In college, there is sometimes no way to avoid staying up late, and as the clock creeps to a later and later hour, we all see ourselves reaching for a salty bag of chips, or a creamy pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But there are tons of healthier snacks out there that are (almost) equally delicious. So collegiettes, drop the junk food and pick up a treat that will not only fill you up, but will also keep you energized into the late hours of the night. We’ve broken it down for you with 10 healthy study snacks that will keep you energized and ready to rock any problem set!
1. Mixed Nuts
Since we’re not looking to climb a mountain, but rather ace a take-home test, toss the calorie-heavy trail mix aside, and grab some simple almonds, walnuts, and cashews instead. Loaded with salted nuts, sugary dried fruit, and chocolate chips, trail mix can have at minimum almost 700 calories in a typical serving. That’s roughly 40 percent of your day’s total calories! But there are other, healthier, nutty snacks that will satisfy your cravings.
Most markets carry 100-calorie packs of almonds, portioned so that you don’t overeat, but you’ll still find yourself full by the end of the bag. As a more economical option, portion out your own mixture of almonds, walnuts, and pecans and bring them around campus with you. The nutritional value differs depending on the nut (you get 25 whole pistachios for 100 calories, but you can only munch on 14 almonds for the same calorie count), but 15-20 nuts is typically a healthy portion size.
“[Eating nuts] means you’ll eat less and won’t raid your refrigerator in a half hour looking for something else, to eat,” said Melanie Jatsek, a registered dietitian and author of Healthy U: A quick reference guide to eating healthy on campus and beating the Freshmen 15.
According to Jatsek, those who include nuts in their diet have an easier time managing their weight because they feel satisfied longer.
Looking for something with more of a kick? Try sprinkling some garlic powder, cinnamon, or pepper for an added flavor, but no added calories.
2. Apple and Peanut Butter
Apples on their own are great for you, but add in the protein that peanut butter brings to the equation and this snack cannot be beat.
“Peanut butter is mostly fat…true! But that doesn’t make it fattening (unless you’re downing the entire jar!),” Jatsek said.
A spoonful of reduced fat peanut butter paired with a sliced up apple, not only makes for a great combination, but will also keep you awake and alert throughout the night. Because as the saying goes, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”
3. Whole-Wheat Pretzels
Whole-wheat pretzels are significantly better for you than chips, but offer the same salty flavor that you’re craving. In about 22 pretzels, there are roughly 110 calories, as compared to 160 calories in just 12 potato chips. But sometimes pretzels can be a little bland. That’s why I suggest dipping them in mustard. Not only are there minimal calories in mustard (3 calories for every tablespoon), but it also gives the snack an added kick. Keep it to classic mustard, though. Honey mustard can get pretty caloric! If you’re not a fan of mustard, try pairing the pretzels with some Greek yogurt. According to Jatsek, it’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
“[Pretzels] need some protein with it otherwise you could probably polish off the whole bag without thinking twice!” Jatsek said. So don’t forget to portion control collegiettes!
4. Triscuits and Light Laughing Cow Cheese
Triscuits are an excellent source of fiber, with about 12 percent of your recommended daily value. According to Jatsek, Triscuits are a heartier cracker that will keep your stomach satisfied longer. Paired with a 35-calorie wedge of Light Laughing Cow cheese, you’ll feel full and ready to work.
“Add some tomato slices to the cracker for a little more flavor and nutrients,” said Jackie Keller, a nutrition expert, licensed and certified wellness coach, and founding director of NutriFit, Los Angeles’s premier gourmet home meal delivery service.
With six different flavors of Laughing Cow cheese to choose from, you’ll be able to find the taste that you’re craving. Laughing Cow cheese comes in creamy swiss, garlic and herb, French onion, blue cheese, mozzarella sun-dried tomato and basil, and queso fresco and chipotle. Just be careful not to over-indulge; limit yourself to 10 crackers to guarantee you won’t be too full to continue working.
5. Air-Popped Popcorn
Popcorn is an awesome choice when it comes to picking a crunchy snack.
“Popcorn is a much better choice if you’re looking for a low calorie snack with some fiber, just avoid salting the popcorn,” Keller said.
It’s simple, cheap, and fast to make so it won’t be holding you back from studying. Air poppers are also inexpensive, but you can also just use the stove to pop your own kernels. With a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, or herbs, you can turn this ordinary movie snack into something unique, tasty, and satisfying. Three cups of 94% fat-free microwave popcorn have about 100 calories. This is a great option if you want a giant snack during your study break.
“Edamame is a wonderful choice, offering protein and nutrients, while being low in fat,” Keller said.
Edamame is sold at almost all supermarkets and is extremely easy to make: just pop it in the microwave for a few minutes! From there, you can either keep them in their pods or break the edamame out of its shell and bring them along as individual peas. With a side of low-sodium soy sauce, edamame is a perfect choice for a late night snack. A cup of edamame has about 189 calories and a whopping 17 grams of protein to keep you feeling full long after you’re done munching!
7. Cottage Cheese and Grapes
Cottage cheese can be the perfect snack for late-night eating. While it may seem like the same old snack, it can easily be dressed up to satisfy any craving. Sprinkled with cinnamon or with a few added grapes, you can take this dairy-centered snack and turn it into a low-calorie sugary bite to eat.
“If you select low fat or fat free cottage cheese, this is a great choice offering vitamins, antioxidants, and protein,” Keller said— all things that will keep you awake and satisfied. Already portioned in small snack-packs, cottage cheese is a perfect grab-and-go snack.
8. Hummus with Vegetables
Hummus is another great grab-and-go snack, coming in already portioned containers. In roughly one tablespoon, there are only 27 calories.
“Hummus is very healthy, but relatively high in fat. Don’t use too much of the hummus and stretch it by using baby carrots, celery, or cucumber for additional flavor and nutrients,” Keller said.
Vegetables are natural sources of energy, giving this snack the added boost to keep you feeling rejuvenated.
9. Greek Yogurt
Looking for a treat more tart than sweet? Greek yogurt is just that. Like most yogurts, it is great for your body, offering tons nutrients and energy. But Greek yogurt is even better for you than your usual, old-fashioned yogurt.
“Greek yogurt has a lot of extra protein. If you buy a portion-controlled amount, you’re not likely to overeat. Once you finish it, you’re done,” said Susan Holmberg, New Jersey nutritionist, weight coach, and behavioral therapist.
Holmberg suggests you add in some blueberries, providing you with an added sugary taste and more antioxidants. You can also try adding in some crushed up walnuts (5-7 walnuts go a long way when finely crushed) for a little crunch, turning your simple yogurt into a healthy parfait.
10. Small Sandwich
If vegetables, nuts, or pretzels aren’t for you, don’t fret — there is still more out there. Try creating a small meal for yourself. Registered Dietitian and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California-San Francisco Katie Clark suggests making half a turkey sandwich or a vegetarian taco with black beans.
“Eating small frequent meals, or mini-meals, throughout the day helps to keep blood sugar levels stabilized, and prevents you from getting so hungry that you overindulge the next time you eat,” Clark said.
Pacing yourself throughout the day, and into the night if you’re up late studying, will keep you satisfied longer and deter any over-indulgent binges while you’re working at night.
Do you have a favorite healthy study snack that we missed?