It’s the beginning of a new year and many people are working on resolutions to eat better and lose weight. The first thought is that eating less will help them lose weight.
But did you know that eating often, i.e. snacking between meals, actually helps with weight loss? This is because eating often regulates your blood sugar, which can help stave off unwanted fat storage and cravings.
Here’s how it works.
If you go too long without eating (over 3-5 hours, depending on your current health and diet), your blood sugar falls and your body believes it’s starving. You may feel dizzy, nauseous, anxious, tired or may experience headaches, vision changes and mood swings. Starvation is stressful—as you’d imagine—so your body responds by releasing hormones.
You look like you gotta eat, bro
First, these hormones break down energy stores to raise blood sugar quickly. Second, they convert what you next eat into fat and store it for later “starvation” periods. Storing nutrients in fat cells deprives the rest of your body cells of fuel, making you feel sluggish and crave carbs and sugar.
If not eating often enough leads to weight gain and cravings, it’s key to snack throughout the day, before you feel “hangry,” tired or spacey. It’s easy to do this if you always keep healthy snacks on hand.
What makes a healthy snack?
A healthy snack has a mix of protein, fat and fiber. Fat and fiber slow digestion, keeping your blood sugar stable and your energy sustained. While carbohydrates may seem satisfying, they’re digested rapidly, so try to pair them with fat and fiber.
For fiber: nuts, dates and cacao nibs. For fat and protein: nuts.
Here are some examples:
Green apple with almond butter
Chia seed pudding – coconut/almond milk, chia seeds, berries
Flax crackers with cheese
Carrot sticks with guacamole
Unwrapp’d Nutrition Bar Dough — stay tuned on IG for our Healthy Swaps posts!
Sources: Rolfes, S. R., Pinna, K. & Whitney, E. (2009). Understanding normal and clinical nutrition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Taubes, G. (2010). Why we get fat. New York: Anchor Books.