Top seventeen low-calorie snacking alternatives to stay healthy at work

healthy low calorie snacks

While the COVID-19 pandemic normalised work from home for many of us, something else was a common theme. A lot of us have put on weight, or at least we know someone who did. We talked to over 50 such people and zeroed in on one culprit - unhealthy snacks! Can you relate to this problem? Then this article is for you!

Whether working from the office or stationed at home, snacking smart has many benefits besides maintaining a healthy weight. Snacking right can help us maintain our energy throughout the day, work smarter, think better, and just be better.

healthy diet and wellness A pro tip to stay hydrated!

Here are 17 snacking ideas that can get you started

Fruits

We all know how important fruits are to our health. They supply essential nutrients for glowing skin, strong hair, a healthy body, and a sound mind. What we often don’t realise is that many fruits are low in calories. 

Also, fruits are abundant in natural sugars that can maintain our blood glucose levels and energise us at work. High fibre in fruits can keep us fuller for longer periods and improve our gut health (soluble fibre is a great prebiotic). Here are some fruits you can eat without creating a mess at work

  • Apples - Rich in flavonoids. Contains phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A medium-sized apple has about 95 calories, and 3.6 grams of fibre 
  • Pears - A Medium-sized pear (178 gms) has 101 calories and 6 grams of fibre. High in Vit C, Vit K, Potassium, Copper and polyphenols. Helps with blood circulation, wound healing, and reduces inflammation 
  • Guava - Vit C powerhouse. 1 small guava has 38 calories and provides 208% of vitamin C. Huge immunity booster with many positive side effects. High in fibre as well
  • Berries - Indian berries include Rasbhari, Amla, Phalsa, Karonda, Jamun, Kokum, and Ber. All these are high in fibre, vitamin C, flavonoids and polyphenols, and many other vitamins and minerals. They are known for anti-glycemic (helpful for diabetics), anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative properties
  • Grapes - Rich in copper and Vit K. Have tons of other micronutrients. Can boost energy production, blood clotting, and bone health. 1 cup (150 g) has about 100 calories
  • Oranges - Have great Vit C and fibre. 1 small fruit (96 g) has about 45 calories
  • Mango, Custard Apple and other seasonal fruits    

Vegetables

Veggies are often dense in terms of nutrition and have really low calories compared to any other food group. Munching and chewing on crunchy veggies can be great for dental hygiene. Also, much like fruits, veggies are high in fibre and can be a blessing to a good gut microbiome. They also bulk up your stools and help you with smooth excretion. Combining veggies with healthy homemade dips like hummus, salsa, and ranch can turn them into snacks you absolutely love. Here are a quick couple of suggestions.  

  • Carrots - Rich in Vit A, which is essential for eye and skin health. 100 g of edible parts of carrots has 41 calories. High in fibre, Vit C, calcium and many other minerals 
  • Celery - 1 cup of chopped celery has 14 calories. Good source of Vit A, Vit K, and folate. Has anti-oxidative and anti-cancer properties
  • Cucumber - slices 1 medium cucumber has 30 calories. Eating cucumbers is a great way to stay hydrated and avoid constipation. High in Vit C, Vit K, Potassium, Magnesium, and Manganese
  • Nuts & Seeds - Nuts and seeds are great sources of healthy unsaturated fats (Omega-3 fatty acids), protein, and soluble fibre. Seeds have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can have considerable long-term health benefits. There is just one catch. These are dense in calories (15 to 20g of nuts/seeds equals 100 calories). So consuming nuts and seeds in moderation is extremely important if you are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. It is better to add them to your favourite salads or cooked foods. You can also make seed or nut butters at home and use them in your recipes. Serving size recommended - 8 cashews; 7 almonds; 12 halves/6 full walnuts

Nutrition (in 1 serving) 

  • Fibre = 0.5 - 2.5 g (nuts); 2 - 5.5 g (seeds)
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids = ~ 1.5 g 
  • Rich in Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Selenium, Zinc, and Phosphorus, Vit E, and B-complex vitamins

Granola

Granola is a dry, golden brown, baked snack usually made of rolled oats, honey, natural sweeteners such as dates, figs, raisins (or other dried fruits), puffed rice, nuts, and seeds. There are many granola recipes out there, and you can easily customise your favourite version of granola by mixing and matching a bunch of ingredients.

Like any good snack, this can be made light with all-natural ingredients. Granola is usually high fibre and keeps you satiated for a long time. Since this is also nutrition-rich and has adequate natural sugars, granola can be your way of snacking smart on busy work days. Also, to keep your granola healthier, use less sugar with moderate quantities of nuts. Serving size recommended - Calories in granola can widely vary based on the ingredients used and their proportions. A good serving recommendation would be 20 - 40 grams (¼ to ½ cup) which are roughly 100 calories. 

Nutrition (in 1 serving)

  • Fibre = 4 - 5 g
  • Rich in Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Vit B, and Vit E

Popcorn

Did you ever wonder why popcorn is so famous at the movies? The short answer - popcorn is easy to make and costs nearly nothing. When done right, it can also be a fairly healthy snack. Popcorn is mostly carbs and fibre. It is super low in calories and can keep you full for a long time. This makes it an ideal snack for the office. So the next time you are at work and hungry, air pop a few corn kernels in a microwave for 2 minutes, sprinkle some salt and spices and enjoy your snack. Some nice pop-corn seasonings are available on the market, and these can really flavour your snack. Serving size recommended - 3 cups of regular popcorn or 4 cups of air-popped popcorn (a little less than 100 calories) 

*1 Cup  = 236 ml

Nutrition (in 1 serving) 

  • Dietary Fibre = 3 - 5 g
  • High in Vit A, Vit B, Vit E, and Vit K 

Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas in general are nutrition-packed with healthy carbs, high protein, and high fibre. Despite the number of snack varieties in India, roasted chickpeas remain one of the favourite street snacks to date. While there are many packaged brands that you can buy from, packaged versions tend to be high in sodium content which is not healthy for you for several reasons. Instead, easily make these at home in batches. Use your favourite seasonings to keep it interesting and stay fit at the workplace. Serving size recommended - ¼ to ½ cup

Nutrition (in 1 serving) 

  • Fibre = 3.2 - 6.4 g
  • Protein = 3.8 - 7.6 g 
  • Nutrition powerhouse. Contains a variety of micronutrients in adequate quantities. 

 

Yoghurt

Yoghurt tastes amazing, and many people agree with it. That is just one reason to say it’s great at the workplace. Here are some other reasons:

  • Yoghurt contains healthy bacteria (probiotics) that are excellent supplements for our gut health. It is better to consume them during the day, aka when you are at work.
  • Yoghurt has good protein and fat, both of which can fuel your active parts of the day at work
  • Probiotics in Yoghurt also improve digestion, which can be really beneficial for people sitting in front of the computer for long hours.
  • Yoghurt contains good amounts of calcium, Vit B12, Potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals can regulate your metabolism and blood pressure and improve bone health.
  • Probiotics in yoghurt also reduce inflammation and can improve your overall immunity.

That said, choose your yoghurt wisely. Homemade yoghurt is obviously great. But if you are choosing packaged ones, go for non-sweetened or naturally sweetened (with fruits) versions. Also, choose greek yoghurt for high protein and whole milk yoghurt to keep it natural. Be wary of high sugar variants.  

Puffed Rice

If you need to describe puffed rice in one word, it has to be ‘light’. One cup of puffed rice is just 14 g in weight and contains around 50 calories of energy. You can either maintain minimal ingredients and quickly whip up a bhel puri or simply sprinkle your favourite seasoning and consume your puffed rice as is.  

Water While water is not food, there is Consuming water frequently can reduce bloating, improve digestion and lubricate the digestive tract. Water helps you lose excess pounds.  Last but not least, all those extra trips to the restroom can be your excuse to move around and stay healthy at the workplace.

Tip: To improve your habit of drinking water frequently, consume herbal teas or start flavouring your water with natural fruit or vegetable extracts.

healthy snacking ideas for indian workplace

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In Closing

Snacking doesn't have to be unhealthy. Here are a few parting pro tips to avoid unhealthy snacking:

  • Do not stock your shelves with unhealthy snacks. If you crave lays, buy one small bag, eat them and be done with the craving. Do not buy ten packs at wholesale prices in the name of savings.
  • Eat fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. The less processed your snacks are, the better they are for you.
  • Prep your snacks, in batches, at home. Put a little effort into this and cook them to your taste. On the plus side, you know exactly what's going into your snack. So no scope for guilt.

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