Snacking is rapidly becoming a dietary fad among those who want to lose weight and stay fit but don’t have the time to prepare elaborate meals. Indeed, snacking can help you get into—and stay—in shape. If done correctly, snacking can give you all the nutrients you need without overloading the calories.
Here are some of the best ways to make snacking work just right for you:
1. Keep Munching: Eating three square meals a day is great—but between meals, one tends to feel a drop in blood sugar levels, which can, in turn, make you hungry enough to crave high-calorie carbohydrates. Though instantly gratifying, consuming carbs is also a sure fire way of packing on the pounds. It is in these moments when snacking comes to the rescue. The trick with snacking well is snacking right—every 2 to 3 hours, just when hunger is about to strike. Munching often and slowly keeps overeating at bay and helps maintain a healthy, nutritional food intake.
Not only does snacking help to bridge the nutritional gap between meals, it maintains energy and sugar levels, which also keeps you active and alert. Throw a bit of exercise into the mix and you have a great feel-good quotient at your fingertips.
2. The More Complex, The Better: We all crave carbs at some time or the other. While refined carbs and empty calories are a big no-no, complex carbs are good sources of energy—and since they break down slowly, they keep you fuller longer. Oats, brown rice, and whole wheat are common options, but adding ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, spelt and Kamut can help diversify the tastes and textures of your snacks. They taste delicious, are rich in minerals and protein, and can even replace modern wheat and rice in your everyday meals. The best part? You can eat them as cereals, muffins, and pancakes, or mix them up with salad.
3. Ditch The Junk: To steer clear of empty calories, keep junk food out of the house. Even if you do opt for readymade snacks, make a beeline for the nutritionally rich, healthy ones in the supermarket. Stock up on foods that offer complex carbs, fiber and protein—both in your fridge and pantry. In fact, it is a good idea to keep a stash of nuts, dried fruits, seeds and whole grain crackers in your bag and car as well. Whenever possible, carry around some fruit and vegetable juice too. This way, even when you reach for a snack in a hurry, you will be choosing one that is good for you.
4. Add Some Zing To It: Just because a snack is healthy doesn’t mean it has to lack flavor. The best way to give your snacks a tasty twist is to add some herbs. Coriander, basil, mint and oregano all add to the deliciousness of a meal and are power-packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Even better, they are calorie and fat-free. To maintain their flavor and nutrients, cook herbs very slightly– or simply add them to your snacks in all their raw glory.
5. Size Matters: An effective way to ensure that you do not over-snack is to manage the portions. Instead of diving straight into a packet of whole grain crackers, take some out in a bowl and eat them slowly, taking the time to savor each bite. In this way, you will control how much you eat, eventually leading to feeling fuller and more satisfied at the end of your meal. You can manage the portions of fluids you drink too. In fact, it is a good idea to alternate between solids and fluids while snacking. Not only will it add variety to your diet, it will keep a healthy nutritional balance between meals too.