To snack or not to snack?…That is the question. The answer? Yes…but snack smartly.
If you’re eating three straight meals a day with no snacks in between, you could be sabotaging your weight loss. If you’re exercising, this may especially be the case. Why? Because long gaps in eating makes your blood sugar drop, inviting ravenous cravings for sugary, starchy foods and too-big portions when you do eat. And when you’re working out, you need to properly fuel your body for maximum fat loss and minimum muscle loss by eating the right healthy snacks, pre and post exercise.
So what should you eat, how much, and when?
Too much snacking, or spontaneous grazing, could also sabotage your diet by piling up the calories, so you want to keep your portions in check, and plan your snacks ahead of time. A mid-morning and mid-afternoon daily snack ( 200 calories each, give or take) every day works well, not only keeping your blood sugar on track, but keeping your metabolism constantly revved. If you’re on the go a lot, keep nuts, fruit, granola bars and other healthy options in your car or purse.
Our supermarkets, lined with shelves of sugary, processed, inviting foods, don’t make choosing our snacks easy. You must read labels! Check sugar, protein, sodium and fiber content. Granola and protein bars can be efficient and convenient, but many of them are loaded with too much sugar and fat. I recommend limiting processed snacks and opting for fresh, natural foods whenever possible. These foods naturally contain the correct balance of fiber, protein, nutrients and natural sugar your body needs, and will help you shed unwanted pounds. Fiber and protein are key to losing fat. Try to include a mix of them in each snack. For example, don’t just eat an apple; have a low-fat cheese stick or tablespoon of natural peanut butter with it. Find what you enjoy eating, and fill your kitchen with these foods. Pretty soon, they’re all you’ll be craving (most of the time)! Here are some ideas to get you thinking….
Small handful of raw almonds
Half an avocado
An apple, sliced, or banana, spread with 1 Tbsp natural (no sugar) peanut butter
½ a 100% whole wheat bagel or English muffin, spread with 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
Baby carrots (or other veggie), dipped in 1 serving of hummus or healthy guacamole
Whole-grain cereal, dry or with low-fat (1%) or almond milk
Air-popped popcorn, lightly salted
Plain/low sugar yogurt with berries/granola, cinnamon, etc. Get creative! (Greek yogurt has much more protein)
Lower-sugar protein bar
Fruit/veggie smoothie with milk and/or plain yogurt, veggies and/or frozen fruit
1-2 squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)
Water-packed tuna fish with a little olive oil, salt and pepper