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5 Diet-Friendly Snacks to Take to Work

Free food is considered a "perk" in many offices, but this benefit may have an unexpected price: pounds gained. Even though the snacks provided by my client's employer were seemingly healthier choices, a daily trip or two to the cupboard added up to hundreds of extra calories.
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When hunger strikes, reach for these nutritionist-approved munchies to help fill you up -- not weigh you down.

A client of mine gained 10 pounds since landing a great job at a women's athletic apparel company about a year ago. After reviewing her diet, I found where those 10 pounds came from -- the free office snacks.

Free food is considered a "perk" in many offices, but this benefit may have an unexpected price: pounds gained. Even though the snacks provided by my client's employer were seemingly healthier choices -- miniature dark chocolates, yogurt-covered nuts and pretzels, dried fruit, energy bars and trail mix -- a daily trip or two to the cupboard added up to hundreds of extra calories... and 10 extra pounds.

If you snack at work when you're bored, stressed or too busy to eat a real meal, instead of bee lining to the snack drawer or Starbucks, bring satisfying snacks from home, like one of these one of these five, nutritionist-approved between-meal bites. Each has less than 200 calories, no added sugars and provides hunger-crushing protein and/or fiber.

An apple (or small banana) with 1 tablespoon nut butter (185 calories, 4 grams protein, 6 grams fiber): In one study, eating an apple before a meal was found to slash 187 calories from the meal, compared to meals when no apple was eaten beforehand. An apple on it's own is about 100 calories, but to make it even more filling, partner with a nut butter.

1/2 cup nonfat cottage cheese with 1/4 cup Grape-Nuts (185 calories, 15 grams protein, 3.5 grams fiber): Compared to Greek yogurt, plain cottage cheese has less naturally-containing sugar, no added sugars, and more protein. What's more, it's one of the best sources of the BCAA leucine, which is considered the most important EAA for muscle-building and recovery post-exercise, according to several studies. For more crunch and staying power, add ¼ cup of whole-grain Grape-Nuts, which is an excellent source of slimming fiber and is a natural source of plant-based protein.

4-6 Sunsweet Ones Prunes: (100-150 calories, 4-6 grams fiber):
Most offices have a candy bowl, but why not a bowl of naturally-sweet prunes? Sunsweet Ones individually-wrapped prunes will satisfy cravings for sweet and they have just 25 calories each, are a good source of fiber, essential nutrients and beneficial antioxidants.

1 serving Amy's or Dr. McDougall's Organic Lentil Soup*(130-180 calories, 8 grams protein, 6-9 grams fiber): Lentils are among the one of the most nutritious, protein-packed foods available. And, according to a recent review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a serving of lentils daily can help tip the scale in the right direction. A cup of this protein- and fiber-packed soup will crush your craving and keep you satisfied for hours. (*Any soup with around 200 calories and >6 grams protein and >4 grams fiber is recommended.)

Fresh cut veggies with 2 tablespoons dip/dressing (170 calories, 3.5 grams fiber): According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, more than 80 percent of us don't eat the minimum daily recommendation of 3 servings of veggies per day. Snacking on fresh-cut veggies and dip will help you reach your produce target. The satisfying crunch of carrots, sugar snap peas and bell peppers is a great sub for chips. And, studies show, serving fresh veggies with a dressing or dip, like hummus, that contains fat boosts the absorption of the beneficial carotenoids and other antioxidants.