Many of my clients reach a point where their main meals are controlled but hit a wall when it comes to snacking. Generally, most of us benefit from having one to two snack times per day which helps to control appetite but successful snacking can be challenging so evaluate your need to 'snack' depending on your fitness goals.
Most snackers eat out of habit, boredom, social circumstances and often make poor food choices. This can easily lead to totally blowing your calorie cap for the day and all of a sudden, you're overeating! On the other hand, a mid-afternoon snack can keep blood sugar levels at bay which prevents overeating your next meal.
The key to success, is optimal food timing and regulating appetite by aligning your body's chemistry at the beginning of the day. When we first wake up in the morning, a neurotransmitter called nueropeptiede-Y is released driving us to eat mostly carbohydrates, so we should embrace breakfast and eat like a Queen (muesli, fruit, milk, yoghurt). If you miss breakfast, you'll be playing catch up all day. "Eat Breaky! Missing it is like a trip at the top of the stairs. Your diet goes down fast" by Matt O'Neill - Nutritionist/Dietician, Speaker, Educator. If you've allowed this to happen, a hormone called Galanin will release in the afternoon and drive you to eat fat usually in the form of cakes, chocolate and sweet biscuits.
Here are some simple strategies for successful snacking and appetite management:
- Only eat only if you are truly hungry
- Ensure your snack is exactly that! It's not a meal, it's a fix not a fill
- Keep your snacks to 140 calories or less (examples to follow)
- Make nuts or a trail mix your main mid-afternoon snack (contains healthy fats, protein, minerals and carbohydrates)
- Drink more water
- Drink green tea
- Prepare and plan your snacks at home, which reduces the risk of buying an unhealthy choice
- Eat nutrient dense quality food. Why waste snack time on empty calories? Peak performance can only be achieved with proper fuel.
And because we crave variety to keep our taste buds stimulated and motivational levels charged, here is a list of other snack ideas:
- Boiled eggs
- Green apples
- Slice of free range organic ham
- Homemade dips with veggie sticks (capsicum, carrots, celery, cucumber)
- Small tub of low fat natural yoghurt with berries
- Punnet of berries
- Small tins of tuna
- Smoked salmon and cucumber wraps
- My date & cashew coconut energy balls (110calories/serve)
- Maca, Walnut and Macadamia Energy Bars
- Berry and banana or green smoothies
- Veggie juices
- Natural popcorn