Snacking is not necessarily unhealthy and it certainly does not mean you’ll put on weight doing so. If you make the right choice eating healthy snacks then you’re on the right path. Many of you may have asked, what can I eat and not gain weight, you mean to ask what SNACKS don’t make you gain weight. don’t you? My daughter actually asked this question so here is the answer for you and her…
But Really, Is Snacking Good For You
As with any topic of discussion, there are always mixed opinions. Snacking used to get a bad rap but has changed in recent years. It could be the marketing gimmick of some snack foods companies promoting their products as “healthy snacks”. This could be true but let’s not judge now, not until you’ve read this post to the end.
Let’s start off with 5 examples of so-called healthy snacks that are NOT actually healthy.
1. Roasted Nuts
When you walk down the snacks aisle at the supermarket, you’ll notice there are many roasted and flavoured nuts in attractive packaging calling you, “Hey, I’m healthy roasted almonds”. Well, generally, nuts are nutritious and a great snack option only if you choose the unsalted versions.
Furthermore, have you looked at the ingredients in roasted nuts? … salt, vegetable oil, … Most probably, oil is used to fry the nuts, and they’re not roasted as claimed. This is definitely not healthy. When buying yours always look out for “dry-roasted nuts”.
A combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and chocolates baked with sweeteners. Often branded as healthy snacks, commercial granolas are usually loaded with unhealthy refined sugar and oil. Not to mention the preservatives and flavourings.
Do you know exactly what natural flavourings is? Natural flavour or flavouring is listed in the ingredients list and you may think it is made from natural ingredients.
Protein bars and energy bars are similar to granola and how much protein are you getting from a bar? Most probably you get to eat more calories than protein, not forgetting the artificial ingredients and fillers.
3. Low-fat Flavoured Yoghurt
I get it, not all people fancy plain yoghurt. Flavourings are manufactured and how healthy can they be. The added sweeteners and preservatives in the flavourings do more harm.
In addition, low-fat may seem healthy but do you know many types of low-fat or nonfat are as high in sugar as desserts. This is because food doesn’t taste good when the fat has been removed. Hence, lots of sugar is added to compensate.
You may want to add fresh fruits and/or healthy nuts to plain yoghurt to get natural flavour, taste and texture.
4. Trail Mix
The combination of ingredients is very similar to granola but trail mix is “healthy” because it isn’t baked with sweeteners. Is that true? It is healthy if you choose trail mix that’s made up of unsalted nuts and seeds, unsweetened dried fruits, and without add-ins for example chocolate chunks or M&M’s.
Another unhealthy factor is snacking on trail mix you’ll end up eating more than you should without realising. Portion control is important here.
5. Baked Potato Chips
Baked chips are often marketed as healthy snacks, at least healthier than the deep-fried variety. While these don’t contain as much fat and calories as the fried version, it does not mean healthy because you need to look at the sodium content as well as other unpronounceable ingredients.
Additionally, baked chips are highly processed and so low in fat that you can eat large quantities and hardly feel full.
So, Why is Snacking Good
Snacking refers to eating between regular main meals and snacks can be all kinds of foods, most often different from those of your main meals.
Hunger is the main reason you need a snack. However, do you realise you’ll snack anyway when you see tantalising food around? And that’s even when you’re not hungry. Would you agree with me temptation win over hunger?
Wipe the guilt away and let’s find out why snacking can be healthy.
Healthy snacking is possible only when it’s done correctly.
Besides eating a snack to fill your hungry stomach, here are 5 reasons why snacking can be good for you.
1. Prevent overeating at mealtimes
You probably get hungry if there is a long break before your next main meal. Therefore, you’ll possibly make up for it by overeating at your next meal. A healthy snack at appropriate times breaks the long stretch between meals.
On a separate note, most people tend to have a heavy dinner because it is, well the most relaxing time of the day. Or maybe, you tend to hold back a little or control eating during the day and when it comes to dinner time, “reward” yourself with a big portion. A mid or late afternoon snack can help you cut down the portion size.
2. Prevent sluggishness
Do you ever feel sluggish mid-afternoon? I do. Eating frequent meals helps keep your blood sugar more stable throughout the day. The steadier your sugar levels, the more energy you have, the more you move, and the more calories you burn. Hence, healthy snacking can help maintain your physical as well as mental energy.
3. Help reduce calorie intake
Having a snack does not necessarily mean you’re adding calories on top of your meals. Well-planned main meals inclusive of healthy snacks can help reduce your daily calories intake. This leads to the next point.
4. Help include more healthy foods
Once you’re used to meal planning, you’ll automatically work more healthy foods into your daily diet. On top of that, the more frequent you eat, you’ll have more servings of healthy foods. Also, increase opportunities to introduce a variety of foods rich in essential nutrients.
5 Help replenish stored energy and speed up muscle recovery
This is especially for you who are workout enthusiasts. The right healthy snacks before and after exercise can help boost your results. They give you the energy to power through that workout routine and when you’re done, the right snacks can help you rebuild muscle.
Snacking is Not Healthy When
You need to pay attention to your healthy snacking habits because they can turn bad when you’re eating high-calorie snack foods such as chips, cookies and doughnuts. These will make you gain weight and offer you only minimal nutritional value if any.
Stressed, tired, angry or bored? Reach for a snack! Is this you? I tend to do this and it’s unhealthy, I know. Proper control of this bad habit is needed. If you’re snacking for reasons other than being hungry, that’s wrong and bad.
What is the Best Snacks for Weight Loss
You’re on a diet, yes? I’m sure you like to know what’s the best snack foods to eat and not gain weight. So, here there are
1. Trail Mix
I know. It was mentioned early in this post, trail mix is not healthy as claimed. But that’s when you pick up the wrong ones. Avoid those made up of salted nuts and comes with chocolates and dried fruits.
Actually, I like to have some dried fruits included, not much but just enough to have a bit of sweetness to go with plain nuts. Raisin or sultanas, dried cranberries and apricots are my preferences. However, when building my own trail mix, I’ll only use one of them to avoid eating too many dried fruits.
You can easily build your own trail mix. Read more about it here.
2. Nuts and Seeds
If trail mix is a hassle for you to make, simply snack on your favourite nuts. Choose one or two from a range of healthy nuts or seeds. They could be almonds, walnuts, cashews or pumpkin seeds. These give you filling fibre to keep you full longer and they’re a good source of protein and healthy fats.
A reminder to you not to choose salted ones. I understand they’re tastier. That’s the reason why I dry-roast my own almonds and cashews with a light pinch of Himalayan pink salt. If store-bought, you can actually see the salt and that’s a no-no.
Separately, if you like a drink instead of snack food, chia seeds water can be a good choice. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fibre and can help control weight gain.
If you’re interested in reading the health benefits of these nuts and seeds, I have the articles on me Nuttylog.
3. Dark Chocolate
You want the feel-good factor, don’t you? What beats a richly satisfying snack?
Dark chocolate with almonds is a perfect pairing.
Dark chocolate contains less sugar and in other ways benefit your health too. They’re loaded with flavanols that may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies showed dark chocolate may reduce cravings and promote feelings of fullness, which may help support weight loss.
A group of 12 women who participated in a 60-minute study session came to the conclusion that eating dark chocolate combined with its smell reduced levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger and shown decreased appetite.
In another study, 16 people felt more satiated, less hungry, and had lower ratings of food cravings after eating dark chocolate than after the milk chocolate.
So, are you going for dark chocolate as a snack? Yes. Always choose above 70% cocoa and take a closer look at the ingredients, the shorter it is, the better.
My go-to is Ritter Sport 74% Intense Dark Chocolate. This is made with only 3 ingredients. If you’re interested, take a look ↓
Surprised to see oatmeal on this list? Oatmeal is not only for breakfast. A small bowl of oatmeal makes a deliciously hearty, filling snack.
Oats give you complex carbohydrates which takes longer to break down and digest in your body. Hence, energy is slowly released and gives you prolonged energy between meals if not throughout the day.
Additionally, oats contain a good amount of resistant starch. This is good for weight loss because resistant starch has fewer calories than regular starch.
Does overnight oats sound good to you? Chilled oatmeals are very refreshing I must say. I’m a warm person and used to think cold oatmeal is unpleasant. So wrong.
Overnight oats typically last for up to 5 days in the fridge. So, you can prepare it in advance and eat it as a snack during the day. Portion accordingly when you’re prepping and set them in the fridge. When it’s time to snack, dig in. Of course, you can add toppings such as fresh fruits together with nuts and seeds if you like to.
For a detailed how-to prepare overnight oats, read here.
5. A Piece of Fruit
Healthy snacks don’t need to be complicated. A piece of fruit is all you need. Go back to Nature.
Easy-to-eat and carry along fruits such as bananas, apples and pears are healthy choices.
Other Healthy Snacks Ideas
The above-mentioned snacks ideas are pretty straightforward and don’t need much preparation. Should you have more time to spend on food prep, there are many sweet or savoury healthy choices such as smoothie bowls, granola bars or energy balls, egg cups and healthy wraps. The list is endless and I found Fit Foodie Finds has a list of interesting recipes.
What’s a Healthy Snack. How Do You Define.
Common store-bought snack foods are normally high in calories, fats, sugar and sodium. That’s what makes them unhealthy. For that reason, you want to steer clear of them and choose snacks that provide a good mix of protein and healthy carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are digested first thus satisfy your hunger straight away and protein takes longer to break down providing you prolonged energy.
Now, if you’re not sure how to determine a snack healthy when buying yours, follow this handy guide.
Calories. Between 150-200 calories per serving. This amount of calories will fill you up but not exceed the total daily calories taking into consideration other meals of the day.
Fibre. At least 3g fibre per serving. This amount will fill you up and keep your blood sugar stable.
Protein. At least 3g protein per serving. Together with fibre, this fills you up and prevent overeating during the main meals. It is also good for your metabolism.
Sugar. Not more than 8g of added sugar per serving. Sugar promotes weight gain and you certainly don’t want this when you’re on a diet. Sugar comes in different names and there are over 50 of them including dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose and so on. For me, any names that end with “…ose” aren’t good. So, you need to read the food labels carefully.
Sodium. Not more than 140mg sodium per serving. Sodium retains water, therefore, may reflect as “extra” pounds on your weighing scale. Overall, sodium is unhealthy though your body needs it in relatively small amounts.
Last but not least, avoid any snacks with a long list of ingredients on the label, particularly those you can’t pronounce.
Reading food labels is a good habit to have and should be made part of your grocery shopping to-do.
In a Nutshell
Snacking isn’t entirely bad for you. You may need it when there’s a long stretch between your meals. Hunger may cause sluggishness and can lead to health problems.
One that I know of and experienced is the acid build-up and leads to gastritis, sharp pain in the upper abdomen. I have had that in my younger years when I knew nothing of proper eating. Older and wiser now, with a routine that’s frequent enough to avoid hunger while I can eat and not gain weight, I’m out of that situation.
The best snacks for weight loss are those that fill you up just enough to last till your next meal. I hope the guideline above is useful to you in your search for healthy snacks. Always remember to read the food label even though you’re buying simple snacks like roasted nuts or trail mix.
If you’re in Malaysia, where I’m at, the sidewalk food snacks can be tempting and easily bought, plus there’s no way you can find out what the calories and other contents are. In this case, it’s best to avoid fried and oily foodstuffs and sugary ones. But then, honestly, I sneak them into my diet once in a while. Best to avoid but not totally 😉
Anyway, as I used to say, moderation is the key to healthy living. Snacks, when eaten right will not make you gain weight.
So, is snacking good for you? Would you start snacking on nuts? Or a bowl of oatmeal? It may seem odd but a healthy choice. Tell us in the comments section below or share your healthy snacks ideas.
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Now, Let’s Get Started:
For US Readers, shop on Amazon. There are plenty of choices to choose from.
I found these for you. Take a look ↓
This individual Trail Mix snack packs ensure you don’t over munch on them.
For you, the chocoholic. Take a closer look at this on-the-go dark chocolate oven roasted almonds. Only 100 calories per pack.
Unsalted premium nuts without artificial flavours.
Oatmeal as a snack food, try it. Comes in individual pouches, this gives you 130 calories per pack.
You may like to read more
Happy shopping and thanks for reading.
Me YourHealthy Corner – Healthy Snacking is Possible
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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.