Whether it’s because we’re crazy busy, or because snacking helps with portion and craving control, many people find themselves snacking throughout the day – rather than eating “three square meals.”
This raises the question, is this frequent snacking helpful for weight maintenance or not?
The answer is, it depends.
Snacking Pros and Cons
Done right, ‘smart snacking’ can help curb your appetite and provide nutrients your body needs. Done wrong, snacking can cause weight gain because you end up eating more calories than your body needs.
If you have a hard time limiting yourself to small portions, eating more times per day equals more chances to overeat or binge. If eating more often means eating too much, then you shouldn’t do it.
If you feel slightly hungry, and it’s been more than three hours since you last ate, a small snack may be a good choice. If you’re not sure if you’re hungry, wait 20 minutes and see if you still feel the need to eat.
If you only want to snack on junk foods—that is, an apple or other healthy snack just won’t do—you’re probably experiencing a craving, not true hunger, and snacking could do more harm than good.
Snacking Do and Don’ts
If you decide eating small meals and snacks suits your needs, here are a few dos and don’ts:
If you are paying attention to your body’s signals, examining if / why you are hungry, are adjusting your larger meals accordingly, and are selecting nutritious options, snacking could help you maintain your hard-earned weight loss successes.
Do give our ‘Snacking do and don’ts’ list a try today!
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but lunch often presents the biggest challenge when you’re working on losing or maintaining your weight.
Even if you’re simply trying to make healthier eating choices, lunch out at a café or restaurant can be stressful. Here are some quick tips to make navigating the world of sandwiches and soups simpler and healthier.
If you’re a sucker for a great sandwich, wrap, or burger, ask if you can replace the bread, tortilla, or bun with a lettuce wrap instead. Some lunch spots may even offer a low-carb wrap or a “naked” option—usually meaning your sandwich comes on a bed of lettuce. And if must be said: skip the fries or potato chips. Ask to sub with a veggies or a salad—or forgo the side altogether, and always ask for sauces on the side.
If you love warm, comforting soups, skip anything with “hearty,” “bisque,” or “cream/creamy/cream of” in the title. Legume-based soups like split pea, black-eyed pea, or black bean are high in fiber and plant-based protein, as well as thick and filling—without added flour or heavy cream. For the lowest carb option, look for vegetable soup (no noodles or potatoes), or meat chili. But watch out for “stews,” as they commonly include flour or cornstarch as thickeners.
Salads are often our go-to selection for a “healthy” lunch, but beware! Not all salads are healthy. Always ask for your dressing on the side, skip the croutons or fried wonton strips, and pay attention to other calorie-dense toppings like seeds, nuts, or cheeses. Simple is best when it comes to salad: start with mixed greens or Romaine lettuce, add a lean protein like chicken or grilled fish, and top with veggies. And opt for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and vinegar, a squeeze or lemon, and some salt and pepper to dress your salad.
Lunch can be both healthy and fun! You may be surprised by the variety of options you can find.
Regardless of the restaurant’s cuisine, stick to some guidelines will help you find a filling, healthy option. One quick and easy way to cut the carbs from any meal is to skip starchy side offerings like white rice, potatoes, or corn. Along the same lines, avoid bread, wraps, and tortillas.
Look for protein-based plates with salad, grilled or steamed vegetables, or beans as sides. You can also order your main dish à la carte, but most restaurants are happy to substitute salad or veggies (sometimes with a nominal upcharge).
General Lunch Tips Conclusion
No matter your preference or the restaurant, keep these tips in mind when eating lunch out:
When you’re trying to lose weight, everything you put in your mouth matters—both food and beverages. Many popular beverages, such as coffee drinks, sodas, sports drinks, bottled iced teas, and juices are high in sugar, and a major source of hidden empty calories. For example, a typical 12-ounce non-diet cola contains about 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Cutting these sugary calories out of your diet is a ‘must’ to start losing weight!
So what should you drink?Plain water is always a healthy choice—most people don’t drink enough water, and it has no calories—but it can get a little boring after awhile. You also might want something more festive when you entertain or go out with work mates or friends. In that case, here are some beverage options that won’t derail your weight loss efforts.
Instead of plain H2O, sip infused water. Add slices of lemons or limes to a pitcher of water in your refrigerator. As the citrus fruit sits, it infuses the water with subtle flavor. Cucumbers or mint leaves are also tasty choices.
Hot or iced, as long as it’s unsweetened, tea is great choice of calorie-free beverage. Green tea and black tea (which come from the same plant—the difference is in the processing of the leaves) have been linked with health benefits, and herbal teas come in many flavorful, caffeine-free varieties.
A simple cup of coffee is also a good choice, as long as you have no issues with caffeine. Take it black, or with a little (30 ml | 1 oz.) whole milk.
Thirsty for something bubbly? Choose plain or flavored seltzers and soda waters. This beverage category has exploded in recent years, and there are many flavored waters that are both calorie and sugar-free to choose from. Try coconut to cucumber, just to name just a few. Read labels to be sure your choice has no added sugar. You can also flavor your own plain seltzer with a splash of a water enhancer.
What about nut milks?Many of them contain added sugars or flavorings, and should be avoided. Unsweetened ones can serve as a substitute if you’re lactose intolerant or choose not to drink cow’s milk, but most contain very little protein and don’t have the same nutritional profile as cow’s milk.
What about trendy choices like coconut water, maple water, smoothies or kombucha? While they’re better choices than soda, they all contain calories, carbohydrates, and sugar—and they may not fit in with your healthy weight loss plan. And remember, calories you drink don’t usually keep you feeling as full and satisfied as well as calories you eat.
With so many beverages to choose from, you might not even miss the sodas or juices you used to drink. And while you’re hydrating yourself, you can be assured you’re not undoing the work you’ve put into losing weight.
Protein is the building block of the human body and a crucial part of complete nutrition. Carbohydrates are easy to find or grab off the shelf, but protein-rich foods usually require a bit more preparation. If you struggle with fitting enough protein into your diet, try these on for size:
Where’s the Beef?Not all meats are created equal, and your preferences are shaped by a plethora of variables and past experiences. Just because you didn’t like something in the past doesn’t mean you won’t like it prepared differently now—and if you still don’t, try some other options!
Beef: Beef is a great source of protein, but a diet based solely on beef could lead to high cholesterol and heart problems. Look for lean cuts of steak to pan grill or bar-b-q, pot roasts for slow oven roasting or set and forget slow cooker, and lean ground beef (ideally 90/10, which means 90% lean meat, 10% fat) for browning or making burger patties. The key to fantastic beef is a combination of seasoning and cooking time, so grab a meat thermometer the next time you’re out grocery shopping and avoid guessing when your beef is done.
Wild Game: Wild and organic game really do have distinctive flavors, so they can be an acquired taste. Venison, elk, and bison are all richly flavored, lean alternatives to beef.
Poultry: Over chicken breasts? We understand! Chicken is often touted as an “ideal” protein because it’s lean, but chicken alone gets boring fast. Try roasting turkey drumsticks or breasts, or even a whole bird, in the oven. While duck is higher in fat than either chicken or turkey, it can make a great occasional meal. Wild birds like pheasant and game hens also offer lean not-chicken protein options.
Seafood, shellfish and fish: Seafood is an excellent source of protein, and the variety in texture and flavor mean nearly everyone can find a type of seafood they love. Shellfish tend to be “sweeter,” but can become rubbery if overcooked, so proceed with caution if you decide to host a shrimp or crab boil yourself. If you normally turn up your nose because fish smells or tastes too “fishy,” try branching out to other types of fish and preparation styles. Don’t forget that freshness is the single most important factor in the flavor of any type of seafood, so if you do take a bite that is exceptionally fishy tasting, stop eating!
Protein Plant PowerEven if you aren’t a vegan or vegetarian, don’t ignore the protein offered by plants.
Tofu: Plain tofu offers the most protein bang per serving, and this boring-looking white block can be incredibly versatile. Simply sub for chicken or fish in a recipe, or look for tofu-specific recipes. Tofu can also be used to make dairy-substitute foods, but double-check any off-the-shelf dairy substitutes, as they can be full of added sugars.
Nuts: It probably isn’t news to you that nuts are a great source of plant protein, as well as healthy fat. But not all nuts are created equal: almonds provide the highest protein to fat ratio and little carbohydrates, but walnuts and pistachios are also great options. Opt for raw, or unsalted roasted nuts and stick to the serving size, or substitute nut-flour for all or part of recipes calling for wheat flour.
Legumes: Beans, beans, the wonderful fruit! If you turn up your nose at beans, consider this: legumes are high in both protein and fiber, so they’re exceptionally filling. Beans are also ridiculously versatile. Try pureeing or smashing black or kidney beans as a substitute for sour cream, make homemade hummus with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or swap the flour in your kids’ brownies for pureed black beans (yes, really! – we promise they’ll never notice).
ConclusionGood seasoning is essential for any food, and doubly so for protein. If you’re attempting to cook something new, do a quick search for recipes to get an idea what spices and herbs will pair best. Choose packaged seasoning carefully, as they’re often little more than salt, and can contain hidden sugar. Check recommended cooking times and internal temperatures for meats to ensure you never overcook it again. Subbing plant protein for animal protein is not only healthy, but also good for the earth. If you’re predominantly a meat-eater, try going meat free for one meal or one day a week and play around with plant protein options to find something you look forward to eating.
Ideal Nutrition Center
1602 Lohmans Crossing
Lakeway TX 78734
Ideal Nutrition Center
2410 West Ave N
San Angelo TX 76904