6 Snacks You're Eating Wrong
13 Ways You're Snacking Wrong
Most people snack for an energy boost that temporarily fends off hunger between meals. But choose the wrong snack foods, and you could end up with even worse hunger pangs and less energy than you started with. To avoid the trickery, lay off these sneaky snacks and replace them with smarter options:
1. Instead of candy, eat unsalted nuts.
While sweets contain plenty of calories, they're made up of simple sugars that your body burns through almost immediately. (It's why you could really go for a sandwich after housing a couple handfuls of gummy bears.) "Eating a combination of high-quality protein, fat, and fiber is absolutely the best way to kill cravings, give you great satisfaction, and an energy boost," says Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., a physician and the author ofBody for Life for Women. Try a handful of unsalted nuts instead. (And add some fresh berries to the mix if your sweet tooth is out of control.)
2. Instead of fruit-flavored yogurt, eat low-fat Greek yogurt with honey.
While there are many healthy options with lots of protein and little added sugar, many brands fall short with highly processed recipes containing loads of sugar and very little protein. (Any container in which the majority of carbs come from sugar — just check gram counts listed on the nutrition facts — or has syrupy fruit at the bottom likely falls into this category, according to Dr. Peeke.) If you want to go for yogurt, try plain Greek and sweeten it with stevia or a drizzle of raw honey, Dr. Peeke suggests.
3. Instead of fruit juice, eat real fruit with low-fat cheese.
Another thing: Some research suggests that drinking calories is less satisfying than eating them and that drinking calorie-laden beverages can mess up your body's ability to regulate the calories you eat. Opt for whole fruit instead, and add some low-fat cheese to add some satisfying protein and fat to the mix.
4. Instead of a water-based smoothie, drink a thicker one made with yogurt.
5. Instead of potato chips, eat air-popped popcorn with parmesan cheese.
6. Instead of rice cakes, eat whole-grain toast with avocado.
These low-cal, crunchy snacks fall short in a couple of ways: They're void of fat, a nutrient that delays stomach emptying so you feel satisfied for longer. And they're made up of refined carbs, which your body processes too quickly to derive sustainable energy. Go for whole-grain toast with smashed avocado, which contains fiber and healthy fats that are enormously satisfying.
8. Instead of diet soda, opt for sparkling water with actual food (like fruit).
9. Instead of any old cereal with almond milk, eat high-fiber cereal with cow's milk.
The problem here is two-fold: First, so many cereals are highly processed, loaded with sugar, and low in filling fiber. Second: Nut milks tend to contain very little protein. Choose a whole-grain cereal with at least a few grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar, and fill your bowl with low-fat cow's milk (or lactose-free cow's milk) for some satisfying protein.
10. Instead of cupcakes, eat a whole-grain English muffin with nut butter.
This should come as no surprise: The cupcakes that magically appear in the office kitchen at the tail end of your lunch food coma are F-U-L-L of sugar. Underneath all the icing, light, fluffy cake is made up of refined carbs (white flour) that can lead to a rapid blood sugar spikes and subsequent crash that gives new meaning to afternoon slump. Opt for a fiber-full whole-grain English muffin or whole-wheat toast, and top it with nut butter to hit the spot and actually fend off hunger.
11. Instead of dried fruit, eat real fruit with low-fat cheese.
Raisins, in particular, have an alarmingly high glycemic load, which means one serving spikes your blood sugar quite quickly, particularly compared to whole fruit, which contains the whole package: carbs with filling fiber in a more substantial serving size. Add low-fat cheese or nuts for extra protein.
12. Instead of an instant oatmeal packet, eat steel-cut oatmeal.
Unlike whole oats (complex carbs that provide a sustained release of energy), your body burns through the sugar-laced instant stuff at a lightening pace. (Instant oatmeal has a relatively high glycemic load — especially for a food that is supposed to be fairly healthy.)
13. Instead of leftover Chinese food, eat brown-rice sushi.
If you're left with a carton of white rice and the dregs of some sauce-drenched dish that may contain MSG, indulge at your own risk. When your body digests the rice in T-minus two minutes, you'll be left with the effects of MSG, a common flavoring used in some Asian cuisines: Some research suggests the additive makes it difficult to register fullness immediately after eating. So you'll keep going until you empty the carton, then continue foraging through your fridge. A brown rice California roll, which is full of healthy fats and fiber, is a way better option.
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