Monday, October 15, 2012

Is Snacking Good or Bad?

Snacking is a source of contention within the world of nutrition experts. Some say it increases your metabolism and energy throughout the day, others say it increases the likelihood of taking in more calories than you need and doesn't allow your digestive system to ever rest since you are always digesting the last meal.

So is snacking good or bad?

Here are 3 great tips to decipher what is right for your body in the world of snacking.

Tip #1: Snacking is Optional 

It is not a requirement to be healthy and fit to snack everyday. Be aware of what your body needs. Eat when you’re hungry, not because you think you have to. Notice your body’s rhythm and what it likes. For example many peoples' metabolisms are elevated in the beginning part of the day, therefore they get hungrier and find themselves needing a snack between major meals. Don’t deny yourself food for fear of calories. You want to fuel your body when it tells you to. The same holds true for eating after dinner, a time when most of us are not hungry at all, but eat anyways. This puts stress on the body and your metabolism.

Take a week or two to experiment with only eating when you’re hungry. Taking notes and tracking can be helpful for you to see truly what your body's natural hunger is like.

If you tend to get very hungry between meals, eating more frequently may be a good solution for you—and at the bottom of this post, I’ll have some tips on how to do that in a healthy way. But if you don’t get hungry between meals, there’s no reason you need to take time out every two or three hours for a snack.

Since snacking is optional , how do you manage your hunger and meals in a way that promotes a healthy metabolism?

If you do get hungry between meals, but find it difficult to arrange your schedule to accommodate a meal break every two or three hours, there’s another solution: Eat bigger meals! But don’t be fooled, you must be careful to not overload your body’s ability to digest and burn off the calories. Increase the protein and/or fat in the meal in order to get the desired effect. If you increase your carbs (pasta, rice, refined grains, etc.) this plan can back fire.

One reason that people get so hungry between meals is that they make their meals unrealistically small. Let’s say that you need 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight and you only eat a 200-calorie breakfast bar. Logically, this should get you through about 10% of your day…or about two hours. If you were trying to make it five hours until lunchtime, you’d want to eat more like 400 or 600 calories for breakfast.

It is imperative that your meals are balanced and nutritious, other wise you will feel hungry, even if you have eaten sufficient calories. The body’s blood sugar needs to be balanced to keep hunger at bay. Eating meals and snacks containing protein, healthy fats, and slow-burning carbohydrates, such as those you get from whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans will help you to keep full.

Tip #2: Snack on Real Food, not Snack Food 

The other big mistake I see people making is reaching for so-called “snack foods” like chips, crackers, bars, cookies, and other highly processed and largely nutrient-free items. Aside from the built-in portion control of those little 100-calorie packages, I can’t see any advantage to these non-foods. They add toxic chemicals to your system and make it very hard to shed fat. 

Tip #3: Plan Ahead and Take Food With You!
Make a commitment to your health and begin to plan ahead and take food with you. Whether you are traveling or just headed out to a normal work day, decide how long you are gonna be gone for and how much food you will need throughout the day. Keep things in your desk at the office, like packs of nuts and canned tuna or salmon. Always have something in your bag that can hold you over incase you get starving. Doing this will prevent you from grabbing some unhealthy crap that doesn't support your goals. 

What Are Healthy Snacks? 

Here are just a few great ideas on what to snack on. Watch Coach Juliet in her kitchen as she takes you through even more snacks to enjoy.

Apple with nut butter
Organic turkey or grass fed beef jerky
Greek Yogurt with berries and almonds
Organic String cheese
Roasted or steamed veggies with EVOO
Veggies and hummus
Lettuce wraps with chicken or turkey 
Dark chocolate 
Pumpkin seeds
Protein powder for smoothies or mixed in almond milk
Lara bars (only if before or after intense exercise)
Go Raw bars (only if before or after intense exercise)

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