The Importance of Snacking Throughout the Day
When you were a kid, did your mom ever scold you for eating between meals? Her heart may have been in the right place, but it turns out she was wrong: Not only will snacking not spoil your meal, it's also an important part of staying healthy and losing weight.
Snacking Keeps Blood Sugar Balanced
Maintaining a consistent blood sugar level is an incredibly important part of staying healthy. Three to five hours after eating, blood sugar levels take a dive, slowing down our metabolism. When our blood sugar undergoes constant dips and spikes, it increases our chances of developing serious health problems like insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.
One of the best ways to keep your blood sugar steady? Snacking, especially if you eat a consistent amount of carbs.
Snacking Prevents Overeating
We all sometimes get hungry between meals. When we don't slake our hunger with a little snack before mealtime, those hunger pangs are more likely to make us overeat. If you're feeling bad about grabbing a snack a couple of hours before lunch or dinner, don't – instead, grab something rich in carbs like fruit or whole grains, and combine it with nuts, dairy, or other protein-rich foods. Not only do these food contain important nutrients, they're also the most filling.
Snacking Helps Us Lose Weight
It may sound counterintuitive, but snacking is one of the best ways to start losing weight. Specifically, moving from a schedule of a couple of big meals to one with smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day helps us keep our intake and output consistent, and makes it less likely that we'll overeat. The trick is to keep your meals small, and space them out consistently throughout the day.
Snacking Improves Mood and Helps Us Focus
Remember what we said earlier about blood sugar drops and slowed down metabolisms? After your body burns through the food you've ingested, the body reacts by slowing down, which leads to crankiness, tiredness, and an inability to concentrate. Grabbing a snack between meals will keep your energy levels up and prevent the onset of foul moods that affect productivity and make the day seem longer.
A Few Tips for Snacking
Snacking may be good for us, but that doesn't mean that every type of snack is healthy. Candy bars and other sugary snacks should be avoided as much as possible; not only do they pack on the pounds, they also burn up quickly, leaving you more hungry and cranky than you were before you grabbed a snack.
The best in-between meal snacks are ones that are rich in protein and amino acids (cheese, meat, tofu), carbohydrates (fruit, honey, whole grains, vegetables), and/or omega-3 fatty acids (fish, yogurt).
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