Whenever 3:30/4:00 pm rolls around, the one thing I can count on is my stomach to start grumbling. Before I was really successful with losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle, I used to think that eating as little as possible was the ultimate secret to losing weight. I would have a light lunch and then try to pretend I wasn’t hungry for an afternoon snack and resist eating as much as possible. But then, I couldn’t stand it anymore and would eat everything in sight and inevitably end up ravenous. Obviously, I was wrong.
Once I came to terms with the fact that snacking between meals could actually a good thing and could help stabilize my blood sugar, as well as keep me from becoming ravenous, I started experimenting with different snacks to see what would work best. When I was following Weight Watchers, I would try to find the lowest point snacks possible so that I wasn’t taking away too many points from what I could have at my meals. I would often have veggies, a piece of fruit, or plain popcorn. While all these are good for you and good for snacks, they wouldn’t fill me up at all and I would find my body screaming for something else not long after I was done. Eating several low point things would add up to eating just one 3-4 point snack that actually kept me satisfied for a few hours.
I found that the trick to finding a satisfying snack that would actually hold me over until dinner was to combine protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
Veggies or fruit are a great start, but I had to pair them with something so that it would actually keep me full for a few hours. Having a carbohydrate-rich food with a protein chaser or healthy fat helps keep your blood sugar elevated and keeps you satisfied for longer. Carbs give you an immediate source of energy that powers your brain. Fat slows the digestion of the carbohydrate, causing it to slowly absorb into the bloodstream so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike. Protein helps keep you full for longer and helps maintain your blood sugar level.
- Fruit (apple, berries, banana)
- Rice Cakes
- Whole Grain Crackers
- Wasa Crackers
- English Muffin
- Whole Wheat or Rye Bread
- Granola (but be careful with serving size on this one)
- Nut Butters
- Low-Fat/Fat-Free Milk
- Non-fat/lowfat yogurt
- Cottage Cheese
- Sliced Cheese
- String Cheese
- Mashed Avocado
- Laughing Cow Cheese
So the best snacks are ones that are something from the carbohydrates list paired with something from the protein/healthy fat list.
Some good combo ideas are:
- Whole Grain Cereal with Low-Fat Milk
- Nut Butter with rice cakes, celery, apple, or banana
- Hummus and baby carrots
- String Cheese and Fruit
- Nonfat yogurt with granola
- crackers and hummus
- cottage cheese and berries
- handful of nuts or almonds
- laughing cow cheese and apple
- slice of cheese and cherry tomatoes
- mashed avocado on whole grain bread
- Cottage Cheese on Wasa Crackers
Are you a snacker? What is your favorite, most satisfying snack? I know some people don’t need an afternoon snack, but I really do. If I don’t have one I end up SO hungry by the time I get home around 5:30/5:45 I’ve barely dropped my purse before I’m elbow deep in my cupboard grabbing anything and everything I can get my hands on!