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20 Macro Friendly Snacks for getting lean with IIFYM

Christian Pinedo


Today we’re looking at macro friendly snacks that help you get results. Each snack has a unique set of benefits to help you get lean with IIFYM.

We’re going to answer some key questions to help with weight loss and burning fat:

  1. What are macros?
  2. What do they do?
  3. How do I count macros?
  4. What makes a ‘macro-friendly snack’?

Then you’re going to get 20 macro-friendly snack recommendations. These will help you get lean and support weight loss.They also work as small snacks for muscle-gain diets.

Our list includes some favorite flavors, helps you get enough protein, and drive your results.

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What are the macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the 3 main nutrients that make up most meals – protein, carbs, and fats.

They’re the building blocks of food – and your diet. We call them ‘macro’ because they’re the ones you need most. They’re crucial because they allow you to count calories. They are also key to maximizing muscle gain and getting lean.

We use macros to choose what to eat, rank your nutrition priorities, and aim at results. Remember: calories determine your weight, while macros control what that weight is made of.

Typically, that means the balance between gaining fat or muscle. It also decides if you lose fat or muscle during a calorie deficit.

Imagery demonstrating the connection between macros, calories, and how to lose weight
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What do Macros do?

The better you understand macros, the better you can use them.

We’re going to break down proteins, carbs, and fats into their role and what they do for you.

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High Protein: More Protein, Better Results?

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and important issues. (1)

Your muscles, tendons, and bones are all made of proteins (as well as some other stuff!). The protein you eat is turned into these tissues.

When you exercise, protein is used to rebuild muscles and tendons. When you’re recovering after hard activity, your bones repair with protein. Because of how large these issues are, you need a lot. Protein also controls digestion and metabolism, which are crucial for health.

More protein is usually better. It’s found in lean meats, fish, dairy, and some plant products (like beans). It’s a key part of what makes a “macro-friendly” snack – more protein is good so aim for 1g per lb of bodyweight! (2)

Carbohydrates for Energy and Muscle Building

Carbs are your short-term energy source for performance and muscle gains.

Your body turns them into muscle fuel which lets you do more physical work. It drives exercise performance and the recovery of muscles after exercise (3, 4, 5).

Carbs are found in sugar and starch forms. Sugars are fast-absorbing, while starches take longer. Macro-friendly snacks tend to be starchy, but sugar can be helpful before and after workouts. Fresh fruit, for example, is rich in sugar but plenty of other nutrients.

Carbs should be balanced with your lifestyle. More exercise = more carbs.

Dietary Fats for Health and Wellbeing

Fats are the opposite of carbs – slow-release energy and hormonal health.

They’re good for controlling hormones and providing a steady energy source when you’re low on carbs. They’re typically not as important but do control your heart and hormonal health (6, 7).

Get your fats from good sources like dairy (yogurt), olive oil, and fish. The quality is most important since you’re not using as many. Give your body high-quality food!

Need a super-simple breakdown of the macronutrients for when you’re struggling? Our Macro cheat sheet makes it easy to get your nutrition spot on at a glance.

IIFYM Basics: How Do I Count Macros?

IIFYM is about focusing on calories and macros. 

It doesn’t matter how many servings of vegetables you get a day. If you’re over-eating on calories you’re still going to gain unwanted weight. Calories determine weight change – things like fat gain or loss.

You shouldn’t just eat whatever you want. Prioritize calories and macros, then worry about other stuff. Tracking macros and being specific with your eating is a huge key to success. 

Pro tip: use an accurate food scale and proper measuring cups to eat the right amount for your goals. This kind of focus and measuring is key to long-term nutrition results.

food scale, measuring cups, and/or a food processor
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What makes a great macro-friendly snack?

Great macro-friendly snacks are easy to figure out when you know what to look for. Here’s our short list of key factors:

·        (usually) Low calorie: this gives you more choice and options. It also helps burn fat.

·        High-volume: filling, satisfying, and great for beating cravings and hunger.

·        Nutrient-dense: packed with vitamins and minerals for better health and function.

·        Protein-rich: protein is amazing and great snack ideas pack plenty of it.

·        Quality carbs: carbs drive energy levels up. This is key for better workouts, and thus results.

There are exceptions to all of these! Sometimes you want extra calories to keep you fuelled up, or simple carbs for workouts. These are just the important things to watch out for since they always help.

Look for high protein, nutrient-dense, and suitable to your goals. More calories when you’re trying to build muscle, fewer when trying to burn fat.

Tips and tricks

That’s the education. Now, let’s talk tips and tricks for macro-friendly snacks.

1.      Sauces and dips are rich in taste without needing too much to add flavor!

2.      Staple foods are key – have a few common meals you can fall back on.

3.      Emergency foods from your local store should be saved in your head for reference!

4.      Choose high-volume for weight loss (like carrot and lettuce)

5.      Eat carbs in time with your workouts to improve performance

6.      Be specific – set your goals and be strict to start with

7.      Track your food regularly to make sure you know what each food offers

Now let’s get into the 20 best macro-friendly snacks that can change your nutrition…

Top 20 macro-friendly snack ideas for losing weight

1.     Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt with fruit is one of the best macro-friendly snacks. You can also use Skyr. It’s a mixture of high-quality proteins, carbs from fruit, and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Low-fat Greek yogurt is a great canvas for your favorite macro-friendly snacks. It pairs with nuts, seeds, and protein powder perfectly!

An image showing greek yogurt - one of the best nutrient-dense snacks for getting leaner
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2.     Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is richer in protein than yogurt, with roughly 20g of protein per 100g. It’s just as easy, though. Cottage cheese pairs perfectly with flatbreads, fruit, and other ingredients.

A perfect savory or sweet high-protein snack with no prep.

3.     Cream Cheeses

Cream cheeses and Quark are great with both sweet and savory flavors. They’re somewhere between yogurt and cheese. Both are packed with prebiotics for gut health. They even offer up to 12g protein per 100g.

Combine cream cheese with fruit, honey, or baby carrots to your preference. 

Use moderation, though, as they’re high in fat with extra calories.

4.     Popcorn

Popcorn and other puffed grains are high-volume. This means they help you get and stay full without many calories.

A 100g serving of popcorn typically only includes 120 calories per serving. Obviously, stick with healthier brands and avoid buttery and sugary products!

5.     Rice cakes

Rice cakes – like popcorn – take up a lot of space with very few calories. This makes them perfect for IIFYM dieters, taking the hunger out of fat loss.

Rice cakes are super mild. They work with savory (like hummus) and sweet (like honey) toppings.

6.     Vegetable chips

Vegetable chips – from kale, beet, and sweet potato – are a great healthy snack.

They pack more vitamins and minerals for fewer calories than traditional potato chips. Once they’re dehydrated and lightly fried they’re a great savory snack with healthy salts.

Red and purple chips are also rich in beta carotene. Vitamin A, as it’s also known, is great for cell health.

7.     Jelly

Jelly is a very low-calorie snack and is a great source of protein by weight. It usually contains 0 fat and you can buy low-sugar varieties. Skip the ice cream combo if you want to burn fat!

Gelatine is a powerful nutrient to support better tendon and bone health (8). Perfect for a high-protein, low-calorie snack.

8.     Hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are packed with protein and healthy fat.

They’re a favorite with bodybuilders because they’re filling, easy, and nutrient-rich. You’ll get tons of protein and other nutrients from this classic macro-friendly snack.

A protein rich snack for getting leaner with a little prep time
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9.     Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is the best chocolate. It’s delicious, rich, and much healthier than milk chocolate.

It has less sugar, healthier fats, and an amazing taste. Dark chocolate is perfect for getting lean while still enjoying the finer things in life.

It must be healthy, it’s gluten-free.

Dark chocolate is a calorie-dense treat and a great source for healthy fats and tannins
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10.  Nuts

Nuts and seeds are great snacks if you’re feeling low-energy. They’re high-fat but super healthy.

Almonds and walnuts, particularly, offer amazing heart-healthy fats. They’re satisfying and packed with essential electrolytes to support better health.

11.  Fruits

We can’t ignore fruits. High volume, few calories, and nutrient-rich – perfect.

Low-calorie fruits like apples and oranges are perfect macro-friendly snacks. They provide fiber, high-quality carbs, and a great mixture of vitamins and minerals.

Apple with a little peanut butter is a personal favorite.

Pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and others provide healthy fats and are an easy snack with great macros. they're calorie-dense but a great replacement for junk food.
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12.  Jerky

Jerky is an amazing protein-rich snack. It tastes amazing and really cuts to the heart of savory cravings. It’s easy and convenient, delicious, and packs 25g protein per 100g – a great ratio.

13.  Tuna

If you’re a fan of tuna, it’s a perfect snack. High-quality tuna offers 25+ grams of protein per serving and is rich in essential Omega-3 fat. A perfect muscle-building, fat-burning food.

14.  Salami and cold cuts

Similar to jerky, salami and cold cuts are perfect for savory cravings. Salami, prosciutto, and other cured meats are high protein, low calorie, and delicious. They’re there to satisfy savory, salty cravings with no guilt.

They can be a bit more expensive, but they’re a great treat when you’re on a fat-loss diet.

15.  Aioli and Low-Volume Dips

Dips are great because they provide intense flavor, but you don’t need much.

Aioli and pesto are perfect. They combine healthy fat, herbs, intense flavor, and you only need a little. This means great taste and some luxury without breaking your daily macro goals!

Combine with vegetable sticks, veg crisps, and other healthy snacks.

And no, peanut butter does not count as a dip!

Aioli and Sour Cream are a great snack idea for adding flavour to vegetables like celery, carrots, and cucumber
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16.  Rice flour + Whey

Combining rice flour with protein powder produces a satisfying paste. Simply combine the two in a bowl with a little liquid. It sounds boring, but it tastes just like your protein powder. Choose the right flavor and it can be delicious!

It’s very high in protein and simple carbs, making it a perfect pre and post-workout snack. A popular choice with elite athletes and bodybuilders alike.

17.  Green shake

We don’t usually recommend drinking your calories – but a good shake is a great snack. 

Blend greens (kale or spinach) with protein powder, milk or other fluid, and some banana. The result is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals – an easy top-up when you’re feeling hungry.

18.  Protein pancakes

Protein pancakes are a macro-friendly take on classic breakfast food. You can buy a pre-mix for guaranteed results or make your own. Blend low-fat Greek yogurt, banana, and steel-cut oats for a healthy mix. 

Easy, delicious, and far healthier than your usual stack.

A classic! Protein pancakes with sugar-free syrup, greek yogurt, and/or berries are a fantastic snack idea.
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19.  Emmental and hard cheese

Pay more attention to Emmental. It’s nutty, semi-sweet, and delicious. It packs more than 20g of protein per 100g. It’s low-calorie for cheese and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals.

Hard cheeses are a perfect ally in your fat-burning, muscle-building journey. Pair a hard cheese stick with deli turkey for great macros on the go.

20.  Hummus and Vegetables

Hummus – like aioli – is a perfect dip. You can combine it with celery, carrot, or cucumber sticks for a delicious and healthy snack on the go. This means low calorie, full of nutrients, and a 1:1 blend of carbs and protein.

Try it with baby carrots for an easy, delicious snack.

Want to use great snacks like these in your diet? Want to come up with more snack ideas of your own? Looking to make the most of diet – without taking the fun out? We’ve got a complete beginner’s IIFYM book/guide that helps you enjoy chasing your fitness goals. It’s full of important lessons, guidance, and gets you started on the way to great results!

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Christian Pinedo

Hey there, Christian here. I'm a former fat guy who just wants to help you succeed in your fitness journey. I share my own experiences and experiments right here on this site. Let me know how I can be of help by leaving a comment below. If you want to learn more about my 50 lb weight loss journey, click here.

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