The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” don’t often appear in the same sentence.
Or when they do, it brings thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely boring.”
Snacking can be a helpful tool for those trying to lose weight. Depending on activity levels, one or two snacks a day is often the missing link towards weight loss, steady energy and mood. Have you ever heard the term Hangry? Getting too hungry and as a result, getting angry? Waiting too long in between meals, especially for active lifestyles, will cause blood sugar to drop and mood becomes affected. When we wait until we get to the point where we are ravenous, it’s easy to have heaping portions at your next meal or dive face first into a bag of Cheetos. Having a snack mid.
The trick is what you are eating, how much and when. Focus should always be on nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein and/or fiber. High carb snacks such as muffins, commercially made granola bars, flavored yogurt or energy drinks will only give an initial boost of energy before a crash and will trigger cravings. Theses snacks are the ones to avoid for weightless and health.
In terms of quantity, to keep it simple, a handful. A snack should fit in the palm of your hand. It’s not a full meal. Give your body some fuel to make it until your next meal. Overdoing the portion size for snacks is a common mistake that holds people back on their weightless goals. It will also disrupt digestion. Our bodies have a big job to do breaking down our 3 main meals. Giving it too much in between will impair this process.
When to snack becomes dependent on lifestyle. Are you a shift worker? Do you work out? Early workout? Late afternoon workout? What’s your work schedule? In a very general sense, looking at a typical 9-5er, a mid day snack seems to be the best time to add in some extra fuel and still work in favor of trimming down. It helps to overcome the 3:00 crash and takes the hunger edge off before dinner which will help keep portions in check for your last meal of the day. On that note, I do not suggest snacking after dinner. If we fuel ourselves properly throughout the day eating balanced, nutrient dense meals, we should not need more food at the end of the day. I also look at it logically. Food is fuel, right? It gives us energy. In the evenings most, people come home from a day of work, have dinner with the family, and likely park it on the couch or in front of a computer. Activities that do not require extra energy in the form of food. So, it doesn’t make sense to me to give your body more fuel when it doesn’t need it. That extra fuel will go directly into storage. Like continuously filling up your car with gas when its already full. Its got no where to go. So, fill up some Jerry cans and tote those around with you. There is the extra weight you are trying to get rid of.
Here are some weight-loss friendly snacks that fit the criteria.
1 – Nuts
Nuts contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go a long way in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Yes I know nuts contain calories and fat, but I promise they are NOT fattening!
I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. And nothing covered in chocolate. Those are fattening. My recommendation is a handful of raw, unsalted nuts as a snack. Or try my personal favorite, an apple with almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. So tasty and the cinnamon adds in extra antioxidants and blood sugar balancing (kills cravings) properties.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
Almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!
Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your bag or car. Having healthy snacks on hand is key to staying on track.
2 – Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)
This is one I get asked about a lot in my nutrition practice. Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar. But whole fruits, not fruit juice or sweetened dried fruit, also contain water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”
If you are sensitive to sugars, my recommendation would be focus on low sugar fruits. Apples, pears, berries and plums are all great choices. My rules with fruit are 2 pieces before 2pm. Eating it in the first half of the day when our bodies need that extra energy. I also recommend pairing fruit with a protein or fat source. This is best for minimizing the blood sugar spike, give longer lasting energy and is easier on digestion.
Try a variety of fruit and pair that with a handful of nuts.
Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Same nutritional benefits, they’re already chopped for you, and they last longer.
3 – Chia seeds
This is one of my personal favorites. Tiny little seeds that are powerhouses of nutrients and are surprisingly filling in small doses.
Chia is not only high in fiber (I mean HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acid helpful for reducing inflammation in the body. Chia also contain antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
Chia absorb a lot of liquid. By soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!
4 – Boiled or poached eggs
Eggs are packed with nutrition, most of which is in the yolk.
They contain a lot of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals.
Before we go any further and I get bombarded with questions about cholesterol, recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk. So, get crackin! To read more about cholesterol, CLICK HERE.
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick, and nutritious, snack! I like it with a little salsa or made into a deviled egg with avocado instead of mayo.
5 – Vegetables
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
Keep cut up veggies in the fridge ready to go. Or skip a step and buy them already chopped. (Caution on baby carrots and bagged salads however. They are bathed in a chlorine wash and other questionable chemicals)
Dip them, blend them, toss them, whatever you do, get them in! Have you ever put almond butter on celery or carrot sticks?It might sound weird, but I promise, its amazing. Or CLICK HERE for my simple recipe for hummus. The perfect, filling dip for veggies. (Notice again combining some protein and fat to your snack? The ideal combination to keep you satisfied and energized.
Embarking on a weightless journey can be difficult. But what it should never be is depriving. Feed yourself nutrient dense whole foods. Enjoy a snack to keep your energy balanced and hunger in check. Don’t be afraid of it but be sure to snack smart.
Feeling overwhelmed with all this eating healthy stuff? I’d be happy to help. CLICK HERE for a free discovery call to learn more about my Nutrition coaching services.