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?
More from FITNESS: Healthy Food Awards: The Best Snacks from the Store
You’re just one month out from the New Year’s Resolutions you set. And if you’re like many people, fat loss was at the top of that resolution list.
But can you guess the average amount of calories an American consumes while snacking during the Superbowl?
About 1,200. This doesn’t include meals or drinks. (!)
So what can you do? Swear off all the wings, guac, chips, and beer while cheering for your favorite team? That’s certainly not realistic…so let’s instead share some options that would be better. Try these snacks this year:
1. In-Shell Pistachios – Yes, pistachios are high in fat, but it’s super-healthy fat. With all the other food options around, in-shell pistachios can help you slow down because it takes time to remove that shell and you won’t be mindlessly munching. Adding to this snack strategy: Keep a bowl in sight that has the shells that were removed – seeing how much you’ve already had might just curb how much you eat during the game. (FYI, we’re personal fans of the Wonderful Pistachio Sweet Chili flavor.)
2. Pizza! Kashi now makes frozen pizzas that are great (and less expensive than what you’d pay from a traditional pizza chain!). The BBQ Recipe Chicken pizza is a really good, unique, and may very well appeal to those guests who would normally crave wings instead.
3. White Bean Dip – A strong-flavored dip is a great trick because it makes you feel satiated, it won’t break the bank in terms of calories, and you can pair it with heathier chips. (We’re partial to the Food Should Taste Good brand.) But back to the dip… here’s a recipe from Food Network’s Giada De Laurentilis that’s a big hit in our house.
-Chris and Kara Mohr, mohrresults.com
Written by Jennifer Fiorentino, editorial intern
If you’re looking to tackle your Monday night football snack lineup, we have just what you need (minus the shoulder pads). PopChips, along with Iron Chef America and Chopped star Aaron Sanchez, have teamed up to give you a new fall recipe perfect to pair with a crisp, fall beer. What could scream “football season” more?
“These cemita sandwiches are my version of the classic sub, full of flavor and healthy goodness,” Sanchez says. “By grilling the chicken and using nutrient-rich avocado instead of mayonnaise, we take out some of the unnecessary fats. Salsa Tortilla PopChips are the perfect complement – their sweet and salty flavors enhance the smoky heat of the sandwich.” We guarantee these won’t make it to half time.
Grilled Chicken Cemitas and Garlic-Chipotle Love Sauce with Salsa Tortilla PopChips
210 calories per sandwich
For the Cemitas:
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 ripe avocado
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 Cemita rolls (or hamburger rolls with sesame seeds)
- Olive oil
- 1 cup refried beans, warmed
- 8 oz. oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 tomato, sliced
- Thinly sliced lettuce
- Fresh cilantro leaves
For the Garlic-Chipotle Love Sauce:
- 1 cup canola oil
- 12 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp. canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Not every food in the center aisles of the supermarket is bad for you. Here are some great kid-friendly, nutritious picks (and homemade swaps if time permits). — iVillage
- Gaga, ooh, la, la! Here’s how to get a booty like pop music’s first Lady. — Fit Sugar
- Try one of these five fun workouts if you’re new to working out or wanting to get your sweat mojo back. — Fitnessista
- A reasonable, doable action plan for when your jeans are feeling a bit too snug. — Meals and Miles
- So what if you’re not on the ranch? Steal motivation tricks straight from The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper. — L.A. Times
- Pick a power snack to get more out of your mini-meals. — Q by Equinox
Don’t you ever wish you could take a peek in the pantry or gym of the fitness and diet pros you see on TV to see if they really practice what they preach? We do too! That’s why we asked Jillian Michaels, celebrity personal trainer, author, motivational expert and soon-to-be mom(!), to share her top snack picks that keep her energy high on even the busiest of days.
“These snacks are quick, easy and they all taste good. Plus they’re preservative-free, contain no trans fats, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners,” Michaels says.
- Hummus and veggie sticks.“This is an incredibly healthy snack that’s filling and tasty,” she says. The protein from the chickpeas in the hummus and the fiber from the veggies will keep you satisfied.
- One hard-boiled egg and one piece of fruit. This combo offers an ideal proportion of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates.
- Barbecue or sweet potato popchips. “A serving of popchips is packed with flavor and a great savory, salty crunch,” Michaels raves, and the 100-calorie bags are handy for on-the-go eating.
- Ciao Bella sorbet. Perfect “for when your sweet tooth kicks in,” she says, and it’s all-natural.
- 22 Days Protein Bars. “These bars taste amazing! Mocha Mantra is my favorite flavor,” Michaels explains. She loves that they use hemp protein, “which is great for you.”
More from FITNESS:
Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern
Football season is in full swing and the playoffs are just around the corner! Tailgating and mid-game snacks are a must at viewing parties, but it’s all too easy to grab handful after handful of greasy potato and tortilla chips (not too mention the high-calorie dips they often come with—onion, nacho cheese, etc.).
Luckily, we stumbled upon a new, more vitamin-packed option that will still cure your chip cravings. Food Should Taste Good’s kettle cooked sweet potato chips are 100 percent all natural and are gluten-free, so you can bust them out at a party and still accommodate people’s dietary restrictions. Bonus: One serving—15 original flavored chips at 150 calories—provides 175 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and three grams of fiber!
Besides original, three other varieties are available:
- Salt & Pepper Sweet Potato
- Barbeque Sweet Potato
- Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato
Since there’s no better combination than chips and (guilt-free) dip, so we asked Food Should Taste Good’s Chef Ryan for an easy, light and flavorful dip recipe. Here’s his recommended pairing for the original flavored chip:
Fig & Goat Cheese Puree
Yield: 6 cups
Serves 12 to 15
- 10 ounces, dried Calimyrna figs
- 22 ounces goat cheese
- 16 ounces sour cream
- ½ cup honey
- Cut stems off figs and place in food processor, process until well chopped.
- Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Serve chilled.
Now tell us: What’s your favorite game day snack?
“Just like in store environments, the season is really busy for people,” says Dr. Josh Riff, Target’s chief medical director. So for that reason, he has cart loads of advice to share with shoppers and co-workers to stay healthy while still enjoying the fun that comes along only once a year. If you make smart choices during your everyday routine, you have more room to splurge when celebration time arrives, Riff adds.
Here are his three top prescriptions for everyday and party day, so when 2012 rolls around you’ll have little resolving to do!
- Rest up. “Get at least seven hours of sleep. It decreases levels of stress and cortisol, a stress hormone. You’ll feel so much better the next day if you make sleep a priority.”
- Practice stealth health. “‘Moving’ is more important that ‘exercise.’ Host a walking meeting at work rather than sitting, or find fun family activities that are active, such as dancing or throwing a ball.”
- Save your treats. “Pick one place, like at work or at the mall, and only eat food that you’ve made or brought. Pack snacks like apples, real fruit strips and granola bars to avoid grabbing a cookie every time you pass the platter at work or dessert shop at the mall. I also save calories by bringing my lunch to work Monday through Thursday, then treat myself to a cafeteria meal on Fridays.”
Party Day Rx…
- Sneak in nutritious treats. “I make simple substitutions to transform typically indulgent recipes to more diet-friendly versions. For example, I add blueberries to chocolate cookies or muffins to add antioxidants and swap in sweet potatoes for white.
- Share the gift of health. “The right gear can make fitness more fun. This year, I’m loving C9 athletic wear, Polar heart rate monitors and Gaiam yoga mats to motivate my loved ones. I also put together wellness-minded gift baskets, including freeze-dried fruit, a bottle of red wine and dark chocolate.”
- Pick your pleasure. “There are no bad foods; there’s moderation. One piece of cake is great—six pieces, not so good. Fill one plate with the foods you will really enjoy and nurse that throughout the party.”
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Now tell us: When the ever-present cookies are calling your name for the fifth time today, how do you avoid temptation?
At 5 a.m., the alarm rings and starts an “intense morning” for Jenna Lee, a co-anchor of FOX News Channel’s Happening Now (which airs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET). She reads up on the news that happened overnight to prepare for the live broadcast and live interviews to come. Then after the show, Lee squeezes in a workout, answers emails and researches for the next day and future projects. News is 24/7!
So how does the youngest anchor in cable news, who’s also a newlywed, fit everything in with her busy schedule while staying healthy and happy? We discussed just that with Lee earlier this week.
Was fitness always a passion of yours?
My dad retired from the NFL in 1981, right after I was born. I was always on teams—including playing on my older brother’s baseball team—taking dance, acrobatics or swimming. It’s a habit I’ve kept up with.
What is your favorite way to stay in shape today?
I used to be a big runner, but a varied schedule and varied workouts go well together. I like to do something new and different every day, whether that means hitting the gym, taking a spin or yoga class or doing interval running on the treadmill. And I found I feel better when I add in strength training.
Do you have any specific classes that you love?
I really enjoy Spin classes with weights, like FlyBarre, because you can get a great workout in 45 minutes. Music Yoga Flow at Exhale is also great because it’s set to pop music and is light on chanting and heavy on the flow of poses.
For more from Lee about cooking and staying in shape with her significant other, click below.
By Maggie Badore for DietsInReview.com
Granola has become synonymous with healthy eating, so many granola bars and cereal bars enjoy this same health halo. However, it doesn’t take a lot of label reading to uncover the fact that many cereal bars are too high in sugar to be considered a nutritious choice.
But are all cereal bars out when it comes to grabbing a quick breakfast or snack? This round of Food Fight compares some of the most popular products and some general guidelines for what to look for in a bar.
“It’s important to read the ingredients list to see that a whole grain like oats is listed first,” says Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips. She recommends avoiding cereal bars that have sugar listed in the top three or four ingredients. “You may have to consider the granola bar as a little bit of a treat, since it likely provides at least a few grams of added sugar as well. Aliases for added sugar include corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, and/or syrup.”
As a general rule of thumb, Zied says you should look for bars that have 100 to 150 calories, fewer than 10 grams of sugar, fewer than two grams of saturated fat, no trans fat and at least three grams of fiber.
Cereal Bar Breakdowns:
- Example Flavor: Honey Nut
- Per Bar: 90 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 6 grams sugar, 1 gram protein, 3 grams fiber
- Example Flavor: Oats & Chocolate
- Per Bar: 140 calories, 2 grams saturated fat, 10 grams sugar, 2 grams protein, 9 grams fiber
Health Valley Organic
- Example Flavor: Apple Cobbler
- Per Bar: 130 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 16 grams sugar, 2 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
Quaker Fruit & Oatmeal Fiber & Omega-3
- Example Flavor: Dark Chocolate Chunk
- Per Bar: 150 calories, 2 grams saturated fat, 7 grams sugar, 2 grams protein, 9 grams fiber
- Example Flavor: Strawberry
- Per Bar: 120 calories, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 11 grams sugar, 2 grams protein, 3 grams fiber
Winner: Special K
The Special K cereal bars win out for being the lowest in sugar and also in calories, and they also contain as much protein as the other competitors compared here.
Runner Up: Fiber One
You would think that fiber would be a major nutrient in a cereal bar, however Fiber One is the only bar that really has a serious serving. Keep in mind that the American Dietetic Association recommends that you eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that cereal bars and granola bars are a highly processed food with additives you should avoid. For meal-replacement diets, like Nutrisystem, they are a staple. They may be a good source of quick energy when you’re going on a long hike or running long distances, but someone who’s looking to lose weight may do better to snack on fresh fruit or veggies for a biggest dose of nutrients and more filling fiber.
More from Diets in Review:
We love sharing your success stories in our “I Did It” column each month, and we also adore spreading the news about our favorite fit bloggers. Brittany Mullins, creator of Eating Bird Food, is the perfect fusion of both of these concepts—she revamped her diet and lost 20 pounds during college! Today, the marketing professional-by-day, social media maven-by-night maintains that healthy lifestyle by running, doing yoga, strength training and eating local and natural foods.
My favorite way to work out: Going to the gym to get in a good strength training or cardio session before work. An early morning workout makes it easier to stick with healthy habits throughout the remainder of the day and I love that the gym isn’t super busy at that time.
My gym bag must-haves: iPod, ear buds, printed out exercises, magazines and my heart rate monitor.
My favorite fit snack: Naked Trail Mix: a homemade blend of raw (unsalted) almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins, dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips/carob chips.
5 things I can’t live without:
- Isaac, my boyfriend of almost seven years
- My family
- Olive, our three-year-old Yorkie that still looks like a puppy
- Exercise—sweating once a day keeps me sane
- My computer. I’m addicted!
My biggest indulgence: Ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.