We all know the feeling. You’ve started a new healthy eating plan and have had a good breakfast of low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit.
Less than an hour later, you’re stomach is growling and you have wolfed down a couple of donuts or some candy bars.
Most of us tend to feel guilty about snacking and believe that it leads to weight gain.
Many fad diets such as the Military Diet or the HCG diet promote three strict, calorie-reduced meals with absolutely nothing in-between.
Does snacking lead to Weight Gain?
There has long been the opinion in the medical weight loss world, that snacking in between meals may lead to weight gain. However, a new research study suggests that snacking, ‘may play a role in weight control’.
Thus, snacking on healthy food can boost daily nutritional intake. The study examined overweight, postmenopausal women and found that the women who had at least two snacks a day, compared to one or less, had a higher fiber intake.
Furthermore, those that snacked in the afternoon had a higher fruit and vegetable intake too boosting their vitamin and mineral input. However, this study concluded that snacking patterns may also reflect unhealthy eating habits and obstruct weight-loss programs.
Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss and Diet success
It seems like it is the quality of the snack that will help in your weight loss efforts.
Noteworthy, is that going for long periods of time without eating and then having a high carbohydrate or high sugar snack can play havoc with your blood sugar levels, leading to wild swings and feelings of hunger.
Therefore, a healthy, balanced snack will do just the opposite and help keep blood sugar levels stable, keep energy levels high, curb hunger pangs and boost your overall nutritional health. Another bonus of switching to healthy snack food if you have children is that our suggestions will prove a great, healthy snack for kids too and add to a balanced child diet.
Principles for Healthy Snacks
I am a huge believer in healthy eating for weight loss. In addition, I believe that eating plans that have been scientifically-proven to benefit health (such as the Mediterranean diet and the Dash diet), should be used as the underlying principle in choosing your healthy snacks for weight loss.
Another rather interesting diet plan to have a look at is the alkaline ash diet.
These healthy eating plans have been proven to lower the risk of heart disease, some cancers and aid weight loss. These diets are rich in fruit and vegetables, omega fatty acid, olive oil, nuts and seeds, whole grain carbohydrates, dairy products and lean proteins such as fish and chicken.
Does it matter what time of day you Snack?
There are mixed opinions relating to the time of the day that you snack – some studies have shown that it makes no difference what time of day you snack whilst others have demonstrated that night-time eating leads to weight gain.
However, one study has shown that weight loss in mid-morning snackers was lower than those that had snacks in the afternoon.
Top Ten Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss
An apple with a spoonful of peanut butter
Apples have plenty of fiber and a pleasurable crunch. In addition, the protein in peanut or almond butter also fills you up and there is some healthy fat too. At around 200 to 250 calories per serving it’s not the lowest calorie snack but will fill you up. Remember to choose natural peanut butter.
Here is a bit of a surprise ‘healthy’ snack
String cheese and all cheese
Sure, it’s processed, but hear us out: One serving of this snack contains protein and fat, so you’ll feel satisfied, and, it only packs about 80 calories.
The important thing about snacking on cheese, whether it be cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese or low-fat cheese, is to stick to one portion because, although a great source of calcium, cheese does pack the calories. Try some cheese on a wholewheat cracker or slice of bread.
Make snack time healthy with Sweet Potato chips or fries.
Certainly think about swapping your salty chips from the vend machine for some healthy homemade sweet potato chips. Incidentally, sweet potato is one of the healthiest foods on the planet full of Vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins and an excellent source of fiber. For sweet potato chips, simply peel and thinly slice the sweet potatoes, place on some baking paper, spray with a little olive oil and microwave for 4 – 5 minutes until the edges are a little curled. Perfect for vegans and vegetarians too. Likewise, you can easily substitute sweet potatoes for the normal potato and make some healthier fries.
We’ve all grabbed a bowl of cereal on an evening but put away the Count Chocula – all that sugar is not good for your waistline. The cereal that you should be snacking on is the whole-grain, complex carb kind (think oats, corn or bran flakes) these are rich in fiber and vitamins and minerals and are simple to digest. At just 200 calories or less each bowl you can’t go wrong. Most of all, don’t forget to pour in a tad of milk for extra tryptophan and protein.
Cookie-Dough Greek yogurt Snack
Greek yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, Vitamin B12, potassium, iodine and is also packed with probiotics. This nutritious snack is low in calories and helps you feel fuller for longer. Some people find the taste of Greek yogurt a little sour.
Here is a snack recipe to sweeten that treat. Into a 6 oz pot of Greek yogurt add 1 tbs peanut butter, 1 – 2 tbs of honey, quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract – mix all the ingredients together and top with dark chocolate chips, chill in the fridge and then enjoy.
You must get into Hummus
Hummus is easy to make, delicious, rich in protein, iron and fiber and can help keep blood sugar levels stable and curb off cravings. Some studies have shown that chickpeas may help ward off diseases too. Why not make your own?
Simply add one can of chickpeas, fresh garlic, olive oil, tahini and lemon juice to a food processor and whizz. Choose your favourite raw vegetables to dip – raw carrot finely chopped, bell pepper strips and a celery stick are all nutritious and healthy to go with your hummus.
Grab some nuts and seeds
A simple snack that needs little preparation are nuts and seeds. Nuts are high in fat content, but it is the healthy fats (monounsaturated) as opposed to saturate fat so keep portions light. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important Omega 3 fatty acid, is also abundant in nuts and in a 50g serving of nuts there are 10 gram of protein.
Likewise, seeds are an easy snack and nutritionally excellent as well as having proven health benefits. Choose from chia, hemp or the pumpkin seed. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein and antioxidants seeds are just so good for you. Remember to always eat seeds raw to reap the full health benefits. You can buy seeds and nuts at your local grocery store.
Take a Protein Snack
A couple of slices of white meat such as turkey, chicken or fish or a hard-boiled egg are low in calories but high in nutritional content. Medical research studies have shown that choosing snacks that are rich in protein content stop feelings of hunger and aids weight loss. Up to one third of US women do not get their daily recommended amount of protein so grab a high-protein easy snack.
Fruit and Vegetables
Super-nutritious with tons of crunch, try some baby carrots or a kale chip.
An easy snack is to grab some vegetables full of essential vitamins and minerals, and rich in fiber and munch away.
Choose from any fresh, raw vegetables that you like, broccoli, cauliflower, peas in the pod, anything you fancy.
Another easy snack is to simply grab a piece of fruit; apple, orange, peach or nutritious berries. Try and choose seasonal fruit and veg. You can substitute a packet of dry fruit for that bag of chips from the store.
Non-fat Chocolate Pudding Cup
We are absolutely loving this one – the creamy chocolate pudding simply goes down without any hesitation, but does not have a high fat content that can jeopardize your weight loss efforts.
One serving has only around 90 calories. Treat yourself and indulge that sweet tooth.
Not only are bananas packed with excessive fiber and relaxing tryptophan (for just around 100 calories each), they are the most fabulous late-night healthy snack if you have already tidied up your kitchen.
You will not leave behind any dishes or utensils to wash as well, which is a bonus!
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- Kong A, Beresford S, Alfano CM, Foster-Schubert KE, Neuhouser ML, Johnson DB. (2011) Associations between snacking and weight loss and nutrient intake among postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women in a dietary weight loss intervention J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Dec; 111(12): 1898–1903. (Retrieved August 24th 2016)
- Gluck ME, Venti CA, Salbe AD, Krakoff J. (2008) Nighttime eating: commonly observed and related to weight gain in an inpatient food intake study..Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;88(4):900-5. (Retrieved January 16th 2016)
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