Snacking: Is it healthy? What should my snacks look like? Why am I snacking?
It's 3 pm, you're STARVING so you get up from the couch and saunder to the kitchen to see what's available. "Baby carrots? Nope, I want something salty. Yogurt? ehhhh”
These are the 3 most popular questions I get asked about snacks and snacking! What do you think? Is it okay to snack? Is it bad if you're snacking? There are some diets that tell you you can't snack, like Intermittent Fasting and the One meal a day diet, others want all your meals to be snacks. So what's right?
I have even heard that some people feel that they can only be successful if they cut out their snacking completely. But it's time to do some myth bustin around here!
Is snacking healthy?
You may feel like the evidence is conflicting. You've heard diet and instagram gurus saying "Don't snack, it'll make you gain weight!" while you've heard professionals, like myself, encouraging you to have a snack between your meals! There's a lot of conflicting talk but let me give you some info here. Snacking is not bad. If you're hungry, and you were my client, I would want you to eat. I would ASK you to eat! Snacking itself does not make you gain weight. What matters more is the nutrient content of that snack and the timing of it! If you're bingeing on potato chips because you're bored, that's not a smart snack. But if you're having half of a sandwich, maybe an apple with peanut butter, which are much better and healthier ideas that can actually help keep you fuller for longer and prevent future snacking! Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself, am I really hungry or am I just bored? The answer may surprise you!
What should my snack look like?
I gave a few examples above but let's break it down a little further. Your snacks should mostly consist of a carbohydrate and a protein! The carb will give you a boost of energy as it can be digested fast, and the protein will help to make you feel fuller for longer. Smart carbs would be whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread or crackers, vegetables and fruits! Popular proteins to pair it with can include eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, beans, and meat! When you pair protein and carbs together, you also slow down the energy release of the foods leaving you fuller for longer.
Why am I snacking?
Snacking can be happening because we are actually not eating enough! The reason why you're having cravings and feel like you can't put food down is because you're not eating enough, your body is craving that quick hit of energy from carbs (which is why you're craving savory, crunchy snacks). Try INCREASING how much you're eating at meals, yes, you have to eat more than 300 calories at a meal to help prevent those cravings and binges between meals. Check how much you're eating throughout the day and at meals, THEN likely increase your intake to make sure you're eating enough!
Those are the 3 most common questions I get about snacking and this is your ultimate guide to them! What are your favorite snacks to munch on?