Snacking is a tricky subject for many dieters. Theoretically, eating in between meals should increase your daily calorie intake and lead to weight gain. However, experts have suggested that snacking can actually facilitate weight loss by preventing binging and boosting metabolism. Therefore, when you eat healthy snacks in between meals, you could actually burn more calories while consuming less, which is the simple recipe for weight loss.
Aim to keep your snacks under 250 calories each and space them within two or three hours of meals for best results. You’ll be less ravishing when mealtime comes around, which means you’ll make up for those extra calories by eating less at lunch and dinner. Also, the constant flood of calories into your system will keep your metabolism running strong and increase your overall calorie burn for the day. Outlined below are several tips to make snacks work for you, rather than against you.
* Snack before you dine out: As we all know, dining out is a major challenge for people who are watching their weight. You can quickly max out your daily calorie limit on drinks and appetizers alone, long before the entrée is served or the dessert menu is passed around. By eating a small, healthy snack shortly before you head to the restaurant, you will be less tempted to splurge on high fat, high calorie menu items and more likely to make responsible choices, such as sticking with water, skipping dessert or sharing an appetizer with a friend.
* You’re not a cow, so don’t graze: Snacking and grazing are too very different things. Healthy snacks should be planned, prepared and eaten like any meal. Portion out your snacks to stay under the 250 calorie maximum. Even a relatively healthy snack like low-fat cheese or whole-wheat crackers can quickly lead to weight gain if you allow yourself to mindlessly consume the whole box or cube. To avoid grazing, portion out your snacks and avoid eating while performing other activities, such as watching TV or surfing the Internet.
* Consider snacks “mini meals”: If you add several 250-calorie snacks to three high-calorie meals, you’ll go over your daily calorie limit and end up gaining weight. To make snacking work for you, try considering each snack and meal as a “mini meal.” Eat five or six mini meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals and two small snacks, to ensure that your overall calorie intake stays under control. You should never feel deprived because you’ll be eating every few hours, and it may be easier to make healthier choices knowing that you’ll get to eat again soon.
* Keep track: If healthy snacking is a new addition to your diet plans, it can be helpful to keep a food diary for several weeks to keep your calorie count under control. Write down every bite of food that you eat, including snacks, and you won’t be able to lie to yourself about how many calories you’re consuming.
* Don’t keep unhealthy snacks in the house: When you’re trying to lose weight, keeping unhealthy snacks in the house is just too tempting. Keep healthy snacks handy and pre-portioned so that they are easy to grab on the go. If you really crave an unhealthy treat, you’ll have to go to the store and get it, and most of the time you’ll be able to fight off your cravings before it gets to that point.
As you can see, learning how to lose weight by eating snacks can be tricky and takes some practice and portion control. However, by choosing healthy snacks and keeping track of your overall calorie consumption, you can make snacks work for you, rather than allowing them to sabotage your weight loss goals.