Healthy Snacking 101: Best Snacks for Weight Loss
By Luke Pearce, B.Sc. Biology, PN-1, NASM-CPT
Inner Element Fitness Lead Nutritionist
In the world of weight loss and healthy eating, few things cause as much controversy as the humble snack. So, what’s the real truth when it comes to snacking? Is it simply cheating on your diet as some think, or is it an absolutely essential part of daily eating as others contend?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the truth is somewhere in-between. Experts who point to daily meal numbers and frequency as the key to weight loss are relying on claims that are simply not scientifically sound. It actually doesn’t matter if you eat five meals, three square meals, or several meals with additional intermittent snacks. Those who want to structure their diet to promote weight loss and/or general good health should concentrate on their total daily caloric intake regardless of how, when and where those calories are ingested.
This isn’t to say that snacking can have no place in your healthy eating plan. Quite the contrary, snacking can be quite essential for people who might resort to overeating if they don’t get frequent doses of food.
The important thing is to ensure that, at the end of the day, you eat the proper nutrition while keeping your total calorie count within your personal healthy limits. This means that during meal time and snack time the specific choices that you make truly matter.
The Best Snacks for Weight Loss
Nobody is perfect when it comes to eating right. But if you can generally gravitate toward healthy choices when eating meals and when snacking, you will generally begin to see positive results. Here are just a few options for those who want to snack for their general health and wellness.
Whether eaten alone or incorporated into a healthy trail mix, raw nuts are chock-full of healthy protein and fiber. They are high in fat, yes, but the types of so-called “healthy” fats that are common to nuts can actually help you lose weight. The nutrition experts at Eating Well single out almonds as exemplary nuts, ranking them at the very top of its list of healthy snack options. Extremely filling, a single one-ounce serving of almonds crams 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein into a total of just 164 calories.
Stuffed Celery Sticks
Perfect for kids, the classic “ants on a log” with peanut butter and raisins provides high amounts of protein and fiber. However, many brands of peanut butter contain added sugar and all brands are fairly high in calories. For this reason, conscientious calorie-counters may want to stuff their celery sticks with a low cal cream cheese instead. In addition to contributing virtually no calories, celery contains the antioxidant luteolin, which has been tied to reduced inflammation and cancer prevention.
Citing their high levels of vitamins A, C and K, the independent online health and well-being resource Healthline ranks kale chips among its top snack suggestions. In addition to its high vitamin content, kale is also a great source of fiber and antioxidants, such as quercetin and kaempferol that have been linked to decreased blood pressure and colon cancer risk. When baked into chips, kale becomes a tasty snack that is highly portable and easy to eat. A one-cup serving of kale chips prepared with olive oil and salt provides just 150 calories.
For maximum convenience and eating on the go, it is difficult to beat your favorite protein bar. Let’s face it, you’re not going to pull a stuffed celery stick out of your backpack or glove compartment. If you’re eating for health, however, you should beware. Not all protein bars are created equal and some are little more than candy bars with slightly elevated protein content. Seek out a quality protein bar by reading all content and nutritional information carefully. When well chosen, a protein bar can satisfy your snack craving while delivering healthy protein and other nutrients.
Health Magazine wants you to know that oatmeal shouldn’t be limited to the breakfast table. This famously high-fiber and heart-smart food can help you regulate your blood sugar level all day, providing steady energy to prevent that impending midday, afternoon, or evening crash. For a touch of natural sweetness and added vitamins, consider mixing in a small handful of blueberries or another healthy fruit.
Want more tips to help get your healthy eating on track? Ask me for help defining goals and designing a personalized nutritional plan to help you achieve those goals.
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