There should be no shame in your snacking game. That's because a recent study by The NPD Group found that 83 percent of Americans snack, and those with the healthiest lifestyles are also the ones who snack most frequently. Score! Below, we chatted with Jessica Levinson, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Nutritioulicious, a nutrition consulting and counseling practice in New York about the benefits of snacking, especially when it comes to managing your weight.
Why is snacking so important?
This is something I’ve talked to clients for years about. Snacking is what really keeps your metabolism going. Think of the analogy of wood in a fire—the more you put in, the more you burn. The same is true with eating. Skipping meals or waiting too long causes your metabolism to slow down, while also putting you at risk for overeating the next time you do sit down to eat.
Does it matter when you snack?
It is a big nutrition myth that the time of day that you eat impacts your weight. If you have a 1,600 calorie allotment for your diet and lifestyle, then what matters more is if you've taken in that many calories or not. Let's say you've consumed 1,400 calories by the time 6:00 p.m. rolls around. Now you only have 200 calories to get you through the rest of the day (taking exercise out of the equation here, which of course gives you some of those calories back). But if you’ve only eaten 1,000 calories by 6:00 p.m. then it doesn’t matter what time you're eating or having a late-night snack, as long as you don’t go past your daily allotment.
How can you keep your snacking portions controlled?
This is a big issue for most people, because it's hard to stop once you start! My biggest tip is to portion out in advance at home. For example, if you like almonds portion out an ounce (23 almonds) into 5 brown bags at the beginning of the week. Then you can grab a bag for your snack every day as you walk out the door. Just bring one bag at a time; if you take the whole stash you'll be more tempted to dig into multiple bags. There are also a ton of companies who make portion controlled snack packs. Justin's Nut Butter is great for baby carrots or a banana or a bag of 100-calorie air popped popcorn is perfect for salt lovers. And of course, fruit! You can't really ever overdo it on fruits and veggies. Fruit especially is a good sweet tooth fix while also quenching your thirst and filling you up since so many have a high water content.
Now tell us: What's your healthy snack go-to?
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