Are certain snacks worse than others?
What is a healthy snack?
How many snacks a day is ok?
I get these questions alot and the answer is not the same for everyone.
If you’ve been following FlexiDiet for some time now you know that we believe in the importance of maintaining your energy balance above all else for managing your weight.
This means you match the food you eat (calories consumed) to the energy you spend (training / exercise routine).
So guess what? There is no one right answer.
If you do little to no exercise, eat 3 meals a day and snack 3 times you are most likely putting on weight.
At the other end of the spectrum, you might train 6x a week. You could lift heavy weights and have a physical job.
You are going to need snacks or at least 4 meals a day.
If there was one diet that worked for everybody, nutrition wouldn’t be such a confusing and controversial topic.
Now this is just my personal opinion but I believe snacking is the easiest way to break your fat loss efforts if your snacks aren’t controlled.
Snacking can easily blow your calories IN versus your calories OUT equation.
This is best explained using an example…
Lets look at some snacking examples:
Lets pretend you have a calorie target of 1800 calories for fat loss or 2300 for maintenance.
You have a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of 500 calories each.
This leaves only 300 calories for snacks.
Add a protein shake and you have consumed at least another 100 calories.
Add a snack of 1 piece of toast with 2 Tbsp PB and you’re looking at another 300 cals.
This assumes that you don’t use butter and you know what one tablespoon looks like!
You’ve now consumed 1900 calories with just one snack and a protein shake.
But wait! You need to have one snack in the morning and one in the afternoon right?
Add another snack and you’re at 2200 calories which puts you very close to maintenance.
500 (Breakfast) + 500 (Lunch) + 500 (Dinner) + 300 (Snack) + 300 (Snack) + 100 (Shake) = 2200 calories
This means you have essentially maintained your weight for today.
Now you see how easy it is to throw the balance out. Anyone who tells me they can’t lose fat is normally making mistakes around snacks, sauces or portion sizes.
Now there is nothing wrong with snacking but for all our FlexiDiet clients we keep snacks to 200 calories as a rule!
The above example using only 200 calorie snacks would bring you down to 2000 calories to keep progress consistent.
500 (Breakfast) + 500 (Lunch) + 500 (Dinner) + 200 (Snack) + 200 (Snack) + 100 (Shake) = 2000 calories
If you stuck to just one snack using the above equation?
500 (Breakfast) + 500 (Lunch) + 500 (Dinner) + 200 (Snack) + 100 (Shake) = 1800 calories
BOOM – A fast level of fat loss is achieved!
What is the other potential problem with snacking?
Snacking doesn’t really fill you up.
It just adds calories throughout your day and for alot of people it doesn’t ALWAYS help reduce portion sizes at dinner.
This is not true for everyone… again there is not ONE RULE for everybody.
It is up to YOU to find what works for you.
The benefits of snacking
I’ve only talked about the problems with snacks up until now. Lets look at the bright side.
Snacking is not bad. It’s just bad for some people.
If snacking DOES help your appetite and reduce bad decisions at dinner then GREAT. Stick with that.
If you snack and then eat just as much at dinner, you need to ask yourself whether the snack is necessary.
What should you look for in a snack?
- Stick to 200 calories or under as a rule (anything more starts to become a meal)
- Nuts and Fruit are great options and make it hard to overeat.
They also have plenty of vitamins and fibre to keep you healthy.
For example – Almonds are a great source of magnesium!
- Try to include protein in your snack. (Nuts are NOT high protein – big myth)
This is important especially if you train over 4-5x a week.
I know protein snacks are hard to find but things like protein shakes, bars and tuna are great.
- Beware of mainly sugar snacks – this will spike insulin and you’ll probably be more hungry 2 hours later.
- AGAIN – Stick to 200 calories. You can read ANY food label and quickly check the calorie, carb and protein content.
You don’t need me to tell you what to eat. Just look at the label and start to educate yourself on the choices you make!
This means no food is off limits! FlexiDiet for the win!
Do you need 200 calorie snack options?
All FlexiDiet clients turn to your snack section in your ‘Build Your Own Meal Plan’ book.
All portions are provided for you and they are all 200 calories.
The too long, didn’t read summary:
If you love big portions with your meals snacking should be restricted to manage your calorie intake.
If you love to nibble so you don’t overeat later on, then snacking is a great tool for you.
Remember that meal timing is NOT important for fat loss and non-athletes. Click here if you don’t believe this.
Calories still matter and snacking can make or break your diet!
Stick to 200 calorie snacks.
Have you already started your meal plan as a FlexiDiet client?
One of the first ‘FlexiLessons’ covers snacking and you will walk away with five different snacks to choose from that you personally love!