Are you a snacker? Do you find yourself getting hungry between meals? Do you eat 3 heavy meals a day, or 5-6 smaller meals? Many people prefer eating 5-6 smaller meals – having 3 focused meals, and 2 “snacks” – and find this helps them to control both their hunger and weight.
Calories and macros needed for the day are determined upon your daily energy expenditure with workouts, goals for weight loss/weight gain, and overall outcome, and snacks for the day need to be included within this.
Myth: The easy part is the frequent meals; the hard part is keeping them small. Truth: Whilst it sounds great to get to eat more frequently, that doesn’t always match up with people’s work schedules, and they think that they can eat the same amount at each meal, which is incorrect.
The Benefits of Snacking
When you begin eating 5-6 meals a day, you will realize that you are constantly eating, and become constantly full, making it easier for your meals to only be 200-300 calories at each time. You’ll also find that you aren’t walking away from the table with a stomach-ache from overeating at 3 meals per day. It’s better to feel content all day long rather than being stuffed after lunch and feel the urge to take a nap!
When your body is constantly eating, your body is constantly digesting, burning calories, and fueling your metabolism, plus eating smaller, more frequent meals can help stabilize your blood glucose levels. Small meals contain less glucose than bigger meals and cause blood sugar to increase at a much slower rate. This fact makes eating smalls meals especially helpful for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
Plan and Prepare Snacks
It is important to plan and prepare for your goals. If you’re really dedicated, you will find the time to eat 5-6 times a day, even if you have a busy, demanding job. It only takes a few seconds to sneak to the break room and grab your package of almonds or quickly eat 2oz of chicken. Everything just depends how badly you want it, and how hard you are willing to work for it!
The key is to keep healthy snacks on hand. The best way to avoid eating food that you shouldn’t eat is to not keep it around, this is for the same reason that you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry- you buy things that “look good.”
It’s convenient to buy snacks that are already in serving size packets or prep them into portion sized baggies when you get home from shopping; this stops you from over eating and eating more than one serving size.
One serving of almonds is approximately 25 almonds, but if you had the bag in front of you, you might eat the full bag, which is why pre-packaging them for yourself to prevent mindless eating works as when the small baggie is empty – you have to stop! Choosing higher protein snacks like almonds will also ensure that you stay fuller, longer, and curb hunger pangs.
Packaging snacks into 100 and 200 calorie servings leaves the option to choose from two of them to pair together. It is also a great idea and time saver to pre-package things for shakes, and put them in the freezer. That way you aren’t wasting spinach/kale by it getting brown in the fridge, and everything is frozen when you’re ready to make your shake so it is extra cold and you don’t have to add ice!
Optimal Snacking Choices
Think of food as fuel. Think of it as what your body needs to function throughout the day. What will make it the happiest?
½ cup carrots
– low fat string cheese
– ½ cup greek yogurt
– 2 hard boiled eggs
– ½ cup low fat cottage cheese
– protein shake
– 1oz almonds
– ½ cup grapes, blueberries, or any low-sugar fruit
– protein bar/protein cookie
– 1 cup sliced bell peppers
– lunch meat roll
– 1 ozjerkey
– 1/2 apple with peanut butter
– 2-3 oz lean meat
“Every time you eat or drink you are either feeding disease, or fighting it.”
This quote is very powerful – it really puts your food choices into perspective. You begin to think about what you put into your mouth, and if it is going to positively or negatively affect you.
Remember that those cookies might be a quick and easy snack, but they only taste good for the 1-2 minutes that you’re eating them, and it takes 30min running on the treadmill to burn them off. Having snacks prepared in reasonable portions means you will never have to panic-buy cookies when you’re feeling hungry mid-afternoon!