Snacks can be both a friend and foe to your weight loss strategy. Snacking impacts people differently based on factors such as your body mass, caloric needs, the kind of snacks you choose, blood sugar balance, the number of hours between meals, and when you eat. These dynamics influence whether snacking can support your weight loss or health goals.
Some people do it mindfully to fuel their day or further their fitness goals. Some people do it mindlessly, packing on extra calories and ruining their appetites. Some people are disciplined intermittent fasters and only snack on the rarest of occasions. But most people do it all — an apple or banana here and there, nothing at all on some days, and maybe also some of those cookies in the (pre-pandemic) break room or a stress-eaten bag of chips.
Everyone snacks. The question is, what kind of snacker do you want to be?
Snacking And Weight Loss: What You Need to Know
Whatever you decide, make sure your snacks work for you. Snacks can be both helpful and hurtful for someone trying to lose weight. By focusing on the right kind of snack and being intentional about when and how often you eat them, you can fold them into a weight loss strategy.
If you’re trying to lower your body fat percentage, snacks can be an effective way to fight the hunger and fatigue that may come with a change in diet. But it’s important to stick to low-calorie snacks like fruits and vegetables, preferably timed between your longest stretch between meals, like the gap between lunch and dinner.
Done this way, snacking can actually help prevent overeating. Many people go seven-to-eight hours between lunch and dinner, finding themselves ravenous by their final meal of the day. A sensible afternoon snack can help you fight the need to go over the top with a big dinner. But, if a low-calorie snack really isn’t tiding you over till dinner, you can also try pushing up your supper. The point is to try to limit big calorie binges, so you’re not exceeding your caloric needs for weight loss.
Snacking Can Be Beneficial
Snacking can also be helpful when spikes and drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia) cause fatigue, dizziness, nausea, or lightheadedness. But rather than grab a cup of pudding, or a handful of gummy bears, stick to snack with a low glycemic index — something with protein and carbohydrates that can normalize your blood sugar rather than send it zooming in the other direction. Nuts are the classic example here, but berries, carrot sticks, Greek yogurt, even an egg can all get you back on track. Experimenting with different snacks and noting how you feel can help teach you what your body needs to avoid these uncomfortable symptoms.
Now, intermittent fasters would tell you that it’s important to give your body time between meals to rest and repair. Digestion actually requires quite a bit of energy; giving your digestive tract a break allows it to perform a cellular detox known as autophagy. Many intermittent fasters shoot for the benefits of long fasts to reach this phase — but the body needs time to adapt to this kind of regimen and regulate blood sugar to handle long fasts.
Make Snacking Work For You
The real danger of snacking is doing it mindlessly: not paying attention to what you eat, how much you eat, and how often. Other factors such as stress levels, social cues, emotional states can also impact your snacking behavior, in addition to inadequate meals.
If you do snack, pay attention to those portions! Try a high-quality snack with about 200-300kcals. Always look at the nutrition label for portion size and calories (or look them up easily online). If you’re going to eat in front of the TV (it happens), do it with intention: portion your snacks.
Low-nutrition, calorie-dense food like chips, candy, cake, and ice cream are delicious — but they can lead to insulin spikes. Opt for whole food snacks with low sugar, healthy fats, protein, and around five grams of fiber.
Try macadamia nuts, tuna with flax crackers, avocado with high fiber bread, hummus, and crudites, or a protein-rich smoothie with psyllium husk.
Snacking thoughtfully doesn’t end once you eat something, though. Tune into your body. Observe how long each snack sustains you. Are you hungry again after an hour? Was that snack satisfying? Did you end up eating a lighter dinner?
Paying attention to how you feel after snacking is the key to making it work for you and your weight loss goals.
Need some healthy snacking inspiration? Here are some delicious and wholesome FitOn PRO snack options to help keep you feeling full and nourished between meals.
Need some healthy snacking inspiration? Here are some delicious and wholesome snack options to help keep you feeling full and nourished between meals. P.S. they’re simple to prep and require just a few simple ingredients!
Healthy Hummus Cucumber Bites
- 1 large cucumber, sliced
- ½ cup hummus of choice (such as plain, red pepper, or white bean)
- Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Step #1: Wash the cucumber, then cut it into ½ inch slices.
Step #2: Top each slice with hummus, then add toppings of choice (such as cherry parsley, cherry tomatoes, olives, and any seasoning of choice
Mixed Berry Greek Yogurt Rice Cakes
- 2 rice cakes of choice (such as quinoa or brown rice cakes)
- ¼ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, unsweetened
- 1 tbsp almonds, chopped
- ½ cup fresh mixed berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
- 1-2 tsp honey
- dash of cinnamon
Step #1: Evenly spread the Greek yogurt on each rice cake, then top with mixed berries, chopped almonds, honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Brownie Chip Energy Bites
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- ½ cup almonds
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- 1 tbsp of chia seeds
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Dairy-free chocolate chips, optional
Step #1: In a food processor, pulse the almonds until they’re roughly ground. Then, add the dates, cocoa powder, rolled oats, chia seeds, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Pulse until well combined and the mixture forms a dough.
Step #2: Once a dough forms, add optional chocolate chips. Pulse several times until well mixed.
Step #3: Using your hands, form the dough into small balls (about 1-2 tablespoons each).
Step #4: Store the energy bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Sweet Cinnamon Berry & Cottage Cheese Bowl
- 1 cup cottage cheese, (low-fat or full-fat)
- ¾ cup mixed berries, (such as blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries)
- 1 tbsp almonds, chopped or slivered
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Drizzle of honey
- ½ tsp vanilla extract, optional
Step #1: In a small bowl, add the cottage cheese and optional vanilla extract. Stir until well mixed, then add the toppings. Top with mixed berries, slivered almonds, cinnamon, and a drizzle of raw honey.
Step #2: Serve and enjoy!
Dairy-Free Almond Flour Banana Bread Muffins
- 3 spotty bananas
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch flaky sea salt
- Almond butter, to serve
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- Sliced banana
Step #1: Preheat oven to 350°F, then line a muffin tin with liners.
Step #2: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, eggs, melted coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup until everything is well combined.
Step #3: Add the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Mix together until the batter is smooth.
Step #4: Fold in optional add-ins, such as chocolate chips, sliced banana, or walnuts.
Step #5: Next, a spoon or scoop, evenly scoop the batter into the lined muffin tins (about ½-¾ full).
Step #6: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and cooked through. To test, insert a toothpick into the center and ensure it comes out clean.
Step #7: Allow muffins to cool. Option to serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or drizzle of nut butter.
Step #8: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Healthy Veggie & Egg Muffin Cups
- 12 eggs
- ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk, optional
- 1 cup sweet bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), diced
- ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup of chopped baby spinach
- ½ cup yellow onion, diced
- ½ cup shredded cheese (or dairy-free alternative), optional
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cooking spray
Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Then, coat the muffin tin. Spray with cooking spray (alternatively, option to coat with oil or use muffin liners). Set aside.
Step #2: In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil or cooking spray over medium-heat. Add the bell pepper and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes or until soft and fragrant. Add the spinach and garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Step #3: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk, and spices of choice. Then, stir in the veggie mixture. Option to add the shredded cheese and any other mix-ins, such as salsa, hot sauce, or tomatoes.
Step #3: Pour the mixture evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
With Snacking, There’s No One-Size-Fits-All
There’s no perfect snack for everyone — there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Like so many aspects of nutrition, there are multiple variables at play. And if you still have difficulty finding healthy snacks, speak to a Registered Dietitian for ideas on how to do it thoughtfully.