Snacks often have a bad reputation. These little meals taken besides the main 3 ones (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are usually synonymous with chips, cakes, cookies, sodas… Their aim varies among individuals: control hunger between meals, relieve boredom or just out of habit (the tiny snack in front of the TV after dinner for instance!).
However, it is completely possible to make snacking go with healthy, and even with weight loss! You will find here some tips to transform snacking into a healthy habit, part of your weight loss process.
- Plan ahead
The one – and most important – condition that will make your snacks fit into your weight loss diet is planification! Why? In order to achieve a healthy and sustainable weight loss, your diet needs to meet the 2 following requirements: 1) be healthy and balanced, and 2) present a slight deficit. This implies, on the first hand, that you will identify your calorie needs, and on the other hand, that you set up a meal plan. This plan, adapted to your lifestyle, will define the repartition and content of your meals throughout the day. That’s at this exact moment that you can decide, next to your 3 main meals (don’t forget, skipping meals is not a good idea when trying to lose weight) how many snacks you need/ want!
- Keep it easy and balanced
When well planned, snacks are the perfect opportunity to add some extra protein to your diet, increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, or even have some fun. The main point that you have to keep in mind for a balanced snack is to associate at least two groups of food/ nutriments . Here are a few ideas of easy and balanced snacks that can fit into your weight loss diet:
- Nuts and fruits: 1 handful of almonds, a few raisins and an apple => approx. 280 kcal
- Crackers, cheese and fruits: 2 whole grain crackers, cottage cheese and a small glass of orange juice => approx. 140 kcal
- Protein bar and fruits: 1 Muscle Builder + 2 plums => approx. 260 kcal
- Yogurt and fruits: 150g of low fat Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp sunflower seeds and 2 dried apricots => approx. 220 kcal
- 50g of popcorn with some spices or brown sugar bring approx. 250 kcal
Associating different types of food for your snacks will firstly make them less boring and also tend to help you feel more satiated.
- Keep an eye on your portions
In the world of snacks, size matters! Managing the size of your snacks will help you manage their calorie count and hence your overall calorie intake for the day.
For instance, one handful of almonds (more or less 20g) contains approx. 130kcal and is packed with plenty of good nutrients (healthy fats, magnesium, potassium…). However, you will barely find on the shelves of your store 20 or 30g-packs of nuts, but bags of 100 to 200g! The temptation is high to just eat some nuts here and there, directly out of the bag. And before you even realize it, at the end of the day, half of the 200g bag is gone! If we look at the numbers, 100g of almonds represent not less than 600 kcal, which is on average the calorie content of your whole lunch! So, don’t overeat your snacks, even the good things! Therefore, try to prepack your snacks by preparing little portions.
Take home message here: snacking can be part of a weight loss routine, provided that a few rules are respected! Like all your other meals, they have to be planned and balanced. In these conditions, they even have beneficial effects since they will help you go through the whole day (and eventually your whole weight loss process) mindfully and peacefully, without frustrations!