Should I Snack to Lose Weight?
Ever wonder if healthy snacking is actually better for you than eating only three meals a day? You know, the kind of snacking that consists of spreading out those measly 2,000 calories per day over 4 small meals. Perhaps maybe even 6 smaller meals. The type of snacking that keeps your stomach from screaming bloody murder at you come dinnertime.
I’m a snacker, I’ll admit. I keep snack foods in the pantry and refrigerator at all times, just in case I need one of those quick fixes. My husband is the total opposite, the one who waits for those three precious meals and expects nothing less than a gourmet meal with all five food groups included. I snack because I am a firm believer in listening to my body, knowing what it needs and when it needs it. If my energy is down, I know I need some fuel but not just any snack will suffice.
“The favorite snacks in North America are chips, chocolate and cheese”
-Jill Weisenberger author of ‘What Science Says About Snacking’
What Research Says
Snacking has become the routine of our culture. With less time during the day to prepare home cooked meals, a lot of people resort to snacking because it is less time consuming. More women work nowadays, creating a vacancy in the kitchen and less food being prepared during the day. Even in the grocery store, there has been an evolution towards an entire aisle devoted to snack foods. Think about this, can you name one ‘get together’ you have been to in the last year that did not offer some type of tasty snack and or quenching drink?
Research says that Americans are twice as likely to snack nowadays than they were in the late 1970’s. Some articles point to the conclusion that snackers are more likely to skip meals, but that they continually eat throughout the day. In some light this could be good,
- (+) It maintains the consistency of your metabolism
- (+) It keeps your blood sugar from getting too low
- (-) Likely hood of consuming more solid fats, added sugars and sodium per day
- (-) Most likely to consume more during meal times than snackers
- (+) Less likely to over indulge on added sugars and sodium
- (-) Could gain more body weight by suppressing the body’s metabolism via eating only three times a day
Research still has not exclusively indicated whether snacking promotes weight loss via a faster metabolism, nor has it declared that three strict meals is the best lifestyle choice out there. There are pros and cons about both. However, the type of snacks you crave and consume can make all the difference.
The type of snacks matter
CHEW Your Way to Smarter Snacking
10 ways to enhance your snacking
- (1) Craving something salty like chips or pretzels? Try popcorn
Popcorn is naturally low in calories if it is popped without all the oils and salt. Look for the snack packs that you can pop in the microwave yourself. Add sea salt, pepper, rosemary or other spices and herbs after it is popped to add flavor. I like the brand Quinn, the ingredients are simple but it still tastes delicious. *Low-fat, high fiber
- (2) Craving salty peanuts or cashews? Try walnuts or almonds
While peanuts and cashews are on the healthier side of some snacks, they still have a large amount of fat compared to the nutrients they hold. Walnuts have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs. Almonds have other amazing health benefits such as fiber and improving heart health. CAUTION: be careful when you pick out snack packs with walnuts or almonds that the sodium content is under 200 mg. *Good source of Omega-3, contains antioxidants, high protein and fiber
- (3) Craving candy and sweets? Try fresh or frozen fruit
Candy and other sweets are full of sugar, which creates an addiction in the body. You eat it once, your mind wants it again. Before you know it, you are craving it all the time and it becomes an everyday struggle not to devour that triple chocolate layered piece of cake with dark chocolate ganache icing. Try fresh or frozen fruit to get that little sweet tooth under control. The best part is, even if you over indulge in fruit.. you won’t feel terrible, in fact you might feel lighter and healthier. *High fiber, low-fat, no added sugars
- (4) Craving soda or sweet tea? Try 100% fruit juice
Just like candy, soda and sweet tea are stocked full of added sugar giving you an addiction that can be seriously dangerous. You could unknowingly be drinking away 100’s of calories on these drinks before you even eat the first bite of the day. 100% fruit juice means just the juice itself, no added sugars. If you are unsure of what to look for, check the label, if it says from concentrate it is not 100% juice. These juices are typically more bitter tasting but well worth the vitamins and nutrients they give the body. *Serving of fruit, high in vitamins
- (5) Craving coffee? Try tea with honey
I know this one may be harder for some, I may even have a few people shaking their heads at me but just trust me. Unless you’re drinking your coffee black without the creamer, sugar, milk or other flavors you might want to consider tea. Some specialty coffee drinks can pack on 200-300 calories for even smallest size. The more flavors and the sweeter it is, the greater the risk of added sugars and calories. Tea with honey has many health benefits such as *Healing respiratory infections, ulcers, allergies, immune support, anticancer, arthritis, heart health and calm stress
- (6) Craving potato chips? Try veggie chips or sweet potato chips
Potato chips can be argued that they contain some nutrients because potatoes are vegetables. However, potatoes are starchy vegetables meaning they have lots of carbs and a high glycemic index. In comparison, veggie chips are made from other vegetables such as carrots, beets, radishes, zucchini, sweet potato, kale, spinach etc. Again, make sure the sodium content is under 200 mg per serving. *Great source of vitamins and nutrients, counts as a serving as vegetables
- (7) Craving baked goods like muffins, cakes, or cookies? Try oatmeal or almond flour baked goods
Eating a lot of baked goods makes us feel sluggish because of the high glycemic load and high sugar intake. The amount of sugar, flour, and butter in these products is enough for a dietitian to scream with worry. Instead, look for better alternatives such as oatmeal flour and or almond flour goods. Can’t find any in the store? Make your own oatmeal muffins or almond cookies to grab when running out the door. Oats have many health benefits compared to the all-purpose flour such as easy digestion, better control of insulin secretion, and helps to lower cholesterol. *Lower glycemic index, high fiber, calcium, protein
- (8) Craving chocolate? Try the superfood cocoa nibs (bitter tasting) or chocolate covered cocoa nibs
processed chocolate like the chocolate bars we see in the candy aisles are stocked with added sugars and leave little room for the benefits of pure cocoa. The benefits of dark chocolate, cocoa beans, cocoa powder and cocoa nibs are found in their most natural state. Cocoa nibs are dried, roasted, and crushed cocoa, which are great for adding in your cereal or sprinkling on top of yogurt. *High in antioxidants, heart health, immune support
- (9) Craving ice cream? Try frozen yogurt or frozen fruit popsicles
Ice cream is heavy on the fat, it uses cream and sugar as the main ingredients, which blended together gives you the irresistible taste. If you crave this cold creamy treat, swap it out for frozen yogurt. Be careful what kind you get, check the back of the tub for the nutrition facts. CAUTION: Sometimes frozen yogurt can be just as high in calories and fat as ice cream. Still wanting something healthier? Try frozen fruit popsicles or frozen fruit sorbet with no added sugars. *Improve gut health, better immunity, weight management
- (10) Craving cheese? Snack on white cheese
Ask me to give up cheese, I never will. I was born a cheese girl and I will die a cheese girl. However, there are still smarter choices when looking at what types of cheese to buy. The rule of thumb for cheese, “buy the best you can afford.” Cheap cheeses have a lot of fillers including added flavors, colors and preservatives. The better quality you can buy, the better nutritional advantages you gain. The other word of advice I can give you is stick to the white cheeses. White cheese is typically less processed and fresher than yellow cheese. Think mozzarella, parmesan, and feta. These cheeses are the freshest with the least amount of calories. *Protein, Calcium
All photos used in this article were taken by Stephanie Rackley for and by The Healthy Chew
-all rights reserved
- “What Science Says About Snacking”- Jill Weisenberger in Food and Nutrition Magazine 7/8 2015
- “The Power of Popcorn”- Kathleen Zelman in Food and Nutrition Magazine 7/8 2015
- Healing Foods- DK Books 2013
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