These days, snacking gets a bad rap. The very word is often associated with overeating and generates pictures of Twinkies, cupcakes, and cookies. Yet snacking is actually an integral part of a healthy diet. Most Americans eat three huge meals a day, and spend the time in between snacking on junk food.
Meals, in fact, should be just large enough to satisfy your appetite and should be more frequent than three times a day. Most nutritionists recommend six meals a day. They recommend the three conventional ones and three smaller “snack” portions.
These snacks should be healthy and full of enough protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you from being hungry. Some great snack options are discussed below, but before you go out and purchase anything remember that the trick to proper snacking is portion size.
Nuts, Seeds and Legumes
On paper, nuts seeds and legumes may look like they aren’t all that good for you. Almonds, for example, contain 14g of fat per serving. Yet on closer inspection, you will find that only one gram of this is saturated, and the rest is monounsaturated and the very healthy polyunsaturated.
Additionally, an ounce of almonds contains 3g of dietary fiber and 6g of protein. They are perfect at filling you up and are one of the healthiest snacks that you can eat. What more could you ask?
One of the main benefits of snacking on items such as pistachios is that the meal is also an activity. Because it takes time to shell each nut individually, your body will have much more time to tell your brain that it is full and you are less likely to over consume.
These days, your choices when it comes to yogurt are practically limitless. There are fruit at the bottom, fruit mixed in, granola crunch, and even drinkable types. Low fat yogurt is a great source of protein and can also contain high amounts of fiber. Yogurt also contains calcium and other vitamins that make it one of the best snacks available.
Be careful, however, as not all types are equal. There are yogurt varieties that contain either high amounts of fat or astronomical levels of simple sugars. Go for a low fat type that is high in protein. Greek strained and all natural are two excellent varieties.
No we are not talking about the sugar bombs that are available for purchase in the mall food court, but rather a homemade version that will allow you to mix and match the ingredients of your choice. A smoothie can literally be comprised of anything. Use low fat milk and yogurt as a base, add ice for texture, and the rest is up to you. Some recommendations are fruit for nutritional value, protein powder for an extra punch, and oatmeal for texture and fiber.
Even better, smoothies can be consumed on the go perhaps making them the ideal snack. You can create a large batch and then store the leftovers in the refrigerator. You’ll have a nutritious and delicious supply of snacks for days.