13 Healthy Snacking Strategies
To Lose Weight
Choose high-satiety snacks. Swap calorie-dense crackers and cookies for foods with fewer calories per gram. "That way you can eat larger portions, which will take up more space in your stomach and make you feel fuller," says Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (HarperTorch, 2003). Seek out snacks that are full of water and fiber, like raw vegetables with a few tablespoons of hummus, broth-based soups, and fruits like oranges, apples, and pears.
Retrain your brain. The bigger a snack serving looks, the fuller you're likely to feel after eating it. "It's easy to trick your senses into believing you've had more," says Rolls, who suggests "fluffy" foods like a foamy latte or well-blended low-calorie smoothie (mix one cup of skim milk with one-half cup of canned pineapple and one-half teaspoon of coconut extract). Foods that have irregular shapes -- air-popped popcorn, salads, and high-fiber cereals -- also give you the impression that you're getting more because they don't pack down neatly in a bowl.
Pump up the protein. Calorie for calorie, protein is a lot more satisfying than carbohydrates alone. "It isn't broken down as quickly as carbs, so it holds you over longer," says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. Limit saturated fat by opting for lean protein sources: low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, sliced deli turkey. To calculate the number of grams you need each day, multiply your body weight by 0.4.
Fight fat with dairy. Research shows that dieters who ate three yogurt servings a day (1,100 milligrams of calcium) for 12 weeks lost 22 percent more weight and 61 percent more fat than those who got 500 milligrams of the mineral. "Compounds in dairy foods work with calcium to increase enzymes that stimulate fat breakdown and decrease enzymes that cause fat production," explains Michael Zemel, PhD, author of The Calcium Key (John Wiley & Sons, 2003). Snacks such as low-fat yogurt, skim milk, and string cheese will help you meet the daily requirement of 1,000 milligrams.
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