Is snacking part of a healthy diet? Is there any world in which a habit of smart snacking could actually play a role in weight loss or even just maintaining weight? The short answer is yes, but some snacking practices will keep your goals of leaning out more than others. Keep reading to learn more about why snacking is a good idea, the most important snacking rules from a dietitian, and what options make the best snacks… for your health and waistline!
Let’s dive in!
The Benefits of Snacking
When it comes to maintaining your figure or slimming your waist, the dominant message is eating less and restricting. One way people do this is by skipping meals or not snacking. After all if there is one thing we can all agree on in the nutrition world it is that in order to achieve weight loss you need a calorie deficit. But how you can maintain the specific deficit appropriate for your unique needs at this time in your life is where the nuance of nutrition science lies.
However, some things don’t always need to be too complex – and today we want to help you establish some nutrition basics. And as for crazy deprivation – nah…these strategies work against your goals and damage metabolism! Over 95% of people who lose weight by restricting food gain it back, and then some, within a year or two. So take it from us, don’t get off the bandwagon of a healthy eating pattern only to get right back on. Find something steady that serves you and empowers you!
It’s time for another strategy!
Here are some reasons why snacking fits into a health-promoting plan. Smart snacks help balance blood sugar between meals. They can also:
- Help prevent overeating at meals and later in the day.
- Prevent undereating, which can slow metabolism.
- Allow you to increase exercise and reap its benefits.
- Get in touch with your hunger and adjust to your body’s changing needs each day.
The Snacking Guidelines
While snacks have many benefits, not just any snack will do. Here’s how to make your snacks work for you:
- Snack on real food. Real food, or snacks made from real food ingredients, is of prime importance! Processed foods are stripped of nutrition and loaded with added sugar to keep your blood sugar on a roller-coaster and add to extra pounds in the midsection.
Real food includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, eggs, fish, and meat. If it comes from a farm and you can imagine it growing or living, it’s a real food, but if it comes from a factory, investigate the label to make sure you recognize every ingredient.
Spoiler alert – your body absorbs more calories from processed foods than it does from real and whole food ingredients. A study showed that even eating almond butter versus actual almonds caused participants to absorb more calories. If that’s possible, think about how many calories are absorbed in a bag of chips or cookies!
- Snack on Protein + Fat + Fiber. This is the magic formula for building a healthy snack. These nutrients take longer to digest than quick carbs, which helps to keep you full and balance blood sugar until your next meal. Nuts or peanuts are a great snack food because they naturally contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
Some of our favorite real food snacks that fit this formula are:
- Hard-boiled egg + fruit
- Apple + almond butter
- Seed crackers + cheese
- Salmon jerky + kale chips
- Coconut yogurt + hemp seeds + berries
- Carrots + hummus
- And of course…Scott’s Protein Balls!
- Snack during the day. Much of American snacking happens in the evening because the body didn’t get the nutrition that it needed during the day. But too much food at night can be difficult for your body to digest and utilize when sleeping.
During the day, you are more active, using your brain, and juggling the logistics of your life. This is when you want to give your body more fuel. If you are truly hungry at night, of course, have a snack, but if you pay attention to balanced meals and snacks during the day, you may find that you are satisfied in the evening and don’t need more food until breakfast.
We know that our insulin sensitivity is highest when the sun is up and it decreases as the sun goes down. If you front load your nutrition and eat like a king in the morning and a pauper in the evening, you might notice the need for an evening snack decreases. If you do need snack, choose a smart snack. Something your body can optimally metabolize and set you up for a great night’s sleep for a strong morning the following day!
When you follow these guidelines around snacking, you’ll notice fewer cravings, more balanced energy, increased metabolism, better sleep, and a slimming waistline. We know the value of having trusted, nutritious snacks that fit your health goals and taste delicious. Here at Scott’s Protein Balls, we strive for nothing less.