When you’re trying to trim inches off your waistline, snacking can either make or break your success. But you don’t have to fear reaching for a mid-afternoon bite if the hunger pangs strike. In fact, choosing the right snack can help keep your metabolism revving, your blood sugar levels stable, and prevent overeating during your next meal.
To help you stay on track with your weight loss goals without going hungry—or hangry—we’ve rounded up the best snacking habits to follow. Read on for our must-follow tips and then grab one of The 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss to get munching guilt-free.
Next time you need something to hold you over in between meals, opt for a protein-rich snack such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Why’s that? A University of Missouri-Columbia study discovered that eating high-protein snacks in the afternoon helps improve diet quality and control appetite. Need some more ideas? Take a look at these 25 Best Store-Bought High-Protein Snacks.
Rather than hitting up the vending machine for a bag of Lay’s, prepare ahead and prevent overloading on calories by brown-bagging your snacks. Next time you go grocery shopping, fill up on healthy, portable picks such as turkey jerky, low-sugar yogurt, and nuts. That way, you won’t feel guilty about the snacks you reach for once hunger strikes. You’ll also avoid the prepackaged junk that lands spots on our list of 100 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet.
If you’re craving a quick nosh in between meals, make sure it’s not as caloric as your usual lunch or dinner. We recommend opting for a snack that’s between 100 and 200 calories. Any of these 30 Healthy, 100-Calorie Snacks will help you drop 10 pounds.
RELATED: The 7-day diet that melts your belly fat fast.
Instead of mindlessly munching until you hit the bottom of the bag, pre-portion your snacks in small containers to prevent overeating. For example, almonds may be one of our go-to picks, but it’s almost too easy to chomp past the suggested serving size when you’re hungry. Avoid packing on the pounds by planning ahead and limiting your portions from the get-go.
“Select two raw snacks per day to ensure you’re getting the greatest density of phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins,” advises Dana James CDN, a nutritionist from Food Coach NYC. “Things like in-season fruits, seeds, nuts and fresh vegetable juices fit the bill.” For more expert recommendations, don’t miss these 40 Foods Nutritionists Eat Every Day.
Sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst and end up consuming more calories than needed. A study published in the Physiology & Behavior journal found that participants inappropriately respond to thirst by eating instead of drinking over 60 percent of the time. Cut your chances of consuming extra calories by sipping on a tall glass of water. If you’re still hungry after quenching your thirst, then allow yourself to grab some grub.
A study in the journal Appetite found that eating while distracted can cause you to munch more than you intend to. So next time you reach for a snack, try tuning into your food by tuning out of your favorite TV show. In fact, mindful eating is just one of our 47 Best New Weight Loss Tips of the Year.
“Snacks are not there to distract you from boredom, emotional upsets or because you want to momentarily check out of life. They are there to keep your blood sugar levels stable when your meals have more than five hours between them,” James tells us.