How to use snacking to help you lose weight

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Losing weight doesn't mean going hungry. It's all about maximising your snacking potential...

Apple slices with peanut butter

© Getty - Handbag

Use snacking to your advantage to ensure you lose weight without going hungry.

'Eating between meals is often the first thing to be eliminated when you're watching your weight and trying to cut down on calories,' explianed nurtitionist Sarah West.

'However, snacking needn't be a weight loss disaster; with a bit of forethought and creativity it can actually help you to get closer to your ideal bikini body, rather than further away.

'Sound too good to be true? Scientists have confirmed the benefits, revealing that the more frequently people snack, the less likely they are to store excess abdominal fat,' says Sarah.

So how does it work?

'Sensible snacking can help ward off cravings and prevent you from becoming overly hungry at mealtimes, leaving you with greater control over your food choices and portion sizes.

Regular food intake also helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which boosts energy levels and moderates the release of hormones such as insulin (the fat storage hormone) and cortisol (a stress hormone which can cause fat to be deposited around the midsection).

The key to making snacking work is good preparation. With a little planning you can ensure you always have the right kind of snacks available so you're ready when hunger or temptation strikes.'

What should I snack on?

'Junk food is so readily available that many people succumb to the temptation of high fat, high sugar snacks. However, to get the best results it's important not to confuse snacks with unhealthy treats.

Your aim for each snack should be to select foods that are wholesome, filling and ideally no more than 200 calories. Here are a few suggestions:

At work:
With many of us spending between 8 and 10 hours at our desk each working day, it's no surprise that office workers can consume around 650 additional calories each day through snacking alone.

Try keeping some healthy supplies in the fridge or your desk drawer, such as hummous, sliced vegetable sticks and a small pot of nuts and seeds. By avoiding the vending machine you'll stay trim and save money too!

Before exercise:
Exercise not only burns calories but also helps encourage you to eat less and make healthier food choices, so it's a great habit to get into.

The perfect pre-workout snack contains a source of carbohydrate to supply energy to the brain and muscles. Fruit and dried fruit snacks, such as the new range from Fruit Bowl are a great choice as they're portable, low in calories and even count as one of your 5 a day.

After exercise:
Following your workout, try tucking into a snack that combines both protein and carbohydrates; such as a smoothie made with fresh fruit and yogurt or a dried fruit bar combined with a handful of nuts.

The protein is important for preserving existing muscle mass (which can help boost your metabolism) while the carbohydrate replenishes glycogen stores, leaving you feeling energised and all set for your next gym session.

On the beach:
There's no worse time to feel bloated than when you're in a bikini. Foods containing sodium are known to cause bloating, so avoid crisps, salted nuts or pretzels when you need to look svelte on the beach.

Celery or cucumber has the same satisfying crunch as crisps without the salt, and the high water content also helps to banish water retention. If you fancy something sweeter, try watermelon or berries served with Greek yogurt to aid digestion.'




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