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Low-Calorie & Low-Sugar Snack Foods

By Andrea Cespedes

A weight-loss plan involves reducing the number of calories you are consuming per day. In order to avoid excessive hunger, allow snacking between meals – but choose foods low in calories and sugar. Even with these limitations, you have many options beyond celery sticks and rice cakes.

Significance

Snack foods high in sugar are usually also higher in calories and lower in nutrition. Sugar is made up of carbohydrates, which provide energy to the body but offer no vitamins, minerals or other macronutrients. Sugar causes quick rises in blood sugar but does not help make you feel full. The American Heart Association reported in August 2009 that Americans consume over 22 tsp. of added sugar daily, padding their diets with 355 extra calories. Over the course of a year, this can result in 37 extra lbs.

Types of Food

Vegetables are low in sugar and calories. Protein is also low in sugar, and lean sources offer between 25 and 40 calories per ounce. Some low-fat cheese is low in calories and sugar. Whole-grain cereal and other grains are also relatively low in calories, when cooked without added fats or sweeteners.

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Sample Snacks

Go beyond just baby carrots and grape tomatoes and snack on sugar snap peas, red pepper strips, raw cauliflower florets and spears of cucumber. Air-popped popcorn contains just 30 calories per cup. Coat it with a little cooking spray and sprinkle with 1 tsp. Parmesan cheese or garlic salt to add flavor. Plain instant oatmeal makes a hearty, warm snack with just 100 calories per package. Wedges of spreadable, light cheese contain just 35 calories per serving with 1 g sugar. Boiled shrimp -- with 99 calories in a 3.5-oz. serving -- and slices of deli meat -- with 50 calories per 2-oz. serving -- might seem like unconventional snacks, but they can satisfy your appetite with few calories and little sugar.

Considerations

Fruits and low-fat dairy can be high in sugar, but this type of sugar is naturally occurring. These foods are relatively low in calories per serving and offer valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support good nutrition. Whole fruit is a good source of fiber, which can help you feel full. Dairy may help with weight loss, as suggested in a study from Curtin University in Australia, in which people following a low-calorie diet that included five servings of dairy each day lost more weight and belly fat than people eating three servings daily.

Caution

Some foods are low sugar and calories but offer little nutrition or satisfaction. Artificially sweetened gelatin, plain rice cakes and sugar-free ice pops may satisfy you while you are eating them, but they do not keep you full for very long. In sensitive people, artificial sweeteners can also cause reactions. Products like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin can cause you to crave sweeter foods, notes Dr. William Sears on his website.

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