Smarter snacking

If you're gonna do it, do it right: Celebrity Nutritionist Ashley Koff shares her picks for lighter fare.

What really has you reaching for that 11am yogurt? That pre-meeting energy bar? If you're munching for the wrong reasons, you may be sabotaging yourself, a recent study finds. People who snacked between breakfast and lunch lost 4 percent less weight compared to those who didn’t indulge before their afternoon meal, according to research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Since there’s a short amount of time between breakfast and lunch, researchers speculate that mid-morning snackers might be eating out of boredom — not hunger. Mid-morning snackers were also more likely to nosh again in the afternoon, bumping up their total calorie intake for the day.

When it comes to grazing, the key is being conscious, says study author Angela Kong, PhD, MPH, RD of the University of Illinois at Chicago: "If you snack when you’re not actually hungry, it might lead to consuming excess calories and eventual weight gain. However, when snacks are consumed in response to hunger, it could help control your appetite and prevent you from overeating at your next meal." She suggests aiming for an under 200-calorie snack.

Celebrity nutritionist Ashley Koff, RD, advises clients like Emily Deschanel and Amy Brenneman to make sure snacks include a mix of carbs, protein, healthy fat and a non-starchy vegetable for optimal energy. Carbohydrates provide quick energy, protein sustains that energy and fat helps you feel full.

Here, Koff's favorite power snacks:

green smoothie with coconut water, frozen spinach, rice protein, cacao powder, coconut palm nectar and almond butter

Why she likes it: This hydrating drink packs potassium from coconut for energy and a mood boost from cacao.

sam talbot’s granola

Why she likes it: You get tons of different flavors at once and fiber to keep you full and aid with digestion.
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small latte or cappuccino with organic skim milk and a handful of almonds

Why she likes it: When you're on-the-go, it can be purchased at any coffee shop. If you don’t do dairy, ask for hemp milk instead.

mini pizza with goat cheese, arugula, walnuts and currants

Why she likes it: It's basically salad on top of a crust. Walnuts contain heart-smart omega-3 fatty acids and goat cheese is lower in fat than its friends and less likely to trigger allergies than the cow's milk variety.

whole grain waffle with organic greek yogurt, blended with cinnamon and topped with chopped nuts

Why she likes it: This comforting treat provides B vitamins for energy. Cinnamon keeps your blood sugar in check to prevent a crash.

cucumber slices topped with wild salmon, organic sour cream and capers

Why she likes it: Wild salmon contains 16 omega fatty acids and filling lean protein.

cashew avocado mousse with millet and hemp seeds

Why she likes it: Millet is a gluten-free grain. Hemp, a complete vegetarian protein, packs fiber and hard-to-find GLA (gamma linoleic fatty acid), which keeps hormones in balance.

To make: Soak cashews overnight in water; process nuts in a blender with one ripe avocado and a little of the soaking water. Top with millet and hemp seeds.

corn tortilla with feta, salsa, avocado slices and a pinch of cabbage or lettuce

Why she likes it: Healthy fat from the avocado keeps you satiated. Plus, feta is lower in fat and calories than most cheeses.