Avoid Snacking Errors If You Want To Lose Weight

It’s hard to beat a great snack. It can be a great pre-or post-workout snack, or a way to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable until your next meal. Snacking isn’t always a win. At its worst, it can halt your healthy progress and sabotage your weight-loss goals.

Experts explain the most common snacking mistakes and how to avoid them.

Avoid Snacking Errors If You Want To Lose Weight - Photo from Zespri
Avoid Snacking Errors If You Want To Lose Weight – Photo from Zespri

 Leaving them out entirely

It’s common to limit snack calories and portions because you think there’s something wrong with raiding the pantry between meals. RD Kristen Peterson of PrimeLife Nutrition disputes this. “Snacking prevents hangers. Plus, eating 4–5 smaller meals throughout the day has been shown to increase weight loss. “

Fix: Instead of low-calorie snacks like carrots or celery sticks, Peterson suggests pairing them with 2 tablespoons of hummus or peanut butter. This filling option is low in calories and should help you avoid overeating later.

Eating snacks when you are not hungry

You are not alone in reaching for something sweet or salty out of boredom. Sometimes it’s the office candy bowl or late-night TV eating, says Melissa Boufounos, a holistic nutritionist. These small bites can add up and hinder your progress.

Fix: Check your hunger before reaching for a snack. According to Boufounos, you should eat when you’re around 7 on a hunger scale of 1–10.

Portion sizes that are incorrect

Boufounos warns that nutrient-dense snacks like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit can be easily over-consumed. Check out these common portion-size errors because it’s still possible to overeat healthy foods.

Fix: Serve yourself nuts and seeds instead of eating them straight from the bag.

A lack of planning

“If you eat a lighter lunch at noon and forget to pack snacks, you’re almost guaranteed to overeat at dinner,” Peterson says.

Fix: Include snack prep in your regular meal prep routine, Peterson says. Keep crackers and cheese or homemade trail mix in the office. “Even if you’re not hungry, it’s better to be prepared.”

Lack of appropriate macros

Protein and fat are both essential macronutrients that help you feel full. “If you eat watermelon at 10 a.m., you’ll be hungry before lunch,” says Peterson. “Eating a fruit or vegetable as a snack can raise your blood sugar, then drop it an hour later, leaving you hungry.”

Fix: Choose fruit snacks that include a healthy fat or protein, like almonds. “This will help you stay fuller longer and avoid overeating at lunch or dinner,” Peterson explains.

Avoidance of fruit

Some people avoid fruit because they believe the natural sugars are harmful to their weight-loss goals. “You lose fiber and so many nutrients,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN. “Fiber promotes satiety, or the feeling of being full, which can help prevent overeating.”

Fix (Avoid Snacking Errors): Newgent suggests eating small amounts of fruit throughout the day to get enough fiber. “One of the easiest ways is to eat a couple of California prunes with every meal. According to her, one cup of prunes (dried plums) contains 3 grams of fiber. Plus, “they can satiate a sweet tooth.”

Carbohydrate intake is excessively restricted.

In response to carbohydrate deprivation, the body releases hormones that increase cravings for the macronutrient, says Rachel Fine, RD. “Our bodies need both carbs for specific metabolic functions,” she explains. Because of this, the body will fight until you can no longer resist and give in to the craving.

Fix: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend carbohydrate intake of 45–65 percent of total calorie intake. Because our bodies are all unique, there is no one-size-fits-all carbohydrate recommendation. Concentrate on whole grains (like oats or brown rice), starchy vegetables (like squash or potatoes), and legumes (like lentils or beans).

Selecting calorie-dense snacks

“Eating high-calorie snacks adds up,” says Boufonos. Many people overeat nuts and seeds (think: store-bought trail mix), which are high in energy and easy to overeat. Your goal is to eat snacks throughout the day to keep hunger at bay without gaining weight.

Fix: Instead of eating high-calorie snacks like nuts and seeds right out of the bag, Boufonos advises. Remember to eat whole foods whenever possible, avoiding packaged foods that may contain hidden calories, sodium, or sugar.

Eating snacks while distracted

To Avoid Snacking ErrorsMindful eating is important, especially when you’re snacking. You can easily overeat if you are mindlessly snacking while writing emails or making phone calls, says Susan Bowerman, RD.

Fix: Savor each bite with all your senses. Remember, you choose your snacks. Set a time for this snack. Focusing on what you’re doing increases enjoyment and awareness of satiety cues and hunger.

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