People are often surprised when I tell them I eat snacks. This is because snacks have a bad reputation in nutrition and are banned by many diets. The thing is, it’s not snacking that’s bad but what most people choose to snack on that’s the actual problem!
For example, if you eat a healthy apple with some natural peanut butter you end up with a high fiber snack that’s not just tasty but super-filling too. In contrast, if you snack on a Snickers bar, you are eating nothing more than lots of sugar and trans fats and will feel hungry again in an hour or so.
Providing you eat healthy snacks, such as protein bars and other sugar-free treats (sugar-free dessert recipes), snacks can actually help you to lose weight faster. Here’s how…
1. Snacks fight hunger
Losing weight invariably means eating less – usually by reducing the size of your meals. To lose one pound a week, you need to eat 500 calories less than maintenance per day. For many, that’s the equivalent of skipping half to one meal per day.
The trouble with eating less is that it can leave you feeling hungry between meals. With willpower and determination, you may well be able to resist hunger but at some point you will quit and end up eating more than you should or simply overeating to silence your screaming hunger. As a result, you will probably cancel out any calories you have saved by eating way more than you should have.
Including sensible, healthy snacks between meals can help ward of hunger by keeping you feeling full and that will prevent overeating at meal times. This will make sticking to your eating plan much easier. Hunger is one of the main reasons dieters go off plan and healthy snacking is one of your best defenses against feeling hungry.
My favorite Sugar Free Snack Recipes on my article “Sugar Free Snacks Recipes“.
Homemade protein bars recipes and my personal recommendation of the best healthy protein bar on my article “Healthy snacks to help you lose weight“.
2. An end to social exclusion
Whenever groups of friends gather together, food is often part of the picture. If you are following a diet that bans snacks, this may leave you excluded – not from the gathering but from sharing fully in the social experience. You’ll have to sit and twiddle your thumbs while your friends enjoy their snacks. In many cases, this can lead to a crisis of willpower and you end up caving in and eating the snacks on offer – healthy or otherwise.
While you might not be able to eat the same snacks as your friends, you can still eat healthy sugar free and low carb snacks or a healthy protein bar and so remain part of the group.
3. Increased nutrient intake
Healthy snacks are, as their name suggests, healthy! They contain essential nutrients that are very beneficial and that may be hard to consume enough of if you are eating less to lose weight. Good snacks are LOADED with healthy and important nutrients that will do you nothing but good. Protein bars, for example, contain the nutrients that for muscle growth and repair – important if you are a regular exerciser.
Of course, this is not the case for many unhealthy, junk food snacks which contain nothing but refined ingredients, sugar, fat and salt and it’s those very foods you should be replacing with healthy snacks.
4. Dietary sanity
Diets are, by their very nature, restrictive. This is how they work to help you lose weight. However, being restrictive is a double-edge sword and like a prisoner in a small jail cell, it can drive you stir crazy!
Knowing you have snacks to look forward to between main meals can stop these feelings of restriction and make it much easier to stick to your diet. Knowing you are never more than a few hours away from food can provide a feeling of freedom what makes staying on plan much less daunting.
5. Fewer cravings
Eating fruit, dark chocolate and other yummy but healthy snack foods can help prevent cravings for junk food. We often crave foods that taste a certain way, e.g. sweet or salty, but this leads us to select junk food and not healthy food. However, if you eat healthy foods that tick all the right boxes (e.g. roasted sunflower seeds instead of potato chips) you can prevent cravings before they even start. In the same way, eating fruit can event candy cravings as both taste sweet.
Fewer cravings mean less of a drain on your willpower and that makes sticking to your healthy diet so much easier!
Find how protein bars can help you to fight cravings between meals on my article “Reduce Cravings Between Meals and Lose Weight“.
So there you have it: FIVE magnificent ways in which snacks can help you lose weight and stick to your healthy eating plan. Now you should be able to see not only the value of healthy snacks but also why no good diet should ever ban eating between meals. Providing your snacks are healthy and consumed in sensible-sized quantities, snacks can be a very valuable part of your diet.