With repeated lockdowns, gym restrictions and more, and to top it all, the work from home (WFH) scenario have all added up to us gaining unwanted kilos. Weight management is becoming a very confusing topic with equally justified opinions from all sides. Snacks are one such area of concern and debate. Most people snack in between meals to satiate hunger or as a habit. There is no problem with this habit, just the quantity, frequency and choice of snacks that make all the difference.
Standard scientific and conventional wisdom both approve of snacking for weight loss. Scientific evidence in favor or against this thought is somewhat not very conclusive.
Yes, to snacking:
Taking snacks in between meals helps.
- Prevent overeating at one time
- It provides energy keeping the blood sugars at an even keel and preventing exhaustion
- When we do not eat for long periods, it may cause headache, make one irritable or feel tiered.
No to snacking:
Taking snacks is not essential for everyone.
- A six-meal pattern, often suggested by dieticians but it may not be practical for working persons to follow.
- Eating repeatedly keeps the insulin levels high, creating hunger pangs and preventing fat loss.
- Snacking is mostly misused, and excessive calorie are ingested.
- Not eating throughout the day also has a positive effect on digestive health.
Both the arguments hold water. Your Dietician needs to help you choose what works for you, what you can fit into your lifestyle and what brings positive health for you.
However, snacking can be healthy and if it is a part of your calorie deficit count and by choosing right we can make snacks a part of our weight loss journey.
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions:
Does snacking through the day lead to weight gain?
Eating small frequent meals and snacks support weight loss because of its positive influence on metabolism. Snacking helps keep the energy up, helping you work better, exercise adequately and staying positive. The key is to choose right. Snacking on Fruits and vegetables means very low calories, lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
By just making sure that I consume calorie free snacks can I lose weight?
Actually, very low-calorie intakes hinder weight loss. Also, the so-called low calorie packaged snacks may have a lot of hidden calories, unhealthy fats and added carbs. Choosing snacks that provide a few calories and lots of nutrients is a healthier way to target weight. Boiled corn for example provides fiber, that provides bulk and antioxidants that help in overall health.
Eating what is available and what I want will help me control my hunger?
While on a weight management plan it is essential to commit yourself to some discipline. You must learn what works for you. Planning a day's food list which includes snacks is a good way to ensure compliance to healthy choices and portion control.
Any snack at bedtime will settle as fat and make me gain weight?
If you choose a good snack - like a combination of nuts and fruits or milk and fruits - you ensure that you don't eat empty calories, you don't go to sleep hungry, and these snacks help with a sound sleep. Taking a combination of complex carbs and proteins helps the body relax and recover overnight. Less stress means less cortisol and hence less belly fat
Snack for me means sweet, what should I choose?
Try naturally sweet foods like fruits or prepare some homemade sweets with fresh ingredients. Besan ladoo- 20 gms, made with jaggery will provide protein, unprocessed sugar, and some fat that adds satiety. The trick is to just have one small piece.
I would like to end by saying that weight loss means a negative energy balance that promotes health. It is not about deleting, it is about adding healthy choices.
Stay safe stay healthy!
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