Eating the right snacks throughout the day can help keep you energized and productive. Protein-packed snacks are ideal for a mid-day pick-me-up, as they provide essential amino acids that help build muscle, support your metabolism, and provide endless energy. If you are looking to improve your health and wellness, there’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to snacking! Each time we eat, it takes our body time, energy and resources to digest the food. Whether it’s a “snack” or a full meal, our body still has to process what we ingest. If you are trying to improve your health and lose weight or maintain a healthy weight but you are struggling to see results, frequent snacking could be to blame even if you are making healthy choices!
Here’s a few pointers to get you thinking differently about what and when you put things in your mouth!!!!!!!!!!!
Think of Snacks as Meals
I want you to remember, every time you eat something…… your body thinks it’s a meal. So if you’re grabbing a high sugar granola bar for a pick me up at 2pm, your body may be confused! Where are the nutrients of this meal? Instead of “snacking” focus on making meals that fuel your body and satisfy you. Meals should help you feel full for 4-5 hours! If you aren’t full for that time frame it could be a number of reasons….. keep reading!
Make Meals That Satisfy
Make sure your meals contain enough calories, protein, healthy fat and fiber from fruits and vegetables. If you are hungry within 2 hours of eating either your hunger hormones are confused or you didn’t have a meal with enough of the ingredients above! Protein is the building block for ALL the processes in the body and the one macronutrient that you can’t make on your own! We need to make sure our meals are packed with protein
Hunger Hormone Confusion
Our hunger hormones can get confused very easily! If we are snacking throughout the day, our hunger hormones are constantly working and our fullness hormones are lacking! We can get stuck in the crazy insulin roller coaster that leads to hunger and cravings and end up eating too many calories and carbs. Our body also gets our hunger and thirst signals mixed up all the time. If you feel hungry, have a full glass of water and wait 20 minutes!
Limit Frequency of Meals
It takes our digestive system approximately 4 hours to digest foods. If we are eating every two to three hours, we never have a chance to fully digest anything! Try switching your strategy to eating 3-4 full meals a day instead of 1-2 meals and lots of snacks. Your digestion will thank you and so will your waistline.
Avoid Munching on Fruit
Don't throw tomatoes at me on this one!!! Snacking on fruit my have little calories but fruit is loaded with sugar. I know, I know, "it's natural sugar". It is, BUT it's still sugar and as adults, it's recommended that we keep our fructose intake (that's the type of sugar found in fruit) to 20 grams or less per day. Depending on the fruit, that's only 1 serving!!!! To top it off, fruit may give you a little sugar buzz but there's essentially no protein in it which means you will quickly burn that off and be hungry again in no time. And not to mention the havoc it will reek on blood sugar. If you are incorporating fruit into meals, make sure it's paired with a protein and watch the serving size.
Healthy “snacks” to fill in the Gaps
Listen, there will always be times we need a good healthy go to snack. Maybe it’s to refuel after a workout, you didn’t have time to make meal plans or it’s just a long time between meals. Either way, we don’t want to skip meals so if you’re on the go and need some healthy choices make sure to still focus at least on protein and fat! Try one of these suggestions:
- Nuts & Cheese (1 ounce of each)
- Hummus and Veggies
- Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese and ¼ cup of berries
- Protein Smoothies- scoop of protein, nut milk, 1 TBSP nut butter and ½ banana
When we take the time to view the foods we put in our mouth as energy, we can focus on making meals more satisfying enjoyable. Our Foundations to LiveWell program clients learn basic healthy lifestyle principles, breaks down the complicated into simple strategies and helps clients get “un-stuck” in their health journey. I would love to help you see results in your wellness journey. Learn more about our services by clicking HERE.!
Katie Redding is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner on a mission to help people take control and advocate for their own health and live life well. After over 12 years in nursing, Katie opened her own wellness clinic to help people take control of their health. She focuses on using her nursing knowledge, functional training and lab testing to be your personal health detective and discover the root of illness and healing opportunities to rebalance your hormones naturally! The body has an amazing capacity to heal when you know how to support it! Katie lives in Maryland with her husband of 23 years and her three teenagers. When Katie isn't helping people take charge of their health, she can be found on the ballroom dance floor or the golf course!