When you’re trying to lose weight, you often shun snack food like a supermodel shuns carbs during New York Fashion Week. But that can be as unhealthy for you as it is for the models. You don’t have to give up snacks when you’re watching your weight. In fact, you may want to add snacks to your daily routine if you’re not a current snacker.
“This idea that snacking is wrong is almost part of a bygone era,” says Dr. David Katz in an interview with Explore magazine. That’s because snacks can keep you from binging on unhealthy things like donuts and potato chips. And even better, several snacking tricks may actually help boost your metabolism and help you get the leaner, slimmer bod you want.
Make Protein the Focus
Add at least one protein-rich snack to your schedule today, as long as it’s a lean protein source. A great example includes nuts and legumes, such as edamame. A 2004 medical study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that “convincing evidence exists that protein exerts an increased thermic effect…compared to fat and carbohydrates.” If you’re wondering what that medical mumble-jumble means, it’s basically saying that protein works your metabolism and requires more energy to process than fats or carbs, thus helping you to burn more calories in the long run. Numerous studies have also found that protein helps keep you feeling full, so you’re less likely to grab for that bag of M&Ms.
Hide the Sins, Focus on Fiber
Speaking of M&Ms, psychologists say that out-of-sight can really mean out-of-mind. Toss out any junk food in your home, or at least hide them away in really inconvenient spots — that top shelf above your fridge is a great idea. This keeps you from being tempted.
But absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, so be sure to swap in healthy snacks for the now-missing junk food. Focus on fiber-rich foods, which help slow the digestion process and keep your tummy happy for extended periods of time. And an additional benefit: Fiber-rich foods like carrots, celery and fruit often take more work to chew. In a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers in China found that being forced to chew food longer helped participants consume 12 per cent less calories. Meanwhile, a Japanese study reported that having to chew food caused a calorie-burning boost of approximately 30 per cent!
Watch What You Drink, But Drink Often
Snacking is often accompanied with a few sips of your fave bevvie, but be careful — drinks are the Trojan Horse in the calorie saga. For example, drinking a single can of soda every day for a year can lead to an average weight gain of 15 lbs., warns the Harvard School of Public Health. Instead, wash your snacks down with a few sips of crisp, refreshing water. Or, even better, drink cold or hot green tea. Several research studies have found that the epigallocatechin gallate in green tea boosts your metabolism and may help you to burn approximately 100 extra calories a day.
It’s also important to note that people often misinterpret thirst for hunger. Staying hydrated can thus help stave off perceived hunger pains.
Six Slimming Snack Ideas
1. Fat-free Greek yogurt (or vegan soy yogurt) topped with nuts and fresh fruit. A single 6 oz. cup of Greek yogurt nets you 15 g of protein in only 80 calories, while nuts and fruit boost the protein and fiber content.
2. 2% chocolate milk over whole-grain cereal. A 16 oz. glass of chocolate milk yields 17 grams protein, and a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that chocolate milk may be one of the best muscle-building recovery drinks for athletes and bodybuilders.
3. Edamame seasoned with just a tiny pinch of sea salt. A 1/2 c. serving gets you lots of fiber and protein in under 100 calories. It’s the perfect panacea for any savory cravings you may have.
4. Roasted soy nuts. The average 1/4 c. serving gets you 6 g of protein in approximately 120 calories. Go for a spicy variety for added slimming help; some medical studies have hinted that spicy foods help to rev your metabolism.
5. A banana or apple with a dab of peanut butter. This sweet-and-savory pairing provides fiber, protein and healthy fats, plus a dose of electrolytes and antioxidants from the fruit.
6. Trail mix. This is for road warriors who can’t find a nearby grocery store. When you’re facing the vending machine, opt for the unsweetened trail mix. Nuts and dried fruits make a nice couple.