People who attain and sustain fat loss and fast metabolism stick to protein shakes and meals consisting of lean protein, healthy fats, lots of leafy greens and cruciferous veggies, and high-fiber starches like legumes.
Most lean people I know rarely snack. They have a 400 – 600 calorie protein shake for breakfast and then substantial meals every day. Because they have balanced blood sugar levels, they don’t experience between-meal hunger or cravings.
A lot of controversy exists about snacking. You might have a trainer who told you to eat every two or three hours. Likewise, you probably have a friend who noshes throughout the day and looks fabulous.
I’ve based my opinion on over 25 years working with fat loss and weight loss resistance clients. Here are five reasons I say to make snacking an exception rather than the norm:
- Snacking raises insulin levels. Whenever you eat, you raise insulin, a hormone that does a really good job of storing fat. The more often you eat, the more you store fat. “If you snack just as your insulin blood level is decreasing, it will promptly rise, even if you have a good snack such as fruit and nuts,” says Eduardo Castro, M.D., a specialist in fat-loss resistance syndrome.
- Snacking can trigger food intolerances. Shoveling food into your mouth all day doesn’t give your digestive system a break, potentially leading to leaky gut, inflammation, and an immune reaction. Plus the more often you eat, the more likely a highly reactive ingredient can slip into your food and wreak havoc.
- Snacks rack up calories. Every time you grab a few handfuls of raw almonds or apple slices with almond butter, you’re racking up a few hundred (or more) extra calories. Unfortunately, I see people still eating the same amount of calories during their meals.
- You’re snacking for all the wrong reasons. Rather than genuine hunger, boredom, stress, and other emotions often contribute to your snack habit. For instance, after a big dinner with your girlfriends, you’re home watching Sex and the City reruns and realize there’s a jar of almond butter in the fridge. Even though you’re not hungry, you instinctively head into the kitchen during a commercial. Oftentimes a glass of water can curb hunger pangs, but more often you snack out of habit or emotion, not hunger.
- Late-night snackers store more calories. You know the scenario: you ate healthy all day, so you justify that half-eaten pint of Ben & Jerry’s by rationalizing how it fits into your daily caloric allotment. A study in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology showed young females who snack at nighttime prevent fat breakdown and increase their obesity risks. This makes sense on a practical level: those calories must go somewhere, and unless you’re doing sprints while sleepwalking (not recommended, by the way), chances are they’ll land on your midsection.
When You Snack, Snack Smartly
Maybe you want to avoid the buttery popcorn at movie night but still want something to munch on. Or maybe lunch didn’t tide you over effectively. Sometimes you’re going to snack. Just snack out of genuine hunger, don’t make it a daily habit, and choose the best fat-burning foods. My favorites include:
• Apple slices with almond butter
• Kale chips with hummus
• Raw nuts and seeds
• Plant-based (but not soy) protein with berries, kale, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk
• Celery with cashew butter
• Sliced natural turkey with avocado