Snacking is one of the worst enemies of dieting. If your goal is to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is cheat on your diet by having a snack at the wrong time. But is snacking ALWAYS bad? Are all snacks the same, or could a snack actually work in your favor? Here’s what you need to know:
Snacking Right Can Keep Away Hunger
If you are thinking of snacking, don’t automatically reject the idea offhand. Snacking can help you to stave off hunger, particularly if you have a stretch of 6 to 8 hours between meals. Let’s say you have your breakfast at 8 AM, but you don’t get a lunch break until 2 or 3 PM. That’s a long time between meals, and a snack can help to drive off hunger–making it easier for you to resist temptation when it’s finally time to have a meal. Plus, a small snack between meals can keep your metabolism burning at top speeds, and you’ll find that it will help you keep going when you are tired or in need of rejuvenation. A snack of 200 to 300 calories can be the key to boosting energy levels halfway through your long morning.
Midday and Mid-Afternoon Snacks are Best
The best time to snack is around 11 AM to noon. By this time, your body has usually burned through the energy you consumed at breakfast, and you’re coming down from the energy high you got from your morning meal. A light snack (emphasis on the word “light”) at this time of day can help to keep the hunger pangs away, and can keep you going until it’s lunch time. The same holds true for mid-afternoon snacks–usually between 4 and 6 PM. If your lunch break is around 1 PM, you’ll need something to hold you off until your 7 PM dinner. A small snack will ensure that your energy levels stay high!
Avoid the Late Night Snack
One of the worst things you can do is eat a lot late at night. Your body needs a certain number of calories, but you already get all or most of those calories during the day. If you eat at night, you’re going to go overboard on your calorie intake. Also, night is when you are most likely to snack on comfort foods–also known as unhealthy sweets and treats!
Try the Right Night Snack
If you do get hungry at night (a common problem), make sure you’re eating the right thing. A few slices of turkey breast can help to increase tryptophan levels, making it easier for you to sleep. A bowl of oatmeal (with very little sugar and only a splash of milk) will help to calm you down and ease your digestion. A glass of warm milk will also help you get to sleep. Casein protein will provide amino acids for your body to use all night long.
It’s All About Calories and Nutrients
To make your snacks “healthy”, you need to remember two things: 1) Calories matter, and 2) Choose your snacks with care. If you get a healthy dose of carbs and fats at your meals, it’s important to get plenty of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals during your snacks. That means eating more fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and high-protein foods. If you eat the right nutrients, you’ll have more energy and ensure that you get a balanced diet. Also, make sure to only eat a limited number of calories, as that will prevent you overdoing it with your snacks!