Which is better, three square meals or eating small meals throughout the day and including snacks?
Diets have changed as our lifestyles have evolved and with hectic schedules, sometimes it’s difficult to sit down to three full meals each day.
On the flip side, you want to avoid waiting so long to eat that you are famished and just reach for the first thing you see in the vending machine or pile helpings of food on your plate. But is snacking really good for you? Well, yes, as long as you approach it from a healthy mindset.
Nibbling throughout the day can lead to more weight loss. The act of eating and digesting actually increases your metabolic rate, but that doesn’t give you free rein to work your way through that bag of chips. You also need to make good food choices. Think nuts, fruit, seeds or vegetables. You want to make sure your snack has fiber and/or protein to keep you feeling full.
Should we call it a snack?
What makes a snack different than a meal? Just because it’s “normal” to make a meal big… doesn’t mean it has to be. Snacks are really just mini-meals rather than an excuse to just a grab for the quickest thing you can eat. Use the same good nutrient-dense foods that you would for you meal in a smaller amount to fuel yourself between your “regular” meals.
Cap the calorie intake of your meals
When you add snacks to your meal plan, you are also adding calories, even if they are coming from the good stuff. Make sure your meals are tailored to meet your total daily caloric needs. Calorie count apps are a great tool to make sure you are staying on track with your individual needs based on height, weight and age.
Listen to your body
Eat when you feel slightly hungry and stop eating when you start to feel full. It can take up to 30 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full, so whether it’s your meal or your snack, eat slowly and give your body time to communicate.
Avoid a big dinner
The bulk of your energy is spent while you are awake and running around, so why do we stuff ourselves right before bed when our energy requirements are at their lowest? Instead, eat a small meal at night and avoid late night snacking that can destroy your diet.
Snacking can be a great contribution to your healthy diet as long as you are mindful of what you eat. Making sure your snacks have a healthy balance of fats, protein and fiber will ensure you stay satisfied without packing on the extra pounds.