Snacking as part of a healthy diet or weight-loss plan is possible and it can help you lose weight. However, uncontrolled and spontaneous craving-based snacking simply adds empty calories which leads to weight gain. While eating more frequently may boost your metabolism. it really comes down to what, when and how you eat, and how it fits in to your overall diet.
Here are some tips for how to make snacking work for you as part of a healthy weight-loss plan:
Make a plan.
If you know you like to snack, plan out what, how much and when to have them. This will help you to avoid spur-of-the-moment emotional eating and to maintain portion control. Plus, it can help add variety to your snack life so you are not just reaching for the same thing each time. If you are on a calorie-driven diet, allocate each day’s calorie intake between your desired number of snacks and meals.
Focus on healthy fats, protein and fiber.
Nutrient-dense snacks that containing these elements are more likely to give you energy and keep you satisfied for longer. Protein helps to maintain lean muscle, which burns more calories to metabolize compared to fat or carbohydrates, while fiber keeps your digestive system churning.
Snack on veggies often.
Vegetables provide water and fiber and low in calories. You can pair raw carrots with hummus or cheese and you’ve got yourself a great snack.
Stay away from simple and processed carbs.
Processed junk food (e.g. candy and biscuits) simply adds on empty calories without providing the nutrients your body needs. Sugary snacks stimulates an insulin response which can result in more hunger.
Snack at the right time.
Snack earlier in the day rather than late at night so you have time to burn the calories you eat.
Do not shop for groceries hungry. We are more inclined to buy unhealthy foods when we are hungry. Before you go grocery shopping, eat a healthy snack first.
Avoid sitting down at the dinner table in a starving state.
Have you noticed that it is easier to overeat when you started out starving? Snack enough throughout the day so that you do not have room to overeat at a meal, especially when you are hitting the buffet!
Stay hydrated. Include non-caloric beverages with your snacks so your brain does not confuse thirst with hunger. Instead of soda, try sparkling water with some fresh lemon or grapefruit juice squeezed in.
Do not skip planned meals or snacks.
Often people think skipping meals will help them lose weight, but that often results in night time binge eating. By eating three meals and planning snacks in between your meals, you can help yourself to maintain better control of your eating and thus lose some weight.
*Reference: How to Have Your Snacks and Lose Weight, Too. By Lea Basch. www.livestrong.com