In this article, we are going to learn what makes a good choice for healthy snacks for weight loss, examples of healthy snacks for weight loss, and the dangers of unhealthy snacking. But before this, let’s talk about snacking briefly.
Snacking is when you eat food or beverage between the regular main meals. A snack however refers to processed, high-calorie foods for example chips and cookies.
Why do we keep snacking?
Hunger is the main reason behind snacking. Other factors include;
- Social environment
- Time of the day
- Food availability
The best choice of a healthy snack for weight loss is whole-food options which are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients but low in calories. These keep you full longer and limit craving for unhealthy foods hence weight loss
Let us look at healthy snacks for weight loss in detail below
What makes a good choice for a healthy snack for weight loss?
Some foods are healthier and weight loss friendly compared to others. Therefore, when looking to lose weight, below is a simple guide that will help you choose the best snacks for weight loss.
Go for foods that are high in both fiber and protein. These are more filling meaning that you will feel satisfied faster and consequently eat less at your next meal or snack.
Also, focus on low-calorie foods that are high in volume or density. The more space the food occupies in the stomach, the more full you may feel. This implies that you will still eat or snack less.
Avoid foods that are high in salt, sugar, saturated fat, and carbs. These are common with processed foods.
Examples of healthy snacks for weight loss
The following are some of the best snacks for weight loss.
1. Homemade popcorn
Popcorns are good snacks to fill upon. They are a good source of fiber. To make them flavorful, you can sprinkle garlic powder or dried rosemary to the popcorns. Popcorns are very easy to prepare. All you need is 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels, 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil, a large saucepan, and a stove.
2. Dark chocolate and almonds
Almonds are a well-rounded snack choice because they are high in fiber, magnesium, calcium, and healthy fats. Research in the years 2013 and 2014 showed that snacking on almonds may promote satiety. To step this snack up, you can cover the almonds with dark chocolate that is rich in cocoa solids. This has flavanols that may lower blood pressure hence reducing heart disease risks.
Edamame is one simple snack with a nutritional punch. It’s just steamed unripened soybeans with a unique flavor and texture. Edamame is high in folate and several minerals, including iron, magnesium, and manganese. Animal studies show that “Kaempferol”, the antioxidant in Edamame can cause weight loss and regulate blood sugar.
4. Greek yogurt with berries
Greek Yogurt is low in fat, calories and it is nutrient-dense. It contains calcium, protein, magnesium, and B12 content. Yogurt also has gut health probiotics that are good for digestion. Berries on the other hand deliver fiber, vitamin C, folate, and natural sugars that improve the taste.
5. Hard-boiled eggs
The high amounts of proteins, vitamins K2 and B12 places eggs among the healthiest and weight loss-friendly foods. Eggs are highly filling which automatically reduces your calorie intake hence weight loss.
In the past, however, eggs were feared to have high cholesterol. But recent studies show that moderate consumption has no risk of heart disease
Research shows that nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and other illnesses Nuts contain healthy fat and protein which very filling. Eating moderate amounts can help weight loss. Raw or dry-roasted nuts are better since they are low in fat and calories.
7. Low-fat cheese with grapes
If you happen to be in a rush hour, with no time to prepare a simple meal, grab a cup of grapes and low-fat cheese. Grapes are rich in fiber and vitamin C. Low-fat cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and contains fewer calories compared to full-fat cheese.
8. Hummus and vegetables
Hummus is a traditional Mediterranean dish from ground chickpeas and sesame seeds, olive oil, and garlic. It is a good source of protein and fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer and faster, hence low-calorie intake and weight loss.
Hummus with vegetables like cucumber will add nutrients to the dish. Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin E, which is an anticancer according to research.
9. Celery sticks and nut butter
Celery is low in carb and mostly water. This will help you feel full. Snacking on celery and nut butter for example peanut or almond butter provides healthy fats as well as protein. Research shows that luteolin the antioxidant in celery reduces inflammation and helps cancer.
10. Fruits and nut butter
Dipping a fruit for example a slice of an apple in nut butter adds protein and healthy fat to your diet. Proteins and fats help you fill up faster and stay full longer. This reduces calorie intake which will eventually lead to weight loss.
Is snacking good for weight loss?
Not all snacking or snacking at any time may aid weight loss. But rather well-planned, healthy snacks can benefit your weight-loss plan. Well-planned healthy snacks help manage hunger by satisfying you and reducing the likelihood of bingeing later on. This eventually leads to weight loss.
The more satisfied one feels; the easier to control hunger and satiety cues. Therefore, choose foods that satisfy hunger, give the body energy, and have vital nutrients.
According to a study by the National Cancer Institute, individuals who prioritized fruits and vegetables at snack time increased their fiber intake and lost more weight than those who never had a fresh snack.
The study also established that afternoon snacking yielded more weight loss results compared to mid-morning snacking.
Therefore, choosing a healthy snack that is low in calories, high in fiber, low in carbs, high in protein and that contains healthy fats can aid weight loss taken at the right snack time.
How often should I go for healthy snacks for weight loss?
When it comes to how often we should eat to lose weight, research shows mixed results. Some studies advocate for three meals per day, without snacks in between while others say that eating six smaller meals is better for weight management. But of the two sides, which one can we go for?
However, when it comes to meal frequency, hunger, appetite, and weight loss, a lot comes into play. This varies from overweight individuals, lean individuals, and the type of food consumed. Therefore, what works for you may not work for me.
Emphasis should be put on the type of food you are eating as opposed to how many times a day we eat. Eating food that is high in fiber, high in protein, and nutrient-dense will make you feel fuller longer, hence controlling hunger, reducing appetite, and eventually weight loss.
Also, eating less than three times a day makes you liable to binge on unhealthy food choices.
In a nutshell, provided you eat the right type of food, eating at least three times a day is enough to reduce appetite, curb hunger, and achieve weight loss optimally.
Is snacking before bed healthy?
A healthy snack before bed is good as far as weight loss is concerned. Research shows that a high-protein bedtime snack especially a half-hour before one gets to sleep helps to build lean muscle and boost overall health.
Sleeping on an empty stomach makes it difficult to fall asleep, and sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain by several studies.
What problems can unhealthy snacking cause?
Healthy snacking or eating a nutritious and properly-portioned snack when you feel hungry gives the body essential nutrients. On the other hand, careless snacking may contribute to a range of health problems these include;
1. Weight gain
Frequent snacking on energy-dense snacks can make you go over your daily calorie limit resulting in weight gain.
When your teeth come in contact with carbohydrate-rich foods or sweet foods, the bacteria in plaque have more time to produce enamel-damaging acids which leads to teeth decay.
Inflammation is a response to infection or injury to the body. This protects against stressors. Eating imparts a degree of physiological stress on the immune system leading to a kind of inflammation known as “postprandial inflammation”.
Therefore frequent eating and more so calorie-dense, excess sugars, and high-fat foods can cause chronic inflammation leading to non-infectious lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
3. Memory and learning problems
The brain contains synapses responsible for learning and memory. Eating too many calories can impair the production and functioning of these synapses.
4. Increases the risk of dementia
Foods high in sugars and fats increase the levels of insulin in our body. With high insulin levels, the brain stops responding and become resistant to this hormone. This restricts the ability to think, recall, or create memories, thus increasing the risk of dementia.
5. Lessens its ability to control appetite
Overconsumption of trans fats can send mixed signals to the brain making it hard to process what you have eaten and how hungry you’re. This leads to overeating.
6. May lead to depression
Foods that are high in sugar and fats may change the chemical activity of the brain making it more dependent on these foods. In an attempt to withdraw, withdrawal symptoms such as stress, depression and eventually turning back to those foods to handle these feelings
How to stop unhealthy snacking
Craving is the number one challenge that people looking to lose weight face. Below are some simple tips that can help you stop unhealthy snacking.
1. Drink plenty of water.
If you feel a certain urge for a specific food, drink plenty of water and wait for some minutes to see if the craving goes away. This is because the body sometimes confuses thirst with hunger. Drink water can reduce your appetite and help you lose weight.
2. Eat more protein
Protein makes you feel full and satisfied for long. This reduces appetite and eating.
3. Consider meal planning
Planning your meals will eliminate spontaneous and uncertain eating. When you plan ahead of time, you always make healthy food choices.
4. Avoid extreme hunger
Hunger makes people crave unhealthy foods and consequently overeating. Therefore keep healthy snacks at hand and eat regularly to avoid extreme hunger spikes.
5. Deal with stress
During stressful times people especially women make unhealthy food choices during their efforts to relieving stress. They may resort to unhealthy snacks that are high calories, carbs, and fats.
6. Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is characterized by hormonal fluctuations, poor appetite management, and strong craving. This is why people who don’t have quality sleep tend to be overweight.
7. Don’t go shopping when you are hungry
Grocery stores are one-stop centers for a variety of unhealthy foods. They give you access to any food you have ever thought of. Therefore when you go to these stores hungry, you may end up shopping for unhealthy foods.
8. Practice mindful eating
This is putting the body and the brain in the position of awareness of the food and drink you put into the body and listening to the signals your body sends as far as taste, satiety, and fullness are concerned.
Can I lose weight if I eat one meal a day?
Eating one time of meal drastically reduces your calorie intake. This means that you will experience hunger and high levels of craving. Eating less than three times a day makes you liable to bingeing of unhealthy foods which eventually leads to weight gain.
If you’re looking to lose weight, go for healthy snacks that are high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and low in calories instead of highly processed, fattening options. This will stave off your appetite and help boost weight loss.
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