Snacking gets a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss, and it really shouldn’t. In reality, it’s something that’s not only good for you, but it can help you meet your goals. There’s a right way and a wrong way to approach it, though, so it’s important to know the difference.
The following are some of the most common snacking mistakes and tips for healthy eating throughout the day. You may not even realize you’re doing some of them, but they could be keeping you from your weight loss goals.
1. You eat more of snacks that are “healthy.”
Forgoing French fries, potato chips, or candy bars in favor of something healthier is a great decision. Rewarding yourself by eating larger portions of that healthier option is not. Whether you’re recovering from an intense strength training session or trying to keep the mid-afternoon slump at bay, foods like nuts, jerky, or cheese are great picks. They can berelatively high in calories, though, and those can add up quickly.
2. The snacks you’re choosing aren’t satisfying you.
A snack is only going to help you if it takes the edge off of your hunger and stabilizes your blood sugar. Reaching for something that’s just rich in protein isn’t going to satisfy you as well as something that brings fiber and complex carbs to the table as well.
Instead of reaching for a piece of jerky or string cheese by itself, add something else to help round things out. Try also eating a small serving of nuts, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables.
3. You break for a snack whether or not you’re hungry.
If you snack solely out of habit, you could easily sabotage your weight loss efforts no matter how wise your choices in food may be. Snacking should be treated as a tool to alleviate hunger and hold yourself over until your next meal.
That said, it’s fine to schedule yourself a snack break as part of a healthy, solid diet plan. Don’t force yourself to have a snack if you’re not hungry, though. Also, if you find you’re hungry before your scheduled snack break, eat right then instead of waiting until you’re ravenous. That could easily lead to overeating.
4. You’re eating too much either pre- or post-workout.
Of course, you want to make sure you’re properly fueled before you hit the weight room or your cardio session. The same goes for recovering after you’re done. You just don’twant that heavy gym session to trick you into overdoing things.
The majority of dieticians recommend pre-workout meals and workout recovery snacks that are within the 100-250 calorie range. This is especially the case if you’re talking about a low-intensity workout. Keep in mind that this is only a rule of thumb, though. If you’re truly hungry, you can eat more. You should always snack according to what’s right for your unique system.
5. Your snacks aren’t nutritious enough.
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s only natural to place a lot of emphasis on the calorie count for your snack choice. You also need to make sure you’re taking nutritional content into consideration, as well.
The goal is to provide your body with the right nutrients at the right times. If you’re getting ready to go do some cardio (or have just finished), you need the energy that carbs are going to give you. All about the weight room today, instead? You’ll need more protein to help your muscles meet the demand of the workout and repair themselves afterward.
6. You eat straight out of the package.
One of the biggest snacking mistakes people make, over and over again, is eating straight out of the bag. This makes it impossible to keep an accurate track about how much you’re really consuming.
Instead, portion out your nuts, pretzels, or dried fruit before you start eating. They’ll be just as satisfying—but without the risk of overdoing it. Your waistline will thank you for it, too.