Snacks aren’t necessary for everyone, but can definitely be an important part of a balanced day of eating. The size of the snack that you need differs a lot depending on your activity level and nutrient requirements, but for the general population we can keep it relatively light and structured. I see many clients who try hard not to snack all day when their energy levels are dipping, but then end up snacking all evening or eating large portions at dinner time due to cravings or intense hunger. If you are hungry in between meals then I think it’s important to ask yourself if you have eaten enough for the day, if you have had enough fibre and protein, or if you are just tired and needing a break!
Having a snack is totally ok and can be part of a healthy weight loss diet. The type of snack is what’s important. The ideal scenario is to include a balance of both protein and carbohydrate so that it lasts for 2-3 hours before we feel any hunger again. Protein for fullness and blood glucose regulation, and carbohydrates for energy and brain fuel. Another important factor is to keep it structured so that it feels like an eating opportunity and avoid snacking while standing up, working on your computer, or driving.
The above guidelines rule out a lot of convenient packaged options, so here is some snack inspiration…
Teaming protein and calcium rich Greek yoghurt with antioxidant rich berries is a nutritional match made in heaven. Not only does the yoghurt have minimal sugars compared to many fruit yoghurts but it is also low GI which means it will help to keep blood glucose levels controlled for several hours after eating it. When it comes to fruit, any type of berries, fresh or frozen are relatively low in calories and packed full of fibre making them a perfect light snack choice in between meals. The higher protein your yoghurt- the better!
Trim latte or flat white
There’s something about a hot drink that fills the tummy and keeps us satisfied for hours. A trim coffee (stick to decaf in the afternoon) is one of my favourite snacks. It provides you with a decent serve of calcium and protein and if you stick with trim milk then gives you a satisfying snack for less than 100 calories. Team with a few almonds and 1-2 squares of dark chocolate if you’re a sweet tooth and you’ll be happy as for the whole afternoon.
Cheese and wholegrain crackers or corn thins
Wholegrain or rye corn thins/ cruskits are one of the most versatile snack options around. Top with cottage cheese or feta, tomato and avocado and you are ticking off another serving of dairy for the day as well as filling your tummy for the next few hours. If you prefer slices of hard cheese like edam or Colby, then stick to 2x thin slices and add extra tomato or avo to bulk your snack out. Cheese and crackers are a moreish option so make sure to portion control this one!
Vegetable sticks with peanut butter or hummus
1-2 Tbsp of hummus or peanut butter provides a decent punch of protein and unsaturated fats. Dip your carrot sticks or cucumber into a portioned amount of peanut butte or hummus as your afternoon snack for an extra serving of veggies for the day. Extra points for a homemade hummus using extra virgin olive oil- as some bought hummus options can be pretty high in vegetable oils and preservatives.
Fruit WITH protein
Fruit is a very healthy snack and packed full of fibre and nutrients but on its own is only providing you with carbohydrate- whish won’t keep you full for long. Add extra protein in the form of cheese slices, nuts, nut butters, or Greek yoghurt and your body and blood glucose levels will thank you as you get through the afternoon without a crash in energy.
Don’t be fooled by front of packet marketing that tricks us into thinking certain foods are “healthier”. Loading up on sugar and carbs in the form of muesli bars, baking, plain rice crackers, biscuits, or muffin bars is displacing some of the nutritious options that we need more of in our diets and not giving us the satiety factor that we need to survive the afternoon.
If you are struggling with energy imbalance, overeating or just don’t know where to begin with your diet- then get in touch. I work with women 1:1 as part of my women’s weight loss package and provide you with personalised nutrition advice tailored to your preferences, energy requirements and goals. I can only take on a limited number of clients each month and April is already filling up faster than my sold out March program! So please get in touch or book asap if you don’t want to miss out.