Healthy snacking: is there such a thing?


Eating between meals, or snacking as we have come to know it has long been held the biggest culprit in America’s battle against obesity. Recent studies debunk that theory showing individuals that snack have more energy, sleep better, weigh less and even have 5 percent lower cholesterol levels than individuals that ate only 2-3 times daily. So, as long as you are reasonably sensible (nix the cookies and chips) snacking can be good for you. Here are the reasons why

Snacking prevents sluggishness. By planning a mid-afternoon nibble you stave off that familiar slump in energy. Eat a snack of 100-300 calories about three hours after lunch, given that your lunch was not huge or particularly late. Snacking prevents feeling famished and mealtime overeating .

It helps keep weight in check. Snackers actually have lower body fat and more lean muscle. Long periods in between eating will let your metabolism slow causing the body to conserve instead of burn calories.

Snacking helps prevent the accumulation of cholesterol. A study of more than 14,000 adults reported on by The British Medical Journal found that snacking reduced the bad cholesterol or LDL as well as lowering the total count by 5 percent. Eating more frequently keeps blood sugar, insulin, and triglyceride levels steady slowing the production of the enzymes that make cholesterol.

It keeps you mentally sharper. We have all experienced times of going without food for hours. A dip in the blood sugar dulls the thinking and lengthens response time. The more you try to concentrate the more moody and irritable you can become. It’s a given response.

It makes exercise more effective. During a workout your body burns carbohydrates as its preferred and primary source of fuel. Exercising on an empty stomach will force your body to burn protein stores reducing your energy as well as lean muscle mass- the reason for your exercise in the first place.

Snacking helps prevent heartburn and soothes the stomach. A hungry body will produce excess stomach acid. It’s waiting, sometimes impatiently for that next meal and in the meantime you’re left dealing with an indigested over acidic stomach or acid reflux.

It helps you sleep. Snacking before bed is highly controversial and very individual. Many individuals choose milk before bed and it seems to work well. Others find that eating anything before bedtime causes disturbed sleep and unsettled dreaming. You just have to try it.

The rules of snacking.

  1. Be sure you know how many calories you are consuming in your snack. 200 hundred calories maximum if you are dieting.
  2. If weight is an issue include proteins and fiber. Protein takes a greater number of those calories consumed to digest and assimilate it. Fiber gives a feeling of fullness and helps prevent overeating.
  3. Avoiding the junk is an absolute. Empty calories will only make you feel hungrier in the long run.
  4. Don’t wash your snack down with a lot of water. The water dilutes enzymes and acids used in digestion. No pop, diet or otherwise and no high fructose sweetened drinks.
  5. Use variety to prevent feeling bored and reverting back to a less healthy way of snacking.

Till next time happy snacking, Rebecca