Snacks are an important part of weight maintenance. They keep your metabolism humming, and prevent you from overeating at the next meal. They also give you some comfort in knowing you will be eating again in a few hours, so you never feel starved and deprived.
While snacks are definitely important, they can also sabotage your weight loss efforts.
One of the common mistakes people make, is eating too many snacks throughout the day. Even though snacks are small (hopefully), they still count when it comes to caloric intake. What I see most often, are people snacking constantly from 3:00 PM until dinner.
Now, most people will need a snack around 3:30 – 4:00. This is when your cortisol levels start to fall and blood sugar starts waning. At this point, the natural reaction is to reach for a sugary snack or a coffee or soda. Any of these will give you an elevated high, to get you through the rest of the afternoon. However, eating sugar at this point will raise your blood sugar levels and then drop you down hard. These empty snacks can make you more tired and leave you searching for more sugar to pump you up again. And so, the endless snacking begins.
At this time in the afternoon, always try to stick to a protein and a carb, and hopefully no sugar. Things like peanut butter and whole grain crackers, a cup of cottage cheese with berries, or a hand fruit with 10 – 12 almonds will keep you satisfied, and much more able to finish out the day.
Another problem I see often, is mistaking a snack for a meal. Snacks should be small; as a guideline, no more than 200 calories. The idea is to eat consistently throughout the day, eating less food, less often. Eating five meals a day will surely put you over your ideal caloric intake. Remember, a snack is a snack and a meal is a meal.
Which brings me to my next point. When we think of a snack we conjure up images of “snack-y” foods; chips, pretzels, cookies, etc. Think of these breaks as mini-meals. In general, we eat healthier at a meal than we do when we snack. The reality is, there are no ”snack foods” — it’s all just food. Would you ever eat a bag of chips for dinner? So why do we think it is healthy for a snack? It’s not. Rethink the way you eat – its three meals and 2 mini-meals for optimal weight loss.
So when snacks attack, bite back with healthy good-for-you foods.
Look at your snacks with a discerning eye, and tell me what foods you eat that would never pass as a meal. Leave a comment below.