When it comes to snacking, most people think of biscuits, crisps, cakes and chocolate. You only have to type the word ‘snack’ into google images to see what I mean. But will these foods really help you to achieve your goals? Understanding how to snack healthily is one of the most important steps in achieving your fat-loss and health goals.
There are many conflicting views on whether you should snack between meals or not. Some say it increases your metabolism, suppresses appetite and balances blood sugar, while others disagree with these claims. In my opinion, the reason there is such disagreement has to do with snack choices and timings, rather than snacking itself.
When the right snack is eaten at the right time, fat-loss and health ensues for three main reasons:
Metabolism – Regular snacking helps maintain your metabolism, increases thermogenesis (fat burning) and results in fat loss.
Appetite – Eating the right foods regularly helps reduce appetite and prevent hunger throughout the day.
Blood Sugar Levels – Healthy snacks that are high in vegetables, fibre, protein and good fats are nutritious, and have a positive effect by helping balance your blood sugar levels.
So, the important point to snacking is when and what to eat, and this depends on your overall goals.
If your aim is to lose weight, then you need to keep your insulin levels low for around 16-hours a day. This is because insulin initiates the storage of fat, and when insulin levels are low, fat-burning can occur. Therefore, if you eat your evening meal at 8pm you ideally don’t want to eat anything (other than ‘healthy’ fats’) until around lunchtime. However, your afternoon snack gives you a great opportunity to fill up on nutrients. Vegetable based foods and foods high in ‘healthy’ protein and fats make great afternoon snacks and these choices include; olives, meat, fish, eggs, low carb soup, vegetable juice, coconuts, nuts, seeds, vegetables, crispy kale, dairy products, berries, avocados.
However, if your goal is to maintain your weight and simply eat healthily, then you can reduce your fasting period to 12-hours and eat healthy ‘low-carb’ snack foods in both the morning and afternoon.
In contrast to ‘low-carb’ foods, fruit-based products, wholemeal carbs and low sugar foods are presumed healthy, but they actually have a considerable negative impact on your blood sugar levels. Continuously snacking on foods such as rye crispbread, medium sugar fruit, fruit smoothies, fruit juices, oat cakes, oat biscuits, air-popped popcorn, dried fruit, honey, rice cakes, wholemeal muffins and dark chocolate will lead to increased insulin secretion and hence fat storage.
Unhealthy snack choices consist of high sugar and processed carbohydrates with, or without, a small amount of unhealthy protein and fat. These foods include, sweetened drinks, milk chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sweets, processed popcorn, high sugar fruit, fruit snack bars, crisps, processed meats, fast foods and energy bars. These choices significantly raise blood sugar levels, contain very little nutrients and contain unhealthy chemicals, and are perfect foods for gaining fat and adding toxins to your body!
In summary, for health and weight-loss you need to keep your insulin levels low. Insulin is mostly secreted in the response to carbohydrates, therefore, the most efficient way to achieve low insulin levels is to eat protein, veg and healthy fats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and either avoid snacking in between or eat the recommended ‘low-carb’ snack choices.
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy, memBANT, memNT, memCNCH
For more information on health and weight loss see ‘The Meta-Keto Diet’. This book is available as an eBook (£6.99), or in paperback (£15.99), via the Secret Healthy Eater Shop; www.secrethealthyeater.com/shop.
drawing by pigwire