - 96 calories
 
1 small sweet potato - 100 calories

Once guilty pleasure

1 McVitie’s chocolate digestive - 83 calories
 
2 Jaffa Cakes - 90 calories
 
1 iced fairy cake - 94 calories
 
2 Cadbury’s Roses - 100 calories
 
2 squares of 85 per cent cocoa dark chocolate - 88 calories
 
1 bag of ready salted French Fries - 97 calories
 
10 Pringles - 100 calories
 
1 meringue nest with 6 strawberries - 100 calories
 
1 mini gingerbread man - 80 calories
 
1 Bendicks Bittermint - 80 calories
 
25 Jelly Belly jelly beans - 100 calories
 
Half a pint of lager and 7 peanuts - 99 calories

Instant hit

1 Kellogg’s Fruit ’n Fibre cereal bar - 95 calories
 
1 mini pitta bread with reduced-fat cottage cheese - 97 calories
 
1 slice of breaded ham and 1tsp English mustard - 71 calories
 
1 oatcake with 1tsp low-fat smooth peanut butter - 96 calories
 
1 toasted crumpet and 1tsp low-fat grated cheese - 92 calories
 
1 fishfinger with 4tbsp reduced-sugar and salt baked beans - 91 calories
 
1 Asda tortilla wrap - 97 calories
 
33 frozen grapes - 99 calories
 
30g low-fat Edam cheese and 5 sticks of celery - 99 calories
 
1tsp cream cheese on 1 plain Ryvita with 1 medium tomato - 100 calories
 
25g natural cottage cheese and 1 medium peach - 91 calories

Easy to make

1 rasher of grilled bacon and a dollop of ketchup - 87 calories
 
1 slice of brown toast and Marmite - 100 calories
 
28g serving of porridge oats - 100 calories
 
1 hard-boiled egg - 78 calories
 
5 roasted chestnuts - 100 calories
 
1 Dairylea slice and 1 rice cake - 99 calories
 
2 cream crackers with 1tbsp reduced-fat coleslaw - 100 calories
 
2 multigrain Ryvitas with Marmite - 83 calories
 
1 carrot with 28g tzatziki - 97 calories
 
1 sliced boiled potato with 1tbsp fresh salsa - 91 calories
 
4 breadsticks with tzatziki - 100 calories
 
28g Solgar Whey To Go protein shake - 100 calories
 
2 slices of Parma ham with 6 thin slices of melon - 80 calories
 
Heinz Weight Watchers Chicken Soup - 88 calories
 
1 Müller Light cherry yoghurt - 96 calories

Fancy a delicious low-calorie smoothie? Then try this fat-fighting fruity number.

For more exercise, weight-loss and diet tips, get the magazine. Subscribe now and we'll give you 5 issues for £5! Alternatively, get MF's brand new interactive edition.