Snacking for Health and Fitness

GRANOLA BARThe very word “snacking” conjures up images of gorging on fatty, sugary food. In contrast, when we think of “grazing” we imagine healthy eating practices and abstemious diets. Yet the two concepts share much. In fact, snacking may not be such a bad thing. It’s how we go about it. The devil is in the detail.

A 2011 Norwegian study has found that there is no link to snack eating and overall calorie consumption. In fact, it may be that eating more regularly means we consume less when we sit down for meals. When we look at our diets as a whole, snacks are small so they are easier to deny. It’s easier for us to bury our comfort eating under the banner of “snacks” and thus dismiss it, misleading even ourselves.

Avoid snacking in the morning. A study of females who snack has shown that those who do so after breakfast (mid-morning) were fatter than those who snacked at other times of day. Possibly the post-meridian snacking allayed the consumption of large evening meals, which are the dieter’s nemesis.

Eating fruit. The act of chewing fruit actually leads to a feeling of fullness. So much so that scientists have recently shown those who eat a piece of fruit end up eating 187 calories less per day (on average) even when the calories in the fruit are included!

Eating on the move. This takes forward planning and the formation of a routine. Here are some suggestions for food that you can eat on the go:

  •     oat cakes
  •     an apple or a banana with a few nuts or handful of seeds
  •     a bag of unsalted raw almonds  or some unsalted raw cashews
  •     a bag of mixed raw pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds
  •     an unsweetened oat flapjack

Massimo (Max) Vencato holds a doctorate (PhD) in Sports and Exercise Psychology and a Degree in Sports Sciences (first class with honours). He works today as a cardiac rehabilitation trainer, personal trainer (specialising in weight loss) and lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology at Brunel University London.

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