If intermittent fasting isn’t for you, and you love the idea of eating smaller meals every few hours, then these 10 healthy snacks should be the first thing you reach for.
Because the truth is, if you want to lose weight, your choice of healthy snacks are important. Some “so called” healthy snacks, are in fact, loaded with sugar – such as frozen yoghurt or energy bars, and should be avoided as they simply add more kilojoules to your daily intake.
Healthy snacks are key to sustainable weight loss
In a study published in the Journal Physiology & Behaviour, researchers point out that the obesity epidemic we’re seeing nowadays can be largely attributed to snacking on the wrong foods, rather than focusing on healthy snacks. Also, snacking mindlessly, while watching television isn’t ideal.
Because of this, snacking has gotten a bad rap in the last few years, but eating a variety of healthy snacks can actually help you lose weight by keeping your insulin levels stable, as well as increasing your nutrient intake. The key is in the right snack!
Nutritionist, blogger and author Jessica Sepel can testify to the importance of healthy snacking. “My job is quite demanding, but I make time in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon to enjoy a snack. These are moments in my day to just have some peace and replenish my body. I eat fruit in the morning on an empty stomach, as it’s much easier to digest. I love green apple smeared with almond butter and cinnamon, or a green smoothie. It’s important to keep blood-sugar levels stable.
At 4pm, I’m tired from my work day, and snacking helps to keep my mood and energy levels up. I also say that people who snack in the afternoon tend to eat less at dinner. At this time, I go for a protein-based snack. I often make protein balls on a Sunday, and keep them in the fridge for the rest of the week. When I’m on the move, I carry my snacks in my bag. I always have a tub of raw nuts or kale chips with me. Sometimes it’ll be a really healthy fruit or nut bar, which I sometimes make from scratch.”
The ideal healthy snack
It’s best if it includes complex carbohydrates (nuts; dried or fresh fruit; veg; wholegrains) or protein (milk; cheese; nuts; seeds), or a mixture of the two. Both complex carbs and protein take a while for your body to digest, meaning you feel fuller for longer. To avoid blood-sugar peaks and troughs, sugar content should be kept to a minimum – as should fat, for the sake of your waistline. Check food labels: for sugar, over 5g per 100g is high; for fat, it’s over 3g per 100g.
Also, keep snacks under 850kJ each – the following suggestions fall below this. With some large packets of chips containing at least 1 050kJ – same goes for many chocolate bars – by swapping to our ideas, you could save up to 400kJ a day, which adds up to a weight loss of over 4,5kg a year!
Try these 10 healthy snacks the next time hunger strikes
Granola offers a good source of fibre, and is a low-GI (glycaemic index) choice, which means it releases energy slowly, and won’t send your blood-sugar levels soaring.
Blueberries and low fat yoghurt
Yoghurt is a good source of protein; check labels though, as some can be high in sugar. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants – especially resveratrol, which may protect against Alzheimer’s Disease.
1 slice of wholegrain bread
This is a good source of mood-enhancing B vitamins.
Small handful of unsalted, mixed nuts
Nuts, though high in kilojoules and unsaturated fats, are full of potassium, calcium, zinc and vitamin E. Almonds help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium.
6 wholewheat crackers with 1 Tbsp hummus
The crackers contain fibre; hummus is packed with zinc, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins B and C.
1 cup of boiled edamame or soya beans
These contain 17g protein, 8g fibre and 790kJ. Serve hot or cold, seasoned with a little salt, and enjoy.
Half a medium avocado mashed with a little sea salt
The avocado is creamy and satisfying, but low in saturated fat, and contains nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals.
A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
These are a great source of tryptophan, along with magnesium and zinc.
Vegetable cruditès with low-fat dip
Vary the colours of the veg for the maximum number of vitamins and antioxidants: try carrot sticks, and slices of red and yellow peppers.
It’s higher in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) than veg, according to scientists. For best results, buy your own popping corn from the supermarket and microwave it – resist the urge to add salt or sugar.