Although snacking has been shown to be beneficial for many trying to lose weight, timing and snack quality play a large role in how beneficial snacks can be when weight loss is desired.
A 12 month long study found that overweight to obese postmenopausal women dieters who ate a healthy breakfast followed by a mid-morning snack lost 7% of their body weight while those who did not snack in between breakfast and lunch lost, on average, 11% of their body weight by the end of the study. This may make it seem like the effects of snacking are time dependent; however, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, why you eat when you do may be more important then the actual time of day you decide to snack.
This makes sense because, in reality, snacking doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. In fact, this study went on to show that while mid-morning snackers may not lose as much weight as their snacking counterparts, those who snacked in the afternoon were more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and those snacking two times or more a day were able to get more fiber than others.
Of course, you have to know how to snack for weight loss and realize that “snacking” is not a free pass to eat anything you want all day long. You have to snack smart. To do so, try the following:
Listen to your stomach. Before you grab a snack, make sure that you are doing so for the right reasons. If you are hungry, eat. If not, hold off and save your snack for when you are truly hungry.
A calorie is a calorie. No matter when you eat, what you eat matters. Aim to keep your snacks under 200 calories at a time. This can help keep your daily calorie intake in check.
Plan your snacks. We often hear about planning snacks for our kids, but have you considered planning out your own snacks? Having set times to eat can help you from mindless munching.
Choose nutritious munchies. Although it’s tempting to choose potato chips or cookies for your snack break, you may want to rethink those types of options. Although they taste yummy, they often contain very little nutrients that we want or need. Instead, look for healthier alternatives to treat your sweet or salty tooth. Apples with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, berries and Greek yogurt, homemade trail mix, or a handful of nuts are all great alternatives.
By following these smart snacking guidelines, you can get the most out of each snack without having to sacrifice your weight loss goals.