Snacking can ruin a diet, increase the size of your love handles and put your favorite pair of jeans out of commission. But it can also give you energy, help keep the pounds under control, and help your eating habits. Read these tips to learn how to incorporate smart snacking into your daily eating routine:
1. Even if you are trying to lose weight, snacking is NOT off limits. Eating more often throughout the day can actually help you lose weight. The key is to choose snacks that have a healthy mix of complex carbs, protein and fat. You will avoid binge-eating by eating healthy snacks throughout the day, and more easily control your portion sizes. Try these ideas: whole grain crackers with cheese (light), hummus with carrots, a piece of fruit and handful of nuts, or yogurt with granola mixed in.
2. If you choose a snack that comes prepackaged, be sure to read the label to check the recommended serving size. Depending on the product, the manufacturer may define a serving size as something much smaller than you were expecting. It’s best to get a bowl or a plate and approximate the serving size instead of eating directly from the bag. Remember, fresh is always best so avoid prepackaged snacks as much as possible. You may need a higher level of education just to pronounce the chemicals that are used!
3. Snack for a purpose. Snacking should be looked at as something healthy to eat to keep you satisfied until you can sit down for your next meal. While there are many snacks that will make you feel full initially, a snack that combines fiber and protein is digested more slowly keeping the food in your stomach longer. A lot of foods that are high in fiber are also high in water and low in calories, which makes them a great option when you are trying to lose weight. Here are some fiber + protein combinations to try: celery and cottage cheese, peanut butter and apples, or yogurt with raspberries.
4. Don’t forget those beverages! If you are drinking anything other than water with your meals, be sure to count the drink as either part of your meal or your snacks for the day. For example, if you are on a 2000 calorie diet, and your meals add up to 1500 calories, then you have 500 calories left for snacks and drinks. The prepackaged 100 calorie snacks are great for controlling your calorie intake, and they are admittedly very convenient, but they are also prepackaged and usually contain many things other than nutrients like chemicals that are not easily pronounced. Fresh fruit is the best choice at only 75 calories in 1 cup of blackberries, 23 calories in 1/2 cup of cranberries and 56 calories in 1 cup of cantaloupe.
Making snacks a part of your everyday diet is very important to any weight loss program. The appropriate choice of snacks will be different for everyone, but be sure to count calories from snacks AND beverages as part of your daily caloric intake. Keep protein and fiber on the menu as part of your snacking choice to help you feel full longer and to avoid overeating at your next meal.
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Have a healthy week!