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Nutrition Articles  ›  Healthy Habits

Snacking Healthy

Add Snacks to Subtract Pounds

-- By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer
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While some dieters happily accept when someone suggests a snack, others feel pangs of guilt when a nibble is merely suggested. However, there is nothing inherently wrong with a bite between meals. In fact, snacking might be the missing ingredient that will help you reach your weight loss goals.

But how can this make sense, since snacking theoretically adds calories?

Snacking doesn’t serve to replace a meal. In fact, you should spread meals and snacks out by an hour or two, and snacks should total a couple hundred calories or less.

Munching between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by curbing overeating at your next meal. By controlling later binging, snacking can help you stay on track. You can actually use this to your advantage. If you know you are going out to a big dinner with friends later, for example, make sure you have a healthy snack before you head out so you’re less likely to order (and finish) a large entrée.
 
How You Snack Can Make or Break Your Diet
There is definitely a wrong way and a right way to snack. You should avoid sugary items like candy and soda, and shouldn’t be consuming enough calories to constitute a meal. Instead, steer towards foods that will satisfy you and keep you feeling fuller longer. Fruits and vegetables are always a safe bet because they are low in fat and calories. (Just be sure to avoid high-calorie dips.) Yogurt, fruit smoothies, even a slice of whole-wheat toast all make great snacks during the day. Combining lean protein, some healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates will help you feel fuller longer.
 
Mini Meals
Many experts are recommending several smaller meals throughout the day instead of the usual three. By eating at regular intervals, your blood sugar levels (and therefore your energy levels) remain stable. So, instead of that mid-afternoon crash, you’ll be full of vigor through dinnertime!   Eating every few hours (especially if you chew on fruits and veggies) can also help add extra nutrition that might be missing from other meals. Continued ›
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

Member Comments

  • Thank you for this useful info. I know my snacks tend to match or exceed a meal allotment. Being mindful and committed help to curb this pitfall. - 7/30/2014 9:34:24 AM
  • Good article. Thanks. - 2/28/2014 4:27:16 AM
  • VAINVT
    Tea helps me a lot, and I try to have protein like a slice of meat or nuts. - 2/15/2014 7:27:39 AM
  • I try to make sure I eat every two hours. So I don't get hungry. - 9/10/2013 5:09:12 PM
  • I don't like snacking as i actually like to feel hungry before I eat, and to feel satisfied when I finish. I find with snacking, I have to cut the rest of my portions down to a point where it's not enough, in order to stay within my allowance. Plus I don't get the satisfaction of enjoying feeding my hunger. - 9/11/2012 10:01:47 AM
  • Everything doesn't work for everyone. But this method has been suggested to me by , my endocrinologist. To eat smaller meals and eat 5 to 6 meals a day.When my sugars ran high and I get it down where it should be, then I felt like I was starving, so I ate and ate and not what I should have. It is what you eat when you snack or eat . I still don't have the right balance yet but I know I will and water is just as important.I use to not ever had enough. - 9/11/2012 7:58:08 AM
  • Always drink a glass of water with your snack. It feels more substantial and you are more satisfied that way, helping you to not overdo it. - 2/18/2012 12:42:44 PM
  • I only eat when I am hungry now, so I always have snacks on hand just in case I need it, but sometimes I don't. It's just better to be safe than sorry :) - 12/29/2011 12:36:55 PM
  • ELLDOCKE
    Snacking is my saving grace. Before I discovered this as a way to keep my blood sugar even throughout the day, I tested 1 point below diabetic. With a strong family history of diabetes, this was my wake up call. As I researched, I found that well-planned snacks are crucial to controlling my blood sugar, along with exercise and generally healthy eating! And, no, eating more protein at meals did not work - I tried it. LOL - 12/29/2011 10:54:25 AM
  • snacks are an important part of my eating plan. I am in the 1200-1550 calorie range and I eat 300 for breakfast, 300 for lunch, 300 for afternoon snack and 300-500 for dinner. I am RAVENOUS around 4 pm no matter what I eat for lunch so without that planned afternoon snack, I nibble on junk or get super crabby until dinner time. So I'm in the multiple mini meals camp and it works for me. I lost 40 pounds doing this and when I stopped, I gained 15 back over a year. - 12/29/2011 9:44:33 AM
  • I wonder if snacking would be so necessary if meals included enough protein and fat... - 7/8/2011 10:20:38 AM
  • I've added more meals to my nutrition tracker: Pre Workout, Workout, Elevenses, PM Something and I have the usual Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snack as well. This feels more accurate and honest to how I live. I feel healthier eating small several times a day rather than a few major times in a day. - 7/6/2011 4:48:15 PM
  • I eat about 6 times a day. Call it a snack, meal, mini-meal... whatever! I am almost never hungry and it has helped me to keep calories in check and balance food intake and exercise output to a point where I am at an optimal burn rate.
    I was eating less often and the same amount of calories and at the wrong times in relationship to exercise previously. Put me on a 3 month plateau!! - 7/6/2011 2:48:42 PM
  • Repitition is the mother of rettention and I keep reading this article to keep it on my mind. Especialy when I'm tempted to hang around in the kitchen for no reason. - 7/6/2011 1:40:46 PM
  • I'm all about "mini-meals." I eat 4-6 meals a day, and I am never hungry and seldom "over-eat."

    : ) - 7/6/2011 10:16:38 AM