Efforts to slim down are almost always accompanied by a few moments of weakness, most of which are brought on by fatigue or frustration in the early stages of a weight loss plan. But that doesn't mean you have to give into the temptation of a muffin or a croissant. Here is a list of 5 small snacks that can deliver a boost of energy and calm cravings without undermining your calorie-cutting efforts.
As long as you can limit your intake to one or two squares (less than 10g), there is no need to fear for your waistline, especially if you opt for dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70%. Rich in flavonoids and magnesium, dark chocolate can provide a much-needed energy boost and a welcome treat. French nutritionist Jean-Michel Cohen recommends dark chocolate as a way to treat yourself while restricting calories during the rest of the day. He suggests eating a square with a small amount of bread. Doctor Raphaël Gruman, meanwhile, another French authority on weight loss, recommends eating dark chocolate during the stabilization phase, later in a weight loss plan, in moderation.
A date with a dab of peanut butter
Nutrition consultant Charlotte Debeugny insists that there is no reason to shun peanut butter during a weight loss program. Stigmatized because of its high fat content, peanut butter contains mainly unsaturated or "good" fats, which our body requires even when the goal is in weight loss mode. And with peanut butter, as with nuts and other nut-based products, a small amount can go a long way to calm a craving. Debeugny suggests spreading a tiny bit of peanut butter on the inside of a date for a satisfying mini snack.
A rice cake with low-fat spreadable cheese
To tide you over until the next meal, protein is key, and a few teaspoons of spreadable low-fat cheese can provide just the right amount for an afternoon or mid-morning snack. Enjoy cheese on a puffed rice cake for the satisfying crunch, popcorn-like taste and -- of course -- low calorie count.
A handful of berries
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable low calorie foods around, berries are among the best ways to quell a rampant craving for sugar. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are low in sugar but deliver the sweet taste you crave, along with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
A citrus fruit
According to Doctor Jean-Michel Cohen, a reasonable quantity of caffeinated beverages can provide a way around fatigue during a weight loss program, so tea and coffee are allowed. But coffee breaks can be challenging for those who usually enjoy cookies and cakes with their java. To satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it, opt for an orange, half a grapefruit or a few clementines. In addition to providing a reasonable amount of natural sugar, citrus fruits deliver a dose of vitamin C and fiber.