Weight loss: Experts golden rules when it comes to healthy snacking to lose weight

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Snacking, when eating unhealthy foods, can result in a large number of calories being consumed throughout the day. Eating unhealthy snacks like junk food is not going to help with weight loss progress but there are ways to consume the foods you love without having to go without. 

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Harley Street nutritionist, Kim Pearson shared her top rules when it comes to snacking.

The expert explained that main meals should be structured around protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables or salad.

She added: “We tend to base our meals around starchy carbohydrate foods like cereal, bread, pasta and rice but this is likely to lead to blood sugar fluctuations and snack cravings between meals. 

“If you’re doing this and you still feel genuinely hungry between meals, find yourself a healthy snack.”

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Kim’s healthy snack options include olives, unroasted nuts, guacamole with carrot or celery sticks as well as Huel or KetoHana bars.

The expert explained that foods like unsalted nuts contain essential nutrients like magnesium, Vitamin E and potassium and make for a great satisfying snack.

Foods like guacamole with carrots or celery sticks are a great nutrient dense snack that is rich in healthy fats to help you stay fuller for longer.

What are Kim’s golden rules when it comes to snacking?

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Firstly, the nutritionist says to only eat when you’re truly hungry.

She said: “Many of us have found ourselves snacking for reasons other than hunger. Boredom, stress and snacking as a reward after a long day are all common. 

“Next time you consider reaching for a snack take a moment to ask yourself if you’re trying hungry. If you find that you aren’t, food is not the answer. 

“There are many ways to counteract non-hunger eating, I recommend keeping a food diary noting down everything you eat along with how you feel each time you eat. 

“This can help identify reoccurring triggers for snacking such as lack of sleep, stress or boredom. Once you have a deeper understanding of your triggers, you can find healthier ways to meet those needs, like working on a better sleep routine or getting out for a walk to reduce stress or beat boredom, rather than turning to food.”

Those looking to shed a few pounds or to look to snack healthier, the expert recommends staying away from sugary foods. 

Kim added: “Snacks that are high in sugar or based on starchy carbohydrates aren’t likely to keep us satisfied for long. Instead of reaching for a piece of toast or a biscuit, find a snack that has a higher protein or health or healthy fat content. 

“Good examples include a small handful of unroasted nuts, a small pot of plain coconut yoghurt, or some olives. These will be more likely to fill you up and keep you satisfied for longer.”

As well as staying away from sugary snacks, constant grazing could hinder weight loss.

The expert explained the difference between a snack and constantly reaching for food.

She said: “We’ve all been there, whether it’s picking at the children’s leftovers or grazing on that open packet of Percy Pigs on your desk. 

“If you feel hungry, find yourself a healthy snack, eat it mindfully and then stop once it’s finished. There is a difference between having a snack and constant grazing. 

“Remember that if you’re trying to lose weight, constantly supplying your body with food means it will be using that for energy and won’t turn to using up your stored fat reserves.”

Watching portion size is also extremely important when trying to lose weight because it allows you to have a tight grip on how many calories you are consuming.

Kim added: “It’s important for us to view snacks as small refuels. They are designed to ‘tide us over’ until our next meal, not be a whole extra meal in themselves. 

You may assume that just because a snack is healthy that eating it in large amounts is fine. In doing this you could find your snack turning into an entire dinner’s worth of calories in a matter of handfuls. 

“I recommend preparing a reasonably sized portion of your snack and eating it from a bowl or plate, rather than straight from the packet where it’s easier to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.”

When it comes to picking a snack, there are many foods that should be avoided. 

The nutritionist said: “Food manufacturers often words like ‘natural’ or ‘one of your five a day’ to market their products and lead us to believe they are a healthy snack option. In reality this is not always the case and these products can end up containing a high amount of sugar. 

“Even those that declare ‘no added sugar’ can be hiding a considerable amount as a result of using dates and other high sugar fruits in the ingredients.”

Kim recommends checking the nutritional information on the back to see how much sugar the snack contains.

Snacking throughout the day can help to satisfy cravings as well as helping to keep a diet non-restrictive. 

However having too many snacks laying around should also be avoided.

The expert continued: “Are you someone who finds themselves mindlessly tucking into a packet of biscuits because someone left them out on the counter? 

“Or reaching for that open bag of crisps on the table? One of the best ways to avoid doing this is to keep treat foods out of sight, so you aren’t seeing or thinking about them regularly.

“Even better – don’t buy them at all and swap your less healthy snacks for some of my recommendations below. There are many delicious, healthy snack options available nowadays, meaning you don’t have to choose between healthy and tasty.”

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