How to Snack Healthy
Snacking on unhealthy foods is allegedly one of the main reasons why people fail to reach their weight loss goal. This article will guide you towards healthy snacking to help you lead a healthy lifestyle.
A common misconception about weight loss is that you should avoid snacks altogether, but snacks may actually be a good way to curb hunger and provide your body with nutrients. However, there are so many unhealthy snacks available, which are often very tempting, and they’re unlikely make you feel as full as healthy snacks can. There are tons of healthy alternative snacks that you can try. With such a vast selection available, you’re likely to find something that will appeal to your individual tastes. This article will look at healthy snack ideas, offering guidance on how you can snack healthily and avoid unhealthy snacks.
The Benefits of Healthy Snacks
Contrary to belief, snacking is said to be highly beneficial in terms of achieving weight loss, at least when it’s done right. There are believed to be multiple benefits of healthy snacking beyond appetite suppression and potential weight loss; for example, it can provide the body with an efficient amount of nutrients, it can boost levels of energy and improve concentration, and some snacks may help the body recover from exercise.
Achieving Weight Loss and Suppressing the Appetite
We know that eating healthily may promote weight loss, which is why healthy snacks could have the potential to do so. This is not only because of the food’s nutrients and healthy qualities, but also because eating something smaller in between meals can potentially curb hunger and prevent you from picking at unhealthy foods due to hunger.
Healthier foods, which are listed later in the article, are said to be more likely to fill you up for longer than junk food filled with fat and sugar. It’s believed that our blood sugar levels drop 3-5 hours after we eat, which is why it’s important to eat snacks between meals to maintain a healthy level of blood glucose.
Increasing Nutrient Intake
As mentioned before, many healthy foods are packed full of different essential nutrients such as antioxidants, fibre, amino acids or protein, amongst others. The body is believed to thrive on these nutrients, and it needs them in order to develop, grow and function properly and healthily.
Unhealthy snacks and junk food are said to lack nutrients, and many contain unhealthy fats, or sugar or salt. These reportedly have the opposite effect and can slow the body and its metabolism down, potentially causing health problems and preventing the body from functioning efficiently.
Therefore, by choosing to consume healthy snacks throughout the day, you are allegedly more likely to have a faster metabolism, and your body will potentially then be filled with nutrients that will help the body develop and function healthily, and it may even protect your immune system.
Improving Energy and Concentration
As discussed before, when the body isn’t regularly provided with essential nutrients, blood sugar drops and metabolism can slow down; this might make you feel sluggish because you lack energy. This is said to be caused when you eat larger amounts of unhealthy junk food as opposed to healthier foods.
A side effect of low blood sugar is believed to be tiredness, which is why it’s important to treat food as fuel, and to regularly provide the body with necessary nutrients through healthy snacks in between meals.
When some people feel sluggish, they feel like highly caffeinated or very sugary junk food will wake them up and make them feel better. While these snacks will elevate your blood glucose levels and provide a sugar high, your body will then crash quickly.
Therefore, it’s believed that by providing the body with healthy, nutritious snacks throughout the day, as opposed to junk food, you may potentially experience more balanced energy levels and blood sugar levels, which will allegedly benefit the body in the long-term.
Improving Recovery from Exercise
Exercise is a crucial activity in any healthy lifestyle, especially if you’re aiming to reach any type of weight loss goal. While exercise is clearly very important, it uses up a lot of the body’s energy stores and, if the body isn’t treated correctly afterwards, it can cause damage to muscles.
However, it’s said that consuming a healthy snack between 15-30 minutes after exercising can aid in recovery and help the body to repair, as well as replacing energy stores so that you don’t feel too tired or sluggish.
It’s believed that post-exercise snacks should consist primarily of carbohydrates and protein. This is because the body – specifically the muscles – allegedly requires protein in order to promote growth, and carbohydrates are said to replenish muscle glycogen which is otherwise burnt during the workout.
How you should Snack to Stay Healthy
It’s said that while snacking is very important for many reasons discussed above, it’s important to monitor what sorts of foods you should eat and when you should eat them. It’s said that our blood sugar levels drop between 3-5 hours after we eat, and this may cause us to feel sluggish and possibly have hunger cravings.
Some dieters try to ignore the signs that our bodies give us, warning us of dropped blood sugar, because they’re afraid of gaining weight by snacking. However, planning and preparing your snacks in advance can be an effective way of making sure you don’t get to the point of feeling unenergetic and craving food.
Hunger cravings often make us want junk food, especially something sugary because of the drop in blood sugar. However, by planning 2 small snacks every day, to be eaten in between meals, you can potentially feel fulfilled and your body will be efficient in nutrients, and you shouldn’t get to the point of craving something unhealthy which is easy quick to make or grab.
It’s believed that in order to maintain a healthy diet, snacks should be smaller portions containing around 100 calories in each snack. There are many different types of snacks that are allegedly good for different purposes. There is also a snack to target any type of hunger craving, without being consumed with a serving of guilt.
Examples of Healthy Snacks
As long as they don’t contain added sugar, nuts are said to be a healthy snack for various reasons. Almonds, cashews and peanuts are all believed to provide the body with unsaturated fats and protein, with roughly 6g per 2oz serving.
Walnuts are said to be low-carb, which can be especially beneficial for those specifically looking to lose weight. They’re also believed to contain omega-3 fatty acids which allegedly reduce triglyceride levels and promote fat loss.
Pistachios are allegedly rich in fibre, protein, monounsaturated fat and B vitamins, although these nuts can be calorific because they’re said to be quite moreish. However, by eating the shelled variety, research has found that people could consume around 41% fewer calories if they have to shell them themselves, which is why they could have the potential to act as a healthy snack.
Prunes, otherwise known as dried plums, are said to be fibre-rich and can allegedly regulate blood sugar levels and elevate appetite suppressing hormones. They’re also said to be naturally sweet to satisfy sugar cravings, and they’re supposedly beneficial for providing a shot of energy before training.
Arguably one of the healthiest snacks for weight loss is said to be celery because it has low carbohydrate contents and is made up from 95% water, making it very low in calories at just 2 per stick. While it may not be incredibly appetising or filling on its own, it can be added to salads or eaten with cottage cheese, nut butter or any other type of vegetable. Furthermore, celery is said to be a good source of antioxidants, potassium, calcium, iron and vitamin C.
While all fruit and, predominantly, berries are considered healthy snacks due to their allegedly high antioxidant content and potential to improve the immune system and protect cells from damage or disease, strawberries are said to be especially beneficial. This is because strawberries are said to contain less sugar, at just 11g of natural sugar per cup serving, and they’re also said to contain high levels of vitamin C. Furthermore, the natural sweetness of strawberries is credited for the ability to satisfy sweet cravings.
Similarly to strawberries, grapes are said to be effective at satisfying sugary cravings with their natural sweetness. The reason that grapes are popular as a healthy snack, however, is because of how they become when they’re frozen. Unlike most fruits, when grapes are frozen the texture doesn’t become solid. Instead, they remain easy to bite into but just slightly firmer, with a ‘creamy’ texture inside. Not only are these easy to store, but they transform into bitesize alternatives to sugary ice lollies, and are said to be almost like sweets. While you can use any type of grape to freeze, it’s believed that red grapes contain higher levels of antioxidants.
Whether you eat them fresh or dried, apricots are also said to be a healthy snack idea due to their low sugar content, containing roughly 4g per fruit. However, despite their low sugar content, apricots are still naturally sweet and could potentially satisfy sweet cravings. This fruit is also versatile, as it can be eaten fresh either on its own or with yoghurt or oatmeal, or it can be dried and eaten with mixed nuts, seeds and other dried fruit. However, it’s said that the apricot’s ‘orange flesh’ contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant which is said to improve cognitive function.
Yoghurt comes in an array of different flavours and types, but the standard plain low/non-fat Greek yoghurt is said to be beneficial as a healthy snack because a small portion can allegedly fill you up. There’s also allegedly roughly 23g of protein in a cup serving of Greek yoghurt, as well as calcium and up to 3 times less sugar than flavoured versions. Although evidence has tested the appetite suppressing effects of Greek yoghurt in healthy women, the results weren’t significant enough to draw any type of conclusion from, which indicates that more conclusive evidence is needed.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten alone or mixed with other foods such as yoghurt or salads. They’re believed to be a beneficial option for a healthy snack because a small 1oz portion serves roughly 7g of protein, as well as 5g of non-sugar carbohydrates. This protein is believed to help the body grow, develop and repair, which is perhaps especially beneficial in those who work out a lot. Pumpkin seeds are also said to be rich in zinc, which allegedly aids in boosting testosterone.
Sometimes you just can’t fight a craving for chocolate, which is how a lot of dieters are thrown off from their weight loss journey. However, you don’t have to cut out chocolate from your diet completely, as dark chocolate is believed to be beneficial when consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate which contains at least 60% cocoa is said to have potential health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and possible fat loss. As dark chocolate is much richer in flavour, a smaller portion of around 1oz should be enough to satisfy your cravings.
The following study compared the effects that both milk chocolate and dark chocolate had on 16 young, healthy men. Participants consumed 100g of either milk or dark chocolate 2 hours before an ad-lib meal was served. Visual-analogue scales were used to monitor appetite before, after and every 30 minutes for 5 hours after first consumption. Results showed that those consuming the dark chocolate felt fuller and more satiated, and they consumed less at the ad-lib meal compared to the other group. The dark chocolate group also saw much fewer cravings for something sweet, fatty or salty, and the energy intake was significantly lower by 17%.
In conclusion, snacks are an essential part of any healthy lifestyle, as long as they’re eaten appropriately, and if they’re full of nutrients and can potentially benefit your body and health. There are many healthy snacks available, and the benefits are said to be endless. It’s said that your weight loss goal could become much easier to achieve as healthy snacks can curb hunger and provide the body with essential nutrients. Overall, snacks should not be laced with guilt, because you can snack and be healthy, too. No matter what tastes you have, you’re likely to find a healthy snack that will appeal to you.
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