A snack is any food which is eaten between the meals. Snacks may be processed in factories or they may be home made.
The processed snacks are usually considered unhealthy because of the high amounts of sugar, salt, fat and preservatives present in them. These are added to improve the taste and make the food long lasting.
Contrary to the common belief, all snacks are not bad for health.
Snacks should be included in the daily diet because they are required to maintain the glucose levels in the blood. If there is a long gap between two meals, the sugar level in the blood will decrease rapidly.
This would make the body weak and it may cause many health problems in the long run.
Most of the snacks are considered to be unhealthy. This is because they contain a high quantity of fat, sugar and salt.
These are bad for health because they increase the number of calories consumed at an alarmingly high rate. Sodium present in the salt can hinder a lot of bodily functions and harm the health of a person.
Some of the unhealthiest foods which most of the people consume are –
- White bread products – White bread, made from wheat, contains a high carbohydrate and gluten content. This makes it a bad snacking option for people who are aiming to lose weight.
- Soft drinks and juices – People prefer to consume these drinks without realising the fact that they are completely made up of liquid sugar. Even a small quantity contains a large amount of calories.
- Fried food – The oil used to fry food enters these foods and makes them unhealthy and unfit for consumption. Alternate methods such as baking and steaming should be used to cook food.
- Junk food – These include pizza, burgers and other such processed food items. They are rich in fats and carbohydrates. They should be completely avoided in order to remain fit and successfully lose weight.
Some alternate snacking options which are healthy could be –
- Fresh fruit juices
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and dry fruits
- Low fat dairy products
What does Research say about Snacking And Weight Loss?
Avoiding snacks completely is not necessary, only as long as it is being combined with other healthy foods. Having a small quantity of fat-containing foods along with fruits and vegetables ensure a balanced diet.
This would allow people to satisfy their energy needs without increasing their calorie intake.
Having snacks between meals has been found to be actually good for health. It has been proved that all snacks do not lead to obesity. If taken in a moderate amount, they can improve the metabolism and may even increase the chances of curing obesity.
Having frequent meals at small time intervals benefits the health of a person in many ways. It reduces the risk of many diseases and maintains the fast metabolism of the body.
There are many types of snacks which contain a high amount of protein. Consumption of these snacks instead of the ones high in fat is the best way to remain fit and satisfy hunger.
These high protein snacks have also been found to improve appetite and control obesity.
An interesting study showed that if the production of healthy snacks is increased and they are promoted instead of the unhealthy ones, people are more likely to pick them.
This is because the alternate healthier snack option attracts people who wish to lose weight more than the fat and sugar rich snacks.
Unhealthy snacks such as chocolates with sugar and other fatty foods lead to many health problems and may cause depression and fatigue as well. They may induce cravings for more such foods.
On the other hand, healthy snacks like fruits keep the person energetic for longer duration of time and have several other health benefits.
In order to meet the recommended daily amount of consumption of fruits and vegetables, it is essential that people include them as a part of their snacks.
Having a diet rich in nutrients ensures protection from various chronic diseases and lowers the Body Mass Index, which leads to a reduction in the body weight.
Another way of getting the nutrients present in fruits is by drinking fresh and pure fruit juice.
Studies show that fruit juices contain the same nutritional value as that of the fruit itself. An efficient way to lose weight faster is by replacing the sweetened soft drinks with these natural juices.
Nuts have been found to one of the best option among healthy snacks. It has been proved that they contain a number of health benefits.
The most important benefit is that they do not cause an increase in the body weight. Also, they have been found to increase the resting metabolic rate, which is the total number of calories burnt each day.
They oxidise the stored fat, this is, they burn the fat present in the body and promote weight loss.
Studies on effects of almonds on diet show that they can reduce the desire to eat among people who consume them regularly. It positively affects the metabolism and reduces the calorie intake amount.
Pistachio nuts, too, do not cause weight gain. Hence, they can be used as snacks by people who aim to lose a few kilos quickly. These nuts also lower the triglyceride levels in the blood, improving the blood pressure and cholesterol level.
Nuts improve the lipid profile, which means that the fat level in the blood is maintained. They contain a substance called polyphenol which plays a huge role in preventing health problems such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Walnuts have been found to contain a high amount of polyphenol.
Another healthy snacking option is the low fat dairy products. These include low fat yogurt, cheese, kefir and skimmed milk.
These products may reduce the chances of type 2 diabetes mellitus. According to studies, low fat dairy products do not cause an increase in the level of fat present in the blood, including the cholesterol level.
Continuously snacking every day can cause a rapid increase in the calorie intake. Cutting out on unhealthy snacks can help people to reduce weight.
Small portions of healthy snacks should be taken after every 2-3 hours. Overeating of snacks should be avoided and they should be nutrient rich.This is a better option than to cut out snacks completely due to various health benefits.
Once people inculcate a healthy habit of including only nutritious snacks in their daily routine, it will be a lot easier to lose weight.