Can Snacking Help You Lose Weight?

October 13, 2014

We love our snacks! So much so that a new Nielsen survey found Americans are increasingly snacking as a meal alternative.

Our fast-paced society is a big contributor to the $374 billion snacking industry. Hectic work schedules can lead to grabbing a granola bar on the go for breakfast or reaching for the snack cabinet between meetings for lunch. And we still love to snack while logging couch time???64 percent of Americans say they snack to improve mood.

When it comes to weight loss, snacking isn???t necessarily a bad thing. A healthy snack can give you a boost of energy, provide your body with essential nutrients, and keep you satisfied until your next meal, which will help you avoid overeating.

On the flip side, the line can get blurry when it comes to defining a snack. Many people consider a smoothie a snack, for example, but if it clocks in at 400 calories, it really is a meal. Weight loss is a numbers game???fewer calories in, more calories out. And if you???re opting for a 400-calorie snack at 3 p.m., and then another full meal come 7 p.m., it???s unlikely the scale will tip in the right direction.

A healthy snack should clock in around 200 calories and include fiber and protein to keep you satisfied until your next meal. A handful of almonds, carrots dipped in hummus, or an apple and peanut butter are excellent healthy snacking choices.

The survey indicated our heads are in the right place. We are opting for snacks with minimal ingredients, with fresh fruit being the most popular snacking choice around the world. This means we are trying to steer clear of processed foods, which contain additives that can contribute to weight gain and other health issues. Salty foods like crackers, rice cakes, and pita chips hold the top spot of snacking sales in North America, but there is still demand for wholesome, healthy foods like yogurt and fresh fruit.

The bottom line is to listen to your body. The clock should not tell you when you eat. If your stomach is growling, it???s probably time to fuel up with a healthy snack.

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