Why snack at all? Why isn’t 3 square meals a day enough?
If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease then it’s good to have a nutritionist Northern Beaches. Every time you eat your body performs a complex set of activities to make that food available to you as energy. After the nutrients are absorbed, they are available to all cells in the body and are used by these cells in metabolism. Any nutrients NOT needed by the cells are stored as fat. (Don’t get technical with me here I am simplifying for the sake of brevity.)
If you are in constant motion all day, then it is likely all the food you eat will be needed by your cells at the time you eat it. But are you? In constant motion all day? I didn’t think so.
To keep our basically sedentary lifestyle from making us fat, we are better off to spread our daily calorie allotment throughout the day. NOTE: I didn’t say “add snacks to your daily calorie allotment”. You need to adjust the amount you eat at meals to compensate for the snacks.
Snacks help you get a balanced diet.
People often get busy with work and exercise schedules. They may forget to eat or may not have time for regular meals. Healthy snacks can help supplement the nutrients you need in a day if you don’t get the nutrients you need from your regular diet
Choosing the right snacks can make sure that you get good foods from all of the food groups each day.
Exercise can dull your mealtime appetite
Many people find that exercise makes them less hungry at mealtime. This is another reason to eat snacks, instead of large meals, to get enough calories for your workout. Keeping one or two healthy snack foods with you makes it easy to have enough energy for working out.
Athletes have increased energy demands
Athletes involved in sports or endurance training need to snack to meet their increased energy demands. Carbohydrates (stored as a substance called glycogen in the liver and muscles) are used up during exercise and must be replenished.
What are Smart Snacks?
Well-planned snacks can help most people reach their dietary goals. Smart snacks complement your meals or your diet is the key to snacking. Make sure you eat food from all five food groups during the day.
The five food groups are:
- meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs
- milk, cheese, yogurt.
For example, if all you had for breakfast was a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk and you became hungry at 10:00 a.m., pick a snack from the food groups that you missed. Because you had only two of the five food groups for breakfast, you should pick a snack from one or more of the other three, like fruits, fruit juice, vegetables, peanut butter on celery, apples, or bagels. Because most Americans do not eat enough complex carbohydrates you are usually safe choosing snack foods like whole-grain breads, cereals, bagels, fruits, and vegetables.
Eat energy-rich snacks instead of high fat, high calorie fast foods. The best snack foods are ones that you would usually pick as part of a healthy diet.
Eat foods high in B vitamins. B vitamins play a big role in metabolism. If you don’t have enough B6, B12, folate, thiamin and niacin, you can feel depressed and fatigued and your metabolism will slow. I don’t know about you but depressed, fatigued, with a slow metabolism sounds to me like a recipe for gaining weight.
Foods high in the B vitamins include: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, fish, poultry, eggs, beans (navy, soy, black beans) and melon.
Eat foods high in Magnesium. Magnesium is needed by every cell in your body and is used in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Like the B vitamins, it is used in protein synthesis and energy metabolism. The National Institutes of Health reports that most Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diets for optimal nutrition.
Excellent sources of magnesium include: green vegetables such as spinach, legumes such as black-eyed peas and lentils, halibut, nuts such as almonds, cashews and peanuts, soybeans (edamame), whole-grain cereals and oatmeal.
How do I pack a healthy snack to eat away from home?
This is a challenge for many of us. The hard truth is that to be successful you need to plan ahead. When possible, choose snacks that can be at room temperature all day without spoiling. This is especially important if you are going to be away from home or a without a way to keep food cold.
- Rice cakes
- Apples, banana
- Protein bars (luna, pria, balance, etc)
- Handful of trail mix/nuts/seeds
- (Add peanut butter for protein.)
Keep the following snacks cold or eat them within two hours of leaving home. Bacteria can grow in them which can make you sick if they are not chilled after being out of the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Milk and dairy products.
- Pudding and custard.
- Meat, fish, and poultry.
- Salads or sandwiches with mayonnaise or salad dressing.
- Fresh squeezed juice or fresh fruit smoothies.
The key is to develop habits of excellence. The fuel you put into your body has a lot to do with your energy during the day.
If you are starting to be convinced but still not sure exactly what to do, I’ll give you some exact strategies for how to incorporate snacks into your healthy meal plan. Offer any strategies to help your weight reduce.
Ilana Katz has a Masters Degree in Metabolism and Nutrition, is The Sport Factory’s head nutritionist, has worked with many local celebrities, and is the founder of the nutrition program: Metabolic Boost. You may hear Ilana on the “Bert” radio show (Q100) as well as “Dave FM” in Atlanta. Stay up-to-date with her strategies at http://www.twitter.com/ilanakatz
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