The 7 Best Low-Calorie Snacks of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Stock your pantry with these healthy bites

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If you are trying to limit your calorie intake to meet certain weight loss and health goals, snack time can pose a challenge. You want something that is delicious, satisfying, and exciting, but not extremely caloric.

Unfortunately, many low-calorie snacks on the market are filled with artificial ingredients and excess sugars to make up for the loss of flavor that happens when fat and calories are reduced or removed. But if you know what you're looking for, you can find tasty, low-calorie snacks made from real, whole-food ingredients.

Here, the best low-calorie snacks.

Best Overall: BIENA Chickpea Snacks Sea Salt

BIENA Chickpea Snacks Sea Salt

Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks have a nice blend of protein, fiber, and fat, which will help to keep you full. The satisfying crunch and salty flavor hit the spot for your savory snack cravings, but don't worry! This awesome snack comes in two additional flavors: honey roasted and ranch.

Chickpeas, part of the legume family, are one of nature’s best fiber sources and pack plenty of plant-based protein. Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks have 6 to 8 grams of fiber and protein, depending on the flavor. Their single-serving pouches are perfect for low-calorie snacking at home or on-the-go. Each pouch contains 140 nutrition-packed calories.

Best Budget: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Individual Packets

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Individual Packets

Oatmeal shouldn’t only be reserved for breakfast—it makes a well-balanced, filling, and low-calorie snack as well. Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, a type of fiber that helps maintain digestive health and can also lower cholesterol levels.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets have just 100 calories per packet, along with 3 grams of fiber (1 gram of which is soluble fiber) and 4 grams of protein. There are no added flavorings or sweeteners to these oatmeal packets, so they make an excellent blank canvas for a warm, comforting snack.

For a more satisfying and well-rounded snack, add some toppings, such as berries, cinnamon, or a small handful of nuts. These oatmeal packets are made with 100% whole grains and are Non-GMO Project certified.

Best Bar: KIND Honey Roasted Nuts & Sea Salt Bar

KIND Honey Roasted Nuts & Sea Salt Bar

Snack bars are a convenient food to throw in your bag for snacking on-the-go. While some bars are filled with artificial ingredients and additives, KIND bars are made with whole food nuts and seeds—that you can actually see.

The KIND Honey Roasted Nuts and Sea Salt bar is a perfect low-calorie snack when you’re out and about, or don’t have time to prepare something at home. Made with almonds, cashews, and peanuts, these bars will keep you full with plenty of healthy fats, in addition to fiber and protein.

Each Honey Roasted Nuts and Sea Salt bar contains 180 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of plant-based protein. Naturally sweetened with honey, they only have 3 grams of added sugar—which is quite low compared to many other snack bars on the shelves. These bars are also gluten-free and non-GMO.

Best Popcorn: Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt Popcorn

Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt Popcorn

Popcorn is the ultimate low-calorie snack if you like a lot of volume when you eat. Since it’s filled with so much air, we can eat a lot of popcorn and feel satiated. If adding butter or oil, use small amounts for a satisfying snack.

Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop makes perfectly portioned low-calorie packs of popcorn in a delicious sea salt flavor. Since each bag has just 80 calories, consider pairing your popcorn with a serving of fruit, veggies, or cheese for a more well-rounded and filling snack. The sea salt flavor has only three ingredients—whole grain popcorn, sunflower oil, and sea salt. It’s also non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan.

If you’re craving some unique and different popcorn flavors, Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop offers various flavors, including white cheddar popcorn, real butter popcorn, light kettle corn, and more.

Best Dessert: Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bar

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bar

When you’re craving something sweet for snack time, head to your freezer for a Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bar. These bars seriously hit the spot when you’re craving ice cream but don’t want to indulge in extra calories.

Made with real Greek yogurt, Yasso bars pack 5 to 7 grams of filling, high-quality protein per one bar serving, and each bar has between 80 and 150 calories.

Yasso bars come in a wide variety of flavors, including Fudge Brownie, Sea Salt Caramel, Coffee Chocolate Chip, and Cookies ‘n Cream. And because these bars are made with Greek yogurt, they contain live and active probiotic cultures, which are beneficial for gut health.

Best Nuts: Emerald Nuts 100 Calorie Variety Pack

Emerald Nuts 100 Calorie Variety Pack

Nuts are certainly one of the healthiest foods to include in your diet. They contain plant-based protein, fiber, and an abundance of healthy fats. However, nuts are not a low-calorie food, and it can be easy to consume more calories than you’d like to when snacking out of a large container of nuts.

Complement your 100-calorie pack of nuts with a crunchy apple for added fiber and nutrition—it's a well-balanced snack that will keep you satisfied until your next meal.

The variety pack includes packets of roasted almonds, a mix of almonds and walnuts, and roasted and salted cashews, so you can mix up your snack each day.

Best Chocolate: Lily's Sweets Crispy Rice Dark Chocolate Bar

Lily's Sweets Crispy Rice Dark Chocolate Bar

For chocoholics craving a low-calorie treat, look no further than Lily’s Sweets Crispy Rice Dark Chocolate bars. Instead of sugar, this chocolate is sweetened with stevia, a zero-calorie botanical sweetener.

Each serving of Lily’s Sweets Crispy Rice Chocolate bar is just 170 calories—for about half of the chocolate bar. Lily’s Sweets uses gluten-free, non-GMO, and Fair Trade ingredients in their chocolate bars.

You can find Lily’s chocolate products in various flavors, including dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate styles. They also make chocolate chips for baking, peanut butter cups, and chocolate-covered nuts—all of which are lower in calories and sugar than traditional chocolates that use sugar as the sweetener.

Final Verdict

When you’re looking for a low-calorie snack that satisfies your urge to munch on something crunchy, salty, and flavorful, Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks (view at Amazon) come in first place. Packed with fiber and protein, these chickpeas will satisfy all your snack cravings, fill you up, and give you lasting energy until your next meal.

What to Look for in a Low-Calorie Snack

Ingredients

An ideal snack should contain fiber, protein, and healthy fats. It’s important to look at the ingredient label, so you know what’s in your snack. Many low-calorie snack products use artificial ingredients to make up for the lack of calories. If the ingredient label lists whole foods that you recognize, such as almonds, popcorn, or oats, you’ve likely found a healthy option.

Calories

According to FDA regulatory terms, in order for a food to be considered low-calorie, it must have 40 calories or less for a given reference amount of that food. Choosing low-calorie snacks may help to promote weight loss or weight maintenance. While your needs will vary depending on your personal calorie intake goals, a good general rule is to look for snacks that contain 100 to 200 calories per serving.

Convenience

Packaged snacks like the ones on this list are excellent options for busy lifestyles and staying healthy on the go. But don’t forget about fruits and vegetables for snacking, too. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and provide tons of nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. When possible, combine low-calorie packaged snacks with fruits and vegetables, or save the packaged snacks for when you're away from home.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is snacking important?

    Snacking is important because it gives you energy in between meals, controls hunger, and may help you meet your daily nutrient needs.

    When selecting a snack, check out the Nutrition Facts label. Choose snacks that are low in sodium and high in fiber. Try to avoid snacks that list sugar as one of the first few ingredients.

    Also, check the serving size and number of servings per package so that you get the number of calories you planned on.

  • What are the benefits of eating snacks?

    You’re not alone if you consider snacking unhealthy. Chips, cookies, and candy may come to mind when you think about snacks. But when you make the right choices, eating snacks offers health benefits.

    Snacks are a perfect time to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. Fruits and veggies are low in calories and rich in nutrients, and eating the recommended five servings each day improves health and may help you live longer. 

    Having a snack when you’re hungry helps keep your appetite in check. Going too long without eating makes you too hungry, which could cause you to overeat at your next meal. Snacks also provide energy before a workout.

  • How do you factor snacking into your meal plan?

    Despite the negative connotations associated with snacking, most people eat about three 230-calories snacks a day. That amounts to about 690 calories from snacks, or 30% of calories on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. 

    When factoring snacks into your meal plan, you need to take into consideration your daily calorie needs, the number of meals you eat, and how many snacks you want. Each snack should have no more than 200 calories, or 300 calories if you’re active.

    If you plan on having two 200-calorie snacks a day on a 2,000-calorie diet, that leaves you with 1,600 calories for your meals, or about 530 calories for each meal. But even when snacks are part of your meal plan, only snack when you’re hungry.

What Experts Say

“Fiber, protein, and fat are digested slowly and suppress hunger hormones, keeping you full longer. Calories are a measurement of energy. So instead of looking for the lowest calories around, look for the right calories—the ones that will keep you full.”
Lainey Younkin, MS, RD

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Alex Aldeborgh takes her product recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted against her clinical research, product reviews, and personal experience. These are products that she recommends to her clients and also enjoys herself. Her favorite low-calorie snack is apple slices and peanut butter.

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6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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