Note: This is a guest post from Trina Cleary of Growing Raw
It may seem counter-intuitive to think that if you want to lose weight then you should snack more.
Sure, if your snack choices are Twinkies and a pint of Caramel Haagen-Daaz ice cream, you will probably pack on the pounds in no time. But by adding healthy snack options to your diet regimen, you can actually lose more weight if you do snack than if you don’t.
Reason #1: Healthy Snacking Curbs the Possibility of Binging
If you are focused on telling yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t eat, it seems to backfire and you may find that you begin to obsess over food. This makes dieting way more difficult and complicated than it has to be, and increases your chances of breaking down and binging to try to fill a void that you think you have created.
Healthful snacking helps to keep you feeling full all day. When food choices are presented at mealtime, you can make decisions driven more by what makes sense for your weight loss goals than by what your grumbling and frustrated stomach tells you.
Always keep healthy snacks on hand, in the office, in your car, or in your bag to make sure that you have an intelligent option ready for when hunger strikes. Dried fruit, almonds, a rice cake spread with a little nut butter, or veggies and hummus make easy, filling, and healthy options.
Reason #2: Snacking Keeps You Emotionally at Peace
Your friends and family may be able to tell exactly when you begin a diet, because you may be cranky or short tempered.
The purpose of a diet is to get you to a place of better health, and if you trade physical pounds for anxiety or frustration, you are not doing yourself much of a favor. By allowing yourself to snack, you will feel less hungry and deprived, so overall your system can relax.
Also, a diet that includes conscientious snacking is more likely to last the test of time than a rigid, unforgiving diet, so is better overall for any long-term weight loss plan.
Reason #3: Snacking Boosts Your Metabolism
Any time that you quickly reduce the number of calories that you are giving your body, it gets smart and reacts by thinking that there may be an impending famine. Your body doesn’t know that you just want to lose 5 pounds to fit into a new pair of pants! Its priority is much more important – to protect you from starvation.
What it then does to protect you is to lower your metabolism to make sure that it keeps crucial weight on for your survival, and to make sure that it gets the most out of every calorie that you ingest.
By snacking throughout the day, your body relaxes and knows that impending starvation is not near, and it maintains a high metabolism which can help you burn fat.
Snacks that help to keep metabolism high are those that include seaweeds, which support the metabolism-regulating thyroid gland. Think seaweeds drizzled with a little olive oil and topped with toasted sesame seeds, or a few pieces of veggie sushi filled with carrot and ginger.
Reason #4: Snacking is an Opportunity to Get Important Vitamins and Minerals
Your body’s ability to maintain a well-functioning metabolism and to burn calories for energy instead of storing them as fat depends on a sensitive balance of chemical reactions within your system.
If you are lacking certain enzymes or minerals, even if you are consuming fewer calories your body may not be able to burn them as energy, or it may decide to break down muscle tissue instead of fat. It is not impossible, but it is difficult to get everything that your body needs within a couple of meals a day.
By snacking, you have more opportunities to introduce a wider variety of foods into your diet daily, and you stand a much better chance of giving your body everything that it needs to support your weight loss efforts.
So the next time that you go on a diet, make sure that you give yourself the flexibility to snack. You can eat more, feel better emotionally and end up losing more weight in the long run!
Trina Cleary is learning about growing and eating healthy food while she cares for her preschool aged kids at home. She publishes her discoveries at Growing Raw, a healthy eating guide dedicated to all those who want to build healthy eating habits but need to take it one step at a time.
Photo by Alan Cleaver