As unlikely as it sounds, some researchers believe that snacking might actually help your efforts to lose weight or maintain weight loss. One study, reported in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, compared the number of meals and snacks consumed each day for 12 months among three groups—participants who had lost weight and maintained it, those who were still overweight at the end of the study, and those who had a normal weight.

The findings showed that the normal-weight individuals consumed the most snacks each day, followed by the weight-loss maintainers. But it's what you snack on and how much you consume that counts.

The following tips can make between-meal eating a boost, rather than a hindrance, to weight-management efforts.

Eat at Regular Intervals

It's not a good idea to mindlessly graze all day or nibble when you're bored, stressed or frustrated. Instead, at the start of your day, map out a game plan for your meals and snacks so that you’ll be consuming something approximately every three hours. This schedule will help you avoid feeling deprived because you know you'll have another opportunity to eat soon.

Choose High-Quality Foods

Ideally, between-meal pick-me-ups should contain a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates. Foods that provide a big nutritional bang for every bite include vitamin- and mineral-packed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.

Practice Portion Control

A snack should be in the 100- to 250-calorie range, depending on how many snacks you have in a day and how large your regular meals are; a snack that contains more than 250 calories is really approaching meal territory. Tasty, healthy choices include

  • a small container of low-fat yogurt with some berries
  • a cup of baby carrots with two tablespoons of hummus
  • six whole-grain crackers with a slice of low-fat cheese or two thin slices of turkey

Think about Drinks

Often, people grab a high-calorie drink to go along with their snack. But research suggests that most beverages aren't as satisfying as whole foods, so people don't naturally compensate for the calories they drink by eating less food. Your best bet: Have water or another noncaloric beverage with your snack—or budget for the calories in, say, a serving of low-fat milk as part of the snack total.

Be Prepared

To avoid giving into temptation when you're out and about, stash healthy snacks in your purse or briefcase. Some good transportable choices include a brown rice cake with one tablespoon of peanut butter and a pear on the side, a dried-fruit-and-nut bar or half a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

Carry a bottle of water with you, too, and voilà—you've got a movable mini-feast!

Source: from our sister publication Diabetes Focus (Fall 2015)

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 15 Oct 2015

Last Modified: 16 Oct 2015