Snacking is an important part of our diet, that fuels us up during the middle of the day and keep us going. Between our three major meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner, we eat snacks to satisfy minor spurts of hunger that keep our blood sugar in control. Having frequent snacks or mini meals throughout the day is a smart approach to keep our metabolism high and thereby expend more calories. Snacking at regular intervals provides us bouts of energy and nutrition that keeps us in good mood and also improves our cognitive function. Besides, it keeps us from becoming ravenous at major meal times and consuming a boatload of calories.
However, it becomes imperative to make wise choices when it comes to snacks and select healthy options to eat as mini meals throughout the day. According to OneFitplus philosophy, “We must have 5 to 6 small but nutritious meals during the day, that’s going to leave our metabolism charged up, our energy levels high and an elevated calorie burning rate”. When we starve ourselves, our body goes into survival mode and starts storing fat rather than burning it. When you haven’t eaten in a few hours, it can be hard to find the energy to do much, leave alone a work out.
But if you consume processed, fried and sugary items as snacks, you will only end up with extra pounds and a regret in your heart. Try to maintain a schedule and have regular meals with healthy snacks thrown in between, to establish an optimum lifestyle.
Here are some tips to include healthy snacks in your diet:
When in doubt, have nuts: Considered one of the best snack to have between meals, nuts taste great and are beneficial for your overall health. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnut, as well as peanuts are excellent sources of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Rich in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats which lower bad cholesterol, nuts are known to bring down your risk of cardio vascular ailments. Consuming just a handful of nutrient dense nuts can keep you full for long, have your appetite in check and even contribute in weight loss.
Pack a punch with protein: Having high protein snacks is always a good idea as they keep you full and provide energy for a long time. Protein, essential to maintain our muscle mass, can effectively boost metabolism and promote weight loss. Studies have proven that protein rich food items reduce cravings and incidents of late night snacking. You can have protein based snacks like yoghurt, peanut butter, eggs, cottage cheese, milk and amongst Indian snacks, you can try having dhokla, khandvi, chana chaat or moong daal chilla.
Choose fruit and vegetables: Nourish your body with vitamins, minerals and fiber found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Feel free to have an apple, banana, orange, kiwi, tomatoes or carrots as a mid-morning or evening snack. You can add a healthy dip like hummus to make things interesting. And the best part is that while fruits and vegetables fill you up, they do not let you exceed your daily quota of calories. Try to have as much local and seasonal fruits and vegetables you can to derive the maximum benefit, advise diet coaches at OneFitplus.
Drinks can be energizing: To provide you energy during breaks between main meals, you can consider having some healthy drinks as well. Try having fruit based smoothies with some seeds and nuts thrown on the top, infused water, butter milk, lassi, lemonade (nimbu paani) and soups. Such healthy drinks can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber as well as protein. They fill you up, satisfy your taste buds and provide the all essential hydration to the body. A well hydrated body is a key element for weight loss.
Don’t snack for stress: Its way too common to eat when you are anxious, stressed or simply bored. And such spur of the moment decisions are usually not healthy. Normally, people crave sweet items to cope with their bottled up feelings of stress. Making such unhealthy choices leads to weight gain and a spiral of further stress. Make a conscious attempt to stop yourself from succumbing to unhealthy temptations even while in stress. A good idea would be to stock your pantry/fridge with healthy snack options that you can easily access and have very little of processed/sugary items in close reach.
Ditch the processed: Steer clear of the temptation to eat processed and packaged food such as instant noodles, biscuits, cakes, candy, chips, packaged cereal etc. that provide nothing but empty calories. They also carry unnecessarily high salt/sugar content and artificial additives or preservatives, that’s simply not good for your health. At OneFitplus, we believe that truly nutritious food doesn’t come from a box, packet or can. Instead, it comes from food that is fresh, local, seasonal and ecologically grown.
Eat Mindfully: You would need to differentiate between hunger and boredom while snacking. Snacks are meant to be eaten as mini meals to satisfy your hunger pangs and provide you the energy to go on with the day. However, when eaten mindlessly without bothering about portion control during binge TV watching or chatting with friends, the overeating can cause weight gain and be detrimental for your health. Practice mindful eating by keeping your distractions to a minimum, having small bites and enjoying the food on your plate.
Plan Ahead: The temptation to have unhealthy snack items is much higher when the hunger quotient is high and all that you have before you is a bag of chips. It will serve you much better to plan in advance and keep your healthy snacks ready before heading out to the office, a journey or some adventure. Prepare your snack boxes at night for the next day or carry mixed nuts in your bag always. Even at home, keep healthy snacks stocked and stored to prevent you from making the wrong choices.
It’s ok to have unhealthy snacks once in a while and not get too guilty about it. Snacking is inevitable but remembering to keep a balance with intelligent choices and portion control is what makes it useful for your health. Healthy snacks help you keep a tab on your appetite, prevent you from indulging in excess, provide you vital spurts of energy, keeps up your metabolism and play an important role in your overall weight management efforts.