Let’s be honest, we all love tasty snacks to keep us powering through a long day; however, could our snack choices be keeping us from achieving our weight loss goals?
Everyone has a specific time of day that is what I like to call their “weak hours”, meaning the hours when energy levels are low, and will power is even lower! This is that time of day when people tend to crave snacks that are either carb heavy or sugar-loaded, to have along side a coffee, giving them an extra boost to survive the rest of the day. The question is, why does this lull in energy happen? Why are cravings higher during these hours?
I’ll tell you why!
A common occurrence in people wanting to lose weight is that they decrease their calorie intake throughout the day, decrease carb intake, or skip meals altogether (bad, bad, bad!). This leads to feeling tired, weak, and hungry later in the day. When people are on the brink of what I call “hangry,” making healthy choices almost goes out the window, and they tend to just eat the first thing they see no matter what it is!
How do we avoid this?
The most important thing to avoid is skipping meals! In order to keep your metabolism burning calories and maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day,it is important to ensure you are still eating a meals and snacks every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Skipping meals earlier in the day will lead to decreased energy and more hunger later in the day, which is what we want to avoid.
Here Are My Healthy Snacking Tips for Helping you Choose What to Snack on:
1. Are you heading to a workout? Or are you heading home to have dinner and sit on the couch all night?
If it is a little later in the day and you are looking for a snack to keep you going for the next few hours between lunch and dinner there are a few things to take into account:
- If you are heading to a workout within a few hours, make sure you snack contains a carbohydrate, a good fat, and a protein (example: peanut butter and a few wheat crackers, carrots and hummus, or banana with some almond butter) as this will give you an energy boost for the upcoming workout.
- If you are heading home after work and are just looking for something to hold you over, stick to a snack higher in protein and lower in calories in order to not ruin your appetite before dinner (example: protein powder and water, protein bar such as a Quest bar that is low in calories and low in sugar, a hard boiled egg or two, or a handful of nuts). The protein content will curb the hunger gap and keep you from eating everything in the kitchen while cooking dinner when you get home!
2. Ask yourself if you are actually hungry or just bored and tired?
This is a common problem we are all guilty of! Eating just because you are bored or someone in the office brings back a box of doughnuts from lunch! One tip that works well for me during times like this, is to always have healthy snacks on hand (example: raw veggies, nuts, homemade protein bars, protein powder with cold water, or a small serving of cheese).This will still allow you to snack, avoid the doughnuts, and not ruin your calorie intake for the day. Another tip if you find yourself in this predicament is to drink water before snacking, sometimes people are just dehydrated and water will take that craving away. Throwing some lemon or fruit in your water bottle will help too!
3. Always include a source of protein.
One tip is to always make sure snacks throughout the day contain a source of protein. Protein will help curb cravings, keep you feeling full, feed your muscles to keep your metabolism burning throughout the day, and keep energy levels high. Here are some great protein-packed snack ideas:
- Plain Greek Yogurt with blueberries and cinnamon
- Hummus and raw veggies
- Homemade protein shake
- Unsalted nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios etc.)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Quinoa Salad
- Homemade or Store Bought Protein Bars (be careful of store bought–check calorie content, sugar content, and artificial sweeteners!)
- Tuna or Chicken salad
- Apple with small portion of peanut butter
- And so many more!
I hope this article helps you make smarter choices when picking your snacks throughout the day, in order to reach your fitness and weight loss goals faster!