To snack or not to snack? Facts, myths & my go-to options.
The market has been exploding with snack foods. From dried fruit, mini pretzels, popcorn, jerky, chips & hummus packs, trail mixes, various bars, to protein shakes, there are more choices now than ever before.
We've been told for years that if we don't eat every couple of hours our metabolism will slow down and when metabolism is slow we can't lose weight. And everybody wants to lose weight, right?
We've also been told that if we don't eat for a long period of time, we will go into starvation mode.
Enter SNACKING & snack foods conveniently available everywhere you go (from pharmacies to gas stations) - the 'perfect' solution for metabolism slowdown and starvation mode.
The food and fitness industry hit a jackpot.
According to statista.com revenue in the Snack Food segment amounts to $63,860m in 2018. Biggest producers of snacks foods in the US: Hershey's and PepsiCo - such health-promoting companies.
But let me ask you three simple questions.
1. Assuming that the starvation theory is true, can you be in starvation mode and have extra body fat at the same time?
2. If the snacking really increases your metabolism, shouldn't we be getting leaner, not fatter as a result?
3. What's is the fastest way to put on body weight: eat all the time, or not to eat all the time?
Take a look at these stats:
Source: The state of obesity. Better policies for healthier America. www. stateofobesity.org
I will let you think about that for a second.
The reality is that as humans we have been designed to go through periods of fasting, and periods of sometimes excessive eating, but this constant access to unlimited amounts of food is new and very dangerous for our health.
I'm sure you've figured it out by now that I'm not a fan of snacking. Additionally I strongly believe that reducing the number of times we eat during the day is fundamental in losing fat and keeping it off.
My problem with snacking?
1. Snack foods are designed to taste good therefore they tend to be addictive. I got hooked on Quest bars when they just came out. I couldn't stop eating them until I got severe stomach issues (from eating them too often) and pulled back completely.
2. Most snack foods are super processed (thus lack in nutritional value). They are also smaller in size but more calorie dense than whole foods. Therefore you get a lot less satiety for the same amount of calories.
3. Due to their size snacks never quite fill the stomach (stomach has stretch receptors that signal to the brain that we are full) so again we often end up hungrier than before.
4. Snacking between meals stimulate an additional release of insulin (one of the main fat storage hormones). In plain language insulin is like miracle grow for fat cells. With age we become more and more insulin resistant so reducing snacking as we age becomes a priority.
One of the main things that has made the biggest difference (in fat loss) for dozens of my clients is by far reduction in snacking.
OK Monika, I get all of this, but what if I really, really need a snack?
What if I want to snack on something healthy because I'm hungry and it's still 2 hours till dinner time?
What if I haven't had any food in over 4 hours and there is no meal in sight?
What if I'm running around the whole day and have no time to sit down?
Ideally for the biggest bang for your buck you would want every snack to be a combo of protein, little bit of healthy fats and fiber rich carbs (such as fruits, veggies, other complex carbs) for the best satiety and the lowest amount of calories.
How does that look like in real life? Here are my favorite snack options divided between
'ON THE GO' (no refrigeration required)
'IN THE HOUSE' (when fridge is available)
MY FAVORITE ON THE GO SNACKS
Free range (nitrate-free) turkey stick
My new favorite thing that I carry everywhere with me in my purse. You can get them at Trader Joe's for $1.69 each. 70 calories, no sugar, 10 g protein, 2 g fat. That's a score in my book.
It can be consumed on its own but for more satiety I recommend that you combine it with veggies, small serving of fruit, a cheese stick or even a small bag of plain popcorn (to get you some carbs and crunch).
1 oz DIY trail mix + turkey stick
This picture below shows snacks that I took with me to the MET knowing that this actually will be my lunch. So I had 1 oz of trail mix that I made at home (mix of unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with 10 raisins), turkey stick and a protein bar. I never ate the bar because I wasn't hungry anymore so I saved it for later.
Garden of Life weight loss bar (buy HERE)
This is one of my favorite bars on the market. I always carry one in my purse for emergencies. There are many more options on the market, and I'm discussing them in this article.
Protein shake such as KOIA
I like these shakes more than some other brands because they don't have any sugar alcohols (which tend to cause GI problems such as bloating in a lot of people).
Epic bar + fruit (buy here)
There are many kinds and flavors of this savory, meat based bar but before you buy, check the sodium and added sugar content in the back label. They can go pretty high depending on the kind of meat and flavoring used.
MY FAVORITE IN THE HOUSE SNACKS:
4-6 oz plain organic greek yogurt + 1/2 cup of fruit + 0.5 oz seeds/nuts
1 cup cottage cheese + 1/2 cup fruit + 0.5 oz nuts/seeds
2 Hard boiled eggs w/veggies
2-4 nitrate free turkey slices w/veggies
4-6 oz plain organic greek yogurt or cottage cheese w/ chopped fresh herbs + TJ's bagel seasoning + veggies
Homemade protein smoothie (protein powder or greek yogurt, 2-3 handfuls of dark greens, 1 piece of fruit, water)
Cheese stick w/ veggies
Cheese stick wrapped in 2-3 turkey slices w/veggies
Hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to shoot me an email HERE.